Orchid walk at Calke Abbey

Calke Park, Ticknall, Derby, South Derbyshire DE73 7LE

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
The flowers on the Twayblade look like little people © Susan Guy

The flowers on the Twayblade look like little people

Over 300 Fragrant orchids can be expected at the Limeyards at Calke  © Susan Guy

Over 300 Fragrant orchids can be expected at the Limeyards at Calke

Common spotted orchids at Calke Park, Derbyshire © National Trust

Common spotted orchids at Calke Park, Derbyshire

The Lime Avenue at Calke Park, Derbyshire © National Trust

The Lime Avenue at Calke Park, Derbyshire

Route overview

This tranquil walk will take you through varied landscapes of grassland, arable farmland and one of Europe's rarest habitats - wood pasture. Along the way you will visit Ticknall Limeyards, which date back to the fifteenth century, managed now to allow calcareous grassland flora to thrive.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Calke Abbey Limeyards walk
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Calke Abbey main car park, grid ref: SK367226

  1. Begin at the northern edge of the main car park with your back to the ticket office. Use the gravel path then down steps to the pond. Turn right and follow the deer fencing to the top of the hill, until it meets the old park boundary wall close to an interpretation board.

    Show/HideTwayblade

    Twayblade takes its name from the two large oval leaves that are at the base of the flower stem. The small yellow- green flowers look a bit like little people. Sometime the stem can become damaged by feeding frog hopper nymphs found in cuckoo spit.

    The flowers on the Twayblade look like little people © Susan Guy
  2. Turn left for 20 metres then go through the gate on the right. Turn left, cross stile and walk down the field to cross the lane leading to White Leys Cottage on the left. Continue ahead.

    Show/HideFragrant orchid

    This orchid, as the name suggests, is heavily scented. It is most perfumed in the early evening and the smell isoften described as as being similar to mock orange blossom. The flowers vary in colour from pink to purple and grow in a compact spike on a straight stem. We counted over 300 Fragrant orchids on this site in 2014 and huge increase from the 62 we had counted in 2013!

    Over 300 Fragrant orchids can be expected at the Limeyards at Calke  © Susan Guy
  3. At the wall turn right and follow the footpath along the wall on the left. Go over a stile and now keep the hedge on the right to meet woodland at the edge of Ticknall Limeyards.

  4. Continue ahead along the wide stoned track that bears right. Look out for a path descending on the left. This leads to a stile by a gate. For a slight detour to see the orchids in summer turn right after the stile. Return to the path and turn right.

    Show/HideCommon spotted orchid

    This is the most abundant of the British orchids. The flowers are pink with a purple pattern and the leaves are spotted - hence the name. These flowers peak from late June to early July at which time we expect to see over 5000 Common spotted orchids on this site. When we first started counting orchid numbers in 1998 we counted 258 Common spotted orchids.

    Common spotted orchids at Calke Park, Derbyshire © National Trust
  5. Follow the path (a quarry face over on the left). Cross another stile. You are on the route of Ticknall tramway. This path weaves its way through the woodland. Walk under a bridge then through a gate; next admire the old limekiln with a bridge over it. Continue on the stoned path cross another bridge as you progress. Interpretation boards give the history of the area.

    The Lime Avenue at Calke Park, Derbyshire © National Trust
  6. Eventually you meet a tunnel. Go through it to another stile. Cross it and after 10 metres turn left following a stoned path up to a gate. Turn right to walk along the stoned path by the hedgerow. This is the route of the National Forest Way marked by yellow topped posts with orange discs

    Show/HideWood pasture

    These areas are grazed by sheep and longhorn cattle during the summer to suppress the growth of shrubs and saplings, encouraging a diverse grassland structure. The veteran trees - one of which is over 1,000 years old - play host to an enormous diversity of invertebrates and fungi, such as the rare Oak polypore.

  7. Follow the route through open parkland, use the narrow gate and cross the open area aiming downhill to reach the next marker post at the edge of the woodland pasture. Walk on, cross a track to eventually pass between two ponds. Next ascend steps after a gate. A number of Calke's ancient trees (some over 800 years old) can be seen on the left.

  8. Keep to the upper path to return to the car park.

End: Calke Abbey main car park, grid ref: SK367226

In partnership with

Cotswold Outdoor logo © Cotswold Outdoor
  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 2.7 miles (3.35 km)
  • Time: 2 hours
  • OS Map: Landranger 128
  • Terrain:

    This circular route has stepped and stone paths, kissing gates and stiles. The route takes you alongside a main road for a short distance. Dogs welcome but please keep on a lead as there are livestock in surrounding fields.

  • How to get here:

    By bike: National Cycle Network traffic-free route 5 miles (8km) away. See Sustrans for details.

    By bus: Service 61 Derby-Swadlincote (passing close to Derby), alight Ticknall then 1.5 (2.5km) mile walk through park to house.  Burton-on-Trent is 10 miles (16km) away. If you are arriving by bus you may wish to start this walk at step 3 and follow the circular route until until you finish back in Ticknall. 

    By car: 10 miles (16km) south of Derby on A514 at Ticknall. M42/A42 exit 13 and A50 Derby South.

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