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Notts Flag

Famous for Sherwood Forest and the legend of Robin Hood, there’s plenty more to the East Midlands county of Nottinghamshire. Beautifully rural in many parts, Nottinghamshire also has thriving towns and a major contemporary city. Every area is brimming with culture, history, heritage, and with plenty of things to see and do, Nottinghamshire is a great destination to visit.

Days out in Nottinghamshire

Whatever activity or attraction you’re after, there’s plenty of choice for days out in Nottinghamshire. In addition to the capital city and county town of Nottingham, other larger market towns, including Worksop, Mansfield, and Newark-on-Trent, give plenty to explore. There are plenty of smaller towns like Eastwood, Retford, and Sutton-in-Ashfield that make for interesting visits if you’re in the area.

There’s plenty to get you started in Nottingham, and nowhere in the city has more history than Nottingham Castle. Built in 1068, Castle Rock dominates the skyline and has plenty to explore; just a few minutes walk away, enjoy a memorable visit to the City of Caves, an atmospheric network of passageways and over 800 sandstone caves deep beneath the city centre.

Located inside the city’s Grade II listed Old Shire Hall and County Gaol, the National Justice Museum gives a fascinating, interactive, and dynamic look at law and justice. While you’re exploring Nottingham, look out for the 7ft tall, bronze Robin Hood statue.

Over in Newark-on-Trent, the Newark Air Museum is home to a varied mix of aircraft, both outdoors and in its hangars, with much of the country’s aviation history on display. You could also enjoy a guided tour of the ruins of Newark Castle overlooking the River Trent – a stunning example of over 900 years of history with many features still intact.

Just outside Mansfield, why not take the chance to visit one of England’s most famous forests? Royal Sherwood Forest is over 1,000-acres of and inside you’ll find the famous Major Oak. Claimed to be Robin Hood’s hideout, the old oak is thought to be almost 1,000 years old. Sherwood Pines Forest Park is one huge adventure playground, offering every type of outdoor activity you could possibly need, from walking, cycling, and running trails, to forest golf, Segway, orienteering, Go Ape, and more.

In Eastwood, literary fans can visit the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum for a peek into the writer’s life and history as well as his home, which has been fully restored to its original 1880s appearance. If you have one or two under-10s to keep entertained, a trip to Sundown Adventureland just east of Retford is crammed full of rides, attractions, and play areas offering a full, family fun day out.

Topography, geology, and climate

Without a coastline, Nottinghamshire is beautifully rural inside its borders. The county features certain soils which are unique to that part of the world, especially over such a large area, and this gives Nottinghamshire a wonderful landscape that provides a range of different land qualities and soil types.

The entire east side of the county is made up of free-draining, mild-acid, sandy soil with low fertility, alongside a few small pockets of high acid sand and loam. The central area features predominantly mild-acid loam and clay soils that extend into the south. On the Western side, soils are more mixed between naturally wet, high-acid sand and loam together with seasonally wet, mild-acid and base-rich loam and clay, with lime-rich, highly fertile loam and clay more prominent in the south.

Sheltered by the Pennines to the west of the county, Nottinghamshire is fairly well protected from extreme weather and heavy rainfall. The county often enjoys warmer temperatures in the summer with an average high of around 20ºC (68ºF). Winters are also often milder with temperatures averaging at a little over 2ºC (35ºF). Rainfall across the county is also fairly low and averages around 700mm (27”).

Nottinghamshire’s parks and gardens

Together with the county’s natural beauty, Nottinghamshire features some fantastic country parks, award-winning public parks, formal gardens and magnificent arboretums to enjoy. Offering everyone a perfect, relaxing day out, each place has plenty to offer the casual visitor and the more committed gardener or horticulturalist.

North Nottinghamshire

For a wonderful blend of parkland, open heath, and mature woodland, Clumber Park near Worksop certainly ticks all the right boxes. Covering over 3,800-acres, there’s plenty to discover along the many walking and cycling trails, including beautiful Rhododendrons and many specimen trees.

But at Clumber’s heart is the magnificent Walled Kitchen Garden. Covering 4-acres, this wonderful space is dominated by the 135m Victorian glasshouse containing figs, palms, vines, and many other exotics. Outside there are separate areas to explore including the formal rose garden and a myriad of fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, together with more than 135 varieties of rhubarb.

On the outskirts of Sherwood Forest near Ollerton, Rufford Abbey Country Park has a host of activities for a memorable day out in its 150-acres of parkland and woodland. Enjoy the peaceful arboretum, plus a series of formal gardens. Linked by pathways and dotted with sculptures, you can explore the manicured Herb garden with its arbour, the Japanese garden, and walk through the beautiful willow arch.

In Retford, Kings Park is an award-winning public park in the heart of the town. Covering almost 25-acres, the park is split by the River Idle running through it. To the west of the river, you’ll find the less formal part with play areas and refreshment kiosks. The eastern half contains several formal gardens with mature specimen trees, hedges, lawns, and beautiful beds and borders. You’ll also find the spectacular rose garden with plenty of varieties displaying plenty of colour and scent.

South Nottinghamshire

Built in the 1580s, Wollaton Hall, in the heart of Nottingham, features stunning Elizabethan architecture and sits inside 500-acres of open parkland and woodland with its wildlife-friendly lake. Wollaton is home to hundreds of wild deer, which make for a fantastic sight as you explore the estate’s family trails, and the formal gardens are a real treat.

Extensive lawns feature plenty of colourful beds and borders, including beautiful Camellias grown in the Glasshouse. While you’re visiting, make your way to the stable blocks to see a wonderful collection of plant families at the Nottingham Hardy Plant Group Botanic Garden, including paeonies, trillium, allium, and acanthus.

In Ravenshead, Newstead Abbey has 300-acres of parkland with lakes and ponds to explore, alongside a range of formal gardens. Wide herbaceous borders provide amazing colour before you discover the Spanish garden with trimmed box hedges and vivid beds, the Walled garden with its ferns and rockeries, and the sunken Japanese garden.

Norwell Nurseries near Newark-on-Trent is much more than just a nursery. Specialising in unusual and sometimes rare herbaceous perennials, together with other garden plants and hardy perennials, they’re all grown in Norwell’s stunning gardens. Covering just an acre, the gardens are packed with beautiful herbaceous borders, specialist areas, and hundreds of different plants on display throughout the year. A real hidden gem.