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Family-friendly things to do at Calke Abbey

Two children in colourful clothes play on a large tree trunk as part of the natural play trail at Calke Explore, Calke Abbey
Children enjoying the natural play area at Calke Explore | © National Trust/Rod Kirkpatrick

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.

May half term

Entertain the little ones at Calke, with lots to see and do all week long. Take part in a floral themed trail or head to Calke Explore for an active adventure.

Floral lotto trail

Running between Saturday 25 May and Sunday 2 June, 9.30am – 5pm.

Get out in nature this half term on a fun family trail, inspired by the floral loto game in Calke's collection. This popular children's game has been reproduced to put your plant knowledge to the test.

Print off your game card at home and then set off on an adventure to match the flowers on your sheet to those hiding around the Stableyards and Pleasure Grounds.

Child riding a bike through the woodland
Cycling the Tramway Trail | © National Trust/Steve Franklin

Get pedalling

Soak up the sights of early summer on a family ride along the Tramway Trail.

Bring along your own bikes or gear up at the close-by cycle hire facility, with cycle hire available everyday during half term from 10am – 4.30pm.

1-2-1 cycling lessons

Are you new to cycling or haven't been on a bike in a while? Book a private lesson to help you build your confidence or learn to ride from scratch.

Our amazing cycle hire team will tailor the session to you, helping you gain the knowledge and skills you need to ride independently.

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.

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.

Image shows a child jumping off tree logs in the woodland
Child playing in the natural play area at Calke Explore | © National Trust/Rod Kirkpatrick

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.

'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

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