Clumber Park Curiosities Walk Longer Version
A 7.5 mile route on good paths that visits both familiar and not so familiar features in the park. These cover the time when the park was a ducal estate and used as a munitions store during World War 2.
Clumber Park Main Car Park
Leave the main car park and follow the signs for the café and toilets which take you past the shop and plant sales, situated in the old Laundry Cottage, (1) and through to the Turning Yard. Go through the hedge and continue along the path (past the Duke’s Study). Very soon you will see the Parsonage (2) on your left.
Mansion Site – Duke’s Cellars: In 2014, during some routine maintenance work near the mansion site, we unearthed the intact cellars still sitting under the house, backfilled with rubble such as mosaic flooring and tiles from the house. The Parsonage: The parsonage was accommodation set aside for the resident member of clergy serving the park. The house included 6 bedrooms for the family and 2 dormitories for staff of lodgers. Roman Temple: Both the temples at Clumber Park were designed by John Simpson. They are follies which are designed to be eye catching areas in the landscape. The Boat House: The boat house was built to accommodate the Duke’s fleet of various vessels. However the largest of these, the Lincoln Frigate, was too big to fit in the boat house at all, and had to live moored out on the lake. The Gun battery: There were 26 bronze model cannons and several working ones on the Gun Battery. Mock battles were held between the Gun Battery and the Duke’s boats sailing on the lake.
Follow the path as it bears left in front of the Chapel. Immediately after the chapel turn right. Follow this path past the Roman Temple (3) and if you look across the lake you’ll see the Greek Temple. Continue, ignoring paths off to the right, to a T junction of paths at the far end of the Pleasure Grounds. Here turn right and follow the path to the lake and turn left to walk down the steps to the iron railings. This is the Boat House and Dock (4).
The boat house was built to accommodate the Duke’s fleet of various vessels. However the largest of these, the Lincoln Frigate, was too big to fit in the boat house at all, and had to live moored out on the lake.
Go back up the steps and follow the lakeside path until on your left you come to the Gun Battery (5).
There were 26 bronze model cannons and several working ones on the Gun Battery. Mock battles were held between the Gun Battery and the Duke’s boats sailing on the lake.
Head across the grass towards the visitor facilities which you’ll see on your right. On your left is the site of Clumber House. The outline of the house is laid out in stone in the grass. Go into the turning yard by the café. Here turn left, follow the path past the toilets and turn left again. Follow the road, which is usually car free, as it bears right. At a wooden barrier, just before a small parking area, turn left onto a path which goes downhill through woodland. This leads to the Grotto (6). Leave the Grotto and go back to the path, turn left and head to a road. Once you reach the road Clumber Bridge will be to your left.
Clumber Lake and Bridge
Clumber Lake: In 1772, the Second Duke of Newcastle started construction of Clumber Lake, to complement his new house. A damn was built at the bottom end of the estate, the river bed was excavated to create a wide expanse of water, and an ornamental bridge was erected at the western end. The project took 15 years to complete, and cost £6,612. Clumber Bridge: The bridge, which consists of three unequal arches with balustrading along the top, was designed by Stephen Wright and built in 1770. It is 230 feet (70 m) long and is a Grade II* listed structure.
Turn right and follow this road as it bears right. Go past a red signpost. This road is often busy so walk with care on the verge. Keep following this road until it goes slightly downhill and you come to a cross roads and another red signpost. Turn left going round a wooden barrier to follow this road. After about 100m look out for a path on the right. Take this path and you’ll soon see a fence on your left hand side.
Follow this track for about 400m until the fence on your left hand side ends at a junction of tracks. Immediately before this junction take a path on the right through the grove of yew trees. You will pass two huge sweet chestnut trees with distinctive twisted bark; take note of these as they will be useful landmarks when you retrace your steps. Continue through the trees and after about 100m bear diagonally left and you will notice some scattered stonework in front of you. This marks the entrance to the Icehouse (7), a few metres further on is an information board about the icehouse. Retrace your steps to the fence and track junction.
The Ice House
Ice House: We believe that Clumber Park had up to 3 Ice Houses in operation in its heyday. Ice Houses were used to store ice collected from the lake whenever it froze over. Because the Ice Houses were mostly underground they stayed very cold and kept the ice frozen throughout the year to be used in the Duke’s kitchens.
Turn right and continue along the path you were on previously until you reach a road, this is the main route to the Car Park so take care. Turn right and follow this road as it bears left to the car park and the Cycle Hire (8) facilities Go past the cycle hire, when the road bears left continue straight on to a gravel path. Just before the gates turn left up Cedar Avenue. You will see the greenhouses of the Walled Kitchen Garden (9) ahead of you.
