It’s always a delight to discover a family friendly day out close to home. I can’t believe we had not visited Staunton Harold Reservoir until recently. I guess with lockdowns and government restrictions, it’s completely feasible to have missed this hidden gem tucked away in the National Forest. Sitting on the Leicestershire – Derbyshire border it’s a 45 minute drive from Nottingham. It sits just outside the village of Melbourne and is just a stones throw from Calke Abbey.

playground at staunton harold reservoir

If you are searching for places to visit near Nottingham with kids with lots of outdoor space, a great play area and good facilities then Staunton Harold Reservoir definitely needs to be on your radar. The 210 acre reservoir is owned by Severn Trent Water but the cafe is run by the National Trust.

entrance to staunton harold reservoir

It’s just £3 to park at the main car park and the parking machines accept both cash and contactless payment methods. Regular visitors may want to purchase an annual parking permit for £37. Parking is free for disabled badge holders.

At the entrance to Staunton Harold Reservoir you will find toilets including baby change and disabled facilities and the National Trust cafe/takeaway. Good social distancing measures and signs are in place as well as plenty of hand sanitiser points for visitors to use.

As you walk towards the reservoir there’s a bug hotel, signs about local wildlife perfectly placed for children to read and an easy to understand map clearly showing the footpath access around reservoir and towards Calke Abbey.

rockery staunton reservoir

Overlooking the reservoir is an excellent children’s play area with swings, slides, climbing frames and a zip wire. Outside the play area there’s some picnic tables and plenty of space for picnic blankets. Look back up the hill towards the wooded area and you’ll see plenty of activity in the den building area.

The paths around Staunton Harold Reservoir are mainly flat and accessible. Whilst you can’t do a circular route of the reservoir, you can explore the wildflower walk and join with other public footpaths to explore the area around Calke Abbey and the National Forest.

view of playground from the reservoir

In the summer months, when the water level is lower, some parts of the reservoir enjoy small beaches. Whilst the water is not safe for swimming or paddling, a bucket and spade wouldn’t go a miss with children who enjoy making sandcastles.

We visited Staunton Harold Reservoir over the Easter holidays. The weather was mixed, but the sun did poke through eventually. The footpaths and park were not overly busy and it felt like a very safe day out. The children loved the play area, climbing the trees and were super happy to get an ice cream before they headed home. If you haven’t discovered Staunton Harold Reservoir yet we’d highly recommend a visit.

climbing tree at staunton harold reservoir

We used the postcode on the website to find Staunton Harold Reservoir but unfortunately a road was temporarily closed on our route. We drove from Nottingham along the A50, but going via the A453 is more direct. The postcode does not take you directly to the main car park so I’d recommend taking the A453 from Nottingham and joining the B587. Check Google Maps before you leave for any road closures or route changes.

Staunton Harold Reservoir – Key Information

Main car park £3

Toilets and National Trust cafe open (For Cafe opening times visit here)

Play area open

Fishing currently closed

Opening times – dawn to dusk everyday except Christmas Day

Dogs are allowed but must be kept on lead and out of the water

Staunton Harold Reservoir Address & Postcode – Calke Road, Melbourne, Derbyshire DE73 8DN

Location – Near Melbourne just off the B587 (the postcode above does not take you to the main car park)

Sailing and other water activities are also available to book.

You can download a map with more information about Staunton Harold Reservoir here.

Have you visited Staunton Harold Reservoir before?

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