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Christmas Days out Family friendly

National Trust Derbyshire – a perfect ‘Twixmas’ day out

There are several impressive National Trust properties in Derbyshire. Our favourites are Calke Abbey, Kedleston Hall and Hardwick Hall. But there’s also numerous places in the Peak District, where NT members can park for free which give access to stunning walking and hiking through the national park. Here’s my guide to the best of National Trust Derbyshire.

Visiting a National Trust property, wrapping up warm to explore the gardens or parklands, or going for a wintery walk in the Peak District is a perfect activity for those hazy days in between Christmas and New Year when one loses track of what day it is. Most National Trust places re-open on Boxing Day after being shut on Christmas Day. As always, please do double check opening details before travelling.

We love visiting National Trust places all year round so I’ve also included some tips for picnics ready for the warmer months. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from enjoying a wintery picnic, but personally I’d be heading to the café for a warming jacket potato and coffee!

Our favourite places – National Trust Derbyshire

wild flower border at Kedleston Hall - National Trust Derbyshire
Wild flower border at Kedleston Hall

Calke Abbey

  • Near Ticknall
  • FREE for National Trust members or an adult ticket for the park & gardens only is £6.50
  • Toilet facilities
  • Refreshments available to buy
  • Dogs on a lead are welcome in the park, garden and stables

Calke Abbey is probably the most family friendly National Trust property currently open in Derbyshire. There’s a good adventure playground for younger children right near the main car park – which is also close to the toilets and café. Children might also enjoy exploring the long tunnel and the ice bunker.

Prior to arriving at the main car park, turn right to ‘Calke Explore’, a new outdoor recreation area. There’s a woodland play area with lots of things children can climb on and explore. Once you’ve finished there you can drive (or take a 15 minute walk) up to the main car park for the house and gardens.

Calke is marketed as the ‘unstately stately home’ and there aren’t the opulent interiors you might usually expect. So we rarely bother with the house itself and instead enjoy exploring the extensive parkland. The walled garden features an array of beautifully maintained flowers. Interiors fans will swoon with delight at the faded beauty of The Orangery (it’s very Instagram-able!).

Where to picnic: You can picnic throughout the grounds at Calke Abbey but one insider tip is to park in the overflow car park facing the parkland to enjoy your own idyllic little spot (and save you lugging the food around with you all day). There’s also a café serving light lunches, cake etc. The café, toilets and shop are located near the car park.

Orangery golden hour at Calke Abbey National Trust Derbyshire
Faded beauty of the Orangery at Calke Abbey

Kedleston Hall

  • Near Derby
  • FREE for National Trust members or an adult ticket for the gardens only is £8 or £13 for access to the house too (note the house is currently shut for winter conservation work)
  • Toilet facilities
  • Refreshments available to buy
  • Dogs on leads are welcome in the parkland and garden. Assistance dogs only in the house, restaurant, shop and toilets.

Kedleston Hall is a National Trust property with formal gardens and expansive parklands. It’s situated approximately five miles from Derby and is easily accessed by car (use DE22 5JD for sat navs).

The house was designed by architect Robert Adam in the 18th century. Kedleston Hall has lavish, opulent interiors inspired by the classical world of the Roman Empire. The gardens are equally impressive and feature sweeping vistas of Kedleston’s parkland. 

Where to picnic: There are numerous places for a delightful picnic at Kedleston. There are some picnic benches just by the car park, but I would recommend taking a blanket and either heading to the stunning wild flower borders at the back of the house, or walking away from the house towards the bridge where you will be able to find a quieter spot.

Kedleston Hall - National Trust Derbyshire
Kedleston Hall

Hardwick Hall

  • Near Chesterfield
  • FREE for National Trust members, otherwise an adult ticket is £9 for the gardens and park or £16 for the house too (although the house is shut until 12th February 2022).
  • Toilet facilities
  • Café
  • Dogs on leads are welcome in the stable yard area including shop, restaurant and toilets, and the wider estate. Assistance dogs only in the formal gardens.

