Calke Park and Calke Abbey

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Start: Calke Distance: 3.7 miles (6.0 km) Climbing: 106 metres
Grid Ref: SK375226 Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Calke Abbey
Start: Calke Distance: 3.7 miles (6.0 km)
Grid Ref: SK375226 Time: 2 hours
Climbing: 106 metres Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

Summary: This gentle stroll in well kept grounds is literally a walk in the park. Starting from the end of the road from Calke to Staunton Harold Reservoir follow public rights of way around Calke Park with an optional visit to Calke Abbey and Gardens (National Trust)

The Walk:

Staunton Harold ReservoirStaunton Harold Reservoir (courtesy of Simon Huguet)
Hole in the tree in Calke ParkHole in the tree in Calke Park

Being a member of both the National Trust and English Heritage I often seek out any attractions that are close when I am travelling around the country and when I have a few hours to spare. Recently after meetings in Derby and with a long evening in a hotel to look forward to I sought out Calke Abbey to find out more about the place. On arrival I was delighted to find the manor house which now sits on the site of an old abbey is set amidst the wonderful grounds of Calke Parks a visit to a house became a short walk of thorough enjoyment.

That's better!That's better!
Calke ChurchCalke Church

I started from the car park in the grounds but have designed this walk to start on the road from Calke which goes to a dead end before Staunton Harold Reservoir. This is for the convenience of non National Trust members who don't wish to pay for the walk. If you choose this option you'll enjoy most of it no less than I did but you'll miss out on the wonderful gardens. From the reservoir walk west and then north across a reservoir bridge to Kennel Cottages and from there walk anti clockwise around woodland to arrive at another bridge over water which is crossed. Walk west along the south side of the water to Betty's Pond and then amble in a south east direction across the parkland to Calke Church.

Tree lined avenue from the Church to the GardensTree lined avenue from the Church to the Gardens
Evidence of an old summer houseEvidence of an old summer house

From the Church my course shows a route to the Abbey Gardens. If you have paid to enjoy them then you are in for a treat, they are spectacular. If not, simply walk back but this time head towards the house and enjoy the wonderful grounds.

Smiling facesSmiling faces
Wisteria RowWisteria Row

In the gardens I saw row upon row of lovely potted pansies. I also saw the most splendid row of Wisteria along a wall that I have ever seen. There were also well kept vegetable gardens and soft fruit shrubs.

Deer relaxing in Calke ParkDeer relaxing in Calke Park
Spring blossomSpring blossom

Having completed my tour of the gardens I proceeded to enjoy the freedom of the grounds. While walking toward the ice house I came across a herd of Deer, quietly grazing in the sublime countryside. Trees were full of blossom, enhancing the colour of the scenery enjoyed. The park is well maintained and quite a joy to walk through.

A tree full of characterA tree full of character
Grotto in Calke ParkGrotto in Calke Park

Trees of immense character were everywhere, many old deciduous trees with gnarled and grotesquely shaped trunks. No wonder childrens stories in deep woodland are often menacing with such evocative images to shape capture the imagination. Nearby on the walk toward the manor house I came across a man-made grotto, a perfect place to chill on balmy days.

Buttercups on the approach to Calke AbbeyButtercups on the approach to Calke Abbey
Calke AbbeyCalke Abbey

Calke Abbey is kept in poor state of restoration by the National Trust on purpose. Titled by the trust as 'The un-stately home and country estate'. It tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate. The house and stables are little restored, with many abandoned areas vividly portraying a period in the 20th century when numerous country houses did not survive to tell their story. Inside there are hundreds of stuffed animals, interesting but not exactly my cup of tea so I was happy to enjoy the grounds some more after my brief hasty walk through the house. It's a lovely park indeed, well worth a visit whether visiting the house and gardens or not.

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