Friday, 28 December 2007

A Wollaton wander

Two years ago to the day Lenton Recreation Ground was covered in snow. This is the photograph we used on this year's Christmas card. I hope we see some snow before too long. Today could not have been more different. The sky was heavy with dark clouds and it was raining in the wind, which was strong enough to blow your hat off. Susan was stuck at home working on the next issue of the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum newsletter, News From The Forum, which she is doing whilst Philippa, who normally does it, is on maternity leave.

I went on a walk with our friend Judith which I had been planning for some time because I was determined to walk to Martin's Pond and Harrison Plantation in Wollaton before the end of 2007. It was today or never. I have tried to capture our walk in the following photographs, most of which I took today, and to describe our route. It was very enjoyable and yet another reminder of how central Lenton Recreation Ground is when it comes to walks.

From the park we walked west along the Derby Road for about 400 yards until we reached Lenton Lodge at Hillside. The lodge was originally built in the 1820s as a gatehouse for the Wollaton Hall estate, but was 'detached' in the 20th century when the estate was bought by Nottingham City Council and some of the land developed to help recover the purchase money.

If you are travelling by bus this is a great starting point as lots of buses to and from the city centre stop right by the gatehouse (Trent-Barton routes 4, 5, 18, 20 and 21 from Broadmarsh and Friar Lane; City Transport routes 34*, 35, 36, 37, 93, and 195 from Victoria Centre and Angel Row. *Collin Street and Parliament Street, then Angel Row).

Once past Lenton Lodge we turned right onto Wollaton Hall Drive, which is lined with detached houses. 300 yards on and you see the entrance to Wollaton Park directly in front of you…
… but first you have to cross the city's ring road. Luckily there is a panda crossing, so you can safely get to the other side and into Wollaton Park via this very fine entrance, which it shares at this point with a golf club. So watch out for the cars! Three City Transport bus routes stop right outside. The 93 and 195 I have already mentioned. Route 53 is a suburban link bus between Arnold to the north of the city and Clifton to the south. One thing I have never understood about Nottingham buses is their failure to publicise the attractions they serve. If I had my way buses would carry brightly coloured notices in their nearside front windows saying 'To & From Wollaton Hall and Park' or 'To and From Highfields Park' etc. This way people would realise that all these great places can be reached by buses and they can leave their cars at home.

About 200 yards down the drive and there is yet another set of impressive gates, with a pedestrian entrance to the left. Through this gate and you are in Wollaton Park proper. Today we saw three overseas visitors taking a photograph of themselves — evidence of the fact that Wollaton Park can even pull in tourists in the middle of winter. Judith and I then strolled along Lime Tree Avenue towards the hall, with the wind trying as hard as it could to blow our hats off.
This picture does not show the wind or rain and makes it all look much better than it was. It also gives you a good idea of how long and straight Lime Tree Avenue is. It is easy to imagine being a 19th century visitor arriving at Lenton Station on the Derby Road and being met by a carriage to take you without a turn through the gates at Lenton Lodge and on up to Wollaton Hall, especially in summer when the trees create a corridor of green. In truth I can also imagine being told by my mother to watch for carriages and to have my bucket and shovel handy to collect any horse droppings which might chance my way. No, let's stick with the 21st century and an estate owned by the people of Nottingham.

You can't visit Wollaton Park without looking at the Hall, so here is a picture I took on another wet and windy day during this year's summer. Judith and I chickened out of climbing the rise to see the hall and took the right fork at the end of Lime Tree Avenue and made for the park entrance on Wollaton Road. There were plenty of family groups about, even one group in the distance who appeared to be having a picnic! By this time it was so wet and windy that Judith had to tie my hat on to stop it blowing away. She could do more than hold onto hers.

Once outside Wollaton Park and onto Wollaton Road, we crossed over, went to our right and took a short cut down St Leonard's Drive which brought us onto Russell Drive, which we also crossed before turning into Russell Avenue. Staying on the left-hand side of the road we could see the destination of our walk coming up on our left, then…
… we arrived at Martin's Pond and all the ducks came out of the lake and straight towards us. Clearly they expected to be fed. We then strolled around Martin's Pond completely alone. It all looks pretty bleak at this time of the year and it does look in need of some attention. There are fences down everywhere and the paths are muddy, but this didn't bother us in our sturdy walking shoes, so if you go make sure you're wearing the right kind of footwear. Just as we completed our circuit of the pond cum lake we saw a path leading to we weren't sure where. A quick check showed that it was the entrance to the adjoining Harrison Plantation, so we followed it…
… into a wooded area with lots of boggy streams criss-crossing the paths and over numerous little wooden bridges before crossing the 'Old Coach Road' and into another wooded area, where we took the path to the left before we came to…
… Raleigh's Pond, which has an island in the middle and lots of staging for anglers to use. It was here that we saw our first people. An older gentleman fishing alone and a young father with a 3–4 year old child, who may have been either a boy or a girl and who had a small fishing rod and was being shown how to cast. It was a fitting end to our Wollaton wander, as we were then on the far side of these two nature reserves (which are managed under license by the Notts Wildlife Trust for Nottingham City Council) and by Lambourne Drive, which we then walked down to return to Wollaton Road and a bus back to Lenton Boulevard and a short walk home. Wollaton Drive also has regular buses to and from the city centre. Both the Trent-Barton route 2 and City Transport route 30 terminate by the Victoria Centre (the 2 in the bus station and the 30 outside John Lewis on Milton Street by the Centre).

The bus when it came was standing room only, even at 1.30pm. No doubt most of the passengers were going to do some post-Christmas afternoon shopping. What we wanted was food and a nice cup of tea, which we soon had after arriving back on Devonshire Promenade beside Lenton Recreation Ground. All together, a great round trip which on a better day we could have walked in full.

I've promised Susan a spring or summer visit beginning with a pub lunch in Wollaton village at the Admiral Rodney, followed by high-tea when we get home. If anything what Martin's Pond and Harrison Plantation need is a tea shop (just kidding). Well, I hope you have enjoyed following us on our Wollaton wander and may be inspired to leg it as well come the better weather. You won't be disappointed.

Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister, was assassinated yesterday in a gun and bomb attack which also killed sixteen other people.

1 comment:

Rosie said...

I enjoyed taking a walk with you Robert (and Judith, of course) as ever an informative guide and bus times as well should we tire early and need to get home to sample that high tea - I've just made some scones, still warm with homemade jam.
Take care, Rosiex
p.s. the photos on your Christmas Day post turned out wonderfully - that's the first time I've ever seen the Promenade vehicle-less.