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.
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 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.
Eastwood in print
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 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.
The walk begins at the site of the former Moorgreen Colliery, renamed Minton Pit by Lawrence in Sons and Lovers. Moorgreen was producing more than 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.
Walk out of the entrance of Colliers Wood car park and turn right, then left along the pavement of the B600. At the bend turn right by Beauvale Lodge and take the track to its left (signposted 'Felley Mill'). Walk this pleasant fenced route through High Park Wood, above Moorgreen Reservoir, branching left after 0.25 miles (400m) just before a gate. Carry on along the main track until an open field appears on your right.
Continue walking 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 0.5 miles (800m) turn right beyond the bench to locate a public footpath through the trees.
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 to a clearly indicated footpath into the woods, keeping left at a fork. This emerges to follow the edge of a field, swinging right on the far side and eventually reaching a lay-by.
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 'Brook Breasting Farm'. Go sharply right, along the left-hand edge of a field, then turn left and drop down through more fields. Look for the gap in the undergrowth to the right, and go over a footbridge.
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.
Cross over and turn right to enter the churchyard of St Mary's at Greasley. Walk around the church and exit the churchyard at the far side. After crossing the cemetery, go through the kissing gate and across the field and continue to walk alongside paddocks to reach the road at the top.
Turn left and in 75yds (69m) 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.
Rough field and woodland tracks, 1 stile
Farmland and woods, red-brick towns and villages
Very good, but on lead near main road and in nature reserve at start/finish
OS Explorer 260 Nottingham
Colliers Wood car park, Engine Lane, off B600
None on route (nearest in Eastwood)
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Most people associate Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands with the legend of Robin Hood, though the former royal hunting ground of Sherwood Forest has been somewhat tamed since Robin’s outlaw days. Traditionally, the county’s primary industry, alongside agriculture, was coal mining but it is also an oil producing area, and during World War II produced the only oil out of reach of the German U-Boats.
The county is divided between the old coalfields north of the city of Nottingham, the commuter belt of the Wolds to the south, Sherwood Forest and the great country estates known as the ‘Dukeries’. Towns of note are the river port and market town of Newark, which hosts major antiques fairs six times a year, and Southwell, known for the medieval minster with exquisite carvings of Sherwood Forest.
D H Lawrence was a Nottinghamshire man, born in Eastwood, the son of a miner and former schoolteacher. He grew up in poverty, and his book Sons and Lovers reflects the experiences of his early years. Other Nottinghamshire notables include Thomas Cranmer, the first Protestant Archbishop; Jesse Boot, founder of the Boots pharmaceutical company; Henry Ireton, the man who singed Charles I’s death warrant; and Olympic skaters Torvill and Dean.