A Trip to Calke Abbey

24 September 2020

After renewing my National Trust membership recently, I decided to take a trip back to one of my favourite National Trust locations, Calke Abbey. It's named as the un-stately home and country estate, although some parts such as the house and stables have been restored. Follow along its paths and you will walk through the beautiful walled gardens, the orangery, auricula theatre and the kitchen gardens with so much colour to see throughout all of the seasons. Walk out of the gardens and into the house and you will find not your average grand building, but walls with peeling paint and collections of belongings all left as they were found. And then step into nature as you wander the pleasure grounds, you'll find the red and fallow deer and acres of greenery thriving with wildlife. 

During these difficult times, Calke Abbey, like many other National Trust locations, are open for pre-booked tickets only. I decided to get an early ticket so I could spend some quiet time wandering around the gardens which I've never visited before. I enjoyed every moment walking around the gardens which I almost had all to myself! It was ever so peaceful and enjoyed walking along the path amongst the trees to get to the gardens and had a robin serenading me as I set off towards the gardens. I walked through an archway into the main part of the garden and was blown away by just how brilliantly looked after all the flowers were that surrounded the whole of the garden. I've been to quite a few gardens over the past few years and I've never seen one in such perfect condition. I saw so many of my favourite blooms as I walked amongst the flowers such as helenium, anemone, cosmos, rudbeckia and many more. I then set off through another archway and followed a path of wildflowers into the kitchen garden. I've never really walked around a kitchen garden before but I was just taken away by how beautiful it was. It was the highlight of my day and I could have spent the whole day walking around looking at all the fruits and vegetables and other beautiful flowers. My mind went straight into autumn harvest mode when I saw the gourds and pumpkins! 

After spending a while walking around the gardens I looked at the time and saw that it was nearly coming up to 11 o'clock which was when the house would open up. At the moment due to the restrictions only a small number of people are allowed in the house at a time. When I got into the house there was a short video explaining the changes that have been made due to the current pandemic situation and what rules needed to followed when walking around the house. Unfortunately there were parts of the house you couldn't walk into, but this was for our own safety and they had done so well to create a one way system to walk around most parts of the house. I'm not a big fan of taxidermy and so I quickly made my way out of one room! But my favourite room of all was full of old books, the walls were covered in books top to bottom, I've never seen anything like it before. I carried on through the house and then made my way out of the exit and back out of the house. 

I decided to go and visit Calke Explore, which is separate area away from the house and gardens which is situated in a more wooded section of the grounds. On my way I decided to stop for a while to have my lunch and sat amongst the trees. I could see birds flying in and out of this tree in front of me and I was trying to identify what birds they were. After having my lunch I crept up to the tree and zoomed in with my camera, I saw the loveliest little long-tailed tit sat on a branch and I managed to get a photo. I then heard the call of a chiffchaff and also managed to get a photo of one in the tree. I set off towards the Calke Explore section and decided to grab a cup of coffee and sat beside one of the little ponds where I watched dragonflies dart across the water. I spent some time walking amongst the pine trees and taking in the atmosphere surrounding the trees. There's always been something so calming about walking through a woodlands and so I enjoyed a peaceful moment walking amongst its paths. 

I noticed autumnal changes as I was walking around Calke Explore. Seeing the copper tones of the ferns beginning to change, acorns growing on the trees and orange leaves on the horse chestnut trees. I look forward to coming back again when autumn is thriving. After wandering around Calke Explore for a while, I decided to head off back to the car, but before leaving I decided to say goodbye to the deer who were up and about in the deer park. With my legs feeling tired, I set off back out into the countryside to drive back home. 

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