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Things to do in Nottinghamshire

Updated on November 2, 2012

Having spent nearly 10 years living there, I know there are plenty of enjoyable things to do in Nottinghamshire especially if you enjoy outdoor activities and or history. There are annual events such as the Southwell Ploughing Match and Show to look forward to as well as things to do which are very cheap or free. Have a look at the options and decide what things you would want to do if visiting Nottinghamshire. Writing all these enjoyable activities up, I had to wonder why I ever decided to leave the county!


Southwell is an attractive small rural market town of around 8000 people. There are some lovely old properties around the town, making it a very pleasant place to stroll around. Of historical significance is Burgage manor, where Lord Byron the poet lived as a boy, a large and very well preserved Victorian workhouse and Southwell minster.

Saracens Head, Southwell
Saracens Head, Southwell | Source

How do I rate Nottinghamshire as a Place to Visit?

5 stars for Nottinghamshire

Even the local pub and hotel the Saracen's head can boast that King Charles I had dinner there the night before surrendering at Newark Castle in 1646.

Also of interest is the fact that the well-known cooking apple the Bramley apple originated from the town. The original tree produced fruit for the first time in 1837 and the fruit was deemed to be of such quality that cuttings were taken from the tree and ultimately they were sold far and wide.

You may be a little confused to hear Southwell pronounced South well but also pronounced Suthall. Neither is more correct than the other, but people who live in the town tend to say South well whereas those from the rest of Nottinghamshire say Suthall.

Southwell Workhouse
Southwell Workhouse | Source

Southwell Workhouse

Visit Southwell workhouse and experience what life was like for jobless people with no other means to sustain themselves between 1834-1948. There is an extensive Victorian kitchen garden. Produce from the garden can be purchased or enjoyed at the café.

Cost £15 for a family ticket. Closed in the winter and on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Southwell Minster 'pepperpot' towersSouthwell Minster at duskStone carving at Southwell MinsterSouthwell Minster
Southwell Minster 'pepperpot' towers
Southwell Minster 'pepperpot' towers | Source
Southwell Minster at dusk
Southwell Minster at dusk | Source
Stone carving at Southwell Minster
Stone carving at Southwell Minster | Source
Southwell Minster
Southwell Minster | Source

Southwell Minster

Building began on Southwell minster in 1108 and some evidence of that earliest work survives. By 1170 the towers, which are described at being like ‘pepperpots’ were completed.

From then on additions were made throughout the centuries. Of particular note is the chapter house built in 1300, which has incredibly intricate carvings of leaves in the stonework.

By 1805 the building was in poor repair and unsafe. The iconic 'pepperpot' towers were even taken down to reduce the danger. Luckily in 1850 a major restoration project began which means we can still enjoy the building in its full glory.

It really is well worth a visit. There are helpful stewards on duty as well as informative leaflets. They welcome donations which go to the upkeep of the impressive building but there is no set charge for going in. It is open throughout the year from 8am – 7pm.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Waiting to PloughPloughing with shirehorsesPumpkin classScarecrow classShowjumping course
Waiting to Plough
Waiting to Plough | Source
Ploughing with shirehorses
Ploughing with shirehorses | Source
Pumpkin class
Pumpkin class | Source
Scarecrow class
Scarecrow class | Source
Showjumping course
Showjumping course | Source

Southwell Ploughing Match and Show

An annual autumn event held at different locations around Southwell and nearby villages, the ploughing match is a splendid old fashioned agricultural show.

The ploughing match is extensive with classes for everything from horse drawn ploughs, traction engines and modern ploughs. It's not a fast event, but it is interesting. There are also livestock classes, a dog show and produce classes for everything from locally produced honey and giant vegetables to scarecrows and sheaves of wheat.

