“ Nr Heanor / Derbyshire / England „
It would be hard to guess that in between the old mining towns of Ilkeston and Heanor lay 600 acres of unspoilt countryside that is completely free for all to explore.
Shipley Park is one of those places that can have a lot of appeal to families who have to entertain children during the school holidays and the only cost that you incur is a 50p parking charge which is paid via an Honesty box that sits at the entrance to the park.
Other than that you could pack a picnic and take the whole family for an outing without ever opening your wallet, that has to be a rarity !
Shipley Park is a popular place for dog walkers, ramblers, nature lovers, birdwatchers and families alike. I must say that the park is very well maintained and I have never yet had the misfortune to step in anything left behind by pooches in too much of a hurry.
As the Spring approaches the park will soon start to come to life and it is good to walk and pass the time of day with other wanderers.
The park is frequented by avid anglers who often compete in organised Angling competitions, if you enjoy watching our feathered friends then there are many `bird hides` throughout the park.
A bridleway runs along the edge of the park too and there are many horse riders who make good use of the facility.
In one particular area of the park there is a beautiful lake but be aware that before you realise it you have rounded the corner and the lake is straight in front of you - time to hold on to those curious little folk . Take some of that stale loaf of bread because the ducks are ready and waiting.
Shipley Park has a good sized visitor centre which is used for many purposes, the Countryside Rangers hold their meetings there and the community use it to hold meetings in.
If you are a cricket fanatic then you may well be able to watch a match during the season as the park is home to a very pretty cricket ground.
The visitor centre has a shop and you can buy drinks, ice creams and snacks in there too, we normally take along whatever we are going to eat so this is an area that we have never explored to any great extent.
Inside of the Visitor centre you will find on site information and there are heaps of leaflets if you love to look what is going in the area.
The Visitor centre and the toilets have disabled access and the majority of the park can be enjoyed by all. Of course there may be a few odd paths that would be difficult to push a wheelchair or a pushchair through but that applies to many places.
We visit the park to enjoy the brisk walk, if we are fortunate the weather is kind and if we are not then we just don our macs and get on with it ! The fresh air is clear, clean and often bracing, once you start to walk along the man made paths you can wander until your hearts content.
Do make sure to keep a look out for the grey squirrels and listen to see how many different birds you can hear singing.
If you have taken a picnic and a drink then there are picnic tables provided, large family sized wooden tables with benches attached .
Everywhere you go there are well appointed waste bins and dog bins, after all why would anyone want to litter up such a wonderful place.
As you walk along the many pathways see how many outdoor sculptures you can see, some of the sculptures are huge and quite unusual too. If one or another of you needs to sit down for the odd few minutes then there are plenty of benches lining the routes.
If you or your family are keen on the outdoor life then Shipley Park will undoubtedly be a good place for you to visit. As a visitor you have to make your own entertainment and I appreciate that the park is not going to be to everyone's taste.
Take a look on the Derbyshire County Councils website and you can download the 2010 events list, the events include children's Treasure Hunts ( Entrance fee £1 ), Teaser trails, with clues along the way ( again £1 entrance fee ), organised rambles, map reading meetings, fungi hunts, a family art day and a family craft day, ( both are free).
Nature trails and Nature festivals are on the cards, jogging for beginners ( again all free ) and a very important Easter egg hunt .
If you look at the downloaded sheet it gives you lots of useful information about the forthcoming events, last year I went to the Art day and it was great so I will be going back this year.
If you by any chance lived within driving distance of Shipley Park then it could prove to be a very valuable place to visit during the long school holidays, take a football or some cricket bats, a bite to eat and a drink and the kids can let off their steam.
If you can manage to take the kids bicycles then there are acres to cycle around and you often see whole families enjoying a cycle ride.
If you are happy with the simple life then you will enjoy Shipley Park.
Shirley Country Park,
Telephone - 01773 719961
Shipley Country Park is located between Ilkeston and Heanor in Derbyshire, 10 miles to the north east of Derby and 11 miles to the west of Nottingham. The park covers an area of over 600 acres of open grassland, landscaped gardens, lakes and reservoirs and other recreational areas.
This is an area of Derbyshire that I seldom visit, as I tend to prefer the more hilly areas of the Peak District National Park further to the north. However I did recently find myself "down south" so to speak and the Shipley Country Park was one of the places that I visited.
