Friday, 17 April 2009

Tunnel walk

Walking back from Nottingham city centre the other day, I began to climb the Derby Road hill from Upper Parliament Street towards Canning Circus, from where it was a straight walk down the hill to Lenton Recreation Ground and home, but when I got to Budgen's mini-market half-way up the hill, I decided to take a left turn into what, to anyone who doesn't know, seems like an entrance to an underground car park.

And that it was it is, but it is also something else. Not that there are any signs to tell you what it is.

Once inside the car park entrance and a few yards down you come to a flight of concrete steps and, yes, it is quite dark, as there is no lighting.

Walk down the steps and you find yourself at the beginning of a long tunnel, which has a light well in the middle of its length. Again, thanks to digital camera technology, it looks lighter than it actually is. The tunnel was built in 1855 to allow horsedrawn carriages access to The Park from Derby Road in Nottingham. The Park was formerly a private hunting park fo owners of Nottingham Castle. In the 19th century, the area began to be developed as a housing estate for wealthy tenants and owners.

Midway down, as you head towards The Park Estate, there are steps in the light well, which take you up to Park Terrace. For many years, there were closed off, but on this walk they appeared to open again.

At the end of the tunnel you come onto this path, which leads you down to the appropriately named 'Tunnel Road'. As you can see, it is all very pleasant and I have never seen anyone else using the tunnel on any of the occasions I have used it over the years.

Once out of tunnel, turn round and look back to get a good idea of its length. You can just see a pinprick of light at the far end and that is how it really seems.
This picture of the Park Tunnel entrance was taken at the end of Tunnel Road and, again, captures just how pleasant and quiet it is.
As you walk away from the tunnel and along Tunnel Road, on the south side you will have tennis courts and bowling greens, and on the northern side, as this picture shows, there is another bowling green. It also shows large Victorian villas in the distance. These are on Newcastle Drive and overlook The Park Estate.

At the first road you come to, Tattershall Drive, you turn right and past the tennis courts and bowling greens on your left. The road curves round to the right and becomes Holles Crescent, which you follow round until it meets Lenton Road. Until this point you will have been walking gently downwards, then on the level.

Once you cross the south side of Lenton Road, you begin a gentle climb towards this gate, which marks the point where The Park Estate ends and New Lenton begins. Beyond this point, the name of the road changes to Park Road. The Park Estate believes that, because the estate is privately managed, only residents have a right-of-way through The Park and the rest of us can be excluded at any time — hence the lockable gate. In fact, since the gate was put in place some ten years ago, there has been a long running dispute about the issue and at the beginning of 2009, Nottingham City Council issued a public order saying there is a public-right-of-way, which is being challenged by The Park Estate.

Through the gate and you begin to walk along Park Road downhill towards Castle Boulevard and, as I did so, I saw this entrance to a small building being used for storage. Part of the hardboard cladding has been torn away, revealing part of the signage on the door. I have yet to look for the builders in question, but I am really pleased with the picture I took and it has gone instantly into my personal 'top ten'. It is an image which speaks to me.

A hundred yards on and we come to end (or beginning) of this unexpected walk between the city centre and Lenton. This is the roundabout where Castle Boulevard meets Abbey Bridge and on the south corner is the Grove Hotel (a public house) and on the north side, where Park Road joins the roundabout. The building, which is now a Tesco 'Express', was once a public house as well.

My walk was really a leisurely stroll and took me thirty minutes. It wasn't the quickest way from the city centre, but I did get to walk through The Park Tunnel — something many people who lived in Lenton a lot longer than me have never done, whilst others have no idea that it exists. It is something everyone should do at least once.

The police officer suspended following the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 in London protests has been questioned on suspicion of manslaughter after a second postmortem examination showed the newspaper vendor did not die of a heart attack. Findings released today show that Tomlinson, who was thrown to the ground by a Met officer during the protests, died from an abdominal haemorrhage.

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