Walking in woodlands, no matter where, or in any kind of weather is always a positive and uplifting experience for me. I feel lucky to live so close to so many Nottinghamshire woodlands, Sherwood forest is especially well known for its tales of Robin Hood and his merry men, legend or fantasy it may be, these woodland places still conjure up feelings of relaxation and fun times, a connection with nature will always bring feelings of wellbeing.
Calverton has its fair share of woodland in areas that date back to the days when the great Sherwood forest covered a large portion of the East Midlands without a gap. Gone are those days many years ago sadly, and mainly consist of non-native tree species for plantations of timber logging. Calverton is a village in the Gedling district of Nottinghamshire which was known as a forest village which was a part of Sherwood known as Thorney wood chase and had a lack of grazing land, the local trade was woodworking and stocking knitting, until the opening of a coal mine in 1952.
Calverton coal mine in it’s prime, employed around 750 men and produced a record 40,500 tons of coal per week until its closure in 1999. The area is now a large nature reserve and is a wonderful resource for recreation, although locally jobs are often sourced out of town apart from the local industrial park which can be seen from the top of the nature reserve, the views in good weather are for miles around and the wildlife is thriving here. It is hard to believe this was a working coal mine just 2 decades ago.
The woodlands here have been a chilled-out place for us to visit for a few years now, since we accidently discovered the area while en route to the National Trust’s Clumber park, also a part of Sherwood forest. We spotted a convenient layby to park in and had decided to explore a new area for a change. These woods are now a certified favourite haunt any time of the year. On our most recent visit, we’d chosen a cold and frosty morning to go for a walk and couldn’t decide where to go until we had some inspiration and made the decision to head to Calverton in the fog.
I enjoy crisp, frosty morning walks, and fog just makes the experience more mysterious. We had picked up some packed lunch on the way over and had our hats, gloves and scarves in our back packs which were certainly needed by the time we had reached the very top where the chill wind was blowing on that chilly, foggy day. Summertime visits are so warm up on top of the nature reserve in comparison and a full walk around the site is great for some varied views and terrain, this mix of woodland, grassland and areas of wetland makes for great diversity of wildlife habitat here.
Some of the nature reserve is fenced off for the protection of the local wildlife and sometimes for our own protection due to the nature of its previous industrial use and due to deep water. Occasionally the coal mining becomes obvious in the landscape and old signage is still around, even after 20 years there’s still industrial intonations, which I respect, and I feel is right to show the years of hard work spent here producing coal for the community.
We often take a totally different route on each visit, there are many different trails to take here and we love to explore. On our recent trip we’d haphazardly found a different way up to the summit and discovered a war memorial. We were very surprised this RAF memorial was so hidden and that we had not spotted it before. The memorial is to the No.300 Masovian Squadron RAF. On the night of the 13th -14th October 1940 the squadron suffered its first loss. A Polish crew returning from a successful bombing mission in Boulogne could not return to the airfield due to the airfield being attacked by German bombers.
A German plane cruised near their field at Swinderby and kept it blacked out so that the homing bombers had to wait in the air until their fuel was almost all gone. They finally had to make forced landings in darkness and mist. The squadrons bomber crashed during the landing at the Watchwood plantation during landing, bursting into flames, the whole crew perished. The memorial here in Watchwood Plantation in Calverton is dedicated to the crew of that aircraft, Fairey battle MK1 L5499 BH-Y. The crew are buried at Wilford Hill cemetery, Nottingham.
Dedicated to *Flying officer Jan Gebicki -Pilot * Sergeant – Edward Morawa – Observer * Sergeant Tadeusz Egierski -Gunner/wireless operator.
Our recent trip was a frosty and foggy one during an early winter spell, and was a slightly less thorough circular than normal due to our older dog needing some rest. Nevertheless, we will still find this area a favored place to relax and walk any time of year and it will always conjure up fantasies of Robin Hood and memories of times past.
Woodlands are special places, and if you also discover ancient, unspoiled woodland, these places need protecting more than anything else. I hope you love woodland places as much as I do, let’s keep them protected.