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NOW CLOSED Did you visit a National Trust place on their free weekend? Add your review, or tell NT what you think about their places in general to be in with a chance of winning £100 of NT vouchers

(198 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Apr-12 17:07:37

The National Trust have asked us to tell you about their free weekend, happening this weekend at selected properties (21st and 22nd Apr) and find out what you think about visiting National Trust houses and gardens in general. Here's what they say about the free weekend: "Our free weekend gives you the opportunity to explore over 200 houses, castles and gardens for free, as well as all the countryside spaces we care for. What better excuse to visit your local place?"

Download your voucher here to take part in the free weekend.

Whether or not you can go to the free weekend, The National Trust would like to know what you think about family days out - here are a few questions to start you off but please add any other comments you have. Everyone who adds their comments will be entered into a prize draw to win £100 of National Trust vouchers.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?

If you're planning to go along to a National Trust house or garden as part of the free weekend on 21st and 22nd April, you can also be entered into the prize draw if you add your feedback on the free weekend to this thread (once you've been of course!). Let us know which National Trust place house or garden your family visited, and your general opinions on the day - highlights, any lowlights(!) etc.

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!
MNHQ

Kveta Tue 17-Apr-12 17:55:45

this looks really tempting if the weather is ok - but I can't find Essex on the list, or Hatfield Forest, which I'd like to visit - do you know if it's exempt from the free weekend?

frankie4 Tue 17-Apr-12 17:57:31

Don't think I have visited a national trust property. I have been to some stately homes such as waddeston manor, but I don't think that is a national trust property, and also Hampton court. Lots of these type of attractions are quite expensive so I would probably only visit on a nice day in the summer where you can properly explore all the gardens. Some of these types of attractions have a cheaper price when you just use the gardens, as my dc's can sometimes get a bit bored inside stately homes. If the gardens have a maze or play area I would be more likely to visit. I have also been to the ashridge estate which is lovely, and it is free to visit.

Mama1980 Tue 17-Apr-12 18:18:17

I have a dd14 and ds4 we are members of the national trust and have been to more properties than I can count. They both really enjoy visiting the houses more than the gardens, I am a archaeologist so they are very into history grin we particularly enjoy the events some properties have eg the easter egg hunt which we attended last week. This weekend we won't be going as we have membership anyway and other plans. One improvement I might suggest is that my dd would often like something aimed more at her age group, it is often assumed (her words) that she isn't interested so the guidebooks etc aren't really for her. But she would like more information, likewise she sometimes finds the usually excellent guides somewhat patronising.

CalicoCathy Tue 17-Apr-12 18:24:44

We used to live near a NT property, so we joined for a year and went a lot.
It was nice when DD was just learning to toddle to have a safe place for her to walk with nice things to look at (the ducks and swans on the lake were a favourite). It had a kitchen garden too, which was interesting to look at, and the cafe was nice. And actually the house was nice to walk round too, and the staff were usually welcoming.
Because we had joined the NT we went to lots of properties that year (mainly stately homes, one working farm - Wimpole Hall), but we wouldn't have gone otherwise because they are expensive.

However the thing that really, really puts me off in the summer months is all the wasps everywhere. I think the NT have a policy about not disposing of wasps nests, but it really makes trying to have a picnic or even eat at the cafes usually a totally miserable experience.

Anyway, in general on days out, I like nice things to look at, places for the children to run around, or go for a walk, nice place to eat or have a picnic. And in my experience NT often make you picnic only in the car park, which I don't like (in addition to wasp problem mentioned above)

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Apr-12 18:36:06

kveta - looks like it's free anyway hatfield forest - you just pay to park and for the cakes in the cafe

FairyPenguin Tue 17-Apr-12 19:16:09

We have NT membership and quite a few gardens local to us. My children (5 and 2) love being able to wander around, seeing the wildlife, trying to read the information signs, feeding ducks, jumping in puddles, spotting the big trees, playing hide and seek. Some properties have wooden or natural play areas which are a big hit. They also love the nature trails, especially the ones with pictures to spot the plants as even my 2 year old can join in and tick things off. There was an excellent quiz inside the house at Clandon Park which my 5 year old could read and do by herself. Top marks!

I would like the guidebook/website/iPad app to have information on whether there are play areas at each location, whether there are indoor activities/place to shelter in case of bad weather, whether picnicking is allowed within the gardens or just in the car pack. I know this is tricky to do, but there have been a couple of times that we have turned up somewhere and it is a lot smaller than expected, and not enough to entertain the children - we then are disappointed as we've made quite a car journey to get there. Would it be possible to state whether a place is more house-focused or gardens-focused please?

