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. In order to construct the new Calke Explore, we 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 require several days of hand-felling and at least a week of machine felling. 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 in our tree-felling article above.
A new outdoor hub for Calke Abbey
This year, we’re excited to begin work on Calke Explore – a new outdoor hub for Calke Abbey, which will provide much-needed facilities for our growing number of visitors.
With over 600 acres of inspiring parkland, there's lots to explore at Calke. While lots of our visitors come to experience the 'un-stately home' and learn its unique history, many people come just to explore and enjoy the ancient parkland surrounding the house and gardens.
The new outdoor hub – which we’ve named Calke Explore after our popular summer play area – will offer these visitors more opportunities to get outdoors and explore more of the inspiring parkland here at Calke.
What is Calke Explore?
Calke Explore will be a new ‘outdoor hub’ located between the park entry point and the main site. The long-term vision for Calke Explore is to create a new building, offering a café, toilets and cycle hire facilities.
Step outside and there will be a new car park, footpaths, cycle routes and outdoor recreation areas, including natural play and nature trails. In the longer term, we’d like to introduce a multi-use room that can be used for leaning and education.
A phased approach
Following an extensive consultation period and planning application, Calke Explore was given the go-ahead in 2017. We’ll be 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.
Why is it being built?
Our visitor numbers are increasing and this puts a lot of pressure on the house and gardens. Whilst we want everyone to enjoy everything Calke has to offer, it's our job to protect the heritage at its core.
A lot of our visitors come to explore the wider parkland and our research shows a demand for a better outdoor experience. Calke Explore is intended to offer these visitors new ways to explore the outdoors and discover nature.
Located away from the main site and outside of the historic parkland and National Nature Reserve, Calke Explore will also reduce the pressure on the house and gardens, and ensure that we continue to protect Calke.
When will the hub be open?
Work started on the first phase in February 2018 with tree felling in Poker's Leys woodland, and will be complete by late autumn. More information will follow as we move forward, including an estimated timescale for the work. Watch this space for updates on our progress.
Learn a little more…
Check out our timeline below to find out the latest about Calke Explore. We'll regularly update this page with news articles about our progress, and what we're doing to look after Calke.
If you’d like more information on the outdoor hub, please read our Frequently Asked Questions, which can be downloaded below.