I decided it would be a good idea to take advantage of the excellent weather we’d been having at the end of July and head out into the countryside. I picked Rufford Abbey Country Park because as well as a lake and woodland walks there are also the ruins of an Abbey to explore. Plus, I haven’t actually been there since a school trip when I was in primary school.
Rufford Abbey is an English Heritage property on 150 acres of Nottinghamshire County Council park and woodland. It is apparently the best preserved remains of a Cistercian Abbey in England.
Founded in 1146 it was one of the first abbey’s to be affected by the Dissolution of the monasteries. It was bought by the fourth Earl of Shrewsbury and the sixth earl, husband to Bess of Hardwick, converted it into a house in 1560. In the 17th century new wings were constructed, some of which have since been demolished.
They are really well preserved ruins and I particularly liked the many carved gargoyles in the main room, above, each of them different and more unusual than you usually find in such places.
From here I spent some time in the lovely rose garden next to the Abbey,
and managed to use the Heliochronometer, a type of sun-dial, to tell the time – I was impressed by how incredibly accurate it was.
I already had a map of the park and had roughly planned out which routes I wanted to take. There were some areas that weren’t worth the minor detour I took from the main paths to explore – the Animal Graves are slabs surrounded by corrugated iron fencing, the ice house is a locked gate in a hill and the Wildwood Theatre apparently has restricted access. I did find this interesting sculpture on one detour however, though there was no sign nearby to indicate exactly what it was all about.
Those areas aside though, the paths through the woodland are well kept and full of wildlife – most of which moved too quickly for me to photograph! From here I moved on to the lake, which is full of water birds such as geese, ducks and swans.
Bird food is available to buy on site so although I didn’t purchase any myself there were plenty of people nearby who had, meaning I could get close-up shots of wildlife quite easily.
My favourite discovery though was of this lovely family of swans:
It’s no secret to anyone who’s been here before that I really enjoy taking photos of wildlife, so Rufford lake was the perfect place to spend some time. However, I was aware that time was moving on and because there is only one bus an hour (which handily stops right outside the Park’s entrance), I moved from the lake to briefly look around the gardens which have some excellent sculptures on display. These were my favourite two:
I was then in perfect time to catch my bus, after a lovely day out in some fantastically sunny weather. Entry is free, though there is a car parking charge, and with so many areas of woodland to explore, it’s an excellent day out for all.
You can find more of my photos here.