Calke Explore: A new outdoor hub for Calke Abbey

The Tramway Trail is a multi-use trail at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

In the summer of 2019, we opened Calke Explore – a new outdoor recreation area at Calke Abbey, providing much-needed facilities for our growing number of visitors. Read all about the development of Calke Explore and our plans for the future here. 

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 – offers these visitors more opportunities to get outdoors and explore more of the inspiring parkland here at Calke. Click the link below to find out what you can get up to at Calke Explore.

Calke Explore in winter | National Trust Calke Abbey | Derbyshire

Get outdoors at Calke Explore 

Calke Explore is open all year round, offering more opportunities to get outdoors and active in Calke Abbey’s inspiring parkland.

What is Calke Explore?

Calke Explore is a new ‘outdoor hub’ located in a peaceful woodland area between the park entry point and the main site, 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 routers, exciting natural play areas nestled into the woods, and spaces for relaxation and reflection. 

A phased approach

Following an extensive consultation period and planning application, Calke Explore was given the go-ahead in 2017, and work started in the area in early 2018. We opened the site to visitors in July 2019. 

This is very much the beginning of Calke Explore, as we continue to look ahead at the future of the site. The long-term vision includes the creation of a new building, offering a café, toilets, cycle hire facilities, and a multi-use room to be used for learning and education. 

In the meantime, we'd love to hear your thoughts about Calke Explore. Fill out a comment card when you visit, or speak to a member of the team – we value your feedback. 

Why was Calke Explore created? 

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.

Lime Avenue is stunning all year round
Lime Avenue at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire
Lime Avenue is stunning all year round


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.

FAQs about Calke Explore (PDF / 0.0556640625MB) download

Latest updates

30 Sep 19

Completing the wood cladding

From Monday 30 September, some of Calke Explore will be closed while we complete the wood cladding around the facilities. This will include cladding the toilet facilities, Food and Beverage kiosk, and adding roofs to the shelters. This means that the facilities and seating area will be closed until Sat 19 Oct (weather permitting). The car park, walking trails and natural play will remain open throughout the work.

Calke Explore outdoor recreation area at National Trust Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

22 Jul 19

Calke Explore is now open!

Jump for joy, because Calke Explore is now open! You can now park up in the woods, enjoy an outdoor adventure in the natural play area, and fill up on all the refreshments you need at the new Food and Beverage kiosk. There's still some work to do in the area, but Calke Explore will be open every day of the school holidays for you to enjoy. Check the webpage for opening times, things to see and do, and further information.

Calke Explore natural play area | Calke Abbey | Derbyshire

01 Jul 19

Calke Explore opens soon...

We're excited to announce that Calke Explore is opening on Sat 20 July. There's still plenty of work to do in the area, but we want you to make the most of the warm summer days – so we're opening the site every day of the school holidays. All the facilities will be open daily, including the Food and Beverage kiosk, toilets and Changing Place toilet, as well as the natural play areas. We'll even have additional activities for families looking for a bit of adventure this summer. When autumn arrives, we'll complete the larch cladding around the facilities, to make sure they're in-keeping with the natural environment.

Picnic at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire