Three years ago we got National Trust Membership and it has been literally the best investment we have ever made. For under £10 a month for a family membership we get as many National Trust days out as we like. We can take a Thermos and a picnic, meaning there is no additional cost and we can spend just an hour there or a whole day. It’s perfect for us.
I thought I would go through all the National Trust sites we have visited so far to give you inspiration for your next National Trust day out. If you click the links it will take you to the full review and in this post I’ve shared just a short summary to give you an idea of each place to visit.
Bodiam Castle is beautiful. It’s a fully formed castle on the outside with so much of the inside still standing as well. The castle’s original wooden portcullis is the oldest in the country and as the castle is surrounded by a moat full of water it really is a sight to be seen. It feels like going back in time.
Greys Court is a beautiful stately home, smaller than a lot of National Trust properties but no less lovely to look at and explore. The property isn’t very far from the main entrance and they have scheduled tours a couple of times a day. Around the house there are a lot of grounds to explore with large expanses of grass that are great for picnics or just for the children to let off steam. There’s also lovely formal gardens to walk around, a little orchard of apple and cherry trees, a small play area and a kitchen garden.
Basildon Park has formal gardens, a rose garden and so much park land that it is the perfect place for children to explore. The views at Basildon Park are incredible, and you can see for miles. The children loved spotting a tree in the distance and running to it, so happy when they eventually got to it. We could easily spend all day in the park land and for a picnic, playing and some fresh air it really would be perfect.
Mottisfont is absolutely beautiful. It starts with a big wooden walkway that leads you to the beginning of the grounds and there’s a little river to walk along, so much land to explore, statues and things to look at and a rose garden that has been newly planted. There are play area where children could pump water, build dams and watch the water move along a reservoir. It was both fun and educational and the children loved it.
The Vyne isn’t that big compared to other National Trust sites but it is the perfect size to tire the children out and spend a day exploring. There’s a house to look at, a lake to walk around and the usual things you find at National Trust places like a shop and tea room. There were toilets everywhere too making it perfect for families and there’s a walled garden dedicated to children – with tractors to ride on, bouncy animals to hop along on and toy lawn mowers as well as a really lovely play park behind the main house.
West Green House isn’t open to the public but the gardens are absolutely beautiful and well worth the visit. West Green House Gardens are privately managed – although still part of the National Trust – and so their opening dates and hours aren’t in line with other National Trust properties – check their website before you visit. Their tearooms are one of the nicest we have visited.
Chartwell House was once Winston Churchill’s family home. He lived there from 1922 until he died, raised a family there and also painted there. Chartwell has amazing grounds including a rose garden, kitchen garden and so much land to wander around and enjoy as well as the house to explore. There was also a pretty epic wooden playground that the children loved.
At Dyrham Park it takes about fifteen minutes to walk to the house from the car park, all downhill – and uphill on the way back to the car. It’s a beautiful walk, either down a treelined road or across country down a pretty steep hill. There are also formal gardens and the house to explore.
Charlecote Park is a beautiful, traditional looking building situated in gorgeous grounds with land full of deer, a river and lots of places to walk and have a picnic including formal gardens. You could easily spent a whole day at Charlecote Park.
Packwood House is just outside of Birmingham and situated in such beautiful countryside. It has has so much forest and grounds to explore and is situated in a really nice area of parkland with so many walkways, paths through the trees and places to sit and rest a while as well as places to build dens and rope swings hidden amongst the trees.
Baddesley Clinton has the main house at it’s heart which dates back to the 1500s. It’s a beautiful house and much of it is open to walk around. There’s also so much outside space to explore – and the children loved the moat around the house.
Belton House is a really lovely house surrounded by gardens, land and things to do. We didn’t go inside the house but walked around the outside and loved the traditional appeal of it. The gardens were also beautifully laid out with lots of paths to walk down and places to explore. There’s an indoor play area and an adventure playground which is so, so big and well maintained with climbing, slides, swings and so much more. One of the best adventure playgrounds we have ever been in.
At Waddesdon Manor you get on small buses that take you to the main Waddesdon Manor house or further along to The Stables. The Waddesdon Manor estate is vast with lovely countryside and forest. There are really lovely woodland play areas which are situated down a hillside between the house and stables with lots of different areas with different activities and it’s set out roughly in age order with the play equipment most suited to smaller children at the furthest point near to the stables. This is another National trust site that would be a really full day out for any family.
Stowe is another beautiful property with a short walk to the gardens. At the gardens there are walking routes that take you past so many features and points of interest as well as walks for different abilities. The walks take you past many temples, bridges, a grotto and a waterfall. There’s something to look at around every turn and I’ve never been to a National Trust property with so many individual features before – it is stunning.
Hughenden Manor has plenty of parking and there’s a really nice walk downhill from the car park to the manor buildings with a lot of play structures made from tree stumps. The manor is surrounded by gardens and the great outdoors with so much space to explore. There are formal gardens behind the manor as well as a walled kitchen garden as well where the children loved hunting for bugs and looking at the flower pot scarecrows.
Unlike a lot of National Trust properties, Cliveden House isn’t open to the public and is now actually a hotel although it does have tours on certain days and times each week. Even so, the house was beautiful to see even just from the outside and Cliveden has impressive grounds with such a great view – it was worth visiting just for that! But, there’s also a lovely maze, play area and great cafe too.
Hatchlands Park has a main house – which opens at 2pm so sadly we didn’t get to venture inside on our visit, the house grounds and a lot of land around the house – hills, trees, benches to sit on and even a little forest to walk through with a little adventure den inside.
Claremont Landscape Gardens is absolutely beautiful and on our visit I don’t think we even saw half of it. The gardens are situated around a lake with plenty of paths to follow and things to look at. Most of the walkways give you beautiful views of the lake and gardens from different angles so I’m sure whatever route you took it would give you new sights and a new experience.
Winkworth Arboretum is situated around a lake with a beautiful boat house and so many different walks around the property. There’s forest, open land and just so much to look at – the children loved it, especially as there were so many puddles to splash in when we visited.
Morden Hall Park is such a lovely day out and although it doesn’t have a property to explore it does have two cafes and a really lovely garden centre as well as the beautiful park. The park has so much land which includes a river with bridges to cross over, a wetlands area and a really great play area for the children. It would easily be a full day out on a dry day.
We fell in love with Tyntesfield immediately with the converted farm buildings turned into toilets, shops, the main entrance and visitor office. It was all so quaint but completely in keeping with the surroundings and before we’d even paid to enter I knew we were going to have a great day. There are beautiful grounds, a rose garden and so much space to explore as well as the main gothic style house complete with chapel.
Stonehenge, as a World Heritage Site, is definitely worth a visit and we only found out recently that it’s part of the National Trust too. With Stonehenge to see plus an exhibition and so much to learn it’s a great day out the whole family will love.