Footpaths in Scrooby
Scrooby, and North Nottinghamshire in general, is short of footpaths.
This is due to the history of the Midlands landscape. Agricultural communities living in nucleated villages surrounded by large arable fields did not require an extensive network of footpaths, bridleways and access roads. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Enclosure movement of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century tended to scrub all extranious routes off the map. Generally the routes into and out of a North Nottinghamshire village have become the main surfaced roads of the current era. A few less popular routes to neighbouring villages may survive as public footpaths, bridleways or byways.
So, walkers, runners, cyclists and horseriders are going to find themselves on the pavement or the road, even if some of their route lies on the more pleasant off-road rights of way.
Nevertheless, the footpaths around Scrooby are well worth exploring. There are three main routes:
- Green Lane to the south-west of Scrooby
- The footpath to Mattersey, to the east of Scrooby
- Mill Lane, the Winz and Lady's Holt Lane, to the north-west of Scrooby
Green Lane and Roman Bank at Serlby
A little to the south of Scrooby, running westward from the main road is Green Lane. This track is a relict of the old communal agriculture practiced through the Medieval period until Enclosure in 1777. The track was the main foot, horse and cart path for Scrooby villagers with land strips to cultivate in the old open fields named Middle Field, and Farr Field.
The way cuts westward over Backwith Hill, the soil gets sandier and loser the higher it climbs. Gaining the top of the hill gives a good view of the Scrooby region, with Barrow Hills on the horizon, the village and church before you, and the Serlby estate to the west.
From the high ground, Green Lane continues westward, down the back side of Backwith Hill into a low lying riverside pasture landscape known as Goal Butts in the Eighteenth Century. The track dog-legs to the south and runs alongside Roman Bank. This is a wide linear earth bank which may have delimited the western extent of the Tenth Century Saxon estate of Sutton and Scrooby, or it may have been constructed by Matilda de Mules around 1199; she was granted the right to 'have a ditch cut between her wood of Serlby and the field'.
Backwith Hill, Scrooby, and the low lying pasture of Goal Butts, 16 May 2008
The whole landscape to the west of the track is estate land surrounding the Georgian Serlby Hall. At the junction of the track with the road, the old lodge can be seen; now a part of the clubhouse of Serlby golf club. The track continues south for a few miles through woodland which is at its best in late April and early May when the blue bells are out. The earthern bank continues to run parallel with the track; sometimes high and wide, sometimes low and hardly visible. The southern length of the track also runs parallel with a drive into the Serlby estate, and a limestone-built lodge marks the junction of the estate drive with the public road. This is also the end of the footpath.
Hawthorn Blossom on Backwith Hill, Scrooby, 16 May 2008
The Footpath from Scrooby to Mattersey
From the cente of Scrooby, Station Road runs eastward, to the south of the site of the Manor House. The East Coast Mainline railway cuts its course soon after the Manor House, and the walker has to negotiate stiles and a level crossing.
Once on the far side of the railway, the landscape changes considerably. The footpath cuts diagonally south-east across a rough, barely-drained, pasture. The going can be tough, due to thistles and surface water, and an alternative path is provided, which runs parallel to railway, and then eastward along the fence line.
At the far side of the field, the path crosses a footbridge over a sizable drain. Although a ditch, this feature forms the eastern boundary of the Scrooby parish, and is a very old boundary feature indeed; referred to as 'Fulan Broc' in a mid Tenth Century charter (see Anglo Saxon and Viking Scrooby).
The path continues on the northern side of a teal shooting pond, clogged by alder and willow trees, and across open arable land to Broomfield Lane, leading into Mattersey Thorpe and eventually Mattersey.
Mill Lane, the Winz and Lady's Holt Lane
Scrooby was bypassed by the turnpike road in 1776, but the earlier road - once the Great North Road from London to York and Edinburgh - survives as a narrow hedged lane leading out from the north of the village through a series of common lands.
The walk has good views of Scrooby's eighteenth century landmarks: farmhouses, cottages, mill, river works, and turnpike road.
Starting northward from the village hall in the centre of Scrooby, the lane crosses Manor Road, which leads eastward to the site of the medieval Archbishop of York's manor house,demolished in 1636-7. The empty plot on the north-east of the crossroads is the site of a former inn, demolished long ago. This is the best place in Scrooby to see the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century red brick farmhouses typical of North Nottinghamshire. Low Farm lies to the east of the crossroads on Manor Road, and Mill House lies to the north of the crossroads on Low Road. Note the 'tumbling' brickwork on the gable ends of the farmhouses. Many of the barns and outbuildings of these two farmhouses have been converted into housing in the last twenty years.
The houses on the north of Low Road lie alongside the old course of the River Ryton. The river was diverted northward in the 1960s, but for most of its history Scrooby was a riverside settlement.
The row of cottages on the west of Low Road where it turn into Mill Lane, known as Parish Cottage and Black Bull Cottage, were built as cottages for the poor of the parish, on the edge of the common land which extended into the village at this point. There was a second row, now gone, to the north-west.
The route continues passed the Mill building and pond to the west of Mill Lane, while the Mill Field lies to the east of the Lane. The mill is largely an Eighteenth Century flour and animal feed water mill, though some parts of the building are older. The main course of the River Ryton once flowed under the Mill, through its pond, across Mill Lane and eastward to the Manor.
