The basics It is a 4.1/2 mile (7 km) walk, partly along the Chesterfield Canal, the first canal built in Nottinghamshire, opened in 1772. Most of this eastern end from Norwood Tunnel is still open, with some delightful stretches for boaters, walkers and anglers. It’s easy walking with a delightful saunter along the canal towpath on the way back. Two pubs are available nearby, The Hop Pole at the start and The Gate at half-way. Both are well recommended and are open every day for food and drink.

How to get there The walk starts from the A620 Gainsborough Road at Welham, just east of Retford. Turn right at the Hop Pole Inn into an unused section of roadway, with ample parking space. It is not easy to find your way through Retford to the A620 – we suggest a SatNav to DN22 6UG, the postcode for the Hop Pole, or Map Ref SK719 818.


Step 1
The Walk (1) Walking away from the Inn on the lay-by, find a footpath (now waymarked) on your right, with a barrier bar that opens. Go through and bear left, crossing a stream and continuing with a hedge on your left, to a stile and the railway line, which is in regular use! Across the line, the route continues along Shady Lane – no more than a footpath, with an uneven surface sporting large holes on and beside the track – take great car, especially with children. A ditch to the right adds to the fun, but shading trees help on a hot day.

Shady Lane

Step 2
After about 1/3 mile, the path emerges on to Little Gringley Lane. Turn left and follow the road down to the A620 bend, turning sharp right at the junction into Pinfold Lane. (2)

End of Shady Lane

Corner of the A620

Step 3
Continue, climbing gently round a bend and, after 1/4 mile, up to a crossway where you turn left to follow The Baulk, a splendid high-level green lane, with distant views over the plain to the west. Continue over the railway line, to Clarborough, where you join a metalled road.

The Baulk

Step 4
Ignore a sign post, and continue round left, past the church, to reach the A620 again, where you turn right, cross the road and shortly turn left
into Big Lane. (3) Along here you have a choice of pavement right or grass verge left.

Past the church

Big Lane

Step 5
Ignoring signs left and right, go up to the top of Big Lane where you turn right along Broad Gores, continuing over the succeeding field with a field path that goes right at 45 degrees. Where this path soon forks, bear left to a recreational area that lies under the trees far ahead of you.

Broad Gores

Step 6

Bear right here on the tarmac footpath, then left, then at Smeath Lane, with the canal bridge rising in front of you, right again. Turn left on to the road, taking care with traffic over the bridge.

(4) The only footpath sign to the towpath is at the other end of the bridge, to your right. Go down the steps, but do not go straight ahead! You’ll be going North, next stop Clayworth! Turn sharp right under the bridge, round the canal right bend, to the welcoming beer garden of The Gate Inn, beautifully set on the canal side.

Signpost on the bridge

Turn sharp right under the bridge

Canal side at the Gate Inn

Step 7
You now follow the little-used towpath south for almost two miles, enjoying the verdant banks, the wildfowl, the peace and the occasional angler. (5) You will eventually arrive down at Whitsunday Pie Lock – a delightful name that reputedly derives from the time when a local woman baked a huge pie for the canal-building navvies one Whitsunday.

First sight of the lock – under the bridge

Step 8
However that quirky but curious name ‘Whitsunday Pie Field’ has been found on local maps that pre-date the canal. So that makes it a half-baked porky-pie. Take time to have a look round and a few photographs against the name on the first lock gate.

Whitsunday Pie Lock

Step 9
You can walk across the second lock gate if you’re a dare-devil. It’s a very peaceful spot, considering the A620 and a railway line are only a few yards away. Cross the bridge and exit on to the A620, turning right and crossing the busy road. In a short while you will recognise the lay-by where you started, with the Hop Pole waiting for you at the other end.

The end is in sight

This walk is suitable for those with minor walking difficulties, except
for Shady Lane. However the A620 has a pavement – join the walk at Point (2)

This walk was updated and partly revised in September 2013, incorporating a few modernising changes over the 20 or so years since Peter Fooks first walked it.

Please note – further changes can occur at any time, for which we cannot accept any responsibility.

If you are aware of any alterations, please notify me at That would be very helpful to everyone. If you enjoyed the walk – or not, also please email I would appreciate any useful comments to establish whether this experiment worked.

Click to enlarge map