Rather eager to see what ‘the box’ on top of the castle rock was all about, I took a walk up there yesterday morning. There was a chill wind but the Sun was shining brilliantly, which made it a good day for walking.
When I arrived at the summit of the hill, straightaway I noticed that basically all that is left of the old medieval edifice is a few foundations. Like a lot of old English castles the original was last used during the Civil War and then destroyed by Cromwell’s men afterwards. After the Restoration the site was given to one of Charles II’s faithful followers and he completed building a fabulous Stuart Mansion atop the rock in 1668, which is ‘the box’ that still stands there now and is seen for miles around.
Unfortunately due to bad planning on my part the battery in my camera ran flat before I was able to take any close-up pictures and I hadn’t taken a spare, so I only have my distant shots of the house to show you, which I took at another time.
In the Nineteenth Century the house became derelict and was finally bought by the city council, who refurbished it and the mansion is now a museum and art gallery.
The Gate house. The old and the added new
The view from the rock back towards the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station,
which ‘Futurest’ and I passed earlier.
Apparently the rock is honeycombed with caverns and passages and one or two houses have been built right into it, including what is reputed around here to be the oldest inn in England. ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’ is dated 1189.
I visited the pub today for lunch and enjoyed a hearty sausages and mash together with a pint and the small saloon bar where I was sitting had been hewn out of bare rock. It’s a soft sandstone called Sherwood Stone which lends itself very nicely to being dug out. The pub reminded me rather of the rock houses that I visited during the summer before last at Kinver in Gloucestershire.
The oldest Inn in England
I had every intention of moving on today but luckily noticed that there are very few places along the Trent from now on to buy diesel. The level in the fuel tank is below halfway and though ‘JP2’ is most economical; I’ve not filled the tank since leaving Warwick two months ago, I would like to top it up before I join the river, so there will be no chance of me running out at a crucial moment.
The only place available is at Nottingham Castle Marina, the entrance of which is about a hundred yards astern of where we are moored. Today the marina has been closed but they are open tomorrow, so I’ve postponed leaving till then. I’m hoping the north easterly wind will have eased by the morning as well, otherwise my hundred yards going astern might be a bit ‘hairy’ past the craft moored astern of us.
It is always nice being moored in a sizable town or city for a few days and I look forward to it always, as the shops are indispensable when one needs special things occasionally. But afterwards, it is so lovely to get back into the quietness and solitude of the countryside again; to my friends the Mallards, the Swans, Moorhens and Herons and all the other wild life who never demand anything of me except to be their friend; to the masses of reds, whites, yellows and blues of the wild flowers, so prolific and fragrant at this time and the multishades of green in the sparkling sunlight that are the trees, hedgerows and grasses.
Surely that is Paradise.... A wonderful wild Paradise.