National Trust Surrey Hills Challenge Coming Soon

With the glorious autumn colours starting to emerge, now is the time to get outdoors and explore the beautiful Surrey countryside.

Leith Hill National Trust

 However, with recent National Trust research revealing that 1 in 6 Britons never walk more than 500m from their car, Polesden Lacey is challenging the residents of Surrey to prove that they are more energetic than the rest of the country! As part of the National Trust’s Great British Walk, in partnership with Pru Health, the first ever Surrey Hills Challenge will take place on Saturday 12 October. The full route is 23 miles and links three of the area’s iconic high spots – Leith Hill, Box Hill and Ranmore. There will also be two shorter circuits – one between Leith Hill and Ranmore of 16 miles, and one to Box Hill of 13 miles, so anyone can take part, whatever their level of fitness. There will even be a 5 mile family loop.

All routes start at the Polesden Lacey car park which will be open from 6.30am to give everyone a chance to finish their chosen walk before it gets dark. There will be checkpoints along the routes offering free water, toilets and first aid support. Please register in advance on 01372 452048. Registration fee is £15 per person, or £5 per family for the short family route. Everyone who completes the challenge will receive a memento.

Box Hill Amazing Views

Full information is available from www.nationaltrust.org.uk/polesdenlacey (we spotted one of the links doesn’t work, so maybe keep trying!)

Outdoor Play

This week is flying by. H is now in school and loving it, and we’ve had a few days of outdoor play this last week. We’re joining in with Country Kids, and I figured we could roll three posts into one.

Reigate Fort

Saturday we headed to Reigate Fort – a local National Trust place we’ve always fancied but never managed to get to (and it’s silly, it’s easy to get to and there’s plenty of parking for free as well). We got to the fort which is as you’d expect – various deserted buildings dug into the hillside overlooking a vast area. Trying to explain to H that it’s there because sometimes countries fight with each other proved a bit difficult. Hopefully school will help give her a better context!! You had views all the way to Gatwick which was good – we spotted loads of planes landing and taking off. There was a big grassy area, perfect for a picnic and playing tag with Daddy – before we headed back towards the car park.

There’s a walk from the car park at Reigate Fort which goes along the South Downs way, taking you to Gatton Park, so we started that one, but had to turn back after a short while – H was tired and not quite right and we didn’t want to tire her out too much before school. We like to get outdoors and she was trying out a pair of shoes for review that we chose which are perfect for outdoor use, with plenty of grip and support. I figured that if she has some good shoes for outdoor play she’s less likely to tumble over; most of her shoes have minimal grip and when you’re climbing trees you need a little bit.

Cane Hill September 2013

H felt sleepy, so we drove home hoping she’d nap in the car – and went past Coulsdon on our way. I’ve had a bit of an obsession about the former hospital Cane Hill and hadn’t been near it since I’d heard about it being demolished. It just so happened we drove past Cane Hill on our way home so I got out for a wander, with my camera of course. I was in for a shock; what was once an old derelict hospital is now grass, land with just the chapel and a tower (not the clock tower) that have survived. Cane Hill was an amazing building and I recommend you do a spot of googling on it – and now it has gone. If you see it now, you’d never know what was there. We got some photos of it back in 2008 when it was still intact just from the outside, and seeing what is left now really shocked me. I want to go back with Shaun and H properly and get around the other side – last time I was there it looked something like this. An amazing building left to rot until a fire in 2010 (ish?) which led to most of it being demolished.

Mayfield Lavender

The following day she felt much better so we headed to Mayfield Lavender. Rain was due so we knew it would be a flying visit, but we still got to walk or run up one length of the field and make it to the cafe/shop area before the skies opened – luckily we were under cover, and I’ve noticed H is running much faster with proper running shoes too, although she still likes to check what her competitors are doing (and then fall over). We’ll work on that one…

a play in the park

After school on Wednesday we headed out, stopping in the park for a run around. H is mastering the big girl swing and getting her co-ordination sorted out (she takes after me I think). Being outdoors is good too, as I feel like we’ve not done enough of it since school started; we’re all so tired. I’m letting go and letting her be on the stepping stones and watching her gain confidence on the ‘older’ things in the park. I’m not quite ready to do the climbing wall – maybe with her new shoes when she has a bit of grip!

So that’s our week. This weekend looks like it should be quieter, all being well, but rainy. Sigh!

We have been sent the Adidas shoes for the purpose of review and promoting outdoor play, all opinions are our own. Linking up to Country Kids as well.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Polesden Lacey Family Events

Polesden Lacey Family Events for October 2013 to February 2014

Polesden under snow ©National Trust Images Nick Meers

We’ve just got our latest National Trust membership through, and are already looking forward to doing some of these events – if you’re local to Polesden Lacey, then read on!

October

Surrey Hills Challenge

Sat 12 Oct

Walking reveals secrets of the Surrey Hills that can only be discovered on foot. A range of different length circular walks in this beautiful countryside will be available all starting from Polesden.

Register in advance by calling 01372 452048: £15 per walker, or £5 per family for the short family walk (including children under 16) . Runners also welcome to take part

Behind the Scenes Family Tours

Sat 12, Sun 13, Sat 26 and Sun 27 Oct 11.30am

A rare chance to catch a glimpse below stairs, in these guided tours of the kitchens, and servants rooms. Tours include rooms in the basement and last 45min-1 hour.
Normal admission applies

Woodland Skills Workshop

Sun 13 Oct

Drop in and learn a new skill with Andy and the Ranger team. Whittling, hurdle making and using a pole lathe
Normal admission applies

Halloween Spooks & Stories

Sat 26 Oct – Sun 3 Nov 2013

Scary ghost trail in our wild woods!
Normal admission, plus £2 per child

November

Glorious Glimpse House Tours

Every Saturday & Sunday

Discover more about the house with these limited entry guided tours. Please book on arrival.
Special family tours at 11.40am, 1.20pm and 2.20pm
Normal admission

December

We Three Kings Christmas Festivities

Sat & Sun 30 Nov, 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 & 22 Dec, 11am – 4pm

See the house dressed for a period Christmas and discover the stories of the three kings who visited Polesden – Edward VII, George V and George VI. Plus sleigh rides, Father Christmas and more…
Normal admission for grounds, plus £4 adult, £1 child, £10 family for the house, including members

Polesdenopoly

Thurs 26 Dec – Sun 5 Jan 10.30am-3pm

Become a millionaire like Mrs Greville in our fun, family version throughout the Polesden grounds
Normal admission, plus £5 per set

January 2014

Glorious Glimpse House Tours

Every Saturday & Sunday
See November for more information

February 2014

Half Term Activities

Sat 15 – Sun 23 Feb
Normal admission, plus £1 per child

Glorious Glimpse House Tours

Every Saturday & Sunday
See November for more information

Box Hill Natural Play Trail

Box Hill is one of our local National Trust sites – a little more than twelve miles from our house so one we go to frequently.

