Friday, 27 October 2017

27 Oct: A ride around Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

John S writes: Adrian Lee organised another of his car-assisted rides, to Clumber Park, near Worksop, on 27th October. Former CTC Cambridge member George Stevenson, who had moved from Cambridge to Worksop around 30 years ago, had arranged to meet us there, and lead us on trails that were very familiar to him from his time there.

Arrival at The Old Tearoom, Carboulton

I met Adrian, Mike C and Vic at 7.45am in Shelford, to load bikes onto Adrian's car. The journey was very straightforward, with no hold ups. It was chilly start, but this was a portent of the perfect sunny, cloudless and windless day that was to follow. We arrived at the rendezvous café – The Old School Tearoom in Carburton - around 9.45am, after driving through Clumber Park and seeing the wonderful double avenue of lime trees, and wondering why they all had black bands around their trunks. After the regulation bacon baps and coffees, George arrived and outlined the day he had planned for us.

We set off east from the café, back into Clumber Park. We soon left the road, and turned onto one of the many cycle-friendly paths that criss-cross the area. This led us to a bridge over Clumber Lake, and on via other paths and lanes to cross the River Poulter by a long footbridge over a ford.

Distant cyclists beyond the ford over the River Poulter (Photo: Adrian Lee)

Clumber Park is in an area of North Nottinghamshire called the Dukeries. It was once the estate of the Dukes of Newcastle. The main house at Clumber Park was demolished in 1938, but the outbuildings, farms and stables are still intact, and used as shops and cafés, along with a chapel - more cathedral-sized than chapel-sized. We continued through the half-term crowds, past water meadows, through the park gates, and on back to the café where we had started, for lunch.

Passing through Clumber Park Gates

After lunch, we explored the area to the west of Clumber Park, passing through the villages of Norton and Holbeck. Here George took a turn onto a delightful off-road stretch that rejoined the road network near Creswell.

Vic tackles some rough stuff near Creswell

At this point, we briefly crossed from Nottinghamshire into Derbyshire, and up a new road to Creswell Crags – a limestone gorge lined with caves where in 2003 archaeologists found the only UK examples of Ice Age rock art. Usually, bridleways disappear over time, and more roads are built. In this case, the former B-road through the Crags has been turned into a tranquil bridleway, by-passed by a completely new road to the north.

The former B6042 – now a bridleway through Creswell Crags

From Creswell Crags we continued along quiet roads through Hodthorpe - a mining village - and on to a great section of rough stuff – part of an off-road trail called Robin Hood Way passing through another of the 5 Dukeries Estates – Welbeck. This passed through woodland, where most of us had to accept defeat and wheel our bikes for a short distance. Here we saw more recent examples of rock art – messages from the 1960s – 2010’s carved into sandstone next to the trail.

George, Adrian and Mike C riding along a quiet lane near Hodthorpe

George and Vic on Robin Hood Way (Photo: Adrian Lee)

We then re-entered Clumber Park and retraced the morning route back to the start/finish café just after 4pm.

Returning through the lime tree avenue in Clumber Park

In the car, on the way back through Clumber Park, we again puzzled over the black bands around every single lime tree. Suggestions included marks to measure how quickly individual trees were growing, or an early warning of tree disease. An internet search on the way home revealed that these bands date back to 1906, and are lines of grease that were put around the trees to prevent wing-less insect parasites from climbing up the trunks and infesting the trees.

Over the day, we rode around 25 miles, but as much of this was off-road, this was more of a challenge than the distance alone suggests. We arrived back in Cambridge around 7pm after a day of perfect late-October weather and great cycling along tracks we would never have found without our "native guide" George. A big thank you to George for his local knowledge, and to Adrian for driving us all, and for arranging another fascinating CTC Cambridge car-assisted ride. John Seton



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