We were staying with my best friend last weekend. She lives in Derbyshire, close to the border with Leicestershire and on the Saturday we spent the day walking round the Calke Abbey estate. It’s somewhere we all love exploring, and a must for every trip. For the first time we actually went inside the house to look at a few of the rooms which were open. We got talking to one of the National Trust volunteers who mentioned a number of local walks we’ve not tried before. One would result in a flying visit to Dimminsdale Nature Reserve the next morning.
Over the years that my friend has lived in the area I’ve lost count of the times we’ve driven to Calke Abbey and passed the car park for Staunton Harold Reservoir. We’ve never understood why it had such a large car park, when there is no walking route around it. All has now been made clear! The car park would give us a base for a flying visit to Dimminsdale Nature Reserve which is literally just a stones throw away along the side of the main road. The car park is free to park in but does get busy, so it’s worth arriving early like we did.
We’d spotted the entrance to the nature reserve on our drive back from Calke Abbey the previous day (clearly we’ve been blind for the last 13 years) and walked single file along the verge to access it.
Founded on the old limestone quarry, it’s possible to walk to both Calke Abbey and Staunton Harold from the nature reserve. We knew we had to face the journey home on the motorway so on this particular day we weren’t planning on spending more than an hour exploring before heading home. On future visits we will definitely walk on to both locations and enjoy the views as we go.
For our first time spending a flying visit to Dimminsdale Nature Reserve, we decided to walk around the Laundry Pool and look out for snowdrops. We’d heard reports that there was quite a covering. It was time to explore.
It was a really cold weekend and parts of the pool were frozen over.
The paths are well-defined and we passed a few walkers along the way. But we never felt that the area was busy. It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning, blowing away the cobwebs.
As we walked along we found evidence of the old limestone kilns. They’re blocked off now, but it gave my son an idea of what would have happened for 200 years up until the 19th century.
Before too long we’d discovered the Snowdrop Garden with its blanket of white waiting to be admired.
There were certainly enough to see to make our short trip worth while. We all love walking and it was so tempted to just keep on going, but I find driving for more than an hour really tiring these days, so we knew we’d have to curb our enthusiasm. We did however just have a quick walk along the two paths, one leading to Staunton Harold and one on to Calke Abbey. Just for reference for the future.
Both options look interesting and we can’t wait to explore them in the future.
We’d made a flying visit to Dimminsdale Nature Reserve and it was time to head home, but we will definitely be back to explore this hidden gem in more detail soon.
Where have you been exploring recently?