Box Hill Amazing Views

Box Hill is an area of so many things to discover – and quite recently The National Trust set up some new walkways there, one of which we stumbled across today when we went for a visit – the Natural Play Trail.

The walk is around two miles long, suitable for kids of all ages and buggies, and throughout the walk there are lots of things to do.

Box Hill

We discovered lots of huts – handy for a bear hunt or searching for Gruffalo’s – as well as various play areas made from wood and rope – a swing, a rope swing, some tree trunks to balance on and lots to see and spot.

We kept it simple and kept to balancing on logs. H is pretty good though unsteady (like her mum) so we started holding hands until by the end she was doing it on her own which was good – and there are a lot of logs to practice on.

There were play areas around the walk – one area had a rope to balance or climb on, a swing tied into it (H had a go and enjoyed hanging upside down the most), and a rope swing which we need to work on with H! They were great and suitable for H’s age with supervision. There were older kids but they were respectful of H and her younger age and let her play too which was nice.

Box Hill

All around the woods were dens built from sticks and branches, one of our favourite things when we go for walks like this – an estimate would be twenty or thirty easily and they were all easy to climb into. As well as this were play and balance areas using smaller logs which you could climb on, some with a twisty maze around them and others just enclosed by them.

At the end of the first one was a doorway carved into a tree which H loved!

Box Hill also now have some cute paints on the roadway, from Amazing Views to Tea and Cake – as well as signs welcoming you there.

Box Hill

There are other walks at the site – if next weekend, post Birthday Party is all too much I know we’ll be back again – it’s good for clearing the head! Plus I had no idea the concrete thing we stand on is actually a fort (which is obvious really when you think about it)

Head here to see the other walks on offer.

We have National Trust membership which is paid for by ourselves.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Polesden Lacey Family Events Sept /Oct 2013

Polesden Lacey have some family events scheduled for September and October 2013

Polesden Lacey Easter Egg Explorers

Polesden Lacey in September

Bug Hunt

Daily throughout September 11am – 4pm

There are some very lucky bugs who have made their home in the house at Polesden. Discover our secret lodgers, and how they live life in style beneath the carpets and coving!
Normal admission, plus £1 to follow the trail and look under the microscope!

Family Volunteering

Every Sunday from 11am

Join us for a Sunday of family activity to help keep our lovely grounds in order, including scrub bashing and bug hunting. Please call 01372 452048 to register your interest.

Heritage Weekend – Polesden Open Day

Saturday 14 September

House open to the public for free as part of National Heritage Week.
Dorking & District Radio Society will be setting up their aerials in the ground, transmitting and receiving to other enthusiasts around the world. A great opportunity to find out more about this fascinating hobby and have a go yourself.

October

Surrey Hills Challenge

Saturday 12 October

Walking reveals secrets of the Surrey Hills that can only be discovered on foot. A range of different length circular walks in this beautiful countryside will be available all starting from Polesden.
Register in advance by calling 01372 452048: £15 per walker, or £10 per family for the short

family walk (including children under 16) . Runners also welcome to take part

Behind the Scenes Family Tours

Sat 12, Sun 13, Sat 26 and Sun 27 Oct 11.30am

A rare chance to catch a glimpse below stairs, in these guided tours of the kitchens, and servants

rooms. Tours nclude rooms in the basement and last 45min-1 hour.

Normal admission applies

Woodland Skills Workshop

Sunday 13 October

Drop in and learn a new skill with Andy and the Ranger team. Whittling, hurdle making and using a pole lathe
Normal admission applies.

Children’s Photography Workshops

Wednesday 30 October

2 sessions each day: morning: 11am-12.30pm for ages 6-10 yrs

Afternoon: 2-3.30pm for ages 10 – 16yrs

Shutterbugs will show you how to take amazing shots using just your camera and your imagination!

£15. Please contact: suzie@shutterbugkids.co.uk

Halloween Spooks & Stories

Saturday 26 October – Sunday 3 November 2013

Scary ghost stories in our wild woods!

Normal admission, plus £2 per child

Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve

Sometimes we have one of those spur of the moment ‘where shall we go?’ kinds of days, when we don’t want to drive too far but we want to breathe, to get out of the city. Somewhere that’s safe but we can learn and explore.

Today we found a new place – Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve 200 acres which is just outside Croydon, across from Sanderstead and about twenty minutes drive for us. We found it by me checking for woods near Banstead Woods (which we almost went to) and seeing it had a five-star review – and you can see why.

Selsdon Wood

It’s very basic, and is a wood in National Trust owned land, co-run with Croydon Council – so don’t expect fancy gift shops and the like here – although there’s a giant wooden bear at the car park.

Instead you’ve got woods, butterflies, orchids, insects, birds, trees, buttercups, bluebells and many other things – we spotted a rope swing (slightly too high for H) and I bet there’s more when you investigate. Families playing hide and seek in the woods, people walking their dogs… it’s a great open space made of five fields and several walkways (all with names) and somewhere to explore and wander around.

There’s plenty of activities going on from time to time too – check their website for more information.

So, what did we do? We walked into the woods (there’s tons of bluebells right now), through the fields, checked if H liked butter or not with a buttercup, blew a few dandelion clocks, spotted two different butterflies, listened in case we could hear a badger (we didn’t), got two different insects in her bug viewer (a millipede and a devil’s coachhorse beetle), and ticked off another of the ’50 Things’, making a grass trumpet (I was the expert at this and passed on my expert knowledge to Shaun and H) – the weather was good (sunny and cloudy) and there was some mud around but generally everywhere was accessible. If you go there after rain it’s definitely a wellies kind of place.

