Calke Abbey

Blog 4
Calke Abbey

As I said in my previous post, we are now members of the National Trust!
So this weekend I printed out our temporary membership cards and Jo printed off a walking map with a suggested route round the grounds (2.5 miles, 1.5 hours and graded as easy).

We made some cobs (tuna and jam – not in the same cobs though, that would be weird!), packed up crisps and sausage rolls and headed off. (for anyone not from round these parts, a cob is a roll, bap or bun)

Although we’d been there before a few years ago, I forgot how near it actually it was, and in about 20 minutes we were there, quick enough for no-one to get car sick, or get bored.

First things first, we headed to the cafe for a pre-walk drink and cake. We shared two scones and a flapjack, all freshly baked, Jo had a latte and I had a double espresso, which was as good as I had tasted in quite a while. Full of sugar and caffeine, we went to the reception and booked a time-slot for the house (1pm – 1.15pm) which would give us enough time for a walk and a picnic.

Coffee!

We set off from the back of the car park down around the lake, going clockwise towards the fenced off deer park and wood. In the wood we saw a huge buzzard, which kept landing and flying off in front of us quickly enough to avoid any pictures, but giving us enough time for a collective woooooow.

View of the lake

At some point in the walk through the woods Joseph decided he was too tired to walk any further, and devoted his energies into whinging and asking to be carried, so he ended up on my shoulders for the rest of the journey. We came to a fork in the path and we didn’t listen to Abbie (in charge of the map) and accidentally cut the walk quite short and walked back up to the car-park just before lunch. Joseph miraculously recovered after seeing the kids play area and I went an hid in the bird hide for a bit. The hide does not look much, it’s basically a shed in the corner of the car-park, but looks can be deceiving – it gives close-up views of some brilliant birds.

It is one of my two favourite hides, the other being the garden hide at Old Moor. The thing I most like about both of these hides, is that they allow you to get really close to the birds, so you don’t need a massive lens, scope or binoculars to see some great birds up close.

The feeders are close to the hide, and the birds stack up on the surrounding trees waiting for a slot on the feeders. I saw Great Tits, Blue Tits, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Collared Doves, Jackdaws and a Rat snuffling around for the leftover seeds on the floor. The bloke sat next to me had just seen a great spotted woodpecker, and there are nuthatches around as well, but my stomach was growling at me, so it was time to meet back at the car for lunch.

Fully occupied bird feeder

After a car picnic (carnic ?) we went to look round the house, which was another pleasant surprise. When we last went (in 2010, or 11) it had been deliberately preserved in the state that it was handed over to the NT in 1984, and only one room had been restored to it’s former glory. This time a lot more rooms had been restored, and fewer had been left in a state of disrepair. I can’t help wondering if was due to funding (or lack of it) that last time it was left as-is from 1984, and it was just a bit of spin to say it was done deliberately…

The house was a good mix of upstairs and downstairs, which a few rooms stuffed full of (precious) junk which didn’t fit anywhere else.
Jo, who is much more knowledgeable about history stuff than me, told me the house and estate went to wrack and ruin, because the lord of the manor preferred going round the country shooting birds to looking after the estate, and that seems to be evident in the vast amount of stuffed birds in glass cases in almost every room.

Another big attraction for the kids was the amount of tunnels there were. It seems the past owners of the house were absolutely obsessed with keeping the servants hidden via a network of tunnels, which while making the servants life a lot less pleasant, made the kids visit much more exciting!

Ghostly figures

After the house we looked through the gardens, but we were all starting to feel the effects of the morning’s walk. We walked across to the Grotto, up to the church grounds, and then along the tunnel back to the walled gardens, but after that everyone’s legs were beginning to give in, so we didn’t see the ice-house and instead walked back to car.

Both the car park and the church grounds offered some excellent views of the Deer park (Roe deer, I think) and they seemed very relaxed when posing for photos!

Roe Deer
Stag

But that is the great thing about being members and having beautiful places so close by, next time we will take a picnic and sit and relax in the gardens and look at the things we missed and re-visit the things we enjoyed, because it won’t cost us anything more!

Summer Flowers

When we got home, and after a reviving cup of coffee, I checked the pitfall trap in the garden with Joseph. He was disappointed to only find ants in it and no Stag Beetle, which is at the top of his “most wanted” list (I want to get a devil’s coach horse beetle!). So we re-stocked it with an apple core and left it again. <Update from this morning – still only ants, we are going to try some other old fruit tonight!>

We are already thinking about next weekend, and a trip to another local NT location, but before that the car has to go in for it’s MOT, so please keep your fingers crossed for it on Wednesday! It’s also payday this week, so if the MOT goes well, the next stage of the wildlife pond could get the green light!

I will see you all again in the next blog.
Cheers
Dan

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1 thought on “Calke Abbey”

  1. Great Promo for the NT and Calke Abbey. The concept of Tuna and Jam in the same cob is intriguing; whose for Tuna and Marmalade cobs? Can’t wait for Blog 5 plus pictures.

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