This stretch of Mill Lane, across Mill Field, is one of the most pleasant walks in the village. The fields to the west of the Lane were known as Otter Pitts in the Eighteenth Century. The old course of the River Ryton flowed through these fields, paralell with the Lane, towards the Mill. The 1776 turnpike road can be seen on the far side of the field, with its red brick arched bridges, constructed to enable flood water to flow under the turnpike's causeway. Follow the Lane between the field hedges, until the River Ryton.
The Ryton rises in the sandy lands of Sherwood Forest many miles to the south-west of Scrooby. The river was known as the Narrow River or The Narrows in Scrooby in the Eighteenth Century. The Ryton continues north-eastward to join the Idle, and eventually the Trent at West Stockwith.
The pine trees on the crest of the hill are a landmark in Scrooby. Scots Pines were common on the drier higher sandy land of the region throughout the ten thousand years since the last ice age. These particular pines were apparently a landmark for travellers on the old Great North Road. They are mentioned in Nineteenth Century guides to the area, and postcard photographers chose to capture them in the early Twentieth Century.
The Winz is a fragment of common land; a rare survival in North Nottinghamshire. The Winz extends beyond the turnpike road, bordered by the river on the South. These are the last parts of Scrooby High Common which covered a huge area westward towards Harworth. The common was used by Scrooby's villagers for gathering wild food, fire wood and grazing of cows and sheep, and was an indispensable part of the traditional farming routine. The common was abolished in 1777, when the traditional communally-organised farming was swept away by an Act of Parliament. The open strip fields and commons were divided up into consolidated, hedged, fields for privately-organised farming. The sloping, sandy land of the Winz was too poor and worthless to be claimed as private land by any farmer at the time.
The main road cuts across our route, running northward to Bawtry. On the wooded flat ground to the north-west of the crossroads where Mill Lane meets the main road, there once stood the late eighteenth century toll bar for the Turnpike. The sign board advertising the prices charged is now displayed in Scrooby's Village Hall.
Continuing on the other side of the main road, is Gibbet Lane. The gibbet was a roadside cage in which hung the remains of criminals hung for serious crimes; a grisly reminder of punishment and control by the local JPs. The gibbet which once stood here probably contained the body of a murderer who killed at the Turnpike toll bar lodge in the eighteenth century.
Continuing further northwestward, and crossing the Bawtry to Harworth road, Lady's Holt Lane runs up on the higher, sandier, drier land between Harworth and Bawtry. The lane skirts the northern extent of Bircotes and the eastern extent of Plumtree industrial estate, passing some scrubby woodland grown on quarried land, and several marshy depressions. The views eastward are well worth walking for; Barrow Hills are prominant, and beyond them are visible the isle of Haxey, and the powerstations on the line of the Trent.
Opposite the point at which Lady's Holt Lane meets the Bawtry to Tickhill road, Swinnow Wood can be entered towards the back of the roadside layby. Permissive footpaths run around this wood and an information board is provided. The wood contains Corsican pine, Scot's pine and sycamore. It grows on the south-western extremity of a Second World War airfield, now all arable and pig fields, and several brick semi-subterranean bunkers can be found in the wood.
Nearby Footpaths in Everton
The nearby village of Everton has many more footpaths, including those around Harwell Woods on Barrow Hills.
Barrow Hills & Harwell Woods
Barrow Hills, to the west of Everton and Harwell is a large hill of sand and gravel which once formed the southern bank of the glacial Lake Humber, formed behind the ice plug of the Humber Gap. Today it is a prominant wooded landmark and one of the region's most popular places to walk.
Looping around the northern perimeter of the hill runs Theaker Lane and Pasture Lane; historic hedged lanes which make a very nice walk.
There are two footpaths which run up onto the top of Barrow Hills; one at the Scaftworth end, and one at the Harwell End. At the Scaftworth end, a car can be driven up Theaker Lane and parked below the Hill. At the Harwell end, cars must be left on the public road in Harwell; there is no access for cars up the sandy lane which leads westward from the village up to the woods.
Once on the top of Barrow Hills there is a network of permissive paths through the deciduous and conifer woodlands. Most people walk in a circle around the top of the hill.
The northern side of the hill is formed into several large, deep, precipitous combes, like dry vallies. There is a wide variety of different rocks to be seen, from the usual Sherwood Sandstone pebbles to Millstone Grit, brought here by the glacial ice.
The southern side of Barrow Hills is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The area has been extensively quarried, and now sustains a very unusual flora of dry-loving plants, and wild animals. There is an information board near the eastern gated entrance to Harwell Woods.
South of Everton
There is also an extensive network of holloways to the south of Everton, including Youldholes Lane. Walking eastward along the holloways, and with a short stretch on the Eel Pool Lane road, brings us to the White Swan pub at Drakeholes. From the pub, the Chesterfield Canal towpath runs for miles in both directions. Its an easy enough walk from Drakeholes to Clayworth, via Wiseton. The walk takes in or affords views of a lot of the improved landscape of the eighteenth century Wiseton estate including the pub itself, the farms on Pusto and Blaco Hills, the drained pasture lands around the course of the river Idle, Wiseton Hall, the canal and the turnpike roads.
The woods on Pusto Hill (south of Everton and north of Mattersey) are pleasant and have a footpath running through them which can be used to access Mattersey. The peacocks which live at Pusto Hill Farm can be heard throughout the woods. There are curious earthworks around the top of the hill; possibly quarrying, but perhaps also containing more interesting remains. Mattersey has lost its pubs, but its worth visiting the thirteenth century Gilbertine monastic remains at Mattersey Priory. See English Heritage.
North of Everton
The long flat access roads out on to the moorlands to the north of Everton lead down to the south bank of the river Idle as it flows passed Misson.