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The Smelters' Walk
(Average user rating: unrated unrated)

Trail details

Grade of Trail:

  • Easy

Trail Waymarking:


Length of trail:

2 miles

Trail is currently open


Trail description

Past & present on Smelter Walk, Fineshade WoodsStarting at the top of the car park, The Smelters' Walk is a route suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, on level or gently sloping surfaced paths. Two miles long, it passes through area where iron was once smelted in the forest.

This is our shortest walk, all on surfaced paths, and mainly level, with some very mild slopes in one or two areas.

Archaeological evidence shows iron ore has been smelted on this site for over three thousand years. This industry was attracted here because of Fineshade’s ample wood-fuel reserves – every 1kg of iron needed a massive 1 tonne of wood to smelt it.

The sheer number of Fineshade’s slag heaps testify to there being large-scale production involving thousands of smeltings over hundreds of years. Bloomery smelting finally ceased on this site in the late 1500s. With the Victorians came the age of steam and with it a shift away from wood as the preferred building material, or as fuel. In its place came coal, bricks, iron and steel. So whilst woodlands’ importance declined, the iron ore under its roots was again brought to prominence. These days, Fineshade is a managed woodland (Woodlands have been managed for over six thousand years in Britain) and it is managed for the benefits a woodland area brings to people, wildlife and for the production of timber.

 Great Spotted WoodpeckerYou may see or hear woodpecker drumming as you walk through the woods, and the shy jay is often see bobbing ahead of you, flying from bush to bush as you approach.

On the wider tracks the grass verges will show a hold range of plants from the useful St John’s Wort with its yellow flowers catching the sun, to pink foxgloves, pale pink dog rose blue speedwell and lemon yellow primrose. Later you may come across woolly thistle, with its wonderfully downy heads and prickly stems, and also the seed heads of teasels which goldfinches love to eat. There is always so much to see, whatever the time of year.

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What's Here?

  • Cafe
  • Cycling
  • Cycling Hire
  • Educational
  • Walking
  • Toliets
  • Baby Changing
  • Baby changing is available in both the ladies' and gents' toilets.
  • Buses
  • A bus and coach parking area is to the left of the main visitor centre, parking charges apply.
  • Camping
  • Available for groups at the Danish Shelters
  • Caravan Site
  • Caravan Club Site
  • Dogs
  • Most picnic tables around the visitor centre have dog water bowls and karabiners to attach dogs to. Only registered assistance dogs are allowed within the cafe. Other dogs can go into the Little Barn seating area, when it is available.
  • Dogs on lead
  • We request that dogs are kept on a lead around the car park, play areas and visitor centre grounds.
  • Horse riding
  • There is special parking for horseboxes, parking charges apply.
  • Parking (easy access)
  • There are 5 easy access parking bays 60m from the main visitor centre entrance. Blue badges and parking tickets must be displayed.
  • Parking (chargeable)
  • 1 hour 1.50
    All day 4.00
    After 5pm 1.50
    Coaches 10
  • Picnic
  • There is a seating area in the courtyard of the visitor centre and a picnic area next to each of the play areas. Other picnic tables and benches can be found on the walks.
  • Play area
  • There are two play areas at Fineshade, one for young children next to the visitor centre and an exciting tree house play area in the woodland for older children.
  • Visitor centre
  • Open 10am till 5pm, throughout the year, except weekdays from November till February, where it closes at 4pm.
  • Wildlife
  • We have an all access wildlife hide on site. Red kites can be seen most days throughout the year.
More about what's here


OS Grid ref: SP978984
Postcode: NN17 3BB

Get directions


Central District Office

0300 067 4340
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification certifiedenjoy England quality assured visitor attractionForest Stewardship Council certified

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.