Exmoor NT Basecamp,

North Devon

19th - 21st April 2013


Trumans Lodge, Clumber Park.


Clumber Park is a country park in the Dukeries near Worksop in Nottinghamshire, England. avenue extends over 4 km, and was created by the 5th Duke of Newcastle in the 19th Century. It is over 3,800 acres in extent, including woods, open heath and rolling farmland. It contains a serpentine lake covering 87 acres, and the longest double avenue of lime trees in Europe. The avenue extends over 4 km and was created by the 5th Duke of Newcastle in the 19th Century. This, therefore, was the destination, a first, for the hiking club. Unusually, only a small group of seven people made it up to the Nottinghamshire National Trust retreat. The Basecamp isn't marked on the general National Trust brochure map but is situated at the side of the Walled Kitchen Garden and is sign posted once in Clumber Park. Following the route to Clumber Park from Nottingham, on the A614, one enters Clumber through the Apleyhead Lodge entrance, leading onto Limetree Avenue. This entrance is open at all times as this is a public highway. At the crossroads, one turns left to enter via a set of gates and then second left, after which the Basecamp/Bunkhouse is sign-posted. If arriving after 7pm the large cream gates at crossroads are closed but one is issued with the gate code and a separate code to access the bunkhouse, an old double-storey red brick building down a short tree-lined alleyway.

The park is an excellent place for long walks and has several miles of paths and cycle tracks surrounding the lake. The park has a range of bicycles available for hire including tandems and adult tricycles from an estate building located by the main car park adjacent to the Chapel and the Visitors centre in the old stable block, where a range of facilities are located. Part of the old stable block houses a visitor display on the history of the park, a National Trust Shop & Restaurant, and toilet facilities. Off the main lime tree avenue are camping facilities. Route 6 of the National Cycle Network passes through the park linking it to Sherwood Forest and Sherwood Pines with only a few road crossings necessary.

I arrived there by car late Friday night after flying back earlier from Ireland, only to find that the text on the print-out of directions had, here and there, extended off the page where crucially, in one instance, contained the code to the house. Driving around the park at night only served to draw the attention of the security officials patrolling the park. The walking route on Saturday extended beyond the confines of Clumber Park itself, bypassing Welbeck Abbey. We set off from the bunkhouse and after exiting via the cream gates and made our way down the road towards Truman's Lodge. Beyond the archway, a path leaves the road and picks up on the Robin Hood Way leading through woodland. At South Lodge we traversed a section of open ground, reaching the grounds of Welbeck Abbey. The path does not allow access to the abbey, as it is privately owned. We stopped for a short lunch. To pick up a return path, it made sense to continue on towards Cresswell Crags, after crossing the A60. At the top end of the crags, the town of Cresswell comes into view. Turning sharply and up a short embankment, we picked up the path leading towards Holbeck. At Holbeck Woodhouse, a hamlet which forms part of the Welbeck Abbey estate and was built for the Dukes of Portland, we crossed the A60 once more onto a tree-lined road on the outskirts of Welbeck Park. Woodhouse Hall was the residence of Robert, first Earl of Kingston, who died in 1643.

At the far end of the lane near The Winnings, turning right, we continued on the edge of the Deer Park, past the Park Lodge, towards the town of Norton. At the Main Road in the town, following the signs for Carburton, we soon headed off the road and into the woods once more near Bentinck Lodge, past a memorial marking the spot where Lord George Bentinck died. At Hazel Gap near the A616, the woodland path brought us to South Lodge. After turning left, we were soon to reach Clumber Bridge, crossing Clumber Lake. At this point the park itself was humming with day visitors enjoying themselves on the open expanses of the parkland.

Back at the basecamp, a cider went down a treat. We had covered about 16 miles. With no pubs in the park to speak of, a drive to the Millhouse in Worksop (one of a chain of Sizzling Pubs) guaranteed us what must surely rank as the most reasonably priced pub food in the entire UK. Evidence from the Domesday Book of 1086 indicates that Worksop existed before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Coal mining provided thousands of jobs in and around Worksop for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, but by the 1990s the pits had closed, resulting in high local unemployment. A quiet stroll along the edge of the lake Sunday morning accompanied by Pete Mathews & Bernard, who had organised the booking, saw us reach Hardwick Village, characterized by red brick Neo-Elizabethan style houses, before heading off down the highway. Though the weekend's walk had been largely confined to woodland, it had been of sufficient interest and beauty to make it worthwhile, made all the more pleasurable by the warm weather throughout.


Along Robin Hood Way, Pete's Abbey takes up the fore.


Rock outcrop along Robin Hood Way.



On the edge of Welbeck Estate.



Cresswell Crags.


Daffodils in bloom.



Entrance to Welbeck Estate (along the A60) at Woodhouse Hall.


Robin Hood Way along the tree-lined avenue on Welbeck Estate.




Park Lodge.


Along the edge of the Deer Park.



Memorial to Lord George Bentinck.


Ploughed fields near Hazel Gate.


Resting near the B6034 near Clumber Park (L-R) Martin, Nicole, Pete & Bernard.



Gates at South Lodge, Clumber Park.


Clumber Park, run by the National Trust.


Clumber Bridge crossing Clumber Lake.


National Trust Basecamp.


Hardwick Village.



Swans on Clumber Lake.


Limetree Avenue.


Clumber Park was the seat of the Pelham-Clintons, Dukes of Newcastle. It is owned by the National Trust and open to the public. Clumber, mentioned in Domesday Book was monastic property in the Middle Ages, but later came into the hands of the Holles family. In 1709 it was enclosed as a deer park by John Holles - 4th Earl of Clare, 3rd Earl of Newcastle upon Tyne and 1st Duke of Newcastle. Clumber house, by the River Poulter at the centre of the park, became a hunting lodge, but two generations later, about 1759, the then heir to the estate, Lord Lincoln, decided to make it one of his principal mansions. Over the next few years, work on the house and park proceeded was not completed and continued on throughout the 1770's and 1780's.  In March 1879 a serious fire destroyed much of Clumber House, the 7th Duke of Newcastle had it rebuilt. Another fire, in 1912, caused less damage, but the effects of the First World War and the Great Depression forced the abandonment of the mansion, which, like many other houses during this period, was demolished in 1938. many features remain including a Grade I listed Gothic Revival Chapel built by the 7th Duke of Newcastle and a four acre Walled Kitchen Garden complete with a glass house measuring some 450 feet in length.

Welbeck Abbey was the principal abbey of the Premonstratensian order in England and later the principal residence of the Dukes of Portland. The Abbey's estate was first mentioned in the Domesday Book, where it is recorded as belonging to one Hugh FitzBaldric. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the site was granted by Henry VIII to Richard Whalley, of Screveton. Welbeck became the principal family seat of the early Dukes of Newcastle. In the 18th century, it passed through an heiress into the Bentinck family and became the main seat of the Earls and Dukes of Portland. The 5th Duke of Portland undertook what are considered the most substantial building works at Welbeck. By 1879 Welbeck was in a state of disrepair. The House was repaired and brought into full occupation by 6th Duke, and became notable as a centre of late Victorian and Edwardian upper-class society. After the Second World War, Welbeck was leased by the Dukes of Portland to the Ministry of Defence and was used as an army training college, 'Welbeck College' until 2005. The descendents of the Cavendish Bentinck family still live on the estate. Since the Ministry of Defence moved out in 2005, the Abbey itself has been the home of William Parente, the only grandchild of the 7th Duke of Portland and his Duchess. As the estate remains privately owned, pedestrian access across the rest of the Welbeck estate is confined to footpaths forming part of the Robin Hood Way.



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