The National Trust has unveiled an extension to a cycling trail with a history dating back more than 200 years at a much loved park and county house.
The extension to the Tramway Trail in Calke Abbey aims to allow visitors of all ages and abilities to enjoy a bike ride around the parkland. The project forms part of a national £4.25 million initiative by the National Trust and Sport England to deliver ten cycling trails across the country.
The route, an all-weather circular path suitable for cyclists and walkers, aims to open up new vistas and spaces for visitors to enjoy. Families can enjoy a range of offers along the Tramway Trail, from shorter rides within the woodland for young cyclists to longer loop options for more confident adventurers.
The new section of route connects the two ends of the pre-existing Tramway Trail to provide a green-graded, off-road cycle track.
The tramway was built between 1799 and 1802 and linked Ticknall to Ashby for many years before finally closing in 1915 Since its closure it has been reclaimed by nature but over the last few years it has been transformed into a circular route which enables exploration of the wider Calke Estate on foot or by leisurely cycle.
Stewart Alcock, general manager at Calke Abbey, said: "As part of our ongoing work to improve access to the wider estate we are excited to open this extension to the Tramway Trail and look forward to welcoming many families on this accessible, family-friendly route.
"Whether you want to explore the National Nature Reserve, unearth some fantastic industrial archaeology or discover rich flora and fauna, the hub will provide the place where you can start that exploration, and the Tramway Trail the means to do so.
"We are delighted to be working in partnership with Sport England in this project, which has enabled us to introduce more people to cycling, helping them to get active in Calke's stunning parkland while supporting our conservation work too."
The partnership supports Sport England's objective to make it easier for people to be active by taking a rural space and making it more activity-friendly.
Children from Dame Catherine's School, in Ticknall, also got on their bikes to mark the official opening of the extension on Monday, October 9.
A spokesman for Dame Catherine's School, said: "Parents, staff and children from the school had a great morning out of school on their bikes. We have a long-standing relationship with the National Trust at Calke and make use of their facilities and grounds across a range of subject areas, for both educational and social visits.
"A number of our children already make numerous visits to Calke outside of school - especially when Calke Explore is open - and this new cycle trail will give families even more opportunities for exercising in the fresh air, and enjoying the grounds, especially as cycling on the roads in Ticknall can be a scary experience, especially for children, as the cars travel so quickly on narrow roads."
The National Trust hopes the new extension will boost its objective of getting more people outdoors and closer to nature, while improving access to Calke's wider estate.
The Tramway Trail is open now to explore, and more information about cycling at Calke Abbey can be found on its website here.