Across the gentle landscape of The National Forest and beyond you will discover historic monuments, heritage centres and ancient woodlands and waterways. You can view what's on offer by visiting our National Forest page and taking a look at the Attraction's Guide.
Here’s a glimpse of what there is to discover and enjoy.
Calke Abbey is probably the strangest country house you will ever visit. Home to an eccentric and reclusive family who assembled their bizarre collections, Calke is the house where time stood still. Now presented by the National Trust as a vivid example of a great house in decline, it’s a must see. Surrounded by ancient woodland up to 1,000 years old, it’s great for walks and picnics too.
Catton Hall has been in the hands of the same family since 1405 with the present Hall, built in the 1740s, home to Robin and Katie Neilson. Whether inside this family home with its beautifully proportioned rooms, pictures and antique furniture, or outside in the gardens and parkland, guests and clients always appreciate the exclusive, elegant surroundings. The house is available for corporate and private entertaining and the 250 acres of surrounding parkland are available for your own exclusive event. Public tours of the house and gardens take place in August, whilst private tours can be arranged year-round.
Elvaston Castle Country Park
Elvaston Castle Country Park encompasses 321 acres of open parkland, woodland and more formal historical gardens. At the heart of the estate lies Elvaston Castle, a gothic revival masterpiece (not open to the public) designed by James Wyatt in the early 1800s.
Melbourne Hall and Gardens
You might think you have walked into a Jane Austin novel as you stroll through the formal grounds at Melbourne Hall and Gardens, laid out by Royal gardeners over 20 years from 1699. There is a fine 300ft long yew tunnel and a beautiful wrought-iron Birdcage Arbour by the famous ironsmith Robert Bakewell. The gardens open April to September and the house during August. The tearooms and visitor centre open throughout the year.
Repton, former capital of the kingdom of Mercia, is a fusion of village and public school. The Medieval Cross on its octagonal steps and the arch entrance to Repton School are focal points. Early in the 8th century the famous Repton crypt was constructed, which was to serve as a mausoleum for the Mercian royal family. The church’s distinctive Anglo-Saxon stonework can be admired from both inside and outside. The village is home to several pubs and restaurants.
Shardlow Heritage Centre
Located at the eastern end of the Trent and Mersey Canal, Shardlow is one of only two surviving inland canal ports in the country. Now a popular destination for pleasure boats and walkers, the village is home to the Shardlow Heritage Centre as well as numerous pubs and restaurants.
Sharpe's Pottery Museum
Sharpe's Pottery Museum lets you discover the once prolific pottery industry of South Derbyshire, from bricks and toilets to elaborate art pottery. Visit the iconic kiln hovel at the centre, the Toilet Story exhibition and The National Forest gallery. The museum hosts regular talks, events and exhibitions. It also houses the Swadlincote Tourist Information Centre, Magic Attic archives and People Express.
Swarkestone Bridge and Causeway
Swarkestone Bridge and Causeway, with a length of three quarters of a mile, is the longest stone bridge in England; it holds Grade I listed building status and is a scheduled ancient monument. There has been a bridge here for 800 years and it is still an important crossing place today.
For more information about South Derbyshire’s attractions, contact Swadlincote Tourist Information Centre on 01283 222848.