Calke Park ancient trees walk

Walking trail

Discover some of the oldest trees in Europe as these ancient inhabitants of Calke parkland unfold to tell their stories.

Look out for fungi, toads, birds and insects in the woodland habitat.

On this walk, you’ll learn about the trees’ place within the park and the creatures that live alongside them.

A tree in the parkland at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire


Map route for Calke Park ancient trees walk


Calke Abbey main car park, grid ref: SK367226


Begin at the western end of the main car park by the picnic tables. Take the stone path, walk through a gate and remain on the upper path to reach steps that lead down to the ponds. This path is lined with horse chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum) and old hawthorns (Crataegus monogyna), giving a diverse range of invertebrates. The dead horse chestnut trees provide a valuable habitat for beetles and insects. The dead trees have been topped for safety and any removed branches left on the floor as habitat piles.

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Hawthorn flowers grow here in dense, sweet smelling clusters, encouraging invertebrates to take advantage of the early nectar feast.

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Before passing through the stile, to the right are the remains of what was reported in the Derby Mercury to be the largest small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) in the country, with a circumference of 72 feet (22m).


Carry straight on past the ponds, which are lined with common alders (Alnus glutinosa) - a typical waterside species.


Fork right uphill to the Fisherman's car park. At the top is an old pendunculate oak (Quercus robur) referred to as the dragon tree. As you walk past this old dead oak tree try to imagine that the branches are shaped like a big dragon with holes acting as eyes. Also of interest is the silver birch growing from the top. Their tiny winged seeds spread in profusion and are quick to colonise any new area.


Follow the path as it veers off to the right and through a kissing gate. Soon you come across the 'Old Man of Calke' on the left. It still produces acorns and is fenced to protect the roots from over-trampling.

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Sweet chestnut trees (Castanea saviva) - recognisable by their latticed bark, originally formed a pathway up to Lady Catherine's Bower - an 18th-century summerhouse. Look out for a giant redwood, a tall conifer, set back on the right.


Continue along the path keeping the grassland on the left. Eventually as you enter denser woodland you will see several beech and oak trees on the left. These are remnants of avenues planted in 1712 across the park, which were designed to align with the axis of the house. On the right a dead tree displays much woodpecker damage.


At the end of this path you will reach the deer enclosure. Turn right to another gate. Beech and hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) grown in the enclosure. These trees are easily confused, but the beech (Fagus sylvatica) has the smoother bark. In autumn both provide a magnificent yellow and orange glow. The name hornbeam comes from the structure of the wood which is very slow growing, making it dense and hard, like horn.


Pass through the gate and follow the path around the pond, take the steps on the left leading to the main car park.

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Calke Abbey main car park, grid ref: SK367226

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Calke Park ancient trees walk


The route has stepped and stone paths, kissing gates and stiles. 

Dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads, as livestock graze in the surrounding fields. Please place dog litter in the bins provided.

Calke Park ancient trees walk

Contact us

Calke Park ancient trees walk

How to get here

Calke Abbey, Ticknall, Derbyshire, DE73 7LE (if using SatNav please use postcode DE73 7JF)
By train

Derby, 9.5 miles (15.2km); Burton-on-Trent, 10 miles (16km).

By road

10 miles (16km) south of Derby on A514 at Ticknall. M42/A42 exit 13 and A50 Derby South. Brown signposts from A42.

By bus

Number 69/A, Derby to Swadlincote, alight Ticknall then 1.5 mile (2.5km) walk through park to house.

By bicycle

National Cycle Network traffic-free route, 5 miles (8km) away.

Calke Park ancient trees walk

Facilities and access

  • Restaurant and gift shop at Calke Abbey
  • Dogs welcome on leads