Take a leisurely stroll around the grounds of a stately home to admire its formal gardens, enjoy a picnic on the lush lawns and spot varied wildlife.
Spend a day exploring the gorgeous park of Elvaston Castle (official Elvaston Castle Country Park). Monuments, ornamental gardens and woodland decorate the 321 acres (130 hectares) that encompass this 17th-century landmark. Whatever the season, Elvaston Castle is a wonderful location to relax within the confines of nature and enjoy recreational activities along miles of marked trails.
A house was first built here in 1633 for the noble Stanhope family, who were later given the title of Earls of Harrington. Architect James Wyatt redesigned and enlarged the house in the 1800s and created a Gothic Revival-style masterpiece. Despite being closed to the public you can still appreciate the castle-like features of the exterior. In summer it’s a popular backdrop for wedding photos.
Wide pathways and bridleways lead from the house and travel around themed gardens, heath and wooded areas. They are popular among everyone from cyclists and dog walkers, to joggers, horse riders and families with strollers. Pause to admire the topiary displays and tree species such as a huge Cedar of Lebanon. Admire architectural landmarks, including a boathouse and Moorish temple.
Visit the pedestrian-only nature reserve, with lakes, marshland and wildflower meadows. There’s excellent bird-watching here; spot buzzards, heron, kestrels and kingfisher. Most of the park’s picnic tables are spread around the reserve.
Events take place throughout the year, the most celebrated of which is September’s Derbyshire Woodland Festival. Listen to storytellers and have a go at pole lathe turning and willow weaving, among other ancient crafts. Festive activities take place during December.
Get here by catching a public bus from Derby’s city center; the journey time is about 45 minutes. Check with the driver before boarding because some bus lines stop a 20-minute walk from the park. There’s a large parking lot where you can park for a fee.
The country park at Elvaston Castle is open year round and admission is free. A schedule of events is available from the information center. Maps and factsheets can be downloaded to your smartphone via the official website of Derbyshire County Council.