We’ve still a good section of the woods to explore so we’ll be back…. when it’s a sunny day!

Step Back In Time at Reigate Fort

STEP BACK IN TIME 100 YEARS AS A SOLDIERS’ LIFE AT REIGATE FORT IS RECREATED

– Come along to Reigate Hill’s centenary celebrations-

Reigate Fort high res credit Andrew Butler166887

Reigate Fort is a local National Trust area which we tried to find and failed, then realised how we’d missed the parking area, so bear that in mind and swot up beforehand, as looking at the pictures it looks pretty excellent, with great views over Surrey too.

Reigate Fort sits proudly on top of Reigate Hill in Surrey and was built in 1898 as part of the London Defence Scheme, the British Government’s attempt to protect London and the south coast from attack by their greatest adversary, the French. The National Trust who now look after the site are putting on an event on the 8 and 9 June to see what life would have been like for soldiers billeted at Reigate Fort.

The 10th Essex Living History Group will bring the fort to life, wearing uniforms of the times, practicing drills, firing techniques and marching. It goes without saying that there’ll be plenty of explosions and gunfire as well! Listen to soldiers’ stories of life at the fort, smell their campfire stews and feel how scratchy, but water-proof their uniforms were. If you have any military memorabilia, bring it along too – experts will be on hand to tell you more about them.

The fort will be open from 10.30am until 4pm on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June. Tickets for the event are £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. There’s no need to book in advance. Sunday’s event will culminate in an afternoon military musical parade from Reigate Fort onto Reigate Hill to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Reigate Hill being given to the people of Reigate town.

Reigate Fort

 

Marc Russell, National Trust Ranger who looks after the fort says “Reigate Fort is one of only 13 defensive forts built along the North Downs. Over the last few years we’ve worked hard to restore it so that visitors can see what life would have been like for those working there. This year, we’ve restored the shifting lobby, where soldiers changed from their work clothes into special spark-free uniforms. This event is a great way for us to bring the fort to life and to understand how tough life must have been.”

Car parking for the event is at the Wray Lane car park (RH2 0HX) and Reigate Fort is best reached by crossing the footbridge from the car park. It’s a walk of about 200m slightly uphill to the fort. For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/reigate-hill-and-gatton-park or call 01372 220644.

50 Things Events This Half Term with the National Trust

The National Trust recently relaunched their ’50 Things To Do Before You’re Eleven and Three Quarters’ campaign complete with a new book and stickers to add to each page when you’ve completed them. H is still only three so we’ve got a while before we’ll be anywhere near complete, but already we’re finding it fun and are thinking of different things to do when we go out.

National Trust Scotney Castle

This half term the National Trust have several 50 Things themed events happening – here’s a list of of the London and South East ones –

Ashridge Spring Trail

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 16 March to 31 May 2013, 10:00am to 4:00pm Price: Child £1

Miss Alice’s Drive Woodland Walk

Waddesdon Manor

Dates: 115 dates between 22 May 2013 and 27 October 2013 Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
Explore some of the wildlife areas established at Waddesdon.

Bat Walk

Hatchlands Park

Dates: 23 May 2013, 15 August 2013 and 22 August 2013 Price: Adult £5, Child £2.50

Summer Half Term

Mottisfont

Dates: 9 dates between 25 May 2013 and 2 June 2013
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
Go on a really long bike ride on our estate – just pick up a map from our Visitor Reception.On your adventures see if you can find a tree and explore the inside of it. Kick off your shoes and go for a walk bare foot in our grounds.

Family Fun and Frolics

Chartwell

Dates: 25 May to 2 June 2013, 11:00am to 4:00pm
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
We’ll have lots to do, including children’s activities, storytelling by the campfire, fun in the woods, trails, den building – and lots of things to try on the list of 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4!

May-hem

Standen

Dates: 25 May to 2 June 2013, 11:00am to 4:00pm Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
A small charge may be made for some activities.

Half term fun – Map makers

Hughenden

Dates: 25 May to 2 June 2013, 11:00am to 4:00pm
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
Half term fun creating your own maps and visiting the secret 1940s map-making bunker

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Den building adventures

Scotney Castle

Dates: 9 dates between 25 May 2013 and 2 June 2013
Price: Per Item £1 (Compass Trail)
This half term join us at our wilderness camp to see who can build the best den and take part in our compass trail.

50 Things in the Woodland

Chartwell

Dates: 6 dates between 25 May 2013 and 18 August 2013
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
Build a den, explore inside a tree, climb a huge hill, hunt for bugs, and more when you come to the Chartwell estate. Be sure to get your trail map in the Visitor Centre before heading into the woods.

Winchelsea Dawn Chorus : Sunday 26th May 2013

Bodiam Castle

Dates: 26 May 2013 4:00am Price: All Tickets £5
Booking Essential Sorry, cancelled

Have a go at geocaching

Shalford Mill

Dates: 26 May 2013 11:00am
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
We have a few GPS handsets available for you to try your hand at geocaching – the digital treasure hunt! Why not come and see if it’s for you?

Pony Magic

Hatchlands Park

Dates: 12 dates between 26 May 2013 and 15 September 2013 Price: Child £2.50
Pony rides for children. A 3-5 minute ride suitable for 2-11 year old children.

Explorer Week

Emmetts Garden

Dates: 5 dates between 27 May 2013 and 31 May 2013
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
A great chance to complete some of the 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4!

Wilderness Week

River Wey and Godalming Navigations and Dapdune Wharf

Dates: 7 dates between 27 May 2013 and 2 June 2013
Price: Child £2.50 (For children’s activities)
A half term week of den building, foraging and survival crafts, suitable for 5-12 year olds.

Pony Magic

Clandon Park

Dates: 4 dates between 27 May 2013 and 26 August 2013 Price: Child £2.50 (per ride)
Pony rides for children. A 3-5 minute ride suitable for 2-11 year old children.

