The walk is an easy six-miler and starts in the car park of Idle Valley Nature Reserve (IVNR), near Retford.
It is important to note that there is a potential trespassing issue with this walk which can easily be addressed via the owner – Hallcroft Fishery & Caravan Park on 01777 710448. Walk out of the reserve, back to the A638. Cross the road and turn right, walking back in the general direction of Barnby Moor. Pass the car wash and eventually come to staggered crossroads. Take the road to your left, sign posted Babworth.
Come to a level crossing. Traverse the crossing and continue walking on the verge until you will see in the distance a canal bridge. Do not go over the bridge, turn left shortly before it, under a barrier gate and into the field. Turn right and follow the tree line on your right which runs parallel with the road you have just left. You will then come to the Chesterfield Canal towpath. Turn left and you will be walking in the general direction of Retford town itself.
Pass under several bridges, remaining on the left hand towpath the whole time, until you reach a canal lock/weir, with housing on the other bank and an iron railing on your left. This is the perimeter fence to King’s Park, Retford. There is a gateway further down on the left – pass though it, bearing left and into a children’s play area, then keep to the right of this and you will come to a footbridge which crosses the River Idle. Go over that and walk towards the main entrance to the park itself. This is an ideal spot to have your refreshments while seated on one of a number of park benches in the beautifully maintained gardens.
Carry on and pass through the main park gates. Bear left and then cross the road and into a car park on your right. You will see buildings immediately in front of you and these are free public toilets. Turn left at the junction and you will then pass into the main market square of Retford, adjacent to the main shopping centre. There are a number of eateries and fast food outlets available. Walk through the square keeping the shops and cafes to your left.
Turn left at the jeweller’s shop and pass through an arch in a wall. Turn right and take the next left, down a narrow lane between a gymnasium on the left and a cafe on the right (currently closed). You will come to another car park and there is a Sports Direct store on the left. Turn right and you will then have reached Bridgegate. Cross over the road and into Riverside Walk on the other side. Walk down the lane and turn left across the footbridge, over the River Idle once again and then turn right. Walk under the road bridge and onto the river path. There is a Morrison’s store to the left and the River Idle is on your right. Note just how fast running and clear the waters are, ideal habitat for Brown Trout. Try to spot one en-route between the submerged reeds and grasses.
Continue along the riverside footpath which is uneven at this point and rather narrow in places. Eventually you will reach a style which marks the boundary of private land previously referred to above. The private fishing grounds commence at this point, several lakes stretching over numerous acres, prior to returning the IVNR. Climb the style and take the path immediately in front of you, i.e. the one running parallel with the River Idle which will remain on your right for most of the route back. You will eventually come to a limestone path which circumnavigates the caravan park/fishing grounds. Walk straight along this path as it meanders and remain on it as you pass the lakes, again keeping the river to you right. You will then reach a further fence/gate which marks the end of the fishing grounds and the boundary of the IVNR. Walk through the gate and progress along the main path. Remain on it, which later makes a 90 degree bend to the left. By this stage the river has ceased to be on your right, but the walker will be aware of the nature reserve’s large lake on the left.
Stay on the main path until it will eventually re-emerge into the main car park and back from whence you departed.