Stilton cheese improves with age, but knees do not. That point was brought home today as I ate cheese and biscuits tonight after a walk by the lake at Clumber Park. Fifteen years ago I visited the lake for the first time and walked right round it in an afternoon.
Today we went to Clumber Park and selected a suitable car to allow us to park close to where we wanted to be. This saved time and pain, and took us directly to the end where all the birds had clustered last week. This time, of course, they all seemed to be up at the other end.
In two visits I estimate we’ve walked the equivalent of halfway round the lake. I am reminded of the words of Roger McGough:
No, old people do not walk slowly
because they have plenty of time.
We left the main road at the fourth sign (it’s a big place) and followed the network of roads through the estate. First we used the Lime Tree Avenue, the longest double avenue of lime trees in Europe. At “over” or “just under” 2 miles long (depending on where you get your information) and 1,296 trees it’s impressive, though it wouldn’t be practical for my garden.
From there we took a left turn, went through a checkpoint, where we had our cards scanned, and pottered off through the woods, where we saw a buzzard lurking in a tree on the edge. Naturally it flew off as I tried to get the camera on it.
Finally we reached the village of Hardwick, which is slightly confusing, but nothing to do with Hardwick Hall. There are toilets here and a mobile cafe working out of a converted Landrover. This map might help – it’s better than the others I’ve used.
It’s a great walk round this end of the lake, with trees on one side of you and the lake on the other. Over the years this end of the lake has been remodelled by mining subsidence (the estate of the Dukes of Newcastle literally being built on their coal mines) and has a number of skeletal trees standing in the water. When I walked this way fifteen years ago these trees were streaked with white from the many cormorants that sat in them. These days they are cleaner and were occupied by gulls and a male Sparrowhawk. I did see one cormorant, but it flew along low to the water and carried on flying without stopping for a photograph.
Right at the end, as the lake tapers to nothing, we found a group of Shovelers and Goosanders, which added a bit of interest to the walk.
We had a variety of weather on the way round, including rain, sleet and snow. At one point we even had snow that was so icy the noise of it hitting leaves was even louder than the conversation being held by two retired teachers. It appears the school has gone down the pan since they retired. We knew that while they were over 50 yards away – they must have been games or drama teachers with that ability to project their voices.
We decided to call it a day due to the snow and call at The Big Fish at Ollerton. The lure of warmth and food was greater than a look round the Kitchen Garden in the snow. It’s a good place to eat fish and chips (actually better than some coastal chip shops we’ve been to) and there’s nothing like a nice piece of haddock for restoring the spirits on a wintry day.
Next time we’ll look at the Kitchen Garden and the 135 types of rhubarb.