Bunker's Hill Gatehouse, Welbeck Park
This morning I volunteered to taxi our son Ian and his girlfriend Ruby to East Midlands Airport. They're away in Jersey for a few days - staying with a rich friend of Ruby's grandmother. She promised she'd heat the pool specially for them and order in several pounds of shellfish!
Knowing the weather forecast was good and needing to march some miles for exercise, I decided that I wouldn't head straight home. Instead I'd park up in the village of Cuckney, Nottinghamshire and figure out a circular route with very limited assistance from my road map.
Blue skies and shirt sleeves, tramping in unfamiliar countryside. On days like these it feels especially good to be alive. Naturally, I was looking out for possible photographs I might snap for uploading on to the Geograph website but mainly I was just walking. I saw a grand Victorian gatehouse ahead and marched through the open gates but dogs barked and a gamekeeper emerged to challenge me in his stockinged feet. He pointed me away in a different direction. Beyond an impressive avenue of lime trees, I passed an ancient deer park where hundreds of pale-coloured deer were sheltering in the cool shadows cast by deciduous trees.
By the time I reached the stone outbuildings of Welbeck Abbey, along a "private" road, the same gamekeeper appeared in a big green pick-up truck with two other stoney-faced colleagues. I asked who lived at the "abbey" but they were very cagey - he was their "gaffer" and he wouldn't like me tramping through his gardens. I veered left as advised but I don't think it was co-incidental when a little white security van pulled up next to me.
The driver, in his smart "Security 7" uniform, was most pleasant and even gave me a lift beyond the outbuildings and the old elephant house to Robin Hood's Way - a long distance footpath which skirts the sprawling Welbeck Abbey Estate. He told me it was owned and occupied by the family of the Dukes of Portland. Later, back on Google, I discovered that it had been a proper abbey for "Premonstratensian canons" before dissolution in 1530 when it was transferred to private ownership.
I rambled onwards through the woods disturbing pheasants , partridges, squirrels, rabbits and later by The Great Lake - moorhens and a great flapping grey heron. In the small settlement of Norton, I stopped to buy Shirley a gift - a jar of homemade rhubarb chutney from a table outside a village house. Then by the millpond in Cuckney, I snapped the photograph below. I must say - I am rather proud of it.
Cuckney millpond and convex driveway mirror