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Adventures await at Calke Explore

The National Trust has announced the launch of Calke Explore, a new outdoor recreation area nestled into a quiet woodland area at Calke Abbey, offering more opportunities to get outdoors, be active and discover more of Calke’s 600-acre parkland.

Photo courtesy the National Trust Located halfway between the park entrance and the heritage core of Calke (which comprises a mansion, working gardens and historic stableyard area including gift shop and restaurant), Calke Explore is the ideal place to embark on an adventure in the inspiring outdoors this summer.

Visitors can park in a quiet new car park, step straight onto rural walking and cycling routes, and take a breather in new spaces for refreshment and reflection.

Families are invited to get together at Calke Explore and be inspired by all things outdoors in the natural woodland play area, where they can explore a human-sized badger sett and discover a giant bug hotel modelled on the mansion at Calke.

The long summer days are a great excuse to go wild in nature: kids can get their pulses racing in nature-themed challenges, enjoy an outdoor game of table tennis, or get stuck into some of their ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities.

Those who share their ‘50 things’ adventures on the NT Midlands Facebook page or on Instagram will be in with the chance of winning a children’s activity pack and meal for four at a National Trust Midlands property of their choice. To enter, all people have to do is either share their ‘50 things’ photo in the comments section of NT Midlands’ competition post on Facebook, or tag @NTMidlands on Instagram and use the hashtag #50thingsMidsComp.*

"Calke Explore is a cool, shady environment where kids can push their boundaries in relative safety," said visitor Carolyn Ife, whose daughter Holly enjoys the freedom to explore nature. "It’s nice to be able to sit under a tree on a hot day with a coffee."

Holly said,"I like to climb trees and play in the woods; it’s one of my favourite things to do. There are lots of things to climb on in Calke Explore."

Natural play is just one element of Calke Explore, which offers something for all visitors who want to get in touch with nature. With brand-new facilities, including a café, toilets and an adult changing place for visitors with additional needs, Calke Explore is a place to relax and refuel – somewhere visitors can spend a full day among the sights and sounds of woodlands, wetlands and wide open meadows.

While the house and gardens are a short walk away for curious visitors, Calke Explore offers a different experience--one centred around the great outdoors, which provides plenty of opportunities for visitors with accessibility needs to explore further afield.

With direct access to the wider estate, it’s easier than ever to jump on the Tramway Trail, an accessible, circular path for walkers and cyclists. Visitors can soak up new vistas and find themselves in parts of the estate they’ve never seen before, including the National Nature Reserve and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, both significant areas for wildlife and habitat.

"Whether you want to explore the National Nature Reserve, unearth some fantastic industrial archaeology or discover rich flora and fauna, Calke Explore provides the place where you can start that exploration," said Stewart Alcock, General Manager at Calke Abbey.

"When you visit, you’ll be helping to protect the heritage at the heart of Calke. Not only will you give the house and gardens some breathing space, but you’ll also see nature flourish in striking parts of the parkland, soak in the serenity of the woodland and listen to the buzz of the thriving wetlands."

As a conservation charity, the National Trust is committed to protecting and conserving the wildlife, landscape and historic features at Calke Abbey.

As part of the construction, a 1.6km was dug to connect the toilets at Calke Explore to the main sewage treatment plant – a project to protect the ponds and watercourses which are home to the white-clawed crayfish, a native species to Britain.

The countryside team are now continuing their work to enhance the biodiversity of the area by planting native broadleaf trees, managing the grassland, and creating more wetland areas.

"As a new site, we’re really excited about doing something different, and accessibility and environmental sustainability are at the heart of Calke Explore’, said Caroline Taylor, Visitor Experience Manager. "It will be the first place at Calke where we’re separating waste for recycling and significantly reducing waste production by only serving hot drinks in reusable cups.

While there is still some work to do in the area, including the cladding of the facilities, Calke Explore is now open for adventures in the great outdoors. More information can be found on the property’s website.

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