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Wild Art Workshop

Mottisfont

Dates: 28 May 2013 10:00am and 28 May 2013 1:00pm Price: All Tickets £2.50

Fossil Fabrication

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 28 May 2013 10:15am Price: Child £3
Booking Essential

Wild Learning

Claremont Landscape GardensClaremont Landscape Garden

Dates: 6 dates between 28 May 2013 and 30 December 2013
Price: All Tickets £35
Have fun and explore the woods with Wild Learning Forest School. Book at place at www.wild-learning.net Booking Essential

Beasts and Butterflies

Hughenden

Dates: 7 dates between 28 May 2013 and 28 August 2013 Price: Child £4
Kids can be nature detectives on this walk with our Ranger team Booking Essential

Plant it, grow it, eat it

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 4 dates between 28 May 2013 and 31 May 2013 Price: Child £2

Float your Boat Day

Claremont Landscape Garden

Dates: 29 May 2013 10:30am
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
There will also be an opportunity to make your own model boat from junk at the craft session in the morning between 11 am and 1 pm. You can float them on the lake at Claremont between 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm.

Art Attack

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 29 May 2013 10:30am Price: Child £3
Booking Essential

Wild Wednesday – Orienteering

Cliveden

Dates: 29 May 2013 11:00am
Price: Child £2
How fast do you think you can complete our Wild Wednesday orienteering course? See if you can be the best! There is fun to be had whatever the weather! This is a drop in session and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Ideal for children aged 4-11.

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50 Things – Plant it grow it eat it

Basildon Park

Dates: 29 May 2013 2:00pm Price: Child £2 (Planting workshop)

Springtime Tree Climbing with the Big Tree Climbing Company

Cliveden

Dates: 24 dates between 30 May 2013 and 31 May 2013
Price: All Tickets £17.50
Coordinated by the Big Tree Climbing Company, have fun in the trees at Cliveden. Explore the canopy and have a go at tree climbing, a zip wire and a rope swing! Fun for all the family. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.Each session is 30 minutes long. Please book your session in advance, either online or via the Box Office.
Booking Essential

Wild Child: Pond Dipping

Ightham Mote

Dates: 30 May 2013 11:15am Price: Child £3 (per session) Booking Essential

Wildzone: Mottistone Moth Night

Mottistone Manor Garden

Dates: 31 May 2013 9:30pm
Price: Child £3 (no charge for accompanying adults)
In the evening we will be setting light traps and looking for moths around the garden. Then we’ll return the following day at 0830 am to see what has been caught in the light traps and to discover what amazing moths inhabit the night skies of MottistoneThe Wildzone is a programme of hands-on activities for accompanied children aged 5-13, introducing them to nature. All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Sorry no dogs.
Booking Essential

Build a den – 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4

Hinton Ampner

Dates: 4 dates between 1 June 2013 and 2 June 2013
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
As part of the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 campaign we are having a weekend of fun, learning how to build your own woodland hideaway. Our expert den builders will be on hand to help you learn the woodland skills you need. There is a 15 minute walk to the woodland to do this activity

50 Things in the Garden

Chartwell

Chartwell

Dates: 6 dates between 1 June 2013 and 4 August 2013
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
Make your own kite and learn to fly it, make a daisy chain or a grass trumpet, set up a snail race, and more. The first weekend of the months of May through August will showcase the various 50 things activities possible in the gardens at Chartwell.

Open Farm Sunday

Waddesdon Manor

Dates: 9 June 2013 10:00am
Price: No Additional charges
Open Farm Sunday is one of the farming industry’s biggest success stories. Organised by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) it gives everyone the chance to discover the story behind their food and the vital role farmers play in caring for the countryside. 2013 will be the first year that the Waddesdon Farms have taken part in this event and there are plans for a day packed full of demonstrations, talks and livestock displays. For more information on Open Farm Sunday visit www.farmsunday.org

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Coleshill Mill Open Day

The Buscot and Coleshill Estates

Dates: 5 dates between 9 June 2013 and 13 October 2013
Price: Adult £2.50, Child £1.25
Visit this lovely mill on the pretty River Cole and see the grain being ground into flour. The flour is then available to buy and a recipe leaflet provided

Totally Batty

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 12 June 2013 9:00pm and 24 July 2013 9:00pm
Price: Adult £10, Child £6
Join us for a bat hunt! Learn exciting facts about these amazing creatures, and enjoy a walk in the dark to discover more and hopefully catch a glimpse. Suitable for the whole family.
Booking Essential

‘Have-A-Go-Falconry’ – 15th & 16th June 2013

Bodiam Castle

Dates: 15 June to 16 June 2013, 11:00am to 4:00pm
Price: All Tickets £3 (to fly a bird)
Have-a-go session takes place from 14.15 to 15.00. Please note that the birds are unable to fly in wet weather. Children must be 8 years or older to fly a bird of prey.

50 Things – Climb a tree on Father’s Day

Basildon Park

Dates: 16 June 2013 10:00am
Price: All Tickets £12.50 (Climb, All Tickets £6 (Crate building), zip wire and leap of faith)
Use ropes, harness and karabiners to access the canopy of magnificent tree. Take the quick exit down via a zip wire and then…. see if you or dad can go higher on the leap of faith! All equipment is provided and tuition given by highly trained and experienced staff members.Prices from £6For more information see www.bigtreeclimbing.co.uk or phone 0800 0556760.Please note: In case of extremely poor weather please phone on the morning of the event.
Booking Essential

Father’s Day Challenge

Stowe

Dates: 16 June 2013 10:00am
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
How many Stowe challenges can dads and their children complete in one day using the Stowe explorer map. Try out our top 10 list of exploration and natural play activities. Take a photo of you achieving your favourite challenge and share it with us on Facebook or Twitter

Father’s Day Challenge

Stowe

Dates: 16 June 2013 10:00am
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
Dads, can you keep up with your kids? How many Stowe challenges can you complete in one day? With our special Stowe explorer map try out our top 10 challenges. Take a photo of you achieving your favourite challenge and share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Father’s Day Fun

Ightham Mote

Dates: 16 June 2013 11:00am
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

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Father’s Day Den building

Hughenden

Dates: 16 June 2013 11:00am
Price: All Tickets £5
Make your Dad’s Day and bring him along on this family session to get hands-on and learn how to make a shelter in the woods Booking Essential

Fathers Day Bushcraft Trail

Chilterns Countryside

Dates: 16 June 2013 2:00pm
Price: Adult £5, Child £2
For Father’s Day why not become a Bushcraft Ranger for the Day! Bring the kids along and join the National Trust Rangers on a woodland trail. Collecting supplies on route to our base camp for the afternoon, where we will learn the skills to build shelters and campfires. We will end our mini adventure around a campfire toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate.
Booking Essential

The Bats of Mottisfont. Evening Walk.

