Months of being stuck inside are drawing to a close and we’ve been making use of our National Trust membership to rediscover nature with some fabulous days out.
There’s a clutch of National Trust properties where Buckinghamshire meets Berkshire so we decided to try two of the nearest to us. While grand old houses and gardens may not immediately seem like the most obvious places to engage small children, the National Trust provides activities both big and small that go down a treat.
Sited on the Bucks side of the River Thames, the grounds of Cliveden are perfect for getting little ones immersed in nature. There’s a wonderful combination of landscaped features and extensive woodland, providing a range of play environments and surprises around every corner.
Three year old Tilly loved the literary themed play area with the likes of Captain Hook and Winnie the Pooh to be discovered around a range of activities.
Although the house itself is a hotel, the gardens even in early Spring are stunning with views for miles around. Wandering around we discovered idyllic dells and an intricately decorated Chinese pond and for the brave there’s a maze to try out.
The grounds stretch alongside the Thames to the extent that there’s a separate car park for those exploring the woodland and riverside walks at the south end of the site. These include accessible walks if you’ve got a pram.
There are plenty of facilities, too, with refreshments by the car park, play area and a restaurant by the house.
Tucked away just beyond High Wycombe, Hughenden is the magnificent former home of Disraeli with a fascinating WWII history and some impressive grounds to boot. An adventure trail is being set up between the car park and house at the time of writing, which Tilly loved hopping across and climbing through.
The interior of the house evokes its history wonderfully while for young visitors a spotters guide to items throughout the house gets them looking all around them. There are traditional games and dressing up clothes upstairs plus a child friendly binocular stand for taking in the impressive view.
Although there’s not a play area, the main site is compact with a cafe, shop and kitchen garden all close to the house. There are plenty of woods to be explored, too, with several set trails but themed trails for families during holiday times.
Getting out and about
Although I’ve taken Tilly to plenty of activities over the winter months there’s something about getting out into nature and exploring new and fascinating places that really enthralls little ones and it’s very much felt like it’s been the best fun we’ve had this year so far. Do share your own family outdoor experiences in the comments section.