Friday 12 August 2011

Nottingham Sights Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length: 7.2 km (4.5 miles)

NOTE: I was there the week of the August 2011 riots, where a police station and a university building were firebombed, among other incidents, but it didn't stop my evening runs, or the inevitable pub crawls later on!
Less than happy hour: pub with smashed window during the riots
NOTE: for more Nottingham routes, see Route List.

If you find yourself in Nottingham, as I did last week during the riots, you might be wondering what there is to see as a runner. This is a route that takes you by a variety of scenic stuff, on a loop through the south side of town, along the River Trent.

There is a lot to see here: some of the old town, the castle, an ancient inn, caves, the Nottingham Canal with its revived waterfront, the park-lined River Trent, hanging bridges, the stadium, and the Beeston Canal with its locks and towpath. You can't beat the variety, so off we go!
Nottingham's Old Market and Exchange Building
We'll start in the heart of town, at the old market square, at the foot of the impressive Exchange building. This is the largest town square in the UK. Turn your back to the Exchange with its dome, and run southwest, past the fountains up Friar Lane to the castle. In just a couple of blocks you'll find yourself at the castle's stone gates.
The castle gates
You might want to peep through the gates to the castle itself, which is really a big palace, from the Dukes of Newcastle. Now it's used as an art museum, after being burned down in 1831 by angry mobs rioting about the dismal housing situation for the poor. Many of them lived in squalid, dark, dank caves dug into the sandstone rock hill beneath Nottingham.

Turn left on Castle Road to run downhill along the castle walls looming above on the clifftops.

You'll see Robin Hood's statue on the right, who hid-out in nearby Nottingham Forest. He's still aiming his arrow at the castle wall.
Robin Hood takes aim
Further down the street, you run past the "Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem" pub, which claims to be England's oldest inn. It is indeed old and impressive, and you should definitely stop in later on. It butts agains the cliffs, and there are man-made caves going into the rock for many of the inn's rooms, where earlier the beer was brewed. It's truly unique.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
NOTE: There are two other pubs in town that claim to be "Nottingham's oldest", which are also worth visiting. The "Bell Inn" is a very traditional pub with live jazz music, just off the market square. And "Ye Olde Salutation Inn" is a rock-oriented pub with a gothic crowd of regulars and live rock- and blues acts. It's the friendliest pub that I visited in town. An old guy with a basket full of seafood makes the rounds of the pubs each night, if you don't feel like the normal pub food.

To the left of the Olde Trip pub you can see some of the old cave entrances in the bottom of the cliff. Nottingham's earlier Gaelic name meant "Place of Caves", and people worked and lived in them until the 1920s.
Caves next to the Olde Trip
Castle Road ends at Canal Road, where you turn left and run to the next corner. At the corner (Wilford Road), turn right and run just 100 meters to where it bridges the Nottingham Canal. Cross the canal and turn left to run eastwards on the canal's south bank.
Towpath along Nottingham Canal
The warehouses along this stretch have been converted into attractive waterside pubs and offices, nice spots to eat outside in good weather. Run along the towpath, to the next roadbridge, where you run up the ramp to Carrington Street, and turn right.
Nottingham Train Station
You will run past the red-stone train station on the left side. Just past the station, turn diagonally to the right and run along Sheriff's Way until the next traffic light. At the traffic light, cross Meadow's Way and continue straight, taking the tree-lined sidewalk, the "Queen's Walk", into the park, straight ahead, as Sheriff's Way curves off to the left.
Queen's Walk
Now you just follow the path all the way to the River Trent. It goes through a tunnel under Robin Hood Way.
At the River Trent
At the river, turn left and run along the paved path next to the water, through the embankment park. The river will curve to the left, and the path goes under a Victorian-era pedestrian bridge.
The hanging bridge
Now run past the war memorial, and continue running along the water and under the big car-bridge at London Road. The path continues for a few hundred meters, with the Nottingham Forest football stadium across the river.
Nottingham Forest Stadium: The pre-game interview discussed the likelihood of rioting fans
The path ends where the Beeston Canal meets the river, with an old lock on the canal. Cross the canal and turn left to run along the towpath northwards on the east bank of the canal.
Beeston Canal locks
You can follow it all the way back into town, going under old stone bridges along the way. The loud street along the other bank of the canal is London Road.
Towpath along the Beeston Canal
The towpath ends at a basin back in the city. The canal turns left at the basin, where it joins up with the Nottingham Canal. You follow the towpath as it curves upwards to the right and crosses over the canal, then follow it downwards as it changes sides and now lines the south side of the Nottingham Canal.

This is the same canal that we ran along before, with the restored warehouses. We are now heading back to that same spot. There are some streets that cross over the canal back into the town center, but they all go around or through the very unscenic Broad Marsh Shopping Centre. This is definitely one of the most depressing places to shop that I have ever seen, only rivaling the Mall in Luton for putting you off of ever entering a store again.

Run back to the same Wilford Road bridge where we earlier started running along this canal, at the Navigation pub, just past the Magistrate's Court. Turn right and run the one block to the intersection at Canal Road. But this time, keep running straight, up Maiden Marian Way, past Ye Olde Salutation pub.

At Friar Lane, turn right and run back the one block to the market square again. Now you've earned your evening ales at the Olde Trip, the Bell and/or the Salutation!

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