Walk 68: Holme Pierrepoint Circular: Wet ‘n’ Wild near Nottingham

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.3 miles (5.31km)

Time to walk: If they’re canoeing it may take longer than you think, but a couple of hours

Difficulty: A mixture of hard & grass paths. Could be muddy in wet weather & fairly flat

Parking: The car park at the centre

Public toilets: At the centre at the start & finish of the walk

Map of the route:


Yet another place we stayed while working & another we loved, especially as the British Canoe Team & Paralympic Teams were here too

Holme Pierrepont Country Park is located near Nottingham on the River Trent & is the home of The National Water Sports Centre, the British Canoeing Centre, the national governing body for canoeing & kayaking in the UK, whose Headquarters are based at the site

One of the main sports held at the centre is rowing, using the 2000 metre multi-lane rowing lake. The Centre was the venue for the World Rowing Junior Championships in 1973 & for the World Rowing Championships in 1975 & 1986, & many other major competitions for UK rowing


The walk takes place inside the park itself so take a camera as there’s always plenty going on

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk this evening starts on the concourse outside the Watersports Centre. Facing the water turn left & walk round the corner


The 2000 metre, 6 lane rowing course is pretty impressive…


2. Climb the steps to the car park. From the top turn & have a look at the centre. It’s a hotel too &, whilst basic, provides good accommodation


3. Follow the road down to the next car park…


…where at the end we get our first glimpse of the wide, fast-flowing River Trent


The River Trent is the third-longest river in the UK. It rises in Staffordshire on the southern edge of Biddulph Moor & flows through & drains most of the northern Midlands around & east of Birmingham. The river is known for dramatic flooding after storms & spring snowmelt, which in past times often caused it to change course

The river passes through Stoke-on-Trent, Burton upon Trent & Nottingham before joining the River Ouse at Trent Falls to form the Humber Estuary, which empties into the North Sea between Hull in Yorkshire & Immingham in Lincolnshire. The wide estuary is a traditional boundary between northern England & the Midlands

4. Turn right along the road, passing the large sign & huge playground on the right…



…& into the car park of the White Water Centre where people were getting their canoes ready to take on the rapids



5. Walk past the building & cross the bridge. If they’re canoeing, as they were tonight, then it’s worth standing & watching for a while although the best opportunities are from the next bridge down


Built in 1986, the course is made primarily from concrete. It’s approximately 1500 metres long, drops just over 4 metres in height to produce Grade 3 whitewater rapids. The course is gravity fed, does not use electricity to power it & therefore is relatively cheap to run. Due to the nature of the design, swimming through the course is safer than many other locations around the UK due to deep channels & few significant underwater obstructions

The amount of water flowing through the course depends on rainfall & canal usage, but due to the large catchment of the Trent, flows between 16 & 25 cubic metres per second are common. The course is more likely to close due to too much water (in the winter), rather than too little

They run public rafting sessions & we’ve heard many reports about people becoming ill through swallowing water – tonight it stank!

6. After crossing the bridge turn right & head towards the lock…


…but before getting there, climb the grassy bank & walk down to the second bridge where you’ll see the best of the action. We watched a young lad getting a lesson from a ‘master’



The youngster didn’t get on too well…


7. We could stand here & watch masters ply their craft all night, but are really only just at the beginning of the walk so walk back over the bank to the path again & pass the lock


This is Holme Lock & it’s a biggie – each of the lock gates weigh 15 tons! It’s definitely bigger than those on our county’s canal system

8. Halfway along the lock, look for a gap in the hedge on the right with a path leading down to the white water course bottom bridge…


The water’s calm here, but the view’s good back up the course


9. For the next couple of hundred yards follow the wide path alongside the rowing course – again tonight we were lucky there was plenty of training going on accompanied by much shouting by coxes on bikes…



10. On reaching a wide grassy area, look for a grass track heading towards a gap in the trees on the left – this section of the walk isn’t particularly easy to follow as it forms part of a circuit training / assault course. It’s hard to go wrong though as it’s in the bend of the river so you can’t go too far left




“Are you ready to take on the challenge of setting a new record on the 700m Adventure Activity Course? Speed through the tire run, over the cargo net, across the balance beams, into the underground tunnel & you will be on your way to earning the coveted course record. Used by the Armed Forces & members of the British Raft Team for training, the course is as close as a civilian can get to experiencing life as one of the the military elite”

We think we’ll just admire from a distance…

11. Enter the trees on the dirt track now & pass the various obstacles…



Just after the scramble net follow the grassy path between the bushes towards the river – it’s not always clear, but is hard to get lost



12. On arriving at the river follow the path round to the right as it follows the water’s curve



Cut across on the right-hand path & follow the Run signs back to the lake path



13. We’re now at the ‘starting gates’ end of the lake which, when we were there, was being inhabited by what seemed like hundreds of Canadian Geese


Walk round past the control tower & where the road bends right to start the next long straight, keep straight on up the grass track besides the bushes below


14. We’re now heading up the hill with water on the left towards Ski Tow lake – you can see the metal cable towers through the trees on the right…


At the top of the slope follow the edge of the lake to the wooden ‘launch station’…


Tricks time!

Tricks time!

The hut would be an interesting place to sit & watch the Ski Tow when it’s in full flow. There’s another good one at Willen Lake in Milton Keynes


15. The route takes us towards the blue building in the picture above when we can pick up the hard road to a locked gate…


Walk round the side & we’re now back in the park. This is a particularly interesting area as it looks like a golf course, but has very large holes…


It’s actually a ‘Footgolf’ course & looks good fun

16. We now join the main lake path once more & it’s simply a case of following this & safely avoiding the cyclists to return to the centre…


We were lucky to come across a Black Swan


Black Swans breed mainly in the southeast & southwest regions of Australia. The species was hunted to extinction in New Zealand, but later reintroduced. Within Australia they are nomadic, with erratic migration patterns dependent upon climatic conditions

They were introduced to various countries as an ornamental bird in the 1800s, but escaped & formed stable populations. A small population of Black Swans exists on the River Thames at Marlow, & near the River Itchen, Hampshire

So that’s the end of a beautiful evening’s stroll around a very interesting area. Certainly it wouldn’t be so pleasant on a rainy day as there probably wouldn’t be as much activity to look at. The white-water canoe course is worth sitting & watching on its own, although not as fierce as the Olympic Course at Lee Valley

Go Walk!