10 Things to do in Rufford Abbey and Country Park

Visit Rufford Abbey and Country park for a day out and enjoy one of the English Heritage historic places, beautiful gardens and nature walks!

Rufford Abbey is an estate in Rufford, Nottinghamshire. Located in the heart of Robin Hood country on the edge of Sherwood Forest.

Our first time visit to Rufford Abbey was at the beginning of March, 2020. We didn’t know what to expect besides the historic ruins and were very surprised to discover so much more in this beautiful location.

Park Grounds

1. Explore the ruins of Rufford Abbey. There is only one ground floor room you can go inside, but it has some interesting and informative displays.

Rufford Abbey

A bit of History of Rufford Abbey.

Rufford Abbey was originally Cistercian abbey, founded by Gilbert de Gaunt, Earl of Lincoln in 1146. It was hosting community of monks for about 366 years. During Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, Rufford abbey was one of the first to be disposed.

George Talbot was granted the entire estate and he converted it into a country house in 1560. Over the centuries the estate went through significant extensions. In 1938 Rufford estate was inherited by the 3rd Baron Savile, whose trustees split it into lots and sold it off at auction.

During WWII the lots were bought by Sir Albert Ball and transformed into housing cavalry, tank regiment and even Italian prisoners of war. After the war it was left unused and sadly felt into disrepair. Nottinghamshire County Council acquired the park in 1952 and after some necessary transformations it became available for public use.

2. Adventure Playground.

New amazing playground for kids to enjoy different fun range of structures including zip line, multiple slides and tunnels, sand pit and climbing net! And there plenty Picknick tables for parents to sit and relax.

3. Fun interactive maze.

You can stop at the visitor centre and get a booklet for the maze to collect stamps and discover your fortune!

4. Sculpture trail.

Walk along paths and gardens to find different sculptures. Get your pamphlet with the list of sculptures and different activities you can do with kids while exploring artistic displays.

5. Woodland walk.

It’s an easy walk which takes you around the lake and to the old Mill where you can stop for a cup of coffee and ice cream. Kids can feed swans, gees and ducks by the lake. The highlight of our walk for the kids was watching cars going through the water splashing it high. The water from the lake is diverted into the narrow canal and right across the road. I believe it’s a local attraction and some driver s knowing that go extra fast giving all the kids quite a spectacle!

6. Boating lake.

During summer months visitors can enjoy boat rides on the lake.

7. Adventure Golf.

We didn’t have time to play a game of mini golf but that is also available at the park.

8. Archery

It didn’t look opened during our visit. But keep in mind it is also an option if you want to practice your skills in order to become as good as Robin Hood. You get unlimited arrows for 15 min.

9. Shopping.

The park has Orangery with selection of garden plants.

Courtyard Gifts with different souvenirs.

The outdoor clothing store and a Candy Cave!

10. Eat.

After plenty of fresh air, refuel with some delicious options from Coach House Café, Lord Savile’s Kitchen, Mill Tea Shop or treat yourself and the kids with some ice cream at Ice Cream Parlour .

The entrance to the park as well as Rufford Abbey is free. The parking charge was £4, it is not in care of English Heritage so members won’t get free parking. The lot is decent size but can be pretty full. There is another parking on the side of the Mill so check parking options ahead of your arrival.

If you in Nottinghamshire I would highly recommend visiting Rufford Abbey and country park.

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