Enjoy outdoor adventures at Calke Explore

Children enjoying the natural outdoor play area at National Trust Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

The wait is over! The brand-new Calke Explore is now open, offering more opportunities to get outdoors and active in Calke Abbey’s inspiring parkland. Find out how you can enjoy this new space, learn about conservation and sustainability, and see the future of Calke Explore below.

What is Calke Explore?

Calke Explore is a brand-new outdoor recreation area at Calke Abbey, offering more opportunities to step into nature and get active at Calke Abbey.

The perfect base to start your outdoor adventures, Calke Explore is situated in a peaceful woodland area away from the house and gardens, where you’ll find new facilities including a car park, toilet facilities, a Changing Places toilet and a Food and Beverage kiosk.

Keep exploring to find walking and cycling routes, exciting natural play areas nestled into the woods, and spaces for relaxation and reflection.

We’ve still got lots of work to do at Calke Explore, but we’re opening the site every day of the school holidays so that you can make the most of the warm summer days. After summer, we’ll complete the wood cladding around the facilities, and over time, the new trees will grow and provide more greenery in the area. 

Go wild in Calke Explore's natural play area
Calke Explore natural play area | Calke Abbey | Derbyshire
Go wild in Calke Explore's natural play area

Things to see and do at Calke Explore

Whether you’re planning a family day out, a gentle bike ride, or a walk with the dog, Calke Explore has something for everyone. With easy access to the wider estate, you can jump straight on the Tramway Trail (a family friendly walking and cycle route), take a stroll towards the Limeyards, or pitch up with a picnic blanket and a good book in the meadow. 

Lie back in the grass and enjoy a picnic at Calke Explore
Picnic at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire
Lie back in the grass and enjoy a picnic at Calke Explore

Families are invited to come out and play at Calke Explore during the summer holidays, where you’ll find fun and games every day. With brand-new natural play areas, including a human-sized badger sett and a wooden fort to explore, kids can go wild in nature all day long.

Why not take part in some activities to get your pulse racing? Join a race, embark on a nature-themed challenge, or play a game of table tennis – our team will be on hand every day of the school holidays to help you become an Active Champion.

If you’re looking for a moment of peace, there’s plenty of space for reflection and refreshment at Calke Explore. With new benches overlooking the wetlands, and a courtyard with covered and uncovered seating, you can relax with a cuppa among the sights and sounds of nature. The Food and Beverage kiosk will be open from 10am–3pm every day during the summer. 

Calke Explore natural outdoor play area at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Come out and play at Calke Abbey

Get the family together this summer and enjoy quality time outdoors, play games in nature, and make amazing memories at Calke Abbey.

Conservation and sustainability

As part of our commitment to creating a healthy, natural environment, we’re taking steps to make Calke Explore as green as possible – from large-scale projects to protect the habitats in the area, to introducing new recycling bins and environmentally friendly hand dryers.

We’re even banning single-use cups from the new Food and Beverage kiosk – instead, we’re encouraging visitors to bring a keep cup with them. You’ll receive 25p off your hot drink, and you’ll be helping us reduce the amount of waste we produce. Spread the word!

Check back here soon to find out more about our conservation and sustainability work at Calke Explore, and see what you can do to help.

Help us reduce single-use cups by bringing a keep cup on your next visit
Reusable eco-friendly keep cups at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire
Help us reduce single-use cups by bringing a keep cup on your next visit

Accessible Calke Explore

Everyone is welcome at Calke Explore, and we’ve been looking at how we can create solutions for accessibility at the new site, so that you can enjoy the parkland fully. You'll find 10 accessible parking bays next to the facilities, a disabled access toilet, and an adult Changing Places facility if you have additional needs.

Calke Explore is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, with a short trail suitable for wheelchairs and mobility scooters, as well as direct access to the Tramway Trail – a flat, circular route with a hard surface. Families can be inspired by nature in the human-sized badger sett, which is wheelchair accessible.

If you'd like more information about access, get in touch or speak to a member of the team when you arrive. We'll be happy to help. 

The journey so far

From finding a suitable site for Calke Explore, to completing the ground works and conserving the parkland during construction, it’s been a long road to Calke Explore. Find out more about where Calke Explore came from, follow the timeline of progress, and see the future of Calke Explore here. 

Any questions? See if we've answered them in the Frequently Asked Questions, which you can download below:

FAQs about Calke Explore (PDF / 0.1MB) download

When you immerse yourself in nature, we can continue to protect and preserve Calke's special outdoor spaces. Thank you for your support.