The next show will be held at Blidworth Dale, Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire on Saturday 28th September 2013.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Newark Castle in WinterNewark Castle windowsNewark Castle at NightNewark on the river TrentDragon Boat racing at Newark
Newark Castle in Winter
Newark Castle in Winter | Source
Newark Castle windows
Newark Castle windows | Source
Newark Castle at Night
Newark Castle at Night | Source
Newark on the river Trent
Newark on the river Trent | Source
Dragon Boat racing at Newark
Dragon Boat racing at Newark | Source


Newark, only 20 minutes from Southwell is another Market Town. It is larger than Southwell, but still small enough to be charming and intimate and with equally interesting and attractive buildings. Newark is on the banks of the River Trent, there has been a town there since the 10th century and was important enough for a castle to be built there in 1073. The castle ruins are free to visit and open year round, but you can pay to take a guided tour of the towers and dungeons, which you can’t otherwise access. You need to book these by phone in advance though – tel 01636 655765 which is Newark tourist information centre.

You may even strike lucky and visit at the same time as the Dragon Boat Races are held. You can watch teams of enthusiastic paddlers racing their boats down the stretch of the river Trent in front of the castle. It’s a lot more exciting than the Oxford and Cambridge boat race!

Look out for the holly avenue at Sherwood Forest
Look out for the holly avenue at Sherwood Forest | Source

Sherwood Forest

You can't come to Nottinghamshire and not visit Sherwood Forest. The most ancient trees look a bit sorry for themselves, propped up as they are with various arrangements in an attempt to increase their longevity. However get out into the forest proper and you will see a wonderful oak forest with trees allowed to die in dignity and young saplings growing ready to take over. It's particularly great visiting in autumn and winter on a crisp sunny day.

Children can enjoy racing around playing at being Robin Hood. You can look out for the plentiful wildlife and one of my favourite sights is the holly avenue. This is wide grass track with the woodland to one side and to the other a row of mature holly trees about 1/2 a mile long. When these are full of berries it looks stunning and is very popular with birds such as fieldfares.

Husky race at Sherwood Pines
Husky race at Sherwood Pines | Source
Waiting to race at Sherwood Pines
Waiting to race at Sherwood Pines | Source

Sherwood Pine Forest - Cycling

Sherwood pine forest isn't as visually exciting as the broad leaved wood of Robin Hood fame, but is worth a mention. It contains Sherwood Forest Cabins where you can stay literally in the heart of the wood and enjoy activities such as archery and swimming. Obviously staying there costs money, but the forest itself is free to use for anyone.

The pine forest has an extensive network of cycle trails and you can either take your own bike or hire one from Sherwood Pines Cycles. There are trails ranging from easy, which are safe for families with toddlers, to challenging, with jumps and obstacles to tax experienced off road cyclists.

A couple of times a year the forest is closed to cyclists, but still worth a visit. There is an off road car rally and a Sled Dog racing rally. The next sled dog event at Sherwood Pines is 12th January 2013.

Spectators are welcome at both events, but do be sure to follow the organiser's instructions for your own safety. You may see sled dogs practicing in the forest at other times of the year too, as there are some dedicated practice trails for them.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Clumber Park Church CarvingsClumber ParkCormorant at Clumber Park lake
Clumber Park Church Carvings
Clumber Park Church Carvings | Source
Clumber Park
Clumber Park | Source
Cormorant at Clumber Park lake
Cormorant at Clumber Park lake | Source

Clumber Park

Clumber Park is a 3800 acre National Trust property which consists of beautiful woodland, heath a couple of lakes, a church and a restaurant. You pay to park, but then you can spend hours walking or cycling around the estate with or without children and dogs. I used to have a great time there with my dogs.

It's a good place for wildlife watching; one of the lakes is usually host to a few cormorants as well as a range of ducks and gulls and I've occasionally seen lizards basking in the heath.

The park is open 7am to dusk throughout the year. The restaurant is usually open from 10am - 4pm.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
CockeralEwe and lambPygmy goat kidDwarf lop rabbitLeopard gecko
Cockeral | Source
Ewe and lamb
Ewe and lamb | Source
Pygmy goat kid
Pygmy goat kid | Source
Dwarf lop rabbit
Dwarf lop rabbit | Source
Leopard gecko
Leopard gecko | Source

White Post Farm Park

White Post Farm Park is open throughout the year and as well as extensive paddocks filled with animals has plenty of activities which are undercover for rainy days.

