Last week, volunteers were treated to a tour of the developing Calke Explore site by General Manager Stewart Alcock. Despite the wet weather, 23 volunteers donned their walking boots and headed off into the park for a closer look at the new developments at the Pokers Leys site. Volunteers have been involved with the work since the early days of the project and had the opportunity to consult on the plans for the new outdoor hub last year. However, Stewart’s tour gave volunteers a great opportunity to see the site for themselves, ask questions and hear the latest updates. It was also a chance for Stewart to hear from volunteers and tackle any queries and concerns about Calke Explore. We’re looking forward to further volunteer involvement as we move forward with the first stage of works, and will be hosting a workshop for volunteers to help develop new play activities for Calke Explore. Watch this space!
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.
17 Apr 18
Volunteers tour Calke Explore
09 Apr 18
Site compound in Raggs Close
You might have noticed some building activity in Raggs Close on your drive into Calke Abbey, just past the park entry hut. We’re creating a temporary site compound for the builders to use as a base as we embark on the first stage of works for the Calke Explore project. We expect the compound to be in place until autumn 2018. Please note that visitors will not be able to park on Raggs Close while the construction work is underway.
27 Mar 18
Local children get creative for Calke Explore
This month, we invited a group of local children from Vision Support and Primary Hearing Support groups in Leicester to spend some time in the countryside at Calke. The children spent a fun-filled day with 'Creeping Toad' – a local environmental storyteller – creating activities for a new accessible trail that we’ll develop as part of the Calke Explore project. This involved lots of exploring the parkland, looking and listening, getting close to trees, feeling the bark and running through the long grass. The children also enjoyed meeting the wildlife at Calke, particularly the sheep, which some of the children had never seen before. They told us ‘the country makes me feel free’ – hopefully the start of many more children feeling free in nature through the Calke Explore project.