Friday, 5 September 2014

A 35 bus walk: Strelley to Wollaton Vale

Some months ago Bulwell TravelRight asked me to lead a walk along the line of the old Nottingham Canal, based on my April 2014 blog, In search of the abandoned Nottingham Canal, Part 1. A week before I was due to do my TravelRight walk last month, I spent a couple of hours following the line of the walk on my own. I knew that there would be little chance to take photographs on the day.

By just comparing the maps from April 2014 walk and August 2014 walk, you will see that the first walk ran from Wollaton Vale to Gallows Inn in a east to west, then north-west direction, whilst last month's walk ran in the opposite direction. This is because my walkers were coming to Strelley on a 35 bus from Bulwell and by going north to south, then east, most of the walk was downhill or on the level. Had we done the walk in the reverse direction there would have been a few hills. albeit slight, to climb and with the prospect of a few older walks, like myself, I wanted to avoid this.

The photographs which follow take us from location 1 to location 9 on the above map. It is not suitable for wheelchairs or buggies.

Location 2. Strelley Village Green is not in the village. It is actually in Nottingham, whilst the village is in Broxtowe, but, as the picture below shows, it has the feel and appearance of a village green. On the opposite side of the road is Strelley Recreation Ground. On the day I did the walk alone a 'Family Fun Day' was about to start.

Location 3. In the foreground, to the left, is what remains of a spring.

Location 5. The north end of Strelley Lane, once a more important route linking the village to Wollaton and Beeston. In May this year, I blogged about a TravelRight walk led by Chris Matthews, 'A walk around Bilborough and Strelley' and included a section about Strelley Lane. As you can see it can flood after heavy rain.

Strelley Lane is popular with local horse riders.

I like the tunnels of green which envelope Strelley Lane in the summer.

Location 6 on the map is where you leave Strelley Lane and join the footpath across the top of Trowell Moor. As with all the walk until it joins the old Nottingham Canal ( official name the Erewash Trail), there are signs.

For a good way, one side of the walk across Trowell Moor is nothing but hedging.

But the vistas south are wide open.

Occasional breaks in the hedging reveal cows grazing.

In the distance you can see Wollaton Hall, partly shrouded by a blue haze. The day I did the walk was humid, but not unpleasant.

The hedging comes to an end past Shaw's Plantation (a large wood) and views across the landscape to the north open up. In the distance and hidden is the M1 motorway, but it can be heard, albeit faintly. From her onwards it will get louder and not leave us until we reach Trowell Garden Centre (see second map a little further on).

At this point, the field boundary is marked with by this track and a line of large oaks, which are marked on Ordnance Survey maps from the early 19th century onwards.

Oaks are, as I am sure you already know, wonderful eco-systems supporting many forms of life. On one oak this large fungi caught my eye.

Past the oaks, the track becomes a narrow path and at the trees at the far end...

...the path opens out.

Location 7 where the path across Trowell Moor comes to an end...

...and you join Waterloo Lane, You turn right, heading south towards the Nottingham Road. It is an old lane, upgraded when the M1 was constructed as an access road to the M1 Trowell Service Station. 

This is a Trowell Parish Council noticeboard where Waterloo Lane and Nottingham Road meet. A bit mean on my part, but I cannot resist including because over a notice promoting a 'Keeping Trowell Alive Event' poster is the very large sign saying 'Cancelled due to lack of support'. The Derby–Nottingham conurbation has many seemingly rural communities like Trowell in its Green Belt areas. The trouble is that many have been taken over by commuters, who 'live the country dream' never more than a few minutes away from all the amenities modern city living offers. Schools, shops, post offices all disappear. In many respects, places like Trowell have been dead for a long time.

Location 8 is the Waterloo Lane bus stop on the north side of Nottingham Road looking west. Here you can catch a Trent-Barton 'TWO' bus back to Wollaton Vale and Nottingham City Centre. They run every 12 minutes (5 an hour) Monday–Saturday daytime and every 15–30 minutes evenings and Sundays. The road is normally much busier than this!

Location 9.  This is where you cross Nottingham Road, having walked beyond the bus stop for about about quarter-of-a-mile, until you see this gated entrance on the opposite side of the road. This is where you have to cross over. The footpath is over a stile on the right-hand side of the gate. Take care. This a very busy road.

Still location 9, this is the stile on the right-hand side of the gate. Just beyond is the second stile you have to cross.

The second stile (above) at location 9 takes you into the field (below). The path is not that clear and my three visits the field has had horses in it, who come looking for food. They can smell apples and pears and on the day of TravelRight walk, they were nudging me in the back because they could smell the pears in my backpack. In the end I gave in.

Hug the right-hand side of the field (its western edge), which is marked by a low boundary fence with some hedging as well.

The field path runs to the south-west corner of the field and looks as if you are walking to nowhere and that you will have to turn back. Do not lose your nerve. For in that black hole at the centre of this photograph is location 10...

...where you will have to cross another stile (the last on this walk I promise) and...

...once over this is the view which confronts you, the pond at Wroughton Nature Reserve which was once part of the old Nottingham Canal. Turn right after crossing the stile and you will join the Erewash Valley Trail, where you turn left (east) and start your journey back towards Wollaton Vale and the 35 bus, but first there is the Trowell Garden Centre and Nottingham Canal nature Reserve to visit (the walk route is clearly marked on the map above).

Alternatively, you can turn left once over the stile and walk along the north side of the old canal, which is hidden from view for most of the way, until you reach the old canal bridge on the western edge of Trowell Garden Centre, where the paths join up again. This is a much narrower and uneven path, so you need to take extra care.

The walk from here to Wollaton Vale is as I described in my April 2014 blog and mentioned at the beginning of this blog, except in the opposite direction (ie. from Wollaton Vale to Wroughton Pond Nature reserve, locations 1–21). Click here to see this section.

The Trowell Garden Centre is a good stopping point, with excellent toilets and tearoom. If the footpath around the garden centre was upgraded, much of the walk would be wheelchair and buggy friendly. Broxtowe Borough Council please take note.

Some parts of the old Nottingham Canal between the Garden Centre and Coventry Lane are still replete with water and are populated by water birds, including this family of ducks.

This is the end of walk, from the Nottingham Canal Nature Reserve along Grangewood Road to Wollaton, where the 35 bus stops in both direction are on top of a pedestrian underpass which follows the course of the old Nottingham Canal. 

At a leisurely pace, the walk takes just over two hours. Each time I have taken a thirty minute break at the Trowell Garden Centre tearoom for tea and apple pie.

This walk is yet another of many excellent urban rural 35 bus route walks.

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