For a small city, Derby is big on parks. From Allestree to Alvaston, Chaddesden to Chellaston, there are too many to cover in one short post. Here are five of my favorites.
A sweeping slope of green grass runs down to the River Derwent in this gorgeous park just north of the city center. The mature trees provide welcome shade in summer, when you can relax with a picnic and watch cricketers on the pitch or rowers on the river. Keen gardeners can admire the beautiful blooms of the large hydrangea collection, while kids will find this the perfect place to throw a frisbee.
Go for: a long walk with the dog, followed by a bacon butty on the terrace at Darley Park Tea Rooms.
The Arboretum has the distinction of being Britain’s oldest public park. Squeezed in between the closely-packed buildings of Rose Hill, the winding paths weaving through the carefully designed landscape make this park feel larger than it really is. A few runs of colorful flowers punctuate the shady greenery. In the other half of the park is a large playground with a summer splash pad, a café and some tennis courts.
Go for: a stroll along the Tree Trail to spot the Cucumber Tree, Tulip Tree and Tree of Heaven.
Best known for the child’s heaven that is Mundy Play Centre, Markeaton Park also incorporates tennis courts, pitch and putt golf, and a boating lake. A sunny Sunday will find it packed with families enjoying the open-air paddling pool and other activities, but the rest of the park is often relatively peaceful. Take a walk around the newly surfaced perimeter path, or browse the shops in the craft village. Or if you’re feeling energetic, join the weekly Parkrun. Parking is all pay and display, so don’t forget cash for that as well as the Play Centre tickets. Go for: an activity-packed day out with the family.
There’s over 300 acres to explore at Elvaston Castle Country Park! My boys love to walk around the lake and play hide and seek in the grottoes. In the formal gardens are great green humps of immaculately-trimmed bushes, perfect for picnicking by. Follow a bridle path and see what you can spot among the wider growth in the woods, then finish up with an ice cream.
Go for: a ranger-led wildlife walk through the nature reserve.
“The park with the planets” is how Alvaston Park is known in my house, due to the models of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars that sit along the paths. If you don’t fancy outer space, go for the sport instead; there’s an outdoor gym, football fields, a BMX track and a fishing lake. Once you’ve worked off some energy, you can refuel at the quirky Mad Hatters Tea Rooms” – don’t forget to count the clocks!
Go for: a cycle around the park and along the river into the city center.