Mottisfont

Dates: 21 June 2013 8:00pm
Price: Adult £5, Child £2.50
Come and join us for an evening/night walk to discover the bats of the Mottisfont estate. Home to one of the rarest bat species in Britain as well as several other species, this is a chance to see and hear them in their natural habitat.
Booking Essential

Big nature night

Leith Hill

Leith Hill

Dates: 28 June 2013 9:00pm
Price: All Tickets £5 (per activity)
As the start of our Big Nature Weekend it’s all about nocturnal creatures with the opportunity to discover more about bats or moths. Join our experts to learn about how these creatures survive, navigate and feed and how to record and identify them.
Booking Essential

Big nature morning

Leith Hill

Dates: 29 June 2013 6:00am
Price: All Tickets £5 (per activity)
As part of our Big Nature Weekend an early morning start will be worth it to discover more about the wildlife at Leith Hill. Join our experts to take part in bird ringing, moth trapping or mammal surveying.
Booking Essential

Big nature day

Leith Hill

Dates: 29 June 2013 10:00am
Price: No Additional charges
As part of our Big Nature Weekend, drop in during our family friendly event to learn how to record and identify the wildlife that is found at Leith Hill; from moths, birds and fungi to reptiles, dragonflies and plants. Try your hand at making wildlife homes and other crafty activities. Refreshments available.

Wildlife Weekend – 29th & 30th June 2013

Bodiam Castle

Dates: 29 June to 30 June 2013, 11:00am to 4:00pm Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

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The Hills are Alive

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 29 June 2013 2:00pm Price: Adult £7, Child £5
Booking Essential

Ashridge Summer Trail

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 1 July to 16 September 2013, 10:00am to 4:00pm Price: Child £1

‘Art at the Castle’ : 6th & 7th July 2013

Bodiam Castle

Dates: 6 July 2013 11:00am and 7 July 2013 11:00am
Price: Per Item £5 (Shield Painting)
Separate charges apply for the individual activities. Sheild painting charge is shown, other activity charges will be posted later in the year.

Damsels and Dragons

The Buscot and Coleshill Estates

Dates: 7 July 2013 2:00pm
Price: Adult £3, Child £1.50
Join one of our National Trust Rangers on the gentle family walk along the River Cole. We will be looking at the ecology and folklore behind these often misunderstood flying insects
Booking Essential

Family River Walk

The Buscot and Coleshill Estates

Dates: 9 July 2013 5:00pm
Price: Adult £3, All Tickets £1.50
This is a guided family activity walk to discover the wildlife and the restoration of the meanders and floodplain. You can also hunt for bugs, make mud pies and wild art.
Booking Essential

Creatures of the night

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 12 July 2013 9:00pm Price: Adult £10, Child £6 Booking Essential

The House at Pooh Corner: A summer of fun at Mottisfont.

Mottisfont

Dates: 65 dates between 13 July 2013 and 15 September 2013
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
On show for the first time in over a decade will be 36 beautiful hand-painted illustrations by E. H. Shepard for the classic children’s books Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. A fabulous family quest trail lets you follow in the footsteps of your favourite characters around Mottisfont’s grounds, ticking of many of your ’50 Things to do before you’re 11 3/4′ as you go. Join us for special event weekends during the summer holidays.

Exhibition: The House at Pooh Corner

Mottisfont

Dates: 56 dates between 13 July 2013 and 15 September 2013
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
An Exhibition of classic illustrations. There will also be a display of contemporary art on the theme of childhood and imagination and a distinct, fabulous family quest trail.

7 – 11 22/05/2013 08:04:28

Family Camping, Moths and Moonlight

Cliveden

Dates: 13 July to 14 July 2013, 2:00pm to 11:30am and 20 July to 21 July 2013, 2:00pm to 11:30am
Price: Adult £27, Child £17
Take part in this fantastic evening under the stars, with bat watching, moth-trapping, bug hunts, toasting marshmallows over the fire and story-telling. Please bring your own picnic for dinner, then wake up to a delicious breakfast and take part in our morning activities. Booking Essential

National Trust Community Day

Bembridge and Culver Downs

Dates: 14 July 2013 11:00am
Price: No Additional charges
Join us for a special day of free activities, trails and countryside demonstrations centred in and around Bembridge Fort. Activities include free taster tours of Bembridge Fort and some ’50 things to do’. The Rangers will be demonstrating some of their countryside skills, there will be a cake stall from the Needles Old Battery tea-room, plants from Mottistone Manor Garden and stalls and stands from local organisations.

Purple Emperor Hunt

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 14 July 2013 1:30pm Price: All Tickets £2

The House at Pooh Corner: A summer of fun at Mottisfont. Family

fun Weekend

Mottisfont

Dates: 20 July 2013 10:00am and 21 July 2013 10:00am
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
Coinciding with the House at Pooh Corner exhibition this summer we’ll be having great outdoor activities throughout this weekend some of which you can tick off your 50 things list.Join us this weekend as we builg pooh-stick boats to send down the river.

Wildzone: rockpooling at Freshwater Bay

Compton Bay and Downs

Dates: 21 July 2013 2:30pm
Price: Child £3 (no charge for accompanying adults)
The Wildzone is a programme of fun hands-on activities for accompanied children aged 5-13, introducing them to wildlife and nature. Booking Essential

Summer nature trail

Bembridge Windmill

Dates: 25 July to 3 September 2013, 10:30am to 4:30pm Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

Summer holiday adventures

Scotney Castle

Dates: 39 dates between 25 July 2013 and 1 September 2013
Price: Per Item £1 (Per activity)
Join in the adventures at Scotney Castle throughout the summer, with trails and activities available, every day is a different adventure.

