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In the Footsteps of D H Lawrence at Eastwood

Explore the countryside around the Nottinghamshire town that provided inspiration for much of the writer's work.

Distance 5.7 miles (9.2km)

Minimum time 2hrs 30min

Ascent/gradient 360ft (110m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Rough field and woodland tracks, heavy-going after rain

Landscape Farmland and woods, red-brick towns and villages

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 260 Nottingham

Start/finish SK 481481

Dog friendliness On lead at start (poop scoop by-laws apply)

Parking Colliers Wood car park, Engine Lane, off B600

Public toilets None on route (nearest in Eastwood)

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1 Walk out of the entrance of Colliers Wood car park and turn right and then left along the pavement of the B600. At the bend turn right by Beauvale Lodge and take the track to its left (signposted 'Felly Mill'). Walk this pleasant fenced route through High Park Wood, above Moorgreen Reservoir, branching left after ¼ mile (400m) at the footpath sign. Carry on along the main track until an open field appears on your right.

2 Continue for another 150yds (137m) then turn right at the stile and walk up the left-hand side of a patchy line of trees separating two fields. At the far side turn left and follow the woodland edge. Go around the corner and, joining a wide farm track, continue alongside the forest. (The site of Felley Mill is away to your left at the foot of the slope.) After ½ mile (800m) turn right beyond the bench for a public footpath through the trees.

3 Where this emerges at a junction of three forest rides go straight ahead. With the growl of the nearby M1 motorway getting louder, turn left after the bend on a clearly indicated footpath into the woods. This emerges to follow the edge of a field, swinging right on the far side and eventually reaching a lay-by.

4 Turn right if you want to view the remains of Beauvale Priory, otherwise go left and walk down the lane to the bend by the intriguingly named Brooksbreasting Farm. Go sharply right, along the left-hand edge of a field, then turn left and drop down through two more fields. Look for the gap in the undergrowth to the right, and go over a footbridge.

5 Turn left and follow the direction of the sign across the lower part of the field. Continue along the top edge of successive fields, going right to skirt the final sloping field before dropping down to the road.

6 Cross over and turn right to enter the churchyard of St Mary at Greasley, next to the handily placed Minton's Tea Rooms. At the far side exit the churchyard on a footpath signposted 'Moorgreen'. Go across the field and continue up through stables to reach the road at the top.

7 Turn left and almost immediately right for an enclosed path between houses. Follow the waymarks across and down through fields, and at the bottom go right for the path back into Colliers Wood. Turn first left to reach the ponds, and beyond is the car park.

David Herbert Lawrence was one of the most commanding English writers of the early 20th century, but his Nottinghamshire roots were distinctly humble. He came from the industrial town of Eastwood, north west of Nottingham, and the simple two-up, two-down terrace house he was born in has been preserved as a museum. Although his father was a miner, the boy's academic expertise won him a scholarship to Nottingham High School and, after a short spell teaching in south London, he concentrated on writing full-time, often travelling abroad.

Lawrence's intense feeling for what he called 'the country of my heart' manifested itself in his writing, and many of the places you will see on this walk are represented in his books and short stories. Greasley Church is Minton in Sons and Lovers, and Felley Mill is turned into Strelley Mill in The White Peacock, his first novel. Some had dark associations, such as Moorgreen Reservoir which as Willey Water in Women in Love (and Nethermere in Sons and Lovers) was the scene of a drowning tragedy - based, in fact, on a real incident. All the way around this walk, which forms part of a local heritage trail, there are well-designed interpretation boards relating the landscape to the stories.

But his depiction of Eastwood as a dour little mining town was often unflattering and caused so much local resentment that his name was hardly mentioned for some years. Mind you, his books often had troubled lives of their own. His novel The Rainbow was at first banned for alleged obscenity, and the full publication of his most notorious book, Lady Chatterley's Lover, was delayed for over 30 years and led to a celebrated court case concerning its supposedly graphic sex scenes. Lawrence's private life was also tortuous, partly because of the wartime suspicions surrounding his German-born wife Frieda. They constantly moved from one place to another, before finishing up in France where Lawrence died of tuberculosis in 1930, aged 44.

The walk begins at the site of the former Moorgreen Colliery, renamed Minton Pit by Lawrence in Sons and Lovers. Moorgreen was producing over one million tons of coal a year as recently as the 1960s, but the seams were eventually exhausted and in 1985 the colliery closed. After landscaping the site was renamed Colliers Wood, and as part of Nottinghamshire's Greenwood Community Forest it has been planted with shrubs and trees, and ponds and wetland have been established to attract wildlife.

Where to eat and drink

Minton's Tea Rooms, next to Greasley church, is a super little place, which is open Wednesday to Sunday. It has a lovely walled garden overlooking the churchyard. The nearby Horse and Groom on the junction of B600/B6010 is the best of the local pubs (food served daily). The Durban House Brasserie at the Heritage Centre in Eastwood provides a tasty reward for the literary rambler.

While you're there

Visit Durban House Heritage Centre (open daily) on Mansfield Road in Eastwood for a glimpse of working-class life in Victorian England. Among the Lawrence memorabilia are the original court copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover. Five minutes' walk away is his Birthplace Museum, the tiny miner's home with original furniture belonging to the family.

What to look for

The ruins of Beauvale Priory, which inspired Lawrence's A Fragment of Stained Glass, can be viewed half-way around the walk. Founded in 1343, its Carthusian monks obeyed a vow of absolute silence. Two centuries later its prior, Robert Lawrence, was martyred for refusing to swear the oath of supremacy to King Henry VIII.

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