Posted by: lensweb | July 18, 2017

LENS at LINBY (and Papplewick)


17 July 2017 All Day Walk Newstead Abbey and Linby Trail ‘Butterflies Galore’

Park at the end of the Papplewick Village Hall car park (near the play park), Linby Lane NG15 8FB

Leader Marion Bryce and Christine Carrier 0115 9730506

We made a prompt start from Papplewick, nearly leaving 2 of our members behind. The houses and gardens on Main Street were packed with specimen plants and flowers and history. We passed Papplewick Hall, rebuilt in 1787 for the Hon Frederick Montagu, Lord of the Treasury.

1soayz.jpgA lime tree marked the spot for a mood change as we turn left and follow Hall Lane. The tarmac track  passed fields of sugar beet, rape and miscanthus. A yellowhammer called ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’ as we named the flowers on a headland of agricultural weeds, scented mayweed, field pansy, fat hen,  and poppy. Somehow the track became  a magnificent driveway of Turkey Oaks. A sprouted acorn was carefully preserved to grow on. We dallied as a family of kestrels were trying their wings, then they settled on a branch showing side and front profile,  it seems they were waiting to be fed.


The track trundled on until a seeming dead-end, a pair of wrought iron gates were the entrance to a lodge. The footpath passes left of the gates and follows alongside ancient beech and oak  woods. Hogweed, ground elder and sanicle survive the shady and dry conditions under the trees.

Ignoring a meadow filled with ragwort we kept under the shade until suddenly the frontage of Newstead Abbey was revealed.

DSC_1217.JPGThe abbey, the epitomy of a romantic ruin, doesn’t look real, is it too good? It seems  like a film set facade. Although originally an Augustinian Priory built in 1170 it is best known as the ancestral home of Lord Byron who lived in the house in the early 19th century. He was a leading figure of the Romantic Period, first and foremost a poet. It is sad that his enormous body of works are now little read and he is a celebrity better known by revelations of his bohemian lifestyle. The monument Lord Byron erected to his favourite dog, Boatswain, is larger than his own.

Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices

We parted in front of the garden lake, a huge expanse of water-lilied calm.  Like Alice in Wonderland we explored the romantic nineteenth century gardens around the house which were made by Mrs WF Webb and her daughters between 1865 and 1900 and are now maintained by volunteers guided by the Head Gardener. They include a fern garden, a sub-tropical garden, a Spanish garden, a Japanese garden and a rockery. The Rose Garden was added in 1965, and occupies the old kitchen garden. The enormously long and colourful large raised bed is inspirational.


There are mediaeval stew ponds and a large rectangular 17th century pond, a regular residence of 2 pairs of little grebes. There was also a family of mallards towing a line of fluffy brown ducklings. Birds are a feature of a visit to the gardens, large white orange beaked geese guard the house and peacocks think they own the place which is actually owned by Nottingham City Council and is open to the public.

After suitable refreshment at the excellent café we regrouped and passed the overflow cascade to walk out of the grounds along the east drive. The fields were full of ripe wheat and once again we were glad of the shade of the trees. A second lodge was reached, a most desirable residence. We then continued walking for a considerable distance passing distressed horse chestnuts suffering leaf fall, wych elm with sandpaper leaves, plaited trunks of sweet chestnut and lime dimpled with small globes of fruit. A small pond provided an oasis of purple loosestrife and common fleabane. The hogweed was getting a little ‘samey’ the white flat umbels being much of a muchness, until it started to turn into the ribbed stems and shiny green leaves of greater burnet saxifrage.

A left turn took us onto the path signed Linby Trail and National Cycle Network Route No 6. This is a cutting which was the route of the Great Northern Railway. Here Magnesian Limestone beds outcrop, a yellow-ochre sandy limestone in ready-made layers of bricks. It is this rock which has been used as a building stone in the villages of Linby and Papplewick. It weathers to produce a lime-rich clay soil.

This was a complete change of scene and the curtains went up on a fine performance. Firstly were yellows of tall melilot, St John’s Wort and agrimony, then pink pea flowers of rest harrow and mauve tufted vetch. A purple phase followed with common knapweed, then greater knapweed. A rare plant, saw-wort, looks similar to thistle but without spines, and gets its name from the sharply toothed leaves. It has been used to produce a yellow dye. Super-sized harebells nodded pale blue on the sides of the low but steep sided cutting.  A deep rooted survivor of hay meadows, growing tall, tiny flowers in dense oval heads a rich shade of mahogany, great burnet thrust amongst the pale powder blue flat bobbing heads like circus performers spinning multiple plates on sticks held vertically in stands, field scabious.


Where were our butterflies? Bumble bees early and tree, red tailed and buff tailed, busily buzzed, but we had been looking forward to seeing clouds of butterflies. Although a delight to see the bright blue wings of the not so common blue butterflies, we only saw 2. A few worn ringlets and meadow browns. a paltry few skippers and a small tortoiseshell. There really weren’t many insects, a capsid bug, a cardinal beetle a dance fly, we should be concerned.

Behind a screen of willow a train raced us along the Robin Hood line which runs into Nottingham. Towards the end of the trail meadowsweet’s  irregularly branched cymes packed with small creamy flowers featured more and more and a small stream ran alongside growing brooklime, fool’s watercress and edible watercress amongst spikes of bur-reed.

We had now reached Linby which starts and ends with a stone cross. Heat exhaustion was such that ice-creams had to be purchased, the barrels of flowers at the Horse and Groom looked inviting! Across the road was an interesting Parish Map of Linby explaining the history of the village.  It is a picturesque Conservation Area, streams, known as the Linby Docks, flow down each side of the main street. We spied three spotted trout before they skirled and hid under the little bridges to each cottage. Pale buttercup flowers peering at the water surface was a  water-crowfoot we had not seen before Ranunculus circinatus.

The road was quite busy so we were glad to turn off and follow a path beside a hawthorn hedge straggled through with black bryony and hedge bedstraw. Golden brown fields of wheat.  This is where we saw our butterflies, red admiral, comma, ringlet, meadow brown, gatekeeper and even a speckled wood, which seem to be in short supply this year.


It is not often that you have to apologise for the warm weather but some folks were glad of the shade of a veteran yew tree in St James churchyard. We didn’t tally too long, saving the delights of the church for another day, we followed the drive back to Main Street where the friendly faces of huge sunflowers welcomed us back to the car park of Papplewick Town Hall.

Marion Bryce 17 July 2017


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