Take in glorious winter views of a ruined castle while enjoying a warming drink at the Old Lock House Café.

View of the ruined Newark Castle from the River Trent

Illustration by Arran Bee

Words by Peter Watts

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As one of the country’s longest and most important rivers, the Trent passes through several big towns including Nottingham, the city for which it is best known. But it’s over in Newark that some of the best views from the Trent can be enjoyed. Park yourself at the Old Lock House Café – an old lock keeper’s cottage overlooking the Trent right in the centre of Newark – and you can get gorgeous views of the ruin of Newark Castle while enjoying a warming tea or coffee. From here you can then explore further up and down the Trent, including Newark’s riverside park, which provides further wonderful views of the castle.

Newark Castle is a fine old stone castle that was built in the 12th century, originally from wood then hastily rebuilt in stone. It has a minor role in history as the location of King John’s last meal – legend has it that he died of dysentery after scoffing too many peaches. The castle was deliberately damaged to take it out of action during the Civil War, but rebuilt in the 19th century. Its grand and romantic exterior walls still stand tall over the Trent for which it was built to guard and the castle is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument as well as Grade I-listed. Admission is free and Gilstrap Heritage Centre is found within the castle grounds, where you can learn about the castle and the history of Newark itself.

The Trent is a major part of that history. It provided the town with a direct link to Nottingham and Newark’s inland port was once one of the biggest in the UK, a destination for wool, coal, grain and timber. While many of the old warehouses and offices have since been converted into cafés, bars and restaurants, the locks are still in use and are maintained by Canal & River Trust volunteer lock-keepers among them Nick and Jayne Bigham, who have been named lock-keepers of the year in the recent past thanks to their tireless work in Newark.

Plan your day out to Newark.

Posted on 17/01/2020