Newest Review: ... the arch (past a rather clever dragonfly shaped bench) and here you'll find the main buildings on your left. There's anoth... more
After a day at Clumber you'll need your Slumber
Clumber Park - National Trust Country Park (Worksop)
Member Name: yabbadabbadoo
Clumber Park - National Trust Country Park (Worksop)
Date: 07/04/10, updated on 09/02/11 (891 review reads)
Advantages: Plenty of choice for days out, cheap even for non-NT members
Disadvantages: No country manor if that's your thing
As I said, it's very handily positioned off the A1 at the A57 intersection with the road to Sheffield. There's a big brown sign at the A1 exit and when you reach the roundabout take the A614 to Nottingham. Within a half a mile, you'll see a right turn, and there you are. Well on the borders of the park at least. There's a gateway, followed by a huge long straight road along all lined with gigantic trees. Slightly further along there's an entry point, and even for non-members the good news is it's only £5.20 per car, which I think is pretty reasonable. It's mostly one way, very straight forward, and basically you should follow the signs marked "Visitor Facilities". There you'll find ample parking including over flows in various grassed areas.
~~~~The main courtyard~~~
Once you've parked up, (we parked over by the cricket pitch area) it's a fairly short walk down to the central courtyard feature. Depending on the day you are there, you might just see tractor and trailer rides just before you enter the main square.
On your right as you walk through there's a leaflet area and most likely a representative from the Trust to greet you. To the left there are a couple of shops and some plants on display, and there's a small takeaway café on the right hand side serving hot and cold snacks including real dairy ice cream. (If you shuffle around in the bottom long enough past the ridiculous flavours like Elderberry and Honey , you may just unearth a plain chocolate one!)
Walkthrough the arch (past a rather clever dragonfly shaped bench) and here you'll find the main buildings on your left. There's another shop where you may just find a Robin Hood outfit, complete with bow and arrow set should any little merry men in your party be interested. Daddies like me on the other hand are far more likely to be struck by the delightful indoor and outdoor seating of the restaurant area. Probably best to get a visit to the facilities in for any little ones at this point, especially as the Woodland play area through the small doors on the right is bound to be spotted fairly sharpish.
~~~~The dining area~~~~
Funnily enough, one of the few let downs of Belton House is the catering, for some reason, the small facilities there just don't seem to come up to normal NT standards. No such worries here at Clumber Park I'm happy to say. There's 3 or 4 quality hot dishes of the day, choices for kids with options like spaghetti and meatballs or the convenience of a choose any 5 cold items selection. There are plenty of spacious wooden tables in 3 or 4 separate annexes, so even on a busy day like Easter Monday, with a bit of patience we were still able to get a decent table, and particularly on warmer days the outdoor seating offers a good alternative.
~~~~The play area~~~~
So after lunch, we delivered a revived and refreshed little man to a wooden kingdom of play. According to the staff member who welcomed us to the park, it's a play area designed by children, for children, and you can certainly see the appeal.
In one corner there are 3 separate miniature tree houses on different levels. Moving towards the centre piece, there's a set of fairly challenging ropes and wooden frames to negotiate, including rope ladders and a spider man style web - probably better suited for those aged 6 and over, but our little man was certainly prepared to get as far as he could before rescue daddy had to be deployed. The whole play area is thick with wood chippings, so hopefully the worst of any mini fall would quickly be absorbed.
There's also a classic double kid sized tyre swing, an obligatory wobbly bridge or two plus those bell ringing style see saw ropes to give them a quick taste of life without gravity.
All in all it's a very well thought out play area , the only slight criticism would be it's not quite big enough, especially on busy days like this one. Funny as well, that with all these cleverly crafted play areas, the old tree on it's side in the corner was probably drawing the most visitors of all - kids and trees - what is it about them!
~~~~A Ferry nice bonus~~~~
Once we'd managed to prise him away from the play area, we were intrigued to spot signs advertising a ferry service. We walked out of the courtyard, and there before us was a very impressive rolling panorama of open space, with a great big Lake at it's heart. As we'd done the Easter egg hunt thing the day before (and as our little man really didn't need any additions to his already burgeoning collection!) we skipped past the extra marquee on the right and headed to the waters edge.
It took a moment or two to locate said ferry, as in all fairness it bears a rather closer family resemblance to a large pedalo. Still it was an easy sell to our little fella, who quickly took it to be the "Paddle Steamer" that he'd wanted to visit today (having see Granddad Dogs boat on Peppa Pig that morning. So with that smug satisfaction of being those lucky parents who can actually deliver on an outlandish promise, we headed to the boarding point. Double bonus, only 50p per person each way, so we were gladly helped aboard and found our positions on the metal squares in the middle. Capacity of about 16 on the good ship "Lincolnshire II" and life jackets are provided for the little ones if required.
Our very own captain Dog-beard was far too preoccupied with the treasure Island we were heading towards to worry about such things, although the little jolt at the far end that we were warned about , did add to the excitement.
~~~~Miles and Miles to explore~~~~
Just a glance across the horizon at the other side, gave an instant impression of just how huge the park land actually is. No surprise then, that bike hire is extremely popular round here. Apparently there are over 20 miles of bike trails available.
The other thing that strikes you is just how many dogs people bring along with them. Unless there was some kind of dog show going on that I wasn't party to, I can't recall seeing so many mutts in one place for a long time.
Anyway, even the distraction of various setters and spaniels , plunging into the icy lake waters couldn't distract our man from his next mission. Armed with welly boots and after all the showery weather, it was perfect conditions for jumping up and down in muddy puddles.
~~~~A final flourish~~~~
So suitably soaked through at the trouser legs, we persuaded him to hop back on the ferry, and return to the lake area. As I said at the outset, there were a few extra activities laid on, including face painting, drawing, hula hoops, space hoppers, mini trampolines, Frisbees and football.
By this point in the afternoon most of the crowds were gone, so he was in his element flinging himself wildly on and off a rather squishy looking hopper. 10 minutes later, he'd reached his official point of exhaustion, and in just 4 and a half hours, Clumber had officially sent him to slumber land.
Really can't wait to come back in the summer months and have a further explore round. Will definitely try and hire one of those trailer bikes next time around - carrying 45 pounds of sleepy baba all the way back to the car is no restful task!
Summary: Clumb and see for yourself!