Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Cycling the Dukeries Trail. Warsop to Fledborough Viaduct

A Cycling Adventure in Sherwood Forest and North Nottinghamshire

It's nice to go on an adventure once in a while and now Jemma's getting towards Coast 2 Coast distances on the bike it seemed like the perfect opportunity to cycle a big section of the relatively new Dukeries Trail that runs from the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border towards central Lincoln. Some sections are a little rugged so knobbly tyres or semi-slicks on a mountain bike or hybrid are ideal.

We started out from Warsop, joinng the trail in the heart of Sherwood Forest although the official start is by the station in Shirebrook before heading through the Carrs into Warsop. The Dukeries Trail is a nice multi-user route that's quiet, relatively traffic free and offers the chance to explore much of North Nottinghamshire.

In Warsop we headed up Hetts Lane and then onto Burns lane before swinging a right by Assarts Farm and onto a rough Bridleway that takes us into the legendary Sherwood Forest from Gleadthorpe to Boundary Plantation where at the crossroads we took a left to join National Cycle Route 6 to Hazel Gap.

We always see a group of twitchers out at Hazel Gap with more money's worth of camera's, lenses and binoculars than we have invested in our bikes. No matter how much we try to persuade them we simply can't price from them just what they're looking at.

From Hazel Gap there's a bit of a climb up to the crossing with the A616 so care must be taken here but the section through Gibraltar Plantation is a nice excuse to push on through a relatively straight, flat section that offers a few kinks in the trail that can be taken at speed. The trail narrows before you cross the road again following the trail through the edges of Clumber Park.

Jemma cycling through Bevercotes
The trail through Clumber Park is nice and wide although part of the trail forms a link in the cycling network within Clumber so be prepared for families out for a gentle ride or walk along the multi-user trail.

As we exited Clumber out across the A614 we crossed the main road and joined a quiet country lane which felt a world away from the main road. We passed the 'Nodding Donkey' in the field beside the lane. A showcase of the quality of the land beneath the area from which high quality oil is extracted.

The Dukeries trail now took us via quiet roads through the village of Bothamsall before cutting through the old colliery grounds on a traffic free bridleway to the quiet but affluent village of Bevercotes.

A turn right uphill took us past Milton Mausoleum. This is the mausoleum of the Duchess of Newcastle who passed away in 1822 and is a remarkable building.

Cycling past Milton Mausoleum on the Dukeries Trail

The trail then took us through West Markham as it diverted away from the busier B1164 road crossing the A1 twice before a roller coaster of a hill into Tuxford. Tuxford ishome to a beautifully restored windmill which is also home to a tea room and is a great place to stop for a cuppa and reflect on your journey so far. Sadly for us the windmill was closed, despite it being a Saturday. They're usually open 10-4 except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I'm sure we'll head there for a coffee at some point.

Tuxford Windmill Tearoom. Sadly closed for us!

We followed the main road through Tuxford and turned right on the edge of the village up past the school and a camp site on outskirt of the village descending gently before darting underneath the railways.

Tuxford village, Nottinghamshire

After the railway bridge we quickly took a right turn up a single track road before being signposted straight on along a byway. The route guide which we weren't reading at the time advises that cyclists might wish to take the next section on foot and we could quickly see why as this was no more than a rough, heavily divoted track where sections of trail often simply disappeared from underneath you and wasn't a particularly nice experience. A clever look at the map on the return leg allowed us to divert away from this section of the route.

Upon leaving the rough byway we were spat out at the road into Fledborough.A quick glance right and we saw the track down onto the old railway line which now forms a big part of the Dukeries trail heading due east almost into the centre of Lincoln on a stone path suitable for mountain bikes and hybrids. I had hoped it might be paved so I could utilise the River Trent crossing as part of routes but I'll have to stick to Dunham Bridge and Newark in future.

We followed the trail past the now defunct Fledborough station sign on the track along to Fledborough Viaduct where we stopped and turned back on ourselves

Radon ZR Race 6.o outside Fledborough Station on the Dukeries Trail
Fledborough Viaduct over the River Trent

Fledborough Viaduct has a total of 814m in length which is over twice as long as the better known (and much taller) Ribblehead Viaduct. Apparently it took over 9 million bricks in it's construction at a meagre cost of £65000 which would be millions in today's money.

From the Fledborough Viaduct we re-traced our steps back to Warsop to log some pretty significant mileage in preparation for the upcoming Coast 2 Coast  event and had a nice afternoon ride in the sunshine.

A real Banksy spotted on the edge of Sherwood Forest?

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