Walk: Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire
Marvel at the history of a 12th-century castle and its serene gardens before exploring the river islands and bridges of the mighty Trent on this wheelchair-friendly route.
The market town of Newark, once a significant inland port, is steeped in industrial history. It was a transport hub for the wool, coal and grain trade that grew up in this area and lasted well into the 20th century. The legacy of impressive redbrick warehouses remains, some of which have been converted into pubs and restaurants.
During the spring and summer months, the Edwardian river cruiser M.V. Sonning offers trips along the River Trent. Although built in 1902 as a River Thames Passenger Steamer, the Sonning’s upper deck area is wheelchair accessible. There is also a superb stile-free river walk, suitable for all the family, that begins in the grounds of Newark Castle.
1 mile/1.6km | 45 minutes |easy
1. Gardens and Gatehouse
Start by exploring the gardens and castle ruins. There are a lot of fascinating facts about the history of the castle on the information boards dotted around the grounds; did you know that ‘bad’ King John died here in 1216? The gatehouse is the best-preserved Norman-castle gatehouse in Britain, and its tumultuous history is visible in the stonework. Look under the arch and you’ll see a gunpowder-blackened section of wall, imprinted here in 1646 by Parliamentary forces as they attempted to destroy the castle after Newark’s Royalist garrison had followed King Charles’ order to surrender.
2. River islands
From the gatehouse the path follows the river upstream to Newark Town Lock. Here, you can cross the bridge into the middle of the island to get a real sense of what the waterways were like when they were busy with barges chugging up and down the river delivering their goods to the grain and wool stores. The River Trent was a major working river until after the Second World War.
3. Old town tipple
Back on the path, meander through the old town, along cobbled streets and through the miniature garden of Millgate Otter Park. The Navigation, a much-loved pub in Newark, is housed in one of the converted grain stores by the river and is well worth a pit stop.
4. Down at the Dockyard
The route rejoins the Trent at Mill Bridge. Cross the river and turn right on to the towpath towards Newark Dry Dock; the largest inland facility of its kind in the UK, it is still in operation, repairing and restoring local boats. Behind the dock is the entrance to a park, a great setting for a picnic and a stroll in the sensory garden.
Join the towpath once again before taking the tarmac track up a gradual incline to the splendid seven-arched stone town bridge.
5. Bridge views
Turn right on the bridge. Enjoy very impressive views of the castle, as well as the regular barge and boat traffic that chugs below on this quite majestic river. Continue over the bridge and alongside the outer edge of the castle gardens back to where you started.