County Council’s country parks prove popular holiday draw

The festive and new year season is the busiest period of year for the county’s country parks, according to Nottinghamshire County Council rangers.

Rufford Abbey Country Park, Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, Bestwood Country Park and Cotgrave Country Park are open during the holiday season.

Around 1,000 people visited Rufford Country Park on Boxing Day and again on Tuesday (Dec 27) with a similar number expected on New Year’s Day.

One of the rangers at Rufford Abbey Country Park, Leanne Diver said: “It is a great time of year and because it is the festive season is a popular destination for people to meet and socialise, walk and have picnics.

“Lots of people decide to travel and meet up at Rufford Abbey Country Park for a Christmas or New Year walk. It is a wonderful setting in the winter, it is a free day out for the family and people enjoy the scenery and the fresh air.”

Leanne and her fellow rangers work a seven-day rota, with Leanne starting her week yesterday (Wednesday) and will work through to New Year’s Day. It is the fourth year running she has worked on January 1.

She said: “I used to go out to celebrate new year and work the next day, but I have learnt from past experience so will have a quieter new year this time! I enjoy what I do and working as part of a team to welcome people to the park as it is a vibrant time.”

Site manager John Clegg worked over Christmas at Rufford Abbey Country Park. He said: “Boxing Day and the Tuesday lived up to expectations and we were very busy from around 10.30am until about dusk. I would expect the rest of the week to follow suit depending on the weather.

“The Craft Centre and Mill complex enjoyed bustling crowds who seemed full of festive cheer as they enjoyed the park’s facilities. The wider park also appeared busy with lots of families having a walk around the lake and woodlands and generally enjoying the fresh air and open spaces.

“There did appear to be lots of large family groups around this year who had obviously pre-arranged to meet up at Rufford where unseasonably picnics where the order of the day. The day was very mild with a slight breeze – but crucially it was dry.”

Mr Clegg explained that some disappointed visitors regretfully had to be turned away from the park when it reached capacity on Boxing Day, however, working with Izi Banton and her team at Sherwood Forest, they were able to offer an alternative option by suggesting they visit nearby Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve which had available parking and facilities that were open.

And Mr Clegg also said members of the public praised the county council’s country parks for being open over the festive period with one visitor saying: ‘Rufford had a great Christmas atmosphere.’

Guide to opening times:

Rufford Abbey and Sherwood – shops open daily from 10.30am to 4.30pm including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

Coach House Cafe (snacks and drinks) at Rufford Abbey open from 10am to 4.30 pm, and Savile Restaurant is serving meals 12 noon to 3pm (With New Year’s Day bookings only – telephone 01623 821350).

Forest Table Restaurant at Sherwood Forest open from 10am to 4.30pm daily including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

You can find out more about events across the county by visiting the What’s On pages of Nottinghamshire County Council’s website at: www.nottscc.gov.uk/whatson