Calke Park deer shelter walk
Ticknall, Derbyshire, DE73 7LERoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Explore Calke’s new wetland area and discover a preserved 18th-century deer shelter on this pleasant amble through an ancient parkland landscape.
- Bus stop
Start: Main overflow car park at Calke Abbey, grid ref: SK367226
From the main car park follow the exit road past the stables and down to a gravel track on the right. Turn half right and walk uphill across the grass towards the preserved deer shelter, which is visible through the trees.
The Calke Abbey building team have preserved this interesting building to prevent it deteriorating further. It was built in the 18th century amid old ridge and furrow land, to entice deer into the open parkland. The family could then observe them from the comfort of the house. Two hundred years later, red and fallow deer were re-introduced to Calke as an enclosed herd, and you can still see them today in the deer enclosure to the east of the House.
After visiting it, continue ahead keeping the fence on your left then descend to the carriage drive that is stoned. Turn left to follow this to a corner, a white gate on the left and a wall ahead.
Turn right on reaching the wall and follow it to the main drive. The mound high on the right is part of the original water supply for the house. Designed by Henry Marley Burton in 1865 it was specifically for fire-fighting after a potentially devastating fire at the abbey. The water was taken from Pistern Hills (the skyline on the left) along cast iron pipes. Cross straight over here and walk down the side of the road, turning left onto a track. Leading into Poker Leys Wood.
Go through the gate and turn right into a wetland area. At this point you might like to take a detour along the path on the right to a bird hide. Afterwards return to continue along the track keeping a fence on the left. Cross a stile at the end.
At the heart of the park is a series of two culverts and a weir, located between four ponds. The ponds were created in the 18th century and were used for fishing and recreation by the Harpur Crewe family of Calke Abbey. They now provide an important wetland habitat for a range of wildlife. A project to improve water quality in the pond system and give a further habitat for the native white clawed crayfish resulted in this wetland area. It acts as a natural sediment trap as water flows in from the surrounding areas.
Follow the fence line on the right, around the field and cross over the next stile leading into woodland.
Stroll through the woodland on the path. Enter the field and head uphill.
Cross a stile on the right. Follow the path through a narrow strip of woodland to reach another stile and open grassland with the ticket check above on the left.
Cross the road and pass through the gate in the fence about 50 metres below the ticket check. Veer right across this field in a diagonal direction towards a large wooden gate in a wall. Here you enter the National Nature Reserve. Turn right.
Calke was designated a National Nature Reserve in September 2004 due to the quality of its wood pasture. The parkland includes some of the oldest trees in Europe, with two oaks dating back over 1,000 years. These trees pre-date the park and original house. Much of the dead wood on the estate is left where it has fallen to give a valuable habitat for invertebrates, many species of fungi and woodland birds. Nine species of bat have been recorded in the park including the serotine bat.
Go through the gate at the end of the wall and follow the woodland path, which bears round to the left.
Come out of the wood into the Fisherman's car park. To see the oldest tree in the park, The Old Man of Calke, walk a short way beyond the car park through a kissing gate on the left. The tree stands 50 metres on the left and is protected by railings. Return to the car park.
Follow the narrow stoned then stepped path down from the car park to Betty's Pond. Bear left and go 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.
Keep to the upper path to return to the car park.
End: Main overflow car park at Calke Abbey, grid ref: SK367226
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 2.4 miles (3.86km)
- Time: 1 hour
- OS Map: Landranger 128; Explorer 245
The circular route takes you over rough grassland. It also has stepped and stone paths, kissing gates and stiles. Enquire at Calke Abbey for more accessible routes. Please note, dogs are not permitted, as the route takes you through the wetlands conservation area
- How to get here:
By bike: National Cycle Network traffic-free route, 5 miles (8km) away
By bus: Number 61, Derby to Swadlincote (passing close to Derby Station), alight Ticknall then 1.5 miles (2.5km) walk through park to house
By train: Derby, 9.5 miles (15.2km); Burton-on-Trent, 10 miles (16km)
By car: 10 miles (16km) south of Derby on A514 at Ticknall. M42/A42 exit 13 and A50 Derby South. Signposted from the A42
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