Barton’s Dangerous Summer for Boys (and Girls!)

Standen

Dates: 27 July to 1 September 2013, 11:00am to 4:00pm Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
A small charge may be made for some activities.

8 – 11 22/05/2013 08:04:28

Make and Take Children’s Crafts

Standen

Dates: 4 dates between 29 July 2013 and 19 August 2013 Price: Child £3

Family Mondays

Knole

Dates: 6 dates between 29 July 2013 and 28 October 2013
Price: No Additional charges
Mondays during school holidays are family days at Knole – the days to take part in our free family events, to follow a brilliant trail round the courtyards and to do some of the 50 Things that will get your family outdoors and closer to nature.

Minibeasting

Stowe

Dates: 30 July 2013 10:00am
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
Join us for a minibeasts hunt in the landscape gardens. Free event. If you have a bug pot, then bring it along to collect your own lovely critters to study up close before releasing them back into the wild again. Please note that the minibeasting activity starts at 10:30am, but please allow half an hour to walk from New Inn to the Temple of Friendship (where the event starts).
Booking Essential

Minibeasting

Stowe

Dates: 30 July 2013 10:30am
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
Join us for a minibeasts hunt in the landscape gardens.Prebooking is essential on 01280 817156This is a Free Event Normal admission charges apply
Booking Essential

Kids Activities

Smallhythe Place

Dates: 30 July 2013 2:00pm
Price: All Tickets £2.50
Age 3+. No need to book, just arrive any time between 2pm and 3.30pm £2.50 per child, there is free admission to the garden for accompanying adults and you are welcome to picnic in the grounds.

50 Things – Fly a kite

Basildon Park

Dates: 31 July 2013 10:30am
Price: Child £18 (Kite workshop)
Tickets Child: £18 for children aged from 8yrs (normal admission applies for accompanying adults) Booking Essential

Wild Wednesday – VIBs (Very Important Bugs!)

Cliveden

Dates: 31 July 2013 11:00am
Price: Child £2
This is a drop in session and participating children must be supervised by an adult at all times. Ideal for children between 4 and 11 years of age.

9 – 11 22/05/2013 08:04:28

Hidden Habitats

River Wey and Godalming Navigations and Dapdune Wharf

Dates: 5 dates between 1 August 2013 and 29 August 2013
Price: Child £2.50 (For children’s activities)
Fun and games with environmental and historical places at Dapdune Wharf. Previously everyday objects yield stories of the past ‘ uncover our hidden habitats.

50 Things – Ightham Challenge

Ightham Mote

Dates: 1 August 2013 11:00am
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
This is your opportunity to set yourselves a challenge and try to complete as many things as possible. There will be a selection of organised activities, as well as the chance to go off as a family and explore estate to see how many others you can do.

Treemendous Thursdays

Sissinghurst Castle

Dates: 5 dates between 1 August 2013 and 29 August 2013
Price: All Tickets £5
Spend a couple of hours with our rangers discovering all our flora and fauna, with special focus on our magnificient trees. Fun activities for kids of all ages.

Moth trapping

Hughenden

Dates: 1 August 2013 8:30pm and 15 August 2013 8:30pm
Price: All Tickets £4
See the amazing variety of insects at Hughenden on this walk with the Ranger. Includes a hot drink Booking Essential

Birds of Prey Week

Claremont Landscape Garden

Dates: 29 dates between 3 August 2013 and 11 August 2013
Price: All Tickets £0.50 (Trail)
Children’s trail around the garden and craft activities in the Thatched Cottage. Static display of birds ‘ hawks, eagles, vultures and owls Two flying displays at 1pm and 3.30pm (tbc).Hawk Walks ‘ learning how to fly these magnificent birds. ‘Discover birds of Prey’ experience tent. The event will be supported throughout the week by local conservation and wildlife charities, who will be giving demonstrations of their own work in protecting wildlife and endangered habitats.
Booking Essential

Children’s Trail

Claremont Landscape Garden

Dates: 3 August to 11 August 2013, 10:30am to 4:30pm Price: All Tickets £0.50

Birds of Prey Week Craft Workshops

Claremont Landscape Garden

Dates: 5 August to 9 August 2013, 10:30am to 12:30pm Price: All Tickets £1.50

Pond dipping

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 6 August 2013 10:30am
Price: Child £3
Part of our Summer Fun Tuesdays at the Ashridge Estate. Booking Essential

10 – 11 22/05/2013 08:04:28

Bug Detectives

River Wey and Godalming Navigations and Dapdune Wharf

Dates: 4 dates between 6 August 2013 and 27 August 2013
Price: Child £1.50
Two one-hour sessions of bug hunting followed by a game. Book on the day, numbers limited

Summer Fun Tuesday – Kite Making

Ashridge Estate

Dates: 6 August 2013 12:00pm and 27 August 2013 12:00pm Price: Child £2
Create and decorate your own wildlife kite to take away and fly!

Kids Activities

Smallhythe Place

Dates: 6 August 2013 2:00pm
Price: All Tickets £2.50
Age 3+. No need to book, just arrive any time between 2pm and 3.30pm £2.50 per child, there is free admission to the garden for accompanying adults and you are welcome to picnic in the grounds.

50 Things – Climb a tree

Basildon Park

Dates: 7 August 2013 10:00am
Price: All Tickets £12.50 (Climb, All Tickets £6 (Crate building), zip wire and leap of faith)
Use ropes, harness and karabiners to access the canopy of magnificent tree. Take the quick exit down via a zip wire and then…. experience the leap of faith! All equipment is provided and tuition given by highly trained and experienced staff members.Prices from £6For more information see www.bigtreeclimbing.co.uk or phone 0800 0556760.Please note: In case of extremely poor weather please phone on the morning of the event.
Booking Essential

Wild Wednesday – Birds

Cliveden

Dates: 7 August 2013 11:00am
Price: Child £2
This is a drop in session and all participating children must be supervised by an adult at all times. Ideal for children aged 4-11.

