As more and more visitors come to enjoy over 600 acres of historic parkland at Calke Abbey, the Middle Lodge admissions point has become a significant bottleneck on very busy days. To keep your entry as smooth as possible, we’re making a few changes in this area. The existing admissions hut is moving further down the drive, away from the lodge, meaning we can extend the second and third lanes. Visitors will be able to pick a lane more easily – ultimately speeding up traffic flow into the parkland. From January 21st, the work will take up to five weeks. As it’s a quieter time of year, we hope the impact will be minimal with small delays possible, however, it does mean that vehicles will no longer be able to park at Ragg’s Close just beyond Middle Lodge. You can still use the main car park which has access to all our parkland walks as well as the café and gardens, and the new car park at Calke Explore will open later this year. The admissions hut will operate as usual during these works.
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 in 2019, ready for a summer opening.
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 including a refreshments 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 we aim to open Calke Explore in summer 2019. More information will follow as we move forward, 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.
22 Jan 19
Traffic flow improvements at Middle Lodge
09 Nov 18
Connecting Calke Explore
Over the next few weeks, you’ll notice some disruption across the estate as we connect the utilities for Calke Explore. This involves digging trenches and installing pipework underground, which will connect the facilities at Calke Explore to the existing sewage treatment plant at the main site. In addition to waste, the pipework will carry phone and internet lines for the site. It’s a multi-functional pipe! By introducing these new facilities at Calke Explore, we’ll be able to offer visitors more options for their day out while reducing the pressure on the existing facilities. During November and December, we’ll be continuing these trenching works in the Stableyard area, so you may see some temporary diversions in place over the winter, although everything will be open as usual.
30 Oct 18
Felled wood finds a new home
A local National Trust property, the Workhouse, is currently undertaking a project to ‘re-imagine’ the way the property is presented to visitors. As well as creating exhibition spaces and multi-sensory rooms to tell the property’s fascinating story and encourage debate around poverty and social care, the Workhouse is also re-dressing some of its historic spaces. Last week, local craftsman Peter Wood ran chair making workshops at the Workhouse as part of the project, where members of the community made six chairs to be used in the re-presented Workhouse. Peter sources his timber from the Calke estate, and it’s likely that these chairs are made from the felled trees in the Calke Explore site. Waste not, want not!