Calke Abbey Review

We review our visit to Calke Abbey
The house at Calke Abbey

A Day with Bluebells & Blossoms!

We are currently housesitting in a small village in the Peak District in Derbyshire. Last Sunday was a beautiful May Day. So we decided to make the most of our National Trust membership and find somewhere to see a display of Bluebells. Here is our review of the Calke Abbey grounds and the beautiful day we had there.

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Getting to Calke Abbey

A pond at Calke Abbey

This National Trust property is located in the Eastern corner of Derbyshire, not far from Derby. It is easiest to visit if you have a car. However, you can access via bus and a walk through the woodlands to get to the main property. The property is not difficult to find from the main roads. There are easy to spot National Trust signs guiding you there from a long way off.

We arrived by car. Entering the Calke Abbey grounds, we drove through a manned gate where they charge per person entering the grounds. If you have a National Trust membership, entrance is free. The cost for non-members to enter the park and gardens is £7 per adult, or £17.50 per family as of May 2023.

As we drove through the park, we saw sheep and newborn lambs on either side of the narrow lane. It was incredibly charming to see them so close to our car through the dappled light of the trees.

Parking was easy at Calke Abbey. There is a large parking lot and a large overflow parking lot. Even on one of the first warm Sundays in spring, we did not have trouble finding a spot.

If you need a rental car to get to Calke Abbey or other properties, we recommend using Discover Cars to search for the best car rental deals.

Calke Abbey
Blue skies

The Calke Abbey Woodlands

Bluebell carpet at Calke Abbey
Bluebells everywhere

Once we had parked, we decided to find the best place to see the bluebells, since that was our main purpose for our visit. There is a great map of the main walks available right at the entrance to the main area of the home. It didn’t really tell us where the bluebells were though. Our review of Calke Abbey would not be complete without mentioning the great help from one of the staff. She realized we couldn’t find what we were looking for and instantly recommended the Blue Walk. Should have guessed!

Ancient tree and bluebells

All the walks around the grounds are very well color coded with arrows. The Blue Walk is a mainly graveled loop about 2 1/2 km long. We set off down a slight hill to a pond with lots of lily pad leaves, then headed up a slight incline on the other side. As we got up the hill on the other side, we rounded the corner and immediately saw why this is one of the best places here to see the bluebell display. Under the ancient beech trees in the forest there was a gorgeous carpet of blue all around.

The dappled light was absolutely perfect and we couldn’t have asked for a better view!

Bluebells in the woods
Bluebell carpet

Cafe and Facilities Review

When we completed the loop, we were quite thirsty in the warm weather. We headed back to the main facilities area and went to the cafe to find some refreshment. Initially, I was just going to buy a sparkling water, but as we were standing in line to pay, I eyed up all the baked goodies on display. I tried to get John interested in a scone or a pasty, but he wasn’t interested. I didn’t let that stop me from getting a delicious looking brownie! It not only looked delicious but tasted moist and chocolatey good. The Calke Abbey cafe is definitely worth stopping in!

There was also a hamburger and hot dog stand on site but we had already had lunch and I’d already had a brownie … Lots of people were loving the ice cream stand too!

I also have to give the toilet facilities at Calke Abbey a good review. I hardly had to wait in line and the toilets were nice and clean for such a busy day.

The Walled Gardens at Calke Abbey

Feeling refreshed, we set off to the walled gardens beyond the house itself. The garden is set atop a slight hill, along a very nice accessible path. Unfortunately we were a day or three early to see the wisteria at its best, but we could see that it would be spectacular.

Apple Blossom at Calke Abbey
Apple blossoms at Calke Abbey

There was a stunning border preparing to burst into color, and the beautiful apple blossoms in the orchard.

Glass house with palm at Calke Abbey
Glass Orangery

We also really enjoyed the old glass house and vegetable and medicinal garden. I was also thrilled to see an Auricula Theater – the Victorians sure loved collecting all things botanical! It would probably be great to come back and visit a little later on in the summer when everything is in bloom.

Auricula Theater at Calke Abbey Walled Garden
Auricula Theater

A Great Day in the Sun

Although we did not visit the house itself, we really loved our day at Calke Abbey and would happily return. The gardens and walks around the park are stunning and provide walks for just about all abilities. It is probably one of our favorite National Trust gardens we have visited so far! Unfortunately, the dogs we are sitting for can’t walk far anymore. A few years ago they would have loved it here – very dog friendly.


Do you have a favorite garden or parkland to visit? Have you seen the bluebell display this year or another year?

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8 responses to “Calke Abbey Review”

  1. What a gorgeous place Calke Abbey is and excellent review here. I love the pictures as well. Fabulous job. Good idea too for having refreshments and baked goods in the area. Baked goods seem to be popular here in London too, being sold all around town at various shops.


  2. Oh wow, those bluebells are stunning! We have a few in our garden but nothing like this. National Trust memberships are such good value, aren’t they? So many stunning gardens to visit!

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