14 wild and wonderful garden days out to explore this summer

23rd Jul 19 | Lifestyle

From bushcraft to Beano tours, there’s lots going on across the UK to keep littles one and adults entertained. By Hannah Stephenson.

Looking for some fabulous family days out in the open air to enjoy during the summer holidays? Here’s our pick of the crop of family-friendly gardens to visit…

1. Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall (heligan.com)

Join in Heligan's Summer Buzz campaign (www.Heligan.com/PA)
Join in Heligan’s Summer Buzz campaign (Heligan.com/PA)

Heligan’s Summer Buzz campaign celebrates pollinators and insects and how essential they are to day-to-day food and farming. Visitors are supplied with a special Summer Buzz booklet enabling them to connect with their senses and explore the Heligan Estate as they learn about nature and insects. Activities, including talks by wildlife experts, include a giant plant and flowers pollination game, wristband-making and Heligan’s first silent disco.

2. Mottisfont, Hampshire (nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont)

Beano fans are in for a treat at Mottisfont (Beano Studios/PA)
Beano fans are in for a treat at Mottisfont (Beano Studios/PA)

Become a Beano Time Traveller with this novel exhibition and outdoor trail, which will guide you through the famous comic’s history of mischief. You’ll find rooms dedicated to favourites Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, the Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx, while the kids can enjoy craft activities and an outdoor trail devised by the comic’s designers. Running until Sep 8.

3. Melford Hall, Suffolk (nationaltrust.org.uk/melford-hall)

Jemima Puddle-Duck's nest at Melford Hall (National Trust Images/PA)
Jemima Puddle-Duck’s nest at Melford Hall (National Trust Images/PA)

What child could resist the gorgeous bunnies created by Beatrix Potter? If you’re quick, you could treat them to Beatrix Potter Day on Jul 31, where youngsters can make character crafts, follow a garden trail and admire an original model of Jemima Puddle-Duck. Later on in the summer there will be Beatrix Potter story readings to keep little ones amused. Potter was a cousin of Lady Hyde Parker and visited her several times at Melford Hall.

4. Ardkinglas Woodland Garden & Gruffalo Trail, Ardkinglas Estate, Cairndow, Argyll (ardkinglas.com)

This garden is not only notable for its trees – it features the ‘Mightiest Conifer in Europe’ – it’s also got plenty for little ones to enjoy, including a Gruffalo trail inspired by the bestselling book by Julia Donaldson. It’s a short trail which leads to a majestic Gruffalo figure made out of galvanised steel.

5. Berrington Hall, Herefordshire (nationaltrust.org.uk/berrington-hall)

Visitors take to the water on Berrington Pool (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)
Visitors take to the water on Berrington Pool (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)

If messing about in a boat is more your kids’ bag, you may want to take them on Berrington’s beautiful lake (weekdays Aug 5-30) to admire the impressive scenery from the water. From there, they can see some of the hidden spaces in the watery habitat created by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

6. Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens, Yorkshire (nationaltrust.org.uk)

Join Beningbrough's two day bee event (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)
Join Beningbrough’s two-day bee event (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)

We all know bees are crucial pollinators and to celebrate these special insects, Beningbrough is holding two-day bee fest Let’s Celebrate Bees on Aug 17-18. Visitors can find out what it takes to be a bee keeper, test some products made from bees, and little ones can get involved in some buzzing art and crafts activities.

7. Lyme, Cheshire (nationaltrust.org.uk/lyme)

Ever wondered what it takes to be a National Trust ranger who tends to the wildlife and landscape of Lyme? This event has been split into three age categories: Mini rangers (under fives); junior rangers (age six to 12) and teen rangers (13+), which will let youngsters have a go at some of the key skills required. They’ll need to be prepared to get their hands mucky and explore the great outdoors. Check out selected dates in July and August on the website.

8. Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House, County Londonderry (nationaltrust.org.uk)

Let's go fly a kite (Chris Lacey/National Trust Images/PA)
Let’s go fly a kite (Chris Lacey/National Trust Images/PA)

The annual kite festival returns to this rugged headland for a week from Jul 29-Aug 4, offering fun for all the family as a kaleidoscope of kites of all shapes and sizes take to the skies over this stunning coastal estate. Award-winning kite displays, quad pod rides and a speciality food and drink market mean this is an event not to be missed. And if you miss the kite-flying, learn about life in the rural 17th century cottage of Hezlett House or take a bracing walk along the clifftop.

9. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, London (kew.org)

Children will have a blast exploring the new Children's Garden at Kew (Jeff Eden/RBG Kew/PA)
Children will have a blast exploring the new Children’s Garden at Kew (Jeff Eden/RBG Kew/PA)

The newly opened Children’s Garden at this world-famous venue is well worth a visit this summer. It’s the size of nearly 40 tennis courts and designed around the elements that plants need to grow: Earth, air, sun and water.

Highlights include a 4m-high canopy walk wrapped around a beautiful 200-year-old oak tree, worm tunnel-inspired slides in the Earth Garden, trampolines in the Air Garden, and the chance to create your own river flow in the Water Garden.

10. Trerice, Cornwall (nationaltrust.org.uk/trerice)

Join in some archery fun (Chris Lacey/National Trust Images/PA)
Join in some archery fun (Chris Lacey/National Trust Images/PA)

If you want to discover your inner Robin Hood, a summer of sport and archery awaits up to Sep 3 at this elegant Cornish Elizabethan manor. Trerice’s volunteers will be on hand to give you tips on how to hit the bullseye with a bow and arrow. Those who want a more sedate experience can explore the beautiful garden and admire the views or venture into the manor house.

11. Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire (nationaltrust.org.uk)

Pond-dipping at Wicken Fen (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)
Pond-dipping at Wicken Fen (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)

Who doesn’t enjoy a spot of pond-dipping with the kids? This wildlife haven is a perfect spot for it, where the family can wander along the boardwalk to look out for wildlife. There will be pond-dipping sessions on selected dates throughout summer, where you can find out more about the creatures that inhabit the water.

12. Wray Castle, Cumbria (nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle)

Go sailing at Wray (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)
Go sailing at Wray (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)

After you’ve explored the turrets, towers and grounds of this Gothic revival castle, you may want to take to the water. Guided sailing is available across Windermere from this picturesque viewpoint in Cumbria, for both young and old. If your children are older (aged seven to 16), they’ll be able to go without you, although they will still be led by a guide. On selected days up to Aug 30.

13. Erddig, Wrexham (nationaltrust.org.uk/erddig)

Make friends with the horses on the Erddig equine walks (Paul Harris/National Trust Images/PA)
Make friends with the horses on the Erddig equine walks (Paul Harris/National Trust Images/PA)

This 1,200-acre estate not only boasts a fully restored 18th-century garden, it’s also home to a selection of four-legged friends, including donkeys and majestic shire horses. And on selected days through July and August, they’ll accompany you on a walk. Booking essential.

14. Ickworth, Suffolk (nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth)

Learn bushcraft skills (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)
Learn bushcraft skills (John Millar/National Trust Images/PA)

Fancy learning some bushcraft? On Aug 14 and 28, there’s a bushcraft for beginners workshop at Ickworth. Spend a fun-packed morning with bushcraft experts to pick up the basics of woodland survival, from den-building to fire-lighting, orienteering and tracking animals. Perfect for older children who want to get a more in-depth look at surviving in the wild. Booking essential.

© Press Association 2019

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