A stroll though the parks with Doncaster Ramblers
Meeting at The Coal Garden of the former Terversal pit in a slight drizzle, Peter Gravestock briefed 22 of us on the walk, starting with the history of the immediate former mining area.
We started our walk on the Teversal Trail old railway line, the drizzle stopped and we walked on, chatting about everything and nothing. As we left Nottinghamshire and entered Derbyshire we came to the Pleasley Pit Country Park, with restoration work continuing to turn a derelict landscape into a thing of beauty.
We had our ‘Elevenses’ here before doing a loop around the park and continung westwards to Rowthorne and across fields to Ault
Local residents of this place describe it as ‘the smallest village in England’ consisting, as it does, of only a church and three houses. It is worth noting though that the population of the parish was over 1,000 at the last census.
St John the Baptist’s Church itself dates from the 11th century, with C14th-15th features. Memorials include those of Anne Keighley, wife of William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire, and to the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, one of the founders, in the 1600s, of modern political phiposophy.
From Ault Hucknall we turned south-westerly towards Hardwick Hall. This is an architecturally significant country house from the Elizabethan era. Built between 1590 and 1597 for Bess of Hardwick. Hardwick’s history is closely associated with the lady who built it, Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, known to many simply as ‘Bess of Hardwick’. Born on the site of Hardwick Old Hall Bess - Elizabeth Shrewsbury - rose to a position of great power within Elizabethan society. The new Hardwick Hall, produced by Robert Smythson, known as the first English architect, utilised new ideas on symmetry, in complete contrast to the adjacent old hall.
The sheer quantity of glass is daring and has given rise to a local saying ‘Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall’. The size of the windows increases progressively in height from the ground upwards and the turrets are topped with the initials ‘ES’ and a coronet, leaving no one in any doubt of who built Hardwick. We didn’t let all this grandeur spoil our lunch, which we ate in the gardens adjacent to the Long Barn.
Once replete we turned to the east through a spit of woodland, during which time it started raining. It stopped as we left the woods but started again as we crossed a large field - time for rainwear to be donned.
We reached Norwood Lodge where we turned south back towards Teversal, re-joining the Teversal Trail for the final section of the 11-mile walk. Grateful thanks to Peter for planning and leading this walk, and to Jeremy for backmarking the group.
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Remember while out observe the Countryside Code and give way to other walkers.
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