50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 and Three Quarters

50 things National Trust logo

Today the National Trust are relaunching their ’50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 and Three Quarters’ campaign that we were first aware of last year. I think we got the booklet in The Guardian, and saw loads around properties we visited – in essence, and based on the Natural Childhood campaign, children aren’t getting outside as much as they used to – and while sometimes it’s unavoidable, there’s plenty out there to discover, and why not try some fun activities while you’re at it?

The National Trust ’50 Things’ website is here where you can sign up and log what you do – there’s a children’s and parents area. As H can’t read yet we’ll be working on this together but there’s plenty of fun things to do in there – and plenty of local suggestions of places based on your postcode (that’s the most personal information they take).

I’m going to make sure I stand back a bit more and LET H be a child. I guess having the fears about her front tooth and her being accident prone mean I do feel quite protective, so this is as much about me letting go!

I’ve already set us a challenge to visit new National Trust places (as we have so many), or places we’ve not been to in a long time and we now have an ‘Adventure Scrapbook’ for us to log the things H will do as well as giving us good suggestions.

If you’re based around the south east then there’s quite a lot you can do in local National Trust properties – the Surrey Hills being one place which covers a lot (and it’s good to see the Polesden Lacey geocache getting a star as being the best thing to do there – we had tons of fun last summer doing it).

National Trust 50 Things Adventure Scrapbook

So, you might now be wondering what they suggest? It’s obvious stuff, the things we probably did as kids. It’s time to unwrap the cotton wool…. The tasks aren’t difficult, in fact they’re probably things you’ve already done. The pressure is off, you can do it. I can do it too. Fifty things, and all the time in the world to do them – but ultimately, it’s about getting outside. If you’re really good and do all 50 then you can apply to the National Trust for a special badge.

We were also sent a delicious recipe. Mud pie; and no, we’re not talking the mississippi kind I’m afraid. Yes, you are going to get dirty. You know what though – a decent scrubbing brush only costs a pound.

Here’s what you do…

You need –

mud, soil or compost
water
leaves, flowers, sticks, shells and rocks for decoration

You will also need –

A mixing bowl
stick for mixing

Grab some handfuls of soil, mud or compost and put them into the bowl. Add water and give it a stir with the mixing stick. If the mixture is dry and crumbly add more water and stir again. Keep adding water until it’s a bit sticky. If it’s too sloppy, add more mixture to it.

Turn the bowl over onto the floor (obviously do this outside or in a tuff spot!) and pat the bottom until the mud pie falls out. Shape with your hands and decorate with the materials of choice.

Voila!

We’ve not made ours yet. I’m still in the process of convincing Shaun we need a tuff spot for play like this… but when we do I shall embrace the mud and the muck and get on with it. That’s how it should be, right?

The National Trust have made a video :

The best thing – this isn’t limited to just National Trust places. They want you to get outdoors – so enjoy your local parks, woods and so on. You don’t have to pay to go outside to an interesting park – check out Poppy Cat’s recent partnership with The Woodland Trust which has links for loads of local places for free. Banstead Woods near us has some great huts people have made which have always been fun to hide in (and pretend you’re a gruffalo).

Banstead Woods

Because I like lists, here’s the ones we’ve done so far of the 50…

roll down a really big hill
skim a stone
run around in the rain (needs a bit more work though)
play conkers
play in the snow
jump over waves
visit a farm
climb a huge hill
plant it, grow it, eat it
find a geocache

so that’s a start. Are you in? I’m roping in friends who are members as well as the Caterpillar Tales family who love this too!


50 things National Trust

We have been sent an Adventure Scrapbook and some stickers, plus a membership card for this project (we are already members so have passed this on to friends to join in with it) – all opinions are our own.

Bluebells!

Bluebells at Hatchlands Park National Trust

It’s that time of year when they start to spring up, all around various woods and places. I know little about bluebells but what I do know is they’re pretty, especially in a good wood. As luck would have it, I have a handy guide to some good bluebell woods from the National Trust – though no mention of the fabulous Hatchlands Park which is famous for their wood (and where we almost always end up – if you’re nearby then definitely go!) – the bluebells go on for ever, and it’s a good long walk there and back too (which can take even longer if your child goes on strike and refuses to walk like H did last year). But still, bluebells! Pretty! They say the best time to catch them is around now, and particularly in May, so why not try one of the following?

“Make no mistake, spring is going to happen and it may be all the better for the wait” Matthew Oates, naturalist for the National Trust

Following the coldest March for 50 years, spring may still be someway off, with bluebell flowering predicted to be 3-4 weeks away and peak flowering possibly delayed until mid May or later.

However, when the warmer months do arrive, brighten up your day by dropping in to see the bluebells across many National Trust places.

Get the family together and discover the delights of these delicate flowers that transform Britain’s wonderful woodlands.
Here’s a selection of the top National Trust places and events that are perfect to enjoy bluebells in all their glory:

Ashridge Estate, Buckinghamshire
“I once watched the sun set through the bluebells at Ashridge; it was unforgettable and remains forever in my memory” –Lawrence Trowbridge, lead ranger

Enjoy carpets of bluebells this spring in this vast wooded landscape, filled with breathtaking scenery, amazing wildlife and a fascinating history.

Bluebell walk, 8 May, 7pm-9pm

Join a ranger-led walk at dusk and enjoy the best of Ashridge’s bluebells this year with all of the family.

Ticket charge £7 per adult and £5 per child.

Please park at the visitor centre.
Booking is essential, please call 01442 851227.

Bluebells at Hatchlands Park National Trust

Blickling Estate, Norfolk
“Bluebells are so special to me and those who visit Blickling as they give a great understanding of the history of the woodland and a sense of spiritual connection to the whole estate”-Dave Brady, head ranger

Visit Blickling in April through to May and discover one of the best places to see bluebells in the country. Follow the winding paths through the great wood, and pass through swathes of dainty English bluebells.

Make a weekend of it:   There are seven holiday cottages on the estate, including the magnificent ‘Tower’ converted from the second Earl of Buckinghamshire’s race stand. The ‘Tower’ sleeps four.

