This is a truth that should be repeated like a mantra: to have any chance of a ful – filling life, we require not only clean air and a steady climate, but also an abundance of meadows and woodlands, rivers and oceans, teeming with life and the mass existence of other living creatures. – John Burnside
I hadn’t been to Clumber Park, in Nottinghamshire for at least 10 years so when the opportunity arose last week I took it with much excitement.
Clumber Park is a bit more than just a park. It’s 3,800 acres of woodlands, heathlands and manicured country grounds. Built in the 1700’s the original estate house was badly burnt in 1879 to be rebuilt, only to have another fire destroy it in 1912.
This is what is looked like around 1910:
Pretty impressive really.
Eventually, it was demolished in 1938 because, like a lot of big stately houses, it became too costly to run after the Great Depression hit. Consequently, bits of the original house are all over the country as private buyers went off with their goods.
Like so many estates in England the land actually stayed intact and was left as a gift for people to enjoy. The National Trust took it over in 1946. Areas that survived the demolishing included a chapel that was built in 1889, a 4-acre kitchen garden and the longest double avenue of limes trees in Europe.
Going to Clumber is like a mismatched history lesson. But it’s history doesn’t do the place justice. I like to think of Clumber Park more like a great big, exciting, outdoor, playground. Where you can wander through woods, meet squirrels and deer, enjoy some breathtaking scenery and let yourself become immersed in nature for a few hours.
Thank goodness Clumber Park actually got the SSSI status in 1981 – Site of Special Scientific Interest – due to the valuable habitats for insects and birds. This means it has legal protection and heavy planning restrictions in place.
And so it should, it’s a pretty special place – just next door to Sherwood Forest as it happens.
It’s an ideal day out for walkers, bicyclists, birdwatchers and tree spotters (that one is me just in case you wondered), kids, dogs and picnic enjoyers (it’s also highly accessible for wheelchair users).
If you’re a member of the National Trust it’s free to park your car, but if you’re not then it’ll set you back £7. At first glance it’s a rather expensive car park but it’s not tarmac that is being maintained. We’re talking about historic parkland that is being preserved and enjoyed just by driving in.
Our dogs love Clumber and after a good walk in which we got lost and ended up going around the wrong end of the lake (what’s a walk if you don’t get lost!) we soon found a nice picnic spot with a view overlooking the lake and Chapel. The swans even came and said hello (with an added bit of hissing too), and then we headed over to the converted stable block for an ice cream.
It was a great trip and I promise not to leave it so long before going again. Afterall, – I still haven’t seen the four-acre kitchen garden yet.