The park opened to the public in 1976 and is managed by Derbyshire County Council. The former estate was once a vast country estate, which during the 18th and 19th centuries was the residence of a very prominent local family, called the Miller-Mundy's. This estate was rich in coal deposits and the Miller-Mundy family exploited these. It is these mining activities have helped to shape the park into what we see today.
For economical reasons a decision was made to transport the coal by canal, down the Nutbrook Valley linking up with the Erewash Canal. This decision altered the landscape dramatically as three different reservoirs were constructed to supply the canal with water.
There is no entrance fee to enter the park, although there is a 50p charge for parking. This payment is however taken on trust and not enforced. There is a payment box in both of the main car parks, but when I visited I noted that many people were deciding to ignore this.
There are lots of mature woodlands within the estate and within these there are numerous footpaths, trails and bridleways.. These include nature trails, which are colour-coded depending on their level of difficulty. The easiest walks should be possible even for wheelchair users. There are over 18 miles of footpaths in total.
The remnants of the area's coal mining past are still evident today, especially as you approach the park through the former mining towns of either Ilkeston or Heanor. It is probably fair to say, without offending anybody, that these are not the prettiest of towns and they still contain many scars from their past.
There are two main entrances into the country park. One of these is at Mapperley, just off the Ilkeston to West Hallam Road, but we followed the signs from Heanor and entered via the rather unsightly Heanor Gate Industrial Estate. For a brief moment we actually thought that we had taken a wrong turn but the scenery does improve dramatically as you finally reach the park.
The first impressions of the park is that is very green and there is also a lot of different ponds and lakes. The lay of the land is sloping but not too steeply inclined. Located within the park there is the American Adventure Park, which is currently closed and up for sale. This occupies quite a large area of the grounds and it will be interesting to see what will happen to it if a new buyer cannot be found.
Elsewhere within the park there is a sculpture trail and an adventure playground, as well as a toddler area for younger children. There is also a visitors centre, a gift shop and a coffee shop. Considerable effort has been made to make these areas accessible by people with disabilities.
Scattered throughout the park there are several areas with wooden benches and seats for picnickers. The park is also home to the Shipley Park Cricket Club and their grounds are very well kept and pretty.
Looking at Shipley Country Park today it could be easy to forget the industrial past, but if you look closely you soon realise that the easiest trails to walk on through the park follow the old railway lines. Over half a million trees have been planted in areas that were once mounds of coal spoil, and stagnant pools and flashes have been cleaned and transformed into wildlife habitats. There are several bird watching hides located at the edges of these habitats and a list of the bird species that have been seen is displayed in the visitor's centre.
The visitors centre also has a model of Shipley Hall, showing how the house looked in its heyday. This visitor centre also provides a base for the park rangers and is the administrative headquarters for the park. There is an education room located here, which is used for lectures by community groups and local schoolchildren. There are also refreshments available, including sweets and ice cream. Here you will also find some very well maintained toilets, which have baby changing facilities and facilities for the disabled.
In addition to bird watching, fishing is also a popular activity here and many of the ponds and larger lakes have wooden platforms that project out into the water, where the anglers do their fishing from. We actually saw some of the big fish come up to the surface and eat the bread that people were throwing into the water for the ducks.
Walking around the park we saw lots of people riding mountain bikes, both adults and children, and we also saw several people jogging. We didn't see anyone riding horses but we did spot several horse jumps along the route. More curiously however we also kept noting areas with steel bars and frames. Closer inspection revealed that these were exercise areas where you could do pull-ups and sit-ups etc.
Overall I enjoyed my visit to Shipley Country Park. It is not the sort of place that I would travel far to visit but I would certainly recommend a day out here for anyone that is in the area.
The park is open at the following times:
Winter Opening between November 1st and February 28th
Monday - Friday 11:00am - 4pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am - 4.30pm
Spring opening hours during March
Monday - Friday 11am - 4.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am - 4.30pm
Summer Opening between April 1st and October 31st
Monday- Friday 11am - 4.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am - 6pm
The address is as below:
Shipley Country Park
Telephone - 01773 719961
Enjoy over 600 acres of woodlands, meadows and lakes!