Skip to content

Family-friendly things to do at Calke Abbey

Family cycling in parkland at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire in autumn.
Family cycling in parkland at Calke Abbey | © ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

From wild adventures in the woods to family bike rides around the estate, there are lots of ways to make great memories as a family at Calke Abbey. Find out what family-friendly events are coming up and all the information you need to plan your day out.

Planning your family visit

If you're planning a day out at Calke Abbey with the family, here is some useful information at a glance:

  • Car parking is available at Calke Explore; if this is full, it's a 10-minute walk to Calke Explore from the main car park with accessible routes available.
  • The natural play trail is open year-round at Calke Explore.
  • The playground in the Stableyards is a short walk from the main car park.
  • Baby changing facilities are available near the café and in the accessible toilet at Calke Explore.
  • Breastfeeding is welcome anywhere on site.

Family friendly things to do around the estate

If you go down to the woods today, you'll discover lots of family-friendly activities at Calke Explore. Nestled into the woodland, Calke Explore is the perfect base for family adventures in the outdoors, including an exciting natural play area, open all year round.

You'll also find easy access to walking and cycling routes, along with cycle hire for all the family, and nature-themed activities during school holidays. Cycle hire is now closed until spring 2024.

Follow the signs on the driveway to park at Calke Explore, where there's a refreshments kiosk, toilets, Changing Places facility and plenty of picnic benches.

An adult and child cycling along the Tramway Trail surrounded by trees, with autumn leaves on the ground and dog walkers in the background.
Tick off 'No. 11 Explore on wheels' from your '50 things' list | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Visiting Calke with a pushchair?

Planning a visit for you and your little one? Here are a few tips to bear in mind when visiting with a buggy.

For a level walk around the parkland, head to Calke Explore and venture onto the multi-use Tramway Trail. With hard paths and the choice between a shorter or longer route, its perfect for a family walk all year round.

Calke’s waymarked walks may include some areas of uneven terrain and steps, which can be navigated with a pushchair if you’re able to lift the buggy up shallow steps. You can find specific information about the terrain of each walk outside the ticket office.

If you’re planning a visit to the house or tunnels, it may be better to leave the buggy in the car as they can’t be taken inside. There is a space to leave them outside the house, but this is not undercover. Hip carriers are available for you to borrow to use around the house, subject to availability.

Buggies must be left outside the house. To avoid walking back down to the house to collect your buggy after emerging from the tunnels, leave them behind in the car and borrow a baby carrier from the house, subject to availability.

See displays all year round in the gardens, with wide paths suitable for pushchairs. There are no steps in the gardens; however, there is a slope up to the gardens and some narrow paths in the Physic Garden you may wish to avoid.

There is level access in the café and one step at the far end of the seating area in the restaurant. At busy times, we recommend the café or the raised seated area of the restaurant where there is more space between tables.

Family looking at the donation stand in the garden with their dog and pushchair
Family exploring the gardens | © National Trust/Annapurna Mellor

'50 things to do before you’re 11¾'

Plot an outdoor exploration, get creative in nature and explore over 600 acres of green space as part of your '50 things to do before you’re 11¾' adventure at Calke Abbey. We’ve picked out the best spots to get you started:

  • No. 4 Build a den: The woods at Calke Explore are perfect for building dens, or why not venture into Serpentine Wood to build something spectacular? Cover your den with leaves to create an awesome hideout.
  • No.6 Go welly wandering: Dress up in waterproofs and wellies, and splash about in puddles this winter. With over 600 acres of parkland to explore, there's plenty of puddles to jump in at Calke.
  • No. 11 Explore on wheels: Fasten your helmet, ring your bell and explore Calke on two wheels. The Tramway Trail is the ideal circular cycling route for family bike rides, with cycle hire now available at Calke Explore – the perfect place to begin your two-wheeled adventure.
  • No. 31 Make friends with a bug: There are lots of places to search for bugs at Calke Abbey, from the gardens to the woodlands, where millions tiny creatures make their homes. If you're visiting Calke Explore, don't forget to pay a visit to the bug hotel to see how many bugs you can spot.
  • No. 35 Discover what's in a pond: There are lots of ponds at Calke Abbey, easily accessible from the main car park and at Calke Explore. Spend a little time by the water's edge and see what you can spot beneath the surface.
A view of the west side of the house and  a glimpse of the Pleasure Grounds through trees on a sunny day at Calke Abbey

Discover more at Calke Abbey

Find out when Calke Abbey is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

A family cycling along a track on the Tramway Trail at Calke Abbey, with autumnal trees and fallen branches in the background

Cycling at Calke Abbey 

Discover picturesque views of the Calke Estate on a bike ride along the Tramway Trail, with cycle hire and guided rides available.

Visitors crossing the historic drive with their dogs in the Lime Avenue with longhorn cattle pictured in the background

Exploring the estate at Calke Abbey 

Reconnect with nature and make yourself at home in acres of historic parkland on the Calke Abbey estate in Derbyshire.

A variety of pumpkins, squashes and gourds on display at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Things to do in the garden at Calke Abbey 

Explore a vibrant and productive walled garden, look inside the faded glasshouses and explore Calke's fascinating collection of garden buildings.

Image shows the Dining Room at Calke Abbey. The dining table is in the centre of the room and the table is laid for a meal.

Things to do in the house at Calke Abbey 

Discover the 'un-stately' home at Calke Abbey, where peeling paint and abandoned rooms vividly portray a period when many country houses didn't survive.

A man and child explore the ruins of Fountains Abbey. The man is holding the little girl as they look up at the stone walls of the abbey.

Family-friendly places to visit 

There are lots of things to do when you visit one of our family-friendly places. Find inspiration for days out and discover a range of activities for everyone.

A child explores the outdoors with their family in autumn

Family-friendly places to visit in the Peak District and Derbyshire 

Explore the Peak District and Derbyshire with your family, including outdoor play areas and a country house designed specially for younger visitors.

A mother helps a young child climb over a fallen log in the parkland, on a bright, wintry day.

‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’ 

Fancy running free in the fresh air, learning new skills and trying new things? Grab your gear and start your adventure.