With holidays abroad off the cards for many this summer the National Trust is encouraging everyone to get back to basics and enjoy a summer filled with simple, sensory pleasures.
The unmistakable smell of freshly cut grass, the reassuring sight of blue and sunny skies, the first glimpse of the sea, the tickle of grass between your toes, nothing comes close to summer at home. And it’s finally here. National Trust gardens and parkland are popping with colour, woodlands are alive with chirping birds, meadows are swaying in the breeze, lakes are glistening, and brooks are babbling.
What’s more, over 100 National Trust places will be encouraging everyone to experience these simple, sensory pleasures with their summer activity programme ‘Get Set Go’. Thanks to funding from Sport England, visitors will be able to have a go at over 20 different activities; such as ‘go barefoot’, ‘make a splash’, ‘work together’– to stretch those lockdown legs – to explore and get outdoors together – and to connect with nature.
A range of downloadable activities will also be available online, for everyone to enjoy – with simple ideas for making the most of summer in the garden, the local park or even (whisper it) for rainy days spent indoors.
Here’s the National Trust’s pick of the best places to enjoy this summer:
There’s always something to spark the imagination of your little explorers at Blickling. This summer cycle hire is open daily, from balance to e-bikes, they’re the perfect way to explore some hidden parts of the estate while keeping active. Kick back in one of the garden deckchairs and treat yourself to a Blickling rhubarb-ripple ice-cream while the rest of the family try their hands at summer garden-games, supported by Sport England. Get ready to free your inner Robin Hood at archery sessions on selected days throughout the summer, before picnicking under the dappled shade of Blickling’s magnificent veteran trees.
Felbrigg has so much to offer families this summer. Explore inside the Hall and imagine what it might have been like to have lived or worked there. Visit the walled garden to see fruits and vegetables growing – and don’t forget to look out for our hens! Try your hand at den building in the Great Wood and see if you can spot dragonflies around the lake. If you’re looking for a new activity to try, we’re offering guided archery sessions on selected dates throughout the summer holiday. ‘Arrows’ is a short form of archery designed to introduce children to the sport, as recommended by GB Archery. Instruction will be proved as you aim to hit the target. Keep an eye on our website for the latest information.
You can become an explorer any day of the week, as you take a walk around the estate at Oxburgh. Find signs of wildlife and hunt for bugs, challenge a friend to a game of pooh sticks, create some wild art or build a den in the woodland. Relive your school days in our Sports Day area or try your hand at outdoor games on the lawns, overlooking the moat. Whether you’re looking for your latest adventure, or a lazy day relaxing and enjoying a picnic by the moat, Oxburgh has plenty to help you make the most of summer with your family.
There’s plenty of space at Sheringham Park for those needing to burn off some energy. Why not become a nature detective? You can collect natural materials, use a spotter’s guide to identify wildlife or immerse yourself in the colours, noises and textures of the world around you. Can you find our new Bug Hotel? Heartbreak Productions are also back for a heart-warming outdoor performance of David Walliams’ best-seller Mr Stink on the outdoor stage. Pack a picnic, grab a chair, and enjoy some good old family entertainment. Check the website for full details and prices.
Dunwich Heath on the Suffolk coast is the perfect spot for exploring with the family. Discover wildlife with our nature trails, try building a shelter, or search for minibeasts in the ‘bug basement’ on the heath. Then as you head towards the beach, there’s plenty of space to fly a kite in the breeze or dip your toes in the sea and enjoy a paddle. Activities will also be running on selected days from pond dipping to beachcombing, alongside a great calendar of events for all ages and interests, just check the website for details.
Whether you’re on foot or two wheels, let the kids run off some steam and take advantage of the multi-use trail at Ickworth. Or, get set for some action-packed adventure with Sport England’s ‘Get Set, Go!’ activities this summer. Families will get the chance to take part in games across the estate, exploring the nature and wildlife around them. Just head to the Shepherds Hut by the play area on arrival. And when the sun begins to set, outdoor theatre returns with the beautiful backdrop of the iconic Rotunda. From the romantic musings of Jane Austen to the family drama of William Shakespeare, all you need to bring is a picnic for alfresco entertainment at its finest. Check the website for full details and prices.
If you step inside Melford Hall this summer, your little ones can help in the search of bothersome beasties with the new ‘Bad Bugs Trail’. Here you’ll be on the hunt for the pesky pests that make their way into books, carpets and furniture, causing damage along the way. Outside in the walled garden, spot the different pollinators including bees and butterflies with the new ‘Pollinator Trail’. There are also 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ activities to experience and Beatrix Potter stories to uncover. Why not bring your picnic blanket and relax on the lawn, whilst you watch the kids play?
This summer, head into the woodland on River View walk and discover a new sculpture trail at Sutton Hoo. Anglo-Saxon designs, many of them inspired by the beasts depicted on objects discovered at Sutton Hoo, have been made by a local group of wood carving artists, using hand tools and chainsaws. Choose whether you simply stroll through the woods and admire the carvings or download a special family trail from the website, with challenges to complete along the way. There’s also a picnic spot en route, where you can stop to enjoy views across the River Deben towards Woodbridge. There are lots more family friendly walks to choose from too, where you’ll be able to walk in the footsteps of the Anglo-Saxons and take in the unique atmosphere of the Royal Burial Ground.
Anglesey Abbey is full of adventures waiting to happen, whether you want to build a den in the woods or just lay back and watch the clouds pass by. Come and explore the gardens, see if you can become a nature detective, meet the animals that live on the estate and solve the mystery of the missing wildflowers. Hoe Fen Wildlife Discovery Area is also home to birds, insects and butterflies, why not go on a scavenger hunt and see what else you can discover?
Wicken Fen is the National Trust’s oldest nature reserve, and England’s most famous fen. A wealth of wildlife lives in this important wetland with more than 230 species of bird, 30 types of mammal, 1,100 sorts of moth, 250 families of spiders and 400 kinds of fungi. Explore the heart on the fen on foot via the raised boardwalk and lush grass droves or, book a bike in advance and cycle across the reserve on the National Cycle Network Route 11, which offers plenty of options for short and longer adventures. Pre-bookable cruises along the peaceful waterways of Wicken Fen are also available on the ‘Mayfly’ electric boat. Summer activities for families include using the fen landscape as a ‘natural gym’. Families can boost their mood and their energy levels with a Sport England funded work-out that involves exploring the wonders of the fens, while getting stuck in with games and activities.
Whether your children are fascinated by impressive architecture, want to get up close to animals on a working farm or just need to burn off steam in the great outdoors, families can have a lot of fun together at Wimpole, whatever the weather. Down at Home Farm, which is one of the UK’s largest rare breed centres, you’ll be able to meet Shire horses, as well as sheep, pigs, goats and more. Head out into the parkland to learn all about biodiversity and how you can help nature to thrive, or pick up a summer spotters guide and see how many of birds, insects and flowers that call Wimpole home you can spot in the gardens. The 5.5 mile multi-use trail, supported by Sport England is also worth exploring if you haven’t ventured beyond the pleasure grounds before. Why not bring your bikes and explore the parkland on two wheels?