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the best routes Southwell has to offer.


Southwell Trail

The Southwell Trail began life during the golden age of steam when the Midland Railway had the vision to run trains from Southwell to Mansfield. Today, this 7.5 mile trail is built on the former railway line and is now a Local Nature Reserve, stretching from Southwell to Bilsthorpe and passing the villages of Farnsfield, Kirklington and Maythorne.

Visitors can walk, cycle or horse ride along the trail uncovering its history, as well as enjoying the nature it supports. It is an important habitat for wildlife, providing a green corridor through the landscape.

Whether taking a short stroll or ride, or planning a longer walk retracing the old railway line, there are a number of free car parks to allow access along the trail. A Southwell Trail booklet includes four ‘explorer’ circular walks, all starting and finishing on the trail.

  • Walk One: Southwell to Maythorne

Approximately 4 miles walk, taking about 70 minutes.

  • Walk Two: Kirklington to Edingley Beck

Approximately 6 miles walk, taking about 90 minutes.

  • Walk Three: Farnsfield to Hexgreave Estate

Approximately 5 miles walk, taking about 80 minutes.

  • Walk Four: Bilsthorpe to Farnsfield

Approximately 7 miles walk, taking about 2 hours.

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Southwell Circular Walk, 2 miles (3.2km), 1 hour

This beautiful walk provides the perfect opportunity to explore the picturesque town of Southwell and appreciate why it’s a true cultural gem. Taking centre stage is the Minster, a magnificent example of Gothic architecture and boasting one of the finest Norman naves in Europe. Walkers can then look for Bramley Tree Cottage, the birthplace of the legendary Bramley Apple, where the original tree still stands. Strolling through the town, it’s a must to stop and admire The Saracens Head Hotel where King Charles I spent his last night of freedom and where both Charles Dickens and poet Lord Byron once stayed. Throughout the walk, evidence of the town’s industrial revolution can clearly be seen and a visit to the Workhouse is not to be missed. With a delightful array of buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants to enjoy en route, it is easy to see why Southwell never fails to impress.

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Southwell Bramley Apple Heritage Walks

There are two Heritage Walks celebrating Southwell as the home of the Bramley Apple.

The Bramley Apple story starts more than 200 years ago, with Mary Ann Brailsford, a young Southwellian who took some pips from the apples her mother was preparing and planted them in a flower pot. As one of the pips was doing so well, it was later transferred to the young girl’s garden where it began to thrive. It is this tree that first began to bear a unique apple, one that has become a favourite of the nation and one of the most respected apples in the world. Walkers can uncover this fascinating story with a choice of two trails:

  • Heritage Walk One: 2 miles/1.3km, 45 minutes – 1 hour

This short walk journeys to some of the key locations in the history of the Bramley Apple.

  • Heritage Walk Two:25 miles/10km, 2.5 – 3 hours

The history of nurseryman, Henry Merryweather (without whom the apple may never have become famous) and the apple itself gently unfolds as walkers follow this trail, which also includes some other significant heritage points that have connections to the Bramley Apple.

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heritage trails

A number of fascinating heritage trails are available, providing a self-guided tour of the historically significant areas in and around Southwell:

The John Becher Heritage Trail, 2.25 miles (3.6km)

John Thomas Becher was a clergyman, botanist and close friend to young Lord Byron. He moved to Southwell in 1792 and became famous nationally, as well as in the local area, as a champion of social reform.

This trail through Southwell takes in many buildings and sites associated with Becher and his family, including the Minster (where he was a clergyman), Hill House (his family home), and the Workhouse (the scene of one of his many social reform projects).

The King Charles I Heritage Trail, 6 miles (9.7km)

By May 1646, the position of King Charles I and his Royalist Army was desperate. They had suffered a series of setbacks in 1644-5, culminating in the decisive defeat at Naseby on 14 June 1645. Charles journeyed to Southwell to meet with a French diplomat (Montreuil) whom he had employed to negotiate with the Scottish Army that was laying siege to Royalist Newark. The King arrived at the King’s Head (now The Saracen’s Head), to find Montreuil absent and continued to negotiate with the Scottish Commissioners.

This trail through Southwell and across pleasant, hilly countryside allows walkers to follow in the footsteps of King Charles I.

The Charles Caudwell Heritage Trail, 2.5 miles (4km)

Charles Caudwell purchased the mill that stands by the River Greet in Southwell in 1851 and his family milled flour there for four generations. Since that time, the Caudwell family has made substantial contributions to the town.

This trail journeys past the Caudwell Mill and the River Greet on to Maythorne Mill and Southwell Paddy. Along the way, walkers can explore the rich industrial heritage along the river as well as enjoy the wealth of wildlife ranging from unspoilt grassland and hedgerows to dragonflies and birds of prey. They might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an endangered water vole as it ‘plops’ into the water from its burrow along the riverbank.

The Easthorpe Heritage Trail, 2.5 miles (4km)

Today Easthorpe is part of Southwell but, for centuries, it was a village in its own right. In the 19th Century, its main street had a number of farms and trade workshops centred on agriculture, along with other local industries such as malting and framework knitting.

This trail gives a fascinating insight into Easthorpe’s heritage. Points of interest along the route include the intriguing history of families and businesses that made it their home, from butchers to taxidermists, and its variety of architecture, from beautiful three-storey Georgian houses to the Old Coach House, and evidence of the Southwell Roman Villa. Easthorpe is rightly proud of one particular tree – the original Bramley Apple, which was planted more than 200 years ago. Walkers can also enjoy the abundant wildlife at Potwell Dyke and Shady Lane Pasture as they make their way along the trail.

The Westhorpe Dumble Trail, 2.5 mile (4km)

This delightful trail is centred in the peaceful hamlet of Westhorpe, which, until the early 20th Century, was a lively working village. Today, Westhorpe is a conservation area with its unique cottages and farmsteads, long brick walls, mature trees and attractive surroundings. Arguably the most distinctive feature of the village is the Westhorpe Dumble – a dumble being a stream which has formed a deep wide channel in the clay that is out of proportion to the amount of water normally carried.

Along this trail, walkers can step back in time to gain an insight into what it was like to live in a working village, enjoy the range of architecture, as well as enjoy the Dumble itself. With many fine trees, including oak, beech and ash along its course, and violets and primrose in its shade, visitors will charmed by this stunning location.

The Edward Cludd Civil War Trail, 3 miles (4.8km)

This intriguing walk focuses on Southwell during the English Civil War, on aspects of the town’s rich religious heritage and on Norwood Park, one of the Archbishop of York’s medieval deer parks.

The trail is named after Edward Cludd who was born into gentry in 1603, with his parents owning property in the nearby town of Arnold. According to accounts, he was a firm and very influential supporter of Parliament during the Civil War period and yet a source of ‘moderation’ in many discussions.

Over this trail, walkers can visit the three places where his moderating influence had a clear impact on local events.

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Other Activities

Swimming / Gym

Visitors to Southwell are welcome to take full advantage of the excellent facilities on offer at Southwell Leisure Centre including two swimming pools, fitness suite, squash courts and sports hall.

It couldn’t be easier to go for a swim, work out in the gym or hire a court for a game of squash or badminton.

There is something for everyone, with a vast range of fitness classes including cardio and strength activities alongside gentler wellbeing classes.

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