Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Milton Mausoleum, Nottinghashire

Get Off the Beaten Track

It is so easy to miss the beauty close to home and away from the tourist trails. The villages of Nottinghamshire are little known gems. As we found with our article on the Villages of the Trent Valley much the same is true of the villages of North Nottinghamshire.

We recently had a weekend trip to correct that omission and we were delighted with what we found. Because of very poor weather we were limited in what we could do. It rained heavily for most of the time so mainly became a planning trip for future vists. So in this article we will share a few highlights that did not provide enough material for an article in their own right; we will go back and correct that in due course.

Wellow - Nottinghamshire's only Permanent Maypole

Maypole Dance Wellow 5487web200On our way from Nottingham we paid a short visit to Wellow, for a long time it claimed to have the tallest permanent maypole in England. We wanted to see the replacement after the old one was taken down (due to corrosion) in 2010. We were rather early so the village was quiet and our visit was short but preparations were underway for the maypole celebrations on the Spring bank holiday Monday. In 2012 it was to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations for Queen Elizabeth. Unfortunately the weather was forecast to be very poor so we did not plan to return for the event; perhaps another year.

Milton Mausoleum


LF04006 Milton MausoleumWe based ourselves at Milton near Retford and the A1 which itself is a pleasant enough village. It is a typical North Nottinghamshire village with red brick houses mostly with red tiled roofs running along its main street.

On the outskirts of the village is Milton’s most striking feature: the Mausoleum, All Saints, built by the 4th Duke of Newcastle for his Duchess, Georgina Elizabeth, who died in 1822 giving birth to twins. It was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect of the British Museum and many other major commissions. After a period of decay since 1972 it has been restored and is now a quiet and attractive setting. It is in a classical style with an octagonal lantern with a small dome. It was described by Nikolas Pevsner (Buildings of England, Nottinghamshire, 1951) as “ a clever combination of church and mausoleum”.

Milton is also the home of the Mellors Farm Butchers Shop. They have a national reputation for their meat, their pork pies and other meat products. They have been national Champion of Champion for their sausages and win prizes at Agricultural and other shows. We stayed on their small, quiet campsite but unfortunately we got there late on Saturday after the shop was closed for the Sunday and Monday so we were not able to try their food or that of other local producers; oh well, we will have to make another trip.

Eakring – Britain’s First Oil Field

LF04093 Duke Wood Nodding Donkey

Just off the Eakring to Kirklington road is Dukes Woods Oil Museum. Although the wood is now a nature reserve, between 1939 and 1966 it was Britain’s first onshore oil field. During World War 2 it was an important source of oil. Even then it was wooded which is why it was possible to keep it as secret as a site with 1,200 people and frequent truck movements taking the oil to the railway can ever be. It was only officially acknowledged in 1944. It provided a very important 1.4million barrels of oil for the war effort.

There are still non-working “nodding donkeys” in the woods to be discovered. At one time at Dukes Wood and nearby there were 1240 of these pumps extracting the oil. Although none are working now there are a few still working elsewhere in the area. Although they are known as nodding donkeys we felt they looked rather more like praying mantis.

Heavy rain discouraged us from exploring the reserve further especially as we had to get dressed up to go to a Jubilee party, so Dukes Wood another destination to revisit as a day trip. However at the party I had an interesting conversation with someone who had grown up on a farm in the area. He had a pool of interesting knowledge which I aim to explore as the basis for a future visit and an a article.

The museum provides a history of UK oil and gas fields as well as being an educational facility for the nature reserve. It provides insight into a unique piece of English social, industrial and natural history. It is worth noting that the reserve is always open but there is very limited parking and the lane is narrow so visitors who cannot park at the reserve should park on the main road and not block the lane.

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The Winding Way Creates More Idea

Our trip took in Rufford and Ollerton Mills to Laxton with its open fields system of farming, to Tuxford and its windmill. Unfortunately it was Saturday, the Sabbath, and a bank holiday weekend so the Holocaust Centre was closed when we were in the area so it will be the subject of a separate trip. There is just so much more for us to explore on our doorstep in Nottinghamshire, even away from the tourist areas such as the Dukeries and Sherwood Forest there is much to enjoy, much that is under-appreciated.

But that is the joy of The Winding Way. As we explore, we respond to weather, events and our discoveries so plans can go out of the window; it truly becomes an exploration. But in return new ideas, new plans are formed. We are finding that as we visit places on the winding way, we discover even more. We have no risk of running out of ideas, new discoveries and the desire to revisit in different circumstances are coming faster than we can explore them – we might have to go full-time.

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