Hardwick Hall is a Elizabethan country house created by Bess of Hardwick in the 1500s. Bess was a fascinating figure. Coming from relatively humble beginnings she rose to being one of the most powerful women in Elizabethan Britain. Most recently Hardwick provided the inspiration for Malfoy Mansion in the Harry Potter film.

Where to picnic: There are numerous places to picnic in and around Hardwick. Hardwick is an excellent choice when the weather is less than ideal. The Stableyard has a good selection of picnic benches and if you’re looking for shade or shelter to enjoy your lunch. There’s also a café and toilet facilities.

Hardwick Hall - National Trust Derbyshire
Perfect symmetry at Hardwick Hall

Sudbury Hall

Near Ashbourne

Sudbury is currently closed. It is scheduled to reopen to visitors in early 2022 as the Children’s Country House at Sudbury.

National Trust Peak District

There are numerous, gorgeous walks to be done in the Peak District. Full details here.

Not just at National Trust places but also at some other car parks throughout the Peak District (e.g. Curbar Gap, Shillito Woods and Birchen Edge) allow National Trust members to park free of charge. However parking is at a premium throughout the Peak District and spaces go quickly at peak times.

Please only park in designated car park spots, take all your litter home, be kind to local communities and other people in the landscape and leave no trace of your visit.

Outside Derbyshire – but other local National Trust properties worth a visit

Clumber Park

  • Near Worksop
  • Free for NT members, or an adult ticket is £5
  • Dogs welcome but should be under control at all times and on leads near livestock, other animals, nesting birds and around the visitor facilities and in the Pleasure Grounds. There’s also a dog friendly café.

Once the country estate of the Dukes of Newcastle, Clumber Park has extensive parkland covering nearly four thousand acres. There are lots of lovely woodland walks to be done. There’s a good children’s playground, pretty gardens and a magnificent lake.

Belton House

  • Near Grantham
  • Free for NT members, or an adult ticket is £8
  • Dogs on leads are welcome in the gardens, parkland, shops and cafés

Belton House is a beautiful historic house with impressive interiors, beautiful formal gardens, an ancient deer park. It’s a great place to visit with children due to its pleasure grounds and the National Trust’s largest outdoor adventure playground. There’s also an indoor play area.

Gardens at Kedleston Hall

Some Frequently Asked Questions about National Trust Derbyshire

Is it worth joining the National Trust?

In my opinion, yes! We always receive National Trust family membership as a Christmas present from my parents and very much appreciate it. You only need to do a couple of family days out and it pays for itself. I also find that once we are members we are more inclined to just pop out for a morning or afternoon rather than feeling obliged to spend a whole day somewhere to ‘get our money’s worth’. As well as entry to the houses and gardens, members also park for free at various places in the Peak District (see above). You can view full membership details here.

Is Chatsworth House National Trust?

No. Chatsworth House is not part of the National Trust. I definitely recommend visiting though! The house is stunning, the gardens are immaculate and there’s extensive parkland to explore. There’s also some gorgeous shops. Chatsworth host a popular Christmas market every November which is one of the biggest and best in the area. Their farm shop is a few miles away from the house but is also worth a visit.

Is Bolsover Castle National Trust?

No. Bolsover Castle is operated by English Heritage. We’ve not yet visited but it’s firmly on our list.

Is Haddon Hall National Trust?

No. Haddon Hall is not part of the National Trust. It’s a beautiful place and I definitely recommend visiting though. In addition to visiting the hall and gardens Haddon also hosts the most lovely seasonal artisan markets.

Is the Peak District National Trust?

The National Trust do operate various sites and car parks within the Peak District, but the simple answer is no, the Peak District is a national park which is not wholly owned by the National Trust. Most of the Peak District is privately owned land.

If you enjoy visiting National Trust properties, you might also like to visit Thornbridge Hall gardens or Lea Gardens (currently shut).

Looking for more Twixmas inspiration? Beat Chrimbo Limbo Boredom – 5 Things to do in Derbyshire, or read my guide to 16 Cosy Pubs in Derbyshire or 15 Fabulous Places for Coffee and a Walk

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