As you would expect from a farm park there are opportunities to meet livestock such as goats, chickens, llamas and pigs. They also have a walk in aviary, reptiles and pet rodents.

There are large play barns - one set out as a beach with sand, an aerial walkway and a large slide and another with a mini farm, mini tractors and bouncy castle slide.

A family ticket for the farm costs £35.00, so it is one of the more expensive options, but is none the less popular especially with families who have children under 10 years old.



Nottingham is Nottinghamshire's city and whilst there is plenty to do there, I find cities quite bamboozling, so have less first hand experience of it.

There is a large park called Colwyck Park on the edge of the city with a marina, lake, tracks for walking or cycling and racecourses for horses and greyhounds. Nearby is Holme Pierrepoint a white water activity centre. So there is plenty for active people to do even right by the city.

Nottingham itself is notable for its many red brick buildings, the Galleries of Justice Museum where you can find out more about Robin Hood, lively nightlife, modern tram system and the 'Goose Fair'. The goose fair, once a traditional livestock market, no longer contains any geese, but is one of the largest street fairs in Europe with a host of travelling fairground rides and attractions. It runs over 5 days in early October.

Possibly the most surprising thing about Nottingham is the network of 400 caves under the city which were used as housing between the 10th and 19th centuries as well as housing factories, storerooms and an underground tannery. The caves are a visitor attraction giving a taste of a very different part of Nottingham's history.

Places to Visit in Nottinghamshire

Southwell, Nottinghamshire NG25, UK

get directions

Southwell has a minster, workhouse, racecourse and 16th century pub.

Newark Nottinghamshire:
Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, UK

get directions

Newark has a castle, markets, river and occasional boat races

Sherwood Forest nottinghamshire:
Sherwood Forest, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, UK

get directions

Sherwood Forest - of Robin Hood fame. Great walking and wildlife

Clumber Park:
Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire S80, UK

get directions

Clumber has lakes, heath, an interesting church and a restaurant

Nottingham, UK

get directions


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Just beautiful and well written. I would love to visit Nottinghamshire!

    • Nettlemere profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Chef de Jour, thank you for you positive comments - especially as you clearly know the county well. Since you mention mining I suspect you know Bilsthorpe where I lived for some years.

      Bac2basics - Hey up me duck takes me back alright! it took a bit of getting used to - I never fully adopted it, but I often say 'Hey up' in greeting which I never did before I lived there. THank you for reading and voting.

      Hawaiianodysseus - thank you for commenting - it's nice to know that Nottinghamshire means something to people far distant from the county because of the Robin Hood connection. The rating thing is just my rating - unfortunately I think you can only do either one or the other with the ratings capsule. But thank you for offering it a 5 * none the less!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Very enjoyable read, Nettlemere! As a young child growing up in Hawai'i, Robin Hood was one of my favorite heroes. Who can forget the famous depiction of Robin Hood by Errol Flynn in the movie?

      The only challenge I had with this Hub is that when I went to give it a rating of 5, nothing happened. Not sure why it wasn't functional, but in fairness to you, it might be something worth checking up on.

      Thank you for sharing this. Aloha!

    • bac2basics profile image


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Nettlemere. I really enjoyed reading about Nottinghamshire. For me the attractions apart from the forest and the wildlife contained within, would be the ploughing match and show, and seeing the sled dogs racing along. I have met many people from Nottingham me ducks !! and they are a friendly lot indeed, much like those of us from Yorkshire and Lancashire. Really enjoyed the read and photo´s Nettlemere, and the way you always include free things for people to do. voted up as always + lots more.

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 

      6 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Love Nottinghamshire, the north of the county - being an ex coal miner have intimate history with this area: the farmlands, the hedgerows, the awesome trees and rivers, so much to see and much to learn. And of course Robin (the ultimate socialist) is never far from the action! Nottinghamshire also boasts many artists and craftspeople quietly working away in studios and workshops!

      I'll vote !!


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