Rufford Abbey Country Park | Things To Do | Free Day Out

Rufford Abbey country park is a country estate in Nottinghamshire. The remains of the house, abbey and grounds are open to the public and are free to visit. The Abbey itself is run by English Heritage and the grounds and abbey are maintained by Parkwood outdoors, on behalf of the county council. If you are visiting by car then you will have to pay to park your car.

You pay on entrance to the car park so make sure that you have the cash ready. Find out all the things that you can do, including what you can see and do for free, via my post below. Most days it costs £4.00 to park a car. This can increase on special event days and is free on quieter winter days. You can purchase a parking season ticket for £35. The park is open every day except Christmas day.

Rufford Abbey Country Park – The House and Abbey

The house and Abbey are the first things that you will come to after the car park. The Abbey itself is now a ruin however it is free to look around and it’s a great place to explore. The top half of the abbey is open to the elements and there’s some gorgeous old architecture waiting to be spotted.

Rufford Abbey Park | Things To Do | Free Day Out
Rufford Abbey from the front
Rufford Abbey Park | Things To Do | Free Day Out
Exploring the top floor of Rufford Abbey

Underneath here you will find the undercroft which is like a series of caves. The abbey itself is not particularly wheelchair friendly with most of it being inaccesible.

Rufford Abbey Park | Things To Do | Free Day Out
Down in the Undercroft
There’s plenty of signs to read around the abbey and grounds

Exploring Rufford Abbey Country Park

Rufford country park is around 150 acres in size which includes a very large lake, woodlands and gardens. All of which is free to look around. The paths around the park are wheelchair and buggy friendly.

They do ask that people don’t take bikes however we often see younger children with their bikes and scooters. Dogs are allowed on the grounds and are requested to be kept on a lead (a notice that we also often see ignored!). The car park opens at 8:30am and shuts at 5:30pm. It is located not too far away from Centre parcs and Sherwood forest.

Exploring the grounds of Rufford park

It’s worth doing a circular walk around the lake. It will take a while and in our case, it took a long time because we were following their Easter egg hunt trail while feeding the geese and ducks. But it’s a thoroughly pleasant walk and a perfect way of burning off some energy.

Feeding the geese and ducks

Don’t forget to take some suitable Duck Food. We buy ours from Amazon. They have quite a few signs around the park reminding people not to feed them bread. If you head left around the lake from the abbey side of the park you will eventually come across another car park area with an ice-cream kiosk, boat hire (paid activity), and a cafe connected to the mill (the mill cafe).

Boat hire at Rufford country park
On the Easter Egg trail …. can you spot the egg?

If you head around the back of this building you will find the flooded part of the road where cars are allowed to drive through. This is so much fun to watch and fun to drive through if A. it’s open and B. you actually come that way.

The road flooded by the river is a must to find and watch the cars go by

They also now have Have a Go Archery located in the grounds opposite the abbey (on the park side not the car park side). This is a paid activity.

Have a go archery

Play Village at Rufford Country Park

Part of the play village has now been taken over by the adventure golf. This is a paid activity and I’m afraid my memory has failed me as to how much we paid for this. I’m sure I paid £10 plus a deposit though for 2 adults and 1 child. If anyone can tell me how much it is per person please comment below.

It’s a shame that the free play village has shrunk in size because of this. So although we were at Rufford for a free day out we did secumb this once and pay for a round of adventure golf. (see more below). It is up to you if you pay for any of these activities that they now offer. Personally, I’d enjoy the park for what it is without paying.

There are some lovely grounds to explore around the play village with a few sculptures to find and pose by. It’s not a long walk.

Take a walk around the gardens next to the play village, there’s plenty to find

For the kids to play on/amongst there is a maze, although it’s a very very easy maze to negotiate! You can have your fortune read along the way.

Fortune maze

There’s a series of tunnels for the kids to play in which are in an area which is very similar to an old bunker from the war, there’s also a small ‘assault’ course here. Find yourself a spot and relax while the kids run riot. Next to here, there are a couple of play houses with sand and an old wooden horse that the kids can play on (not us ever again mind you as Jamie fell off it once and ended up in a&e  – he was fine! typical kid accident).

Play tunnels
One of the play houses

You need to pay for adventure golf at the ice-cream kiosk over by the play village. Here you will be handed your clubs and balls and you then need to head on over to the adventure golf course. The course has 9 holes and each has a relatively difficult challenge to get your ball up ramps/into a pinball machine etc.

You can bypass this harder part of the hole if your kids aren’t up to it. Everyone was giving it a go though which was causing some massive delays but then it’s all in the name of fun. It was fun, however, I don’t think we’d play it again as it was a little frustrating in places.

Adventure golf


Since we last visited Rufford Abbey they have installed a new play area at the park. I am unsure if they have taken any of the above play area away however here is a photo of the new play area from their Facebook page. It looks great!

Rufford Abbey Country Park | Things To Do | Free Day Out

 Events at Rufford Park

Rufford country park plays host to a lot of events throughout the year. There is a trail at Christmas and Easter. Plus Morris dancing, outdoor cinema, jousting, 1940s weekend and more. It’s always worth checking this website to see what’s on

Eating and Drinking Rufford Abbey

If you want a truly free visit to Rufford country park then you are free to take a picnic along and eat it in the park. If you want to purchase any food or drinks then there are a few options.

There is the Mill cafe on the other side of the lake which sells a wide range of hot drinks, delicious pastries and pies, hot snacks and cold drinks and ice cream.

The coachhouse cafe is in the courtyard next to the abbey which serves a range of snacks and light meals, made utilising a range of local produce. They have recently added a Citroen van outside here which sells coffee and a wide range of hot drinks, morning pastries, hot snacks, cold drinks and ice cream.

Lord Saville’s kitchen is a restored Victorian kitchen located in the Abbey’s remaining Jacobean wing. It’s really lovely inside and worth reserving a table if you want to eat here. We can recommend the carvery for under £10.

Rufford Abbey Country Park | Things To Do | Free Day Out
Lord Saville’s restaurant
Rufford Abbey Country Park | Things To Do | Free Day Out
Lord Saville’s kitchen

There’s also an ice-cream kiosk over by the play village and also by the boat rental on the lake. Plus a newly opened ice-cream farm. This is located near the abbey and coach house cafe. They have 19 award winning flavours to choose from. Open from 10.30am – 5pm every weekend and throughout the school holidays.

The new Ice-Cream farm

*This post contains affiliate links

Rufford Abbey Country Park | Things To Do | Free Day Out

Are you looking for more days out ideas in Nottinghamshire? Why not click on this link for more. We are big fans of White Post Farm which isn’t far from Rufford Abbey.

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Rufford Abbey Country Park | Things To Do | Free Day Out

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