Clumber Park

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Clumber Park is all that is left of a once grand mansion which was demolished between the wars. It is a popular day out with locals as there is a lake, pleasant grounds, large walled garden, childrens play area, chapel, cafe and miles of tracks to explore.

The estate belonged to the Dukes of Newcastle and was originally a hunting lodge but was later extended to become their main home. The house was destroyed by a disastrous fire in the C19th but was rebuilt. Another fire in 1912 caused less damage, but the effects of the First World War followed by the Great Depression left the house in poor condition. Like so many other stately homes, it was demolished between the wars in 1938. Only the Duke’s library and study survived and is now the Reading Room Cafe.

The park is now in the ownership of the National Trust.

The estate contains woodland including commercial coniferous forestry, parkland, open heath grazed by sheep and farmland. The grounds around the house were landscaped with pleasure gardens and the serpentine lake.

The main entrance to Clumber Park is off the A 614 at Apleyhead lodge. This brings you in along the glorious double row of lime trees that were planted in 1840 and is the longest avenue in Europe.

A road leads off this to Hardwick village which was built as an estate village at the beginning of the C20th and contains some fine Edwardian houses. Grange Farm, the estate farm is here and has open lambing days in the spring. There is a small car park and an ice cream van most days. There is access to the lakeside path from here.

The lake is popular with local fishermen. There are swans, ducks and geese to feed. There is also a four mile walk around the lake. This is on well made gravel paths and is popular with families with pushchairs as well as wheelchair users wanting a longer walk.

The walled garden has gradually been restored as a working Victorian garden growing a range of old fashioned varieties of flowers, fruit and vegetables. This is made up of several smaller walled gardens and has a huge greenhouse at one end. This was originally heated by an underfloor heating system, fired by locally sourced coal, allowing exotic plants to be grown all year round. The pipework can still be seen beneath the ornate metal floor grates. The iron gate at the bottom of the garden leading onto Cedar Avenue is no longer used. It allowed cold air and moisture to escape from the garden, avoiding frost pockets which could damage tender plants or reduce the growing season.

Along the outside wall are the houses of the head gardener as well as workshops. The Garden House Tea Room is here, serving home made cakes and teas on period china.

Near the walled garden is the cricket pitch with rustic pavilion built with split logs and a thatched roof. Cricket is still played here on Sunday afternoons.

The main car park is near the stable yard complex with the main visitor facilities including shop, plant sales and the Book Room Cafe. Lawns run down to the lake with the foundations of the original house marked out. Near here is the childrens adventure playground.

The Chapel is a short walk from the stable yard and is one of the best examples of Gothic Revival building. Built at the end of the C19th, it was designed by GF Bodley. Its tall spire dominates the park. The inside is equally splendid with carved choir stalls and white alabaster altar and reredos. Most of the windows are by CE Kempe. It is open during the summer months and is still used for services.

Clumber Park has miles of tracks and footpaths and is popular with walkers and cyclists. There are a range of cycles and family cycles which can be hired as well as wheelchairs, powered mobility vehicles and adapted cycles. All the cycle routes have large gates and stiles suitable for use by cycles and horse riders.

As well as the Lakeside walk, there are lots of other footpaths and tracks to explore taking you to the furthest corners of the park.

Maps of the estate are available from the shop. It is quite easy to spend the whole day walking here. The lakeside walk is always busy but once away from here, especially to the north, there are few visitors.

It is a lovely country park and is well worth exploring. Entry is £6.50 per car with National Trust Members free. Cyclists and pedestrians are free. There is an additional small charge for the walled garden. Again National Trust members are free. Access from Apleyhead lodge is any time as this is a public road. Other entrances may only be open between 10-5 on weekdays and 10-6 at weekends

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There is designated disabled parking near the main visitor facilities and also by the entrance to the walled garden. Car parks at Hardwick and the south west end of the lake give quick access to the lakeside walk. Cars can be parked along Lime Tree Avenue and around the cricket pitch.

There is level or ramped access to all buildings. Disabled toilets are by the main visitor facilities, with more near the cricket pitch.

Forest roads and tracks are well maintained and suitable for wheelchair users. The paths through the pleasure ground and lakeside walk are wide and flat with a good surface. Some woodland tracks may be uneven with roots.

Wheelchairs, powered mobility vehicles and adapted cycles are available from the Cycle Hire Centre near the main car park.

There is a recommended walk for wheelchair users here.

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