More car-free adventures aroundNottinghamEast Midlands

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With one of the country’s best transport networks, Nottingham is a great place to explore car-free; it was named as England's least car-dependent city in 2010. Visit the castle on foot, the Attenborough lakes by bike, the arboretum by tram, Newark by train or Melton Mowbray by bus... England’s largest publicly owned bus network can take you all over town and beyond. You can buy an unlimited all-day ticket from the machines at bus and tram stops for £4.80.

  • County: East Midlands
  • Great for: Art Gallery | boat trips | castles | caves | cycling | good cafés and pubs | historic houses | literary connections | museums | walking |
  • Refreshments: Everywhere
  • Please note: Updated in November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. 3. Cycle (or walk) the Big Track

    For more waterside adventures, explore the ten miles of car-free Big Track, from Trent Bridge to Beeston Lock through the city centre and beyond.

    • The route passes all kinds of historic sites, from coal wharfs to lace factories and you can download podcasts, maps and quizzes from The Big Wheel.
    • Attenborough Nature Reserve, with its marshes and bird hides, is close to Beeston Lock at one end of the Big Track, where the River Trent meets the Beeston canal.
    • You can also get to the reserve by bus or train and there’s a café in the Nature Centre, with great cake and balcony views across lakes and islands.
  1. 4. Literary bus tours

    Barrie, Byron, Lawrence, Sillitoe: Nottingham, a UNESCO City of Literature, is famous for its writers. Several trams are named after authors and book-lovers can visit their contrasting homes by bus from the city centre. You can buy an unlimited citywide all-day ticket from the machines at bus and tram stops (less with a Robin Hood pay-as-you-go card). Advice available from Nottingham City Transport.

    • Medieval Newstead Abbey, with its huge formal gardens and Victorian interiors, was home to the romantic poet Byron in the early 19th-century. The Pronto bus runs every ten minutes from Nottingham’s Victoria Bus Station and stops at the Abbey gates.
    • Entry to the park, gardens and café is cheaper on foot or by bike (as cars pay to park). There’s a mile walk through the grounds from the bus stop, past ponds and cascades with swans and peacocks.
    • Inside the house (when it’s open), you can see the poet’s gilded bed, brought from his student digs in Cambridge when he moved here, his pistol and the desk where he wrote poetry, alongside letters, manuscripts and portraits.
    • Dedicated fans could walk to Newstead Station, about half an hour away, and catch the train to Hucknall, where Byron is buried in the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene. Trams from Nottingham go to Hucknall too.
    • There’s a very different kind of literary house museum at D.H. Lawrence’s birthplace in the former mining town of Eastwood. The bookable tours run Tuesday to Saturday (0115 917 3824).
    • The Rainbow One bus goes from Nottingham to Eastwood every frequently and takes half an hour. A trail leads round the town, visiting landmarks associated with the writer’s life and work, including the Three Tuns pub, which appears in Sons and Lovers as the “Moon and Stars”.
    • Fans of Alan Sillitoe can visit the Nottingham sights, like Market Square and the Trip to Jerusalem pub, in his 1958 novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
  1. 5. Newark by train; Melton Mowbray by bus

    Nottingham is a fabulous hub for car-free journeys through the wider area; explore Robin Hood country, wander past a Trent-side castle, or sample locally made stilton and pork pies.

    • Trains take half an hour or less from Nottingham to Newark Castle station, twenty miles northeast.
    • As the name suggests, the station is a five-minute stroll from the medieval castle, where King John died in 1216. You can walk along the river below ancient stone walls or even take a seasonal cruise along the Trent.
    • The historic markets nearby change daily, with antiques for sale on Monday and Thursday, and a bustling food market on Saturdays.
    • At the National Civil War Centre, a couple of minutes further along Church Walk, you can see a 1646 siege map on velum, pick up a town trail, or have a break at the Nineteen20 café.
    • Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe on Nottingham Street in the centre of Melton Mowbray has been serving authentic pies since 1851. You can book onto one of their sample-rich traditional pork pie making demonstrations.
    • Or try a Melton Platter ( for a big wedge of authentic Melton Mowbray pie and slice of Long Clawson Stilton with homemade bread and chutney) at the More Coffee Co independent coffee shop in Market Place, round the corner.