Key Information –
Starting point: Belper Railway Station (BLP).
Journey to: Newark Castle Railway Station (NCT).
Travelled on: Friday 1 February 2019. Off-Peak Day Return cost £12.
Direct train taking 1 hour 17 minutes calling at: Duffield, Derby, Long Eaton, Attenborough, Beeston, Nottingham, Carlton, Lowdham and Fiskerton.
After a chaotic 2018, I wanted to make more of the opportunity to explore and find activities that I could enjoy which would also, improve my mental health. So as a result of this from 2019 I aimed to begin and take up more independent hobbies again.
For instance one of these will be getting out on some of Britain’s railway lines and feeling inspired by Geoff and Vicki and their Kickstarter project ‘All the Stations‘. The mission saw the couple take on the exploit and achieve visiting all 2563 railway stations in Great Britain in the summer of 2017.
My motivation was less ambitious, but I wanted to have a regular adventure to look forward. Therefore for the most part, I chose to be visiting places I felt were new or relatively unknown to me. Setting myself the aim of travelling at least once a week or whenever the opportunity arose. On every visit I would take photographs and write a blog post about what I saw and my verdict of whether it was worth the trip.
To kick off this new determination I elected to go to the Nottinghamshire settlement of Newark on Trent.
I chose Newark as a terminus for my first adventure after careful research and due diligence. Seeing that the market town has a reasonable level of history attached to it. With an affordable regular train from my recently returned to home town of Belper it seemed a fitting way to take this chance of an enjoyable exploration.
Now I am living back in Belper in the heart of Derbyshire; I am grateful to live close to a railway station which is upon the Derwent Valley line which connects Derby to the town of Matlock.
From Matlock, tourists can progress onto the Peak Rail heritage line which I last visited in 2017 (https://fjdg.me.uk/travels/day-trips/2017/04/a-pilgrimage-made-via-peak-rail) and take in the green landscapes of the Derbyshire Dales.
Despite the bitterly cold weather of the day and those preceding; I was not put off by spending time in a place I was a stranger to. Wrapped in multiple thick layers I got on the Midland Railway built station and purchased my ticket at the sheltered machine and waited patiently for the next stopping train. Non-stopping Cross Country and East Midlands trains bound for Plymouth and London’s St Pancras flashed past within eye blinks. As I gazed at the dot matrix display board informing customers of upcoming services, more passengers wandered down to join me on the platform.
Looking down at my briefly vibrated mobile phone, I saw news that the stand-up comedian Jeremy Hardy who had been a regular on two of my favourite BBC Radio 4 comedy programs ‘The News Quiz’ and ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ had lost his battle with cancer. With this information I informed my parents of this sad news but quickly returned my focus onto my promised plans.
Embarking on the 09:59 train I travelled through the metropolises of Derby and Nottingham before terminating at my destination Newark on Trent at 11:16. Commuters poured on and off at the different stations as the East Midlands Trains service glided through. However at no point was the train full. Thus I spent the journey largely undisturbed. So I was able listen to the music streaming platform Spotify and messaging friends using social media on my phone. Towards the end of the journey, I peered out of the window at the cold landscape.
I got off at the Grade II listed two platformed station of Newark Castle built in 1846 and gathered my inventory. I felt the breeze against my face whilst beside the train. Taking my time I surveyed the platform and proceeded to walk down towards the level crossing. Weighing up my surroundings I also took a handful of photographs.
Less than a five minute walk away from the station and across the busy Great North Road lies the ruins of Newark Castle and Gardens. The Bishop of Lincoln of 1135 had commissioned the castle. King John (who ruled England between 1199 and 1216) died here. John reached the castle a year after agreeing to the rights outlined in the Magna Carta. Since the mid-seventeenth century, the castle has been left derelict. As a result, Newark Castle has been since recognised as an internationally important structure and given a Grade I listing..
Spending time exploring the site which also houses Newark Registry Office. I took some more photographs of the slighted walls before walking through the gardens. Afterwards, I then diverted my attention to Newark Town Lock.
Once there I took further snapshots at the water’s edge. and taking in some of the architecture. Afterwards I moved onto locating the Market Place which is a central part of the town. Visitors to the Market Place can attend a collectors/antiques market every Monday and Thursday. Or a general retail market on other days of the week.
Moseying around the different stalls and popped up gazebos decorated in red and white my stomach to rumble. After that I saw a sign the “best” roast pork sandwiches available in Newark. So, I invested £4.50 for a foot long sub. The sandwich filled my stomach as I tried to stay warm flurry of snow fell.
Once finished I looked around the side streets. I found a friendly looking second-hand book shop which also had maps and sheet music for sale. Following my browsing of the shop. I returned into the cold exploring the exterior of the Saxon built Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene where a funeral took place.
Newark is a town of a population of 27,700 according to the 2011 Census. Despite this travellers using the East Coast Main Line will arrive and depart at the town’s other railway station. North Gate (NNG) is located about a mile outside the town centre. The station sits on the railway line connects London King’s Cross with Edinburgh. The line also serves the towns of Peterborough, Doncaster, Darlington and city of Newcastle.
Additionally, it is also important to know travel between the two Newark stations via train is not possible. Therefore, with this in mind I walked towards the three platformed interchange. This station saw 919,000 passengers in 2017-18 according to the latest figures published by the Office of Rail and Road.
Whilst at the station, a London North Eastern Railway (LNER) employee enquired about my visit allowing me to look around. After that I headed back towards the town centre albeit I took a different route. This walk offered a chance to glance at Newark’s Palace Theatre which was built during the 1920s. Nearby is the Civil War Museum which I did not visit on this trip.
Finally returning back to the Town Lock I searched for the offices of Trigger Publishing. The publishing house was set up by the Shaw Mind Foundation determined to open up conversations about Mental Health in 2016. Shortly after, I began to feel the cold more and I had visited all I wanted to see. So I returned to Newark Castle railway station.
In summary, I felt my day in Newark was a positive start to these adventure seeking day trips. I look forward to getting out and about more in the near future.