We were given National Trust passes for Christmas last year and then, before we knew it, it was June and we had barely used them… oops! We were feeling quite guilty about it and dreading being asked by the giver-of-the-passes what we’d been to see…
Luckily though, thanks to my partner being a teacher and me being on maternity leave, we’ve had time this summer to put it right. We set ourselves the challenge of going to one National Trust property a week, and very nearly managed it!
And now I’m not sure why we haven’t been National Trusting it up all year! Everywhere we visited was really enjoyable, with super-friendly staff and volunteers, and served cream tea. Yes, it’s further proof that we are squarely middle aged, but hey ho!
So here are our top three National Trust visits of the summer, all of which are about an hour’s drive from Oxford. We went to a couple of others too which were also lovely, but these were the ones that really stood out.
All three places – Waddeson Manor, Motissfont Abbey and Upton House – are absolutely beautiful, with huge and well-kept country houses (all offering tours), set in vast and stunning grounds that are a delight to walk around. They’ve all got cafes/restaurants, gift shops and picnic areas, too.
But as we all know, parents aren’t allowed to enjoy any of the above if there isn’t a suitable amount to entertain the blessed bambinos! Our son really enjoyed all three of these places, and here’s why…
Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury
Minibuses take you between the car park and the site, which will have big appeal for any mini motor heads out there. It was definitely one of the highlights of my son’s day!
Wide roads around the site, perfect for scooting and biking on (permitted for kids up to age 5).
A huge and amazing adventure playground cut into a hill in a woodland, with different areas for different ages. We spent a LOT of time here!
A big adventure playground all made out of wood with a little mud kitchen.
A river runs through the grounds and you can see lots of fish in it and it’s perfect for pooh sticking.
Large mud and water play area. This was unfortunately closed while we were there due to the heatwave, but it looked like it would be great fun when up and running.
Until 2nd September, an absolutely brilliant The Tiger Who Came to Tea exhibition. Featuring a trail around the grounds, all the original artwork and a replica kitchen from the story featuring a huge toy tiger! My son recognised it and had loads of fun pottering around Sophie’s kitchen; it’s worth the drive alone!
You can pay to visit these properties as you normally would, or you can become a National Trust member and get in free to these and hundreds more. Membership costs:
Under 5s – free Children & teenagers age 5-18 – £10 a year Individual adult – £69 a year Two adults joint membership – £114 a year Family (two adults and up to 10 children) – £120 a year Family (one adult and up to 10 children) – £75 a year You can pay in one go or monthly.
And last but not least, here’s a link to a very fun National Trust poster – 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ which we’ve got stuck up at home. It includes pretty much all the childhood must-dos like make a mud pie, rock-pooling and fossil hunting, and a few rather less appealing things like snail racing…
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