We Love Our National Trust Membership

We’ve been National Trust membersNational Trust logo for two and a half years now. We’re really lucky in that we have tons of places that aren’t too far away – Morden Hall Park is reachable by bus, for example.

If we head towards Dorking we’ve got Polesden Lacey which has so much going on and loads of outdoors to walk around, as well as Box Hill, as seen on the cycling during the Olympics.

There’s loads more, but what we’ve loved the most is that you only need to visit four or five places to have made your money back – and having the freedom to visit different places and do activities is something we enjoy doing.

When we stayed in Exeter we made a visit to Killerton House for a wander around the grounds – and I know if we were to ever go to Cornwall on holiday then we’d make the most of our membership as the National Trust own a lot of the car parks there – which would save us a lot.

I’m from York and without realising I hadn’t been to our most famous National Trust place – The Treasurer’s House – that was put to rights this year when a proper visit was made, though no ghosts were to be seen unfortunately.

I love that you can visit properties – famous and not. Chartwell is the family home of Winston Churchill complete with fabulous grounds to walk around and explore.

The best thing I’ve found with having the membership is knowing we’re in a safe place – you’ve generally got grounds to walk around plus activities to do at various points in the year – just this year the National Trust have brought out the ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 and 3/4‘ activities – something I hadn’t really looked at and assumed it was for older kids – yet actually a lot of the things suggested in there we have done. It’s worth a look anyway – you’d be surprised.

There’s lots of National Trust activities coming up, so stay tuned as we’ll be mentioning them a lot more!

Geocaching at Polesden Lacey

Okay, so first off the disclaimer. I was a Brownie and a Guide and never once did I do orienteering. Maybe someone else knew something I didn’t (as I’m quite well-known within the family for taking longer detours when they’re meant to be a short cut), but having a compass and plotting things and doing whatever you do has never happened in my life. I’ve also never been a rambler (apart from in speech and writing).

Geocaching at Polesden Lacey

So today we tried out Geocaching – as our local National Trust place Polesden Lacey does it. As we’re National Trust Members it didn’t cost us a thing, just our membership card as a deposit for the GPS receiver – which already had everything pre-programmed in. All we had to do was follow the co-ordinates on the GPS to find each Geocache, sign the logbook and move onto the next one. We were also provided with a map.

Simple, right?

Geocaching at Polesden Lacey

Actually, bar number 1 and 3 we did find everything – at the start we had no idea what we were looking for and number 3 was impossible to find – but once we got to the second one and found a round container with a film tube inside it with a roll of paper which is in fact the logbook (I signed all ours with H’s name) it all clicked – and became fun for all of us (before then Shaun was complaining a bit that it was a bit boring). I was particularly smug when we found number 12 and were the first people to find it today – considering there’d been a good five or six people before us too. Ner!

Geocaching at Polesden Lacey

The GPS receiver had our route pre-programmed in, and the few times I accidentally pressed that we’d completed one level it was easy enough to backtrack in the receiver and find the clue we’d missed (I even did one manually, go me and my supposed lack of navigational skills!) – oh, and I forgot to say, the man at Polesden Lacey told us “this used to be called Orienteering you know” – to which I piped up “ah, and then it got all modern with computers and stuff, right?” – I get it!

Geocaching at Polesden Lacey

We got to walk around parts of the grounds we’d never visited before which was good – including a killer hill all the way back up towards the end of our favourite tree tunnel. H was amazing and walked most of it – though was really tired by the end. I tracked it in Endomondo and it comes in at 2.2 miles which isn’t too bad a distance.

Geocaching at Polesden Lacey

We’re now on the lookout for more Geocaches locally – I’ve been told there’s one on Epsom Downs so that might be our next one – and the best bit? In some of the geocaches people leave a little present. If you want that little present then you substitute it with something of equal value. H decided she wanted a little toy chick, so we left a conker, but then she wanted a ladybird so we traded the chick for that – so she’s learning she can’t just take things without leaving something for the next person too which I reckon is a pretty good lesson. (it’s also a good way to find a new home when you’re overwhelmed with party bag trinkets)

Geocaching at Polesden Lacey

 

By the time we got to the end we were close enough to the cafe/restaurant area, so treated ourselves to a nice National Trust ice cream – I reckon we earned it!

I bet I’d have been quite good at orienteering too. Hmph.

Official Geocaching Site

National Trust places with free Geocaching (deposit of some kind may be required)

A Cheaper London? Part 3.

The day before payday, the one where you try not to spend a thing. What better time to head to a trusty National Trust place, free as you’re a member – and take a picnic along as well?

Claremont Landscape GardensSo today we headed to Claremont Landscape Gardens – loads of grounds to walk around and explore, hills to roll down and loads more – and it doesn’t cost a penny (as we’ve already paid for our membership – do it via Quidco and get decent cashback as well as a reduced rate – it’s an excellent deal and you make your money back after visiting two or three places).

Claremont Landscape Gardens

There’s the thatched cottage with loads of John Crane wooden vegetables and costumes to play with, which occupied H for a good forty minutes or so…

Claremont Landscape Gardens

But yes, sun and space – today was a good cheap day – and we’re still within the M25.

Claremont Landscape Gardens

Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher

Claremont Landscape Garden has recently had a kids area put in – which consists of lots of soft play area, and a few wooden things to climb on.

The largest one has the best things on it – alas, it’s meant for over 5’s which we didn’t realise until H had been up it and gone down the slide several times (beware the sides, which are quite open, which was a bit worrying) – there’s also a smaller hut, and a larger one to the side, as well as a couple of one person see saw’s, and a large play area.

Best of all, with National Trust Membership you get in for no extra cost than your yearly membership (don’t forget the Quidco deal, which works out around £35 ish a year) – plus in the park itself there’s lots of space to walk around and plenty to see.

I didn’t get a chance to check out changing facilities, but generally National Trust places are pretty reliable and good.

For more info, head here.

Wakehurst Place

We’re National Trust members (you can get a very very good deal via Quidco) and often visit Wakehurst Place – for free entrance you can be a National Trust or Kew member.

For this you get acres of green to walk around (and hills too, there’s some very buggy unfriendly ones, but we did it!), lots of plants, flowers and trees.

We’d not spotted them before, but there’s a few areas which are marked with an asterisk (on the map) which are designed for younger visitors, H being almost two enjoyed two of the ones we went to.

There’s also two cafe’s, both very child-friendly. There’s changing, and the whole area is pretty much safe for a child to run around (beware, there are ponds and a lake though), as well as plenty of ducks.

The shop at the end is also good space wise to get your buggy round!