The best way to get to Nottingham is to mix’n’match NCN6 and the ex-mining trails in the area with the quieter roads in Notts & NE Derbyshire. The important thing is to avoid Mansfield, which has a nasty combination of busy dual carriageways and shared use pavements.
For example, from Nottingham use NCN6 to get to Clipstone Forest, then switch to minor roads to get over to Bolsover. From Arkwright Town you can get onto the most southeasterly point of the Trans-Pennine Trail, (NCN67) which you can follow through to Sheffield via Rother Valley & the Trans-Pennine Trail, but if you don’t mind a bit of hill-climbing you can go from Staveley through the Handleys to Coal Aston, & then drop down into Sheffield via Norton. If you follow 6 religiously it will bring you in via Worksop – pleasant enough but a long way round. OS map 120 is the crucial one to have – the Sheffield Cycle Map might help.
From Sheffield, use the Meadowhead route to get to Norton College (it is signposted off the Meadowhead route from Norton Park Rd onto Little Norton Lane.) Use the new toucan crossing to get to Dyche Lane and follow to Coal Aston.
Go left at the junction and follow the road up the hill around the corner, along Eckington Rd & Snowden Lane. Take r. Long Lane, then left to Morton Lane & Westfield Lane. Coming out at Eckington Rd (another one) turn right, then 50 yards along turn left onto Staveley Lane which will indeed take you to Staveley.
At Staveley you can take to the Trans Pennine Trail, and this isn’t such a bad idea. Follow the trail signs to Polsbrook Country Park. (Good spot for a cheap cup of tea.)
Continue along the trail southerly towards Arkwright Town (this has now been extended to the A632). When the trail appears to peter out and the road bridge crosses, get onto the road, take a left turn, over the roundabout and the M1, as far as the bottom of the hill to Bolsover. With the castle looming over, no we won’t make you go up the hill but turn right onto Station Rd, and at the end you will find an access point to the Nutbrook Trail.
((You have just passed the Arkwright Arms, CAMRA East Midlands pub of the year 2008)
This will give you a taste of some of the great trails in the area. Follow it for a mile or so until you get to Carr Lane. Time to get up that hill now, so take a left and up you go to Palterton. In the interests of avoiding Mansfield (we’ve cycled it so you don’t have to) head for Shirebrook. then Market Warsop, then Old Clipstone. This is where you hit NCN6. It will take you through Clipstone Forest, then onto Newstead Abbey, home of Byron and a useful tea spot, and Hucknall (a possible rail-bail spot, with trains to Worksop & Nottingham) before taking you on quiet roads and traffic-free paths into Nottingham.
If you still have some puff left you can continue on NCN6 to Derby and beyond—see route 5.
Getting back from Nottingham: Northern runs the Nottingham – Sheffield – Leeds stopping service. Bike reservations are not required on this service. EM trains run Norwich – Liverpool services calling at Nottingham and Sheffield. Reservations are recommended (but not compulsory) on these trains – book online at Virgin East Coast Trains (or by using the form at http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/information/contact-us/ or calling 08457 125 678)