Rufford Abbey and Country Park

Rufford by bus: a lovely day out

This page was first published as a page on my parkviews blog in June 2012. We go most years, usually to their excellent craft fair, which will next take place 7–8 June 2014.
Nottingham’s buses and my pensioner travel pass improve the quality of my life no end. Yesterday our travel passes took Susan and me to Rufford Abbey Country Park for the day. We left Lenton at 10.45am and arrived at Rufford just after mid-day, with a change of bus at the Victoria Centre in the city centre.
As you can see in this pic of the Victoria Clock Tower it was a lovely morning. For those who don’t know the city, the Victoria Centre opened in 1972 on the site of the old Victoria railway station. It was a handsome mainline station and inspired a series of afternoon radio plays on Radio 4 a few years ago.
At the bus station, we caught ‘The Sherwood Arrow’, which runs between Worksop in North Nottinghamshire and Nottingham via the Mansfield Road as it heads north out of the city along a long country road before reaching the small villages of Farnsfield and Bilsthorpe and then Rufford, after which it heads towards Edwinstow and Ollerton, where it links with another bus going onto Worksop.
Britain and Ireland are probably the only places in the world where double-deck buses can be found travelling along narrow country lanes as my pic, taken between Farnsfield and Bilsthorpe, shows. The bus was quite full at times with buggies and mums trying to manage other young children as well. The drivers have my admiration in every sense. It’s one thing to drive along these lanes on a lovely summer’s day, but at close to midnight in the middle of winter, well, that must call for great skill.
The Sherwood Arrow bus dropped us off right outside the gates to Rufford Abbey, long closed now, but a reminder to just how grand the estate used to be. Back in my county councillor days I was closely involved in the creation of Rufford Abbey Country Park and persuaded my colleagues to create a sculpture park, albeit small at first, but given money to spend for a few years the officers and I soon built up a decent collection.
Over the road and in through the modern entrance made for cars (they don’t expect visitors to arrive on foot or by bus as there is no footpath, so you have to cope with the cars, many who come past you at speed)…
…but it was only for five minutes or so, then we left the cars behind and passed through the old courtyard gates and into what is normally an empty quadrangle, but yesterday (Saturday) was home to some of the many stalls at the ceramics fair we had come to see.
We had an excellent early lunch for just £14, so that we could explore the ceramics fair at our leisure, but before we did we went on a short walk around the formal gardens and visited the old Orangery, which was originally built in the 18th century as a swimming bath.
In the gardens we found this new (and pleasing) contemporary brick seating area which was designed to celebrate the centenary of Girl Guide movement in Nottinghamshire in 2010.
And before we knew it, it was coming up the 4 o’clock and time to go and catch The Sherwood Arrow home. There are fewer finer sights in my mind than that of a double-decker bus going about its business in the English countryside, taking people to work and shoppers to town, enabling mums to get about with babies and young children in a way which was as good as impossible as little as thirty years ago. Before that buses had steps (and the older ones open rear platforms) and little space for pushchairs in the days before they became ‘buggies’.  It is a pity that so few people now use buses outside the city and the fact that many services still run is because local authorities like Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council support them with public money.
It was a lovely day out with the journey from Rufford to Lenton via the city centre taking no more than 70 minutes. If we had gone by car it would have cost £5 to park and at least as much for fuel.

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