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 Walking without wellies

One of the many attractive hard tracks in Fineshade Wood

Hard tracks for walking in the forest

When the weather has been very wet many of the walking paths in Rockingham Forest become very difficult indeed. The area's heavy clay soils retain the moisture and paths often do not drain well. They can quickly become almost impassable, even if you are sensibly shod. However, there are still some possibilities for walks along hard tracks and in this new feature we offer some suggestions for walks where, usually, you don't need to wear wellies.  All the suggestions are along Rights of Way (RoW) or on other public land.

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Red Lodge Road from Bulwick

This seldom-used road runs for 1.5 miles though Bulwick Estates' land and you can appreciate the environmentally friendly way in which the fields and woodlands are being managed. The road is single-track with few passing places but rather more potholes! Even so,  it's good for those walking with wheels. Best to park in Bulwick Village and head west  looking for the Red Lodge Road sign.

The far end of Red Lodge Road with Ferrels Wood on the right

Fermyn and Souther Wood loop

A 4.6 miles walk from SP965859,  on Harley Way between Brigstock and Oundle. Follow Forestry England's track south through Fermyn Wood and across barren fields and into Souther Wood. After 1.3 miles, the hard track splits - go left and then follow the hard track clockwise to arrive back at the split. Alternatively it's possible to continue all the way to Lowick (4 miles from the start.)

This is where the hard track splits - you can easily walk round the gateway

Wakerley Great Wood spine-track

Two miles long and lots of free parking at SP962985. The track, with several right-angles runs through Forestry England's managed woodland. This is a level, hard path suitable for those with wheels. Appreciate the newly widened verges creating lots of rich habitats for butterflies, bugs and flowers.

The hard track runs entirely through Ancient Woodland with recent plantations

Public Bridleway across Deene Estate's farmland.

1.7 miles with 3-4 parking places at either end.  (SP974912 on the Deenethorpe-Benefield Road and  SP994920, Crossway Hand Farm on the Bulwick-Southwick Road). Mainly farm track, rough in places but little mud. Lots of Skylarks on the large arable fields!

Bridleway across Deene Esates' farmland

There are long views from the bridleway across this part of the Deene Estate

This is the view from the cattle grid looking back to the parking spot

Public bridleway beside Southwick Wood

0.8 miles from SP994920, Crossway Hand Farm, along a level road as far as Boar's Head farm. After that the RoW is grassy and can be very boggy. Look for large herds of Fallow Deer in the distance to the west.

Bushrubs Wood near Apethorpe

A short walk through Ancient Woodland along a hard-surfaced bridleway. It is covered with leaf-mould but very possible for walking - at least there is no sole-grabbing clay! Park in the layby at TL026959 and the hard track will take you about half a mile through the wood and continue a short way along the RoW past Bluefield Farm.

In February the woodland floor is turning green with Dog's Mercury 

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The wood on the left is Morehay Lawn, formerly an open space surrounded by  forest!

Apethorpe to Morehay Lawn

This trek is 2.2 miles each way and for those who like wide open spaces! Walk up the road beside Apethorpe's pub (sadly closed , March 2024) and turn left to follow the bridleway including the diversions around Lodge Farm. A fallen log provides a handy seat at the far end of Morehay Lawn. The road to the right is also a footpath RoW and is surfaced for 1.7 miles to beyond Spa Farm.  All the land here is private, as you are frequently reminded, the fields are huge, flat and bare, but the walking surfaces are fine.

Fineshade Wood

Lots of routes to choose on easy level tracks including several possible loops, the longest of which is 4.5 miles. Paid parking at Top Lodge with toilets and cafe. Alternative access possible from King's Cliffe or, using a more demanding and damaged track, from Duddington. Fineshade is a popular site for families and can be very busy at peak times.

This is the view if you enter Fineshade wood from the King's Cliffe direction.

More suggestions of walks on hard tracks coming soon - or perhaps you know of some good walks that you could recommend?  If so please send us an email with your ideas. 

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