Cycle Hire and the Walled Kitchen Garden
The Duke’s Garage (Cycle Hire): The Seventh Duke of Newcastle, Henry Pelham Clinton, was an early adopter of the automobile, and built up a large collection of them. He built a house for his cars, complete with mechanics hatch in the floor. The Glass House: At 130 meters long the Victorian Glass House in the Walled Kitchen Garden is the longest Glass House in National Trust ownership. This space was used by the Seventh Duke’s gardeners to grow fruit and veg not usually found in Britain due to the climate, and to grow produce outside of its natural season. In the Walled Kitchen Garden look out for Bricked up fireplaces: Fires would have been built in these now bricked-up fireplaces to heat the ‘Hot Walls’ in the centre of the Walled Kitchen Garden, where the gardener’s would have grown fruit trees such as grapes. Fires would have been lit in spring to protect the trees from frost and again in autumn to help the fruit ripen. Cucumber straightening jars: Cucumber straightening jars were used by the Victorian Gardeners at Clumber Park to grow straight cucumbers. When the cucumbers were small they were placed inside the jars, which then shaped them as they grew, training them away from their naturally curved shape. : During a recent investigation three varieties of rare fern were found growing under the grate in the Walled Kitchen Garden. The three varieties are; Pteris tremula, Pteris cretica, Cyrtomium falcatum and are not inherent to Clumber Park. This can only mean that they were at one point being grown in the Glass House and the spores found their way under the grate and took route.
At the iron gates turn left and follow the path round the wall to the Basecamp. At the Basecamp follow the path past a wooden barrier to a road. Turn right and take a path immediately on your right passing Central Bark café and follow a sign to toilets into a small car park. Here you turn left and after a short distance on the right is the entrance to the Walled Kitchen Garden and the Garden Tea House (10).
The Head Gardeners House
The Head Gardener’s House (Garden Tea House): The Head Gardener at Clumber Park was provided with a large house as part of his job, as befitting the importance of the role. However the Dukes did not want the Head Gardener to forget that however important his role is he was still a member of staff, so his house was built with no front door.
Take care as you leave the car park and continue to the road where you turn left. The road eventually becomes a track and after about 350m you’ll reach a wooden barrier and a sign for the Bird Hide. Continue straight on and go straight on at a cross road of tracks. Almost immediately take the first track on the right. Where this track forks take the left fork down to the lakeside track and turn left. As the lakeside track bends sharply to the left you will see a faint path on the right, turn down this path. You will see a large log and some smaller logs. Go diagonally right in front of the smaller logs continuing towards the lake. About five metres before you get to the lakeshore you will notice a large paved area. This is the remains of a WW2 site for a searchlight/anti-aircraft gun (11).
Possible searchlight site Heron point
Heron Point – Possible searchlight: During the Second World War Clumber Park was used as a base by the army. We believe this point could have been where a searchlight was once positioned, searching the night’s sky for enemy activity, or possibly an anti-aircraft gun keeping guard over the forces in the estate.
Retrace your steps to the lakeside track, turn right and follow the track until you come to a cross road of tracks. Here turn left and, after about 150 meters on your left and shortly before a telegraph pole, you will see the Mirbeck Evergreen Oak (12). Retrace your steps, follow the track down and cross the causeway. At the end of the causeway turn right and at the end of the fence line turn right to walk through a small parking area.
The Mirbeck Oak
Evergreen Oak – Mirbeck: Whilst oak trees are not usually ever-green this particular type of oak tree, a Mirbeck Oak or Quercus canariensis, is. Ever-green means that trees never lose their leaves, even in winter when most other trees are bare.
Follow this track with the lake on your right. Look out on the left for a corrugated iron building which was the village hall for Hardwick village. Continue towards Hardwick at the head of the lake where there are toilets and usually a pop up café. Cross the bridge over the weir. Notice the strip of green matting on the left hand side of the weir which allows eels into and out of the lake. Continue along the lakeside track. After some time you will reach the Greek Temple (13). Looking across the lake you can see the Pleasure Grounds with the features you walked past earlier.
Continue along the track until you come to a wooden barrier and a car parking area. Walk through the car park and you will notice the Cascade (14) on your right with Clumber Bridge ahead of you. Turn right over the Bridge taking care as this is often busy. Take the path immediately on the right leading into woodland and down towards the Grotto. Walk past the Grotto and continue on the path to the road where you turn right. Follow this back to the visitor facilities.
Clumber Park Visitor Facilities
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