Chirk Castle, Wrexham
Immerse yourself in a medieval world at this impressive castle, then escape to the gardens and woodland and find Berkshire pigs, ancient trees and wonderful bluebell woods during the spring months.

Spring flowers garden walk15 May, 7pm-8pm
Join head gardener David Lock for a gentle stroll around the castle’s award-winning garden. Discover the amazing variety of spring-flowering trees, shrubs and plants, and how they grow and care for them.
All tickets £7.
Booking is essential, please call 01691 777701

Make a weekend of it:  Take your pick from two cottages situated within the castle grounds. There’s the House by the Dyke, a 1930’s villa, sleeping five located at the top of Offa’s Dyke, or, Chirk Home Farm Cottage, a traditional stone cottage that sleeps four and is a few hundred metres from the castle.

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
“For me the word ‘bluebell’ signals that spring is underway with a shimmering blue carpet overhung with fresh green foliage. At Clumber, they usually look perfect for St. George’s Day”-Christopher Margrave, head gardener

With 1,537 hectares of parkland, gardens, peaceful woodlands and a magnificent lake, there is plenty of space to explore and relax at Clumber, including the bluebell woodlands throughout the spring months.

Blue is the colour, 9 May, 1.30pm-3.30pm

Join Clumber for a gentle walk to discover a few of the bluebell woodlands that are around the estate.

All tickets £4.20.

Booking is advisable, please call 01909 476592.

Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House, County Londonderry
The striking 18th century mansion at Downhill now lies in ruin, but the offering of beautiful gardens and stunning cliff top walks makes this is a fantastic place for all the family to visit – especially during bluebell season.

Bluebell walk, 4-6 May, 2pm-4pm

Go along for an afternoon stroll around the Bishop’s Gate gardens and see the bluebells in full bloom at Downhill. The estate warden will highlight the hidden gems.

Normal admission charges apply.

Booking is not required. For more information, please call 02870 848728.

Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
“Bluebells are the undisputed spring highlight at Hardcastle. At their peak, they form an almost unearthly blue haze through the woodlands and fill air with their sweet perfume. It’s my favourite time of the year, bursting with life”- Nabil Abbas, countryside manager

This wooded landscape is often known as ‘Little Switzerland’ because of the valley sides, pathways and river flowing through. In spring, the woodland is awash with carpets of bluebells.

Wildflower folklore walk, 12 May, 10am-1pm       

Learn about the ecology and folklore of the eye-catching local flora. Find out how forebears used bluebells, learn to tell your ramsons from your woodruff and discover how to protect yourself from evil sprits on this slow-paced walk of 2-3 miles.

No additional charges.

Booking is not required. For more information, please call 01422 844518.

Make a weekend of it:  Stay at the converted barn which overlooks the wooded valley that comes complete with original cow stalls or the Victorian Lodge at the pillared entrance. Both cottages sleep four.

Lanhydrock, Cornwall
This fascinating country estate has gorgeous gardens, including a brilliant collection of spring-flowering magnolias and woodland areas blooming with waves of daffodils and bluebells.          

Bluebells at their best, 4 May, 10am-12pm

Join the head ranger for a stroll through the bluebell woods, followed by lunch in the restaurant.

All tickets £15 (50p booking fee for cards).

Booking is essential, please call 01208 265950.

Make a weekend of it:  Stay in the only cottage on the estate, a 1920s villa-style cottage with stunning views over Lanhydrock’s historic parkland. Sleeps six.

Bluebells at Hatchlands Park National Trust

Nymans, West Sussex
Inspired by the setting and the soil, the Messel family created one of the country’s great gardens in the late 19th-century. The garden and nearby woods are perfect for walking, picnicking and spotting bluebells.

Woodland walks: bluebells & wild flowers, 27 April-3 May, 11am-12:30pm    

Join the woods team for a walk through Nymans woodlands, taking in the splendid displays of bluebells and other spring wild flowers.

Normal admission charges apply.

Booking is essential, please call 01444 405250.

Make a weekend of it: Stay at Woodlands Cottage, previously home to the estate game keeper, with walks and lakes on your doorstep. Sleeps four.

Sissinghurst Castle, Kent
A ruin of an Elizabethan manor house, Sissinghurst Castle and estate is a great place to see bluebells and wildflowers of the season.

Bluebell and wildflower walk, 26-28 April and 3-5 May, 2pm-4pm        

Join Sissinghurst for a four mile walk with a ranger, discovering the wildflowers and bluebells on the estate. After, enjoy a cream tea in the restaurant.

£12.50 per person (including cream tea).

Booking is essential, please call 01580 710700.

Make a weekend of it:  Sleeping six Priest’s House is a beautiful detached brick building which is believed to be the former Elizabethan garden banqueting house and is an absolute must-stay for garden lovers.

Speke Hall, Garden and Estate, Liverpool
“One of my favourite experiences in spring is walking through a carpet of bluebells. From the amazing blue flowers dancing in the breeze filling the air with heady scent, to the buzz of bees feeding on the nectar inside, it’s a magical scene at Speke Hall and one that always remains forever in my memory” –Ian Ford, estate warden

A perfect oasis of peace and quiet within easy reach of Liverpool, Speke Hall provides stunning views of the surrounding area and wonderful woodland walks through carpets of bluebells.

Stourhead, Wiltshire
‘A living work of art’ is how a magazine described Stourhead when it first opened in the 1740s. The garden and house are at the heart of a 1,072-hectare estate, where ancient woods are a perfect place to spot the glorious bluebells flowering in spring.

Bluebell walk, 12 May 10.30am–12.30pm

Join the head ranger at Stourhead to experience wonderful bluebell displays on a woodland walk and discover how the estate looks after the woods and wildlife.

Ticket charge £10 per adult and £5 per child.

Booking is essential, please call 0844 249 1895.

Make a weekend of it:  Set at the entrance to Stourhead 89 Church Lawn is the perfect country cottage, especially as guests can enjoy bracing walks around the ornamental lake before the crowds. Sleeps seven.

To find out more about National Trust holiday cottages visit www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk or call 0844 8002070 and get planning a truly memorable holiday.