Tree felling in Poker’s Leys woodland

Tree felling to make way for Calke Explore at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

Visitors to Calke Abbey may be surprised to see a number of trees being felled in Poker’s Leys woodland over the next few weeks, as we start work on the improvements to Calke Explore – Calke’s Abbey’s new outdoor hub.

Calke Explore gets the go-ahead

Planning permission was granted in 2017 for a new outdoor hub at Calke Abbey, which will provide much-needed facilities and will offer visitors more opportunities to get outdoors and explore the parkland. We’re phasing the project over a number of years, and are currently finalising a detailed plan for the first phase, which will be completed by late 2018.

During the first phase, we aim to create access and exit routes through Poker’s Leys woodland, pedestrian routes to the recently extended Tramway Trail and provide up to 100 permanent parking spaces. There will also be space for seasonal facilities such as a catering kiosk with outdoor seating, toilets and visitor information.

The chosen site is outside of Calke’s historic parkland and National Nature Reserve in Poker’s Leys woodland, and has been previously disturbed by tree felling to create the wetland area, and for outdoor activities such as Calke Explore. Due to the popularity of Calke Explore, we’ve decided to keep this name for the new outdoor facilities.

Tree felling in Poker’s Leys woodland

In order to construct the new Calke Explore, we’ll need to remove several hundred trees from the woodland. The majority of trees that need to be removed are close-grown woodland trees of poor quality. The ash trees are showing early signs of the disease ash dieback, and would have limited life as landscape features.

The work will start on Monday 12 February 2018 will require several days of hand-felling and at least a week of machine felling, some of which will be visible from the driveway. While areas of the woodland may look more sparse than usual, there will be some long-term benefits to the woodland, which you can read about below.

The trees being felled are poor quality
Trees will be felled to make was for Calke Explore at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

Path closures

Whilst we aim to cause minimum disruption to our visitors, we will be closing some of the walking routes and pathways around the area for your safety, due to the presence of tree felling operations, construction vehicles and the on-going work.

The most notable closure will be part of the ‘red’ walk which passes through Poker’s Leys woodland. Signage will be in place to redirect walkers, and our friendly staff will be happy to advise you on other estate walks at Calke Abbey.

The recently extended Tramway Trail will remain fully open during construction.

Long-term benefits

The site for Calke Explore was chosen partly due to its lower wildlife value compared to other parts of the estate. This gives us an opportunity to improve the site for wildlife.

Any tree and shrub removal will take place outside of nesting season, and as part of the project we’ll be undertaking extensive planting to replace lost tree and shrub habitats. Eventually, we’ll take steps to improve the natural habitats by introducing native broadleaf trees, managing the grassland and providing more wetland areas.

We’re also planning to use some of the wood from the felled trees as part of the new Calke Explore for benches, fences and other small structures. Some of the wood will also go to local carpenters.

Watch Calke Explore unfold

To find out more about Calke Explore, head over to the timeline on our webpage to see what’s going on at each stage of the construction. Over the coming months, you’ll discover how we’re protecting the wildlife in the area and will see what we’re up to in Poker’s Leys.

When you visit the new Calke Explore, you’ll be helping us to protect more of Calke’s outdoor spaces. Thank you for your support while we start these improvements to Calke Explore.