One thing we have found with quite a few of the restaurants/tearooms is that the service is often very slow and hugely inefficient. This is at numerous locations so I am not basing this on just a couple of experiences. This is even more frustrating sometimes when you can see that there are plenty of staff there, just not working effectively as the system they have employed for taking food orders/ serving food / making hot drinks is inefficient. Saying that, the food is more often than not delicious!

We have recently upgraded to family membership now we have a 5 year old, and it is well worth it for us, having 3 gardens within 20 mins drive to us!

Lilyloo Tue 17-Apr-12 19:16:40

Looks good think we may try this if the weather is nice, a couple of places we would like to visit. Shame they only see a family as 4 people though!

FairyPenguin Tue 17-Apr-12 19:18:57

Oh, and quite a few places have woodland walks near us. It would be really helpful to know whether the walks are pushchair-friendly, and to be able to view the walks online. We haven't tried one yet as we need the pushchair and also don't know what the terrain is (to assess with the weather and mud!), or how long the routes are.

Firawla Tue 17-Apr-12 19:20:23

I don't think we have been to any national trust places, i have heard it mentioned on here a lot but not really sure whether or not my dc would like it, or if they are too young - oldest is 3. they would like gardens but inside houses i am not sure, also worried if it contains breakable items then wont be good for toddlers? but if it is more like play area, maze etc which someone mentioned up the thread, then may be interested.
we have just got a car in the last couple of weeks so we are starting to look what days out we can do that are a bit further out, before that we used to go either only local or what can be easily reached on the tube, nothing really out of london
Not sure what we are doing on the weekend so possibly might go will have a look and see if any of the places look good for little ones

HJMP Tue 17-Apr-12 19:27:33

We've been to quite a lot & members since dd1/2 were little. We use the book when on holiday to look for any nearby and because we are members we are more likely to visit smaller/more random properties than if we had to pay.

ShatnersBassoon Tue 17-Apr-12 19:30:57

We have a family NT membership, which was given as a gift. We have been to perhaps a dozen properties since we've been members, but we definitely wouldn't have visited them had we not been given the membership.

With the exception of one property we've visited (The Museum of Childhood at Sudbury) they've been boring days out for our children. The only part they like is running around the grounds and they can do that for free all over the place.

We're not a very outdoorsy family, but the kids are definitely more outdoorsy children than 'Indoorsy, keep your hands in your pockets, don't sigh so loudly and don't laugh at the pictures of naked people. No, not even the mini willies on the cherubs' children.

I have an average interest in history and all the things the NT promotes and maintains, but I'm reaching saturation point now. I think the only thing that would encourage us to visit NT properties once our membership has run out would be for our children to develop an interest in history/art/antiques/architecture. It's not likely to happen, and I'm quite looking forward to a break from feeling obliged to get our relative's money's worth from the membership by visiting attractions I have only a passing interest in.

This is not a criticism of anything the NT does. I realise they do great things. We're just not a very culturable bunch I fear. Give my children a whacking stick and some long grass and they're set for a great couple of hours. Present them with a National Trust quiz sheet at the entrance to a stately home ("Is this the one I did last week?") and they're looking for the cafe before we've got the sheet on the clipboard.

Indith Tue 17-Apr-12 19:33:45

Cool! We'll probably go to Gibside this weekend then. I'vr often thought about joining, I'm just not sure if we would use membership enough. Then of course we don't go places because they cost money! Rock, Hard place.

In general we like places that are free or cheap, we love running around outdoors and of course the dcs love parks. We live near Beamish open air museum so we have a pass for there and I have a pass for the botanic gardens as that is cheap and always good fun to explore and see what flowers have changed.

Not sure what the best place is, children would probably say the local park! Over the holidays we went to Seven Stories which was great. The children loved reading books, listening to stories, finding the gruffalo, dressing up, drawing in cave baby's cave, sitting in the squash and a squeeze house and doing crafts smile

RugbyWidow7 Tue 17-Apr-12 19:41:43

We'd love to go this weekend, so hope to find time. I am keen to get National Trust membership for us over the next few years.

Our son is only a baby so not up to many activities yet, but we are introducing him to animals and he loves walks, so days out are becoming more fun for us as a family!

Fillybuster Tue 17-Apr-12 19:48:17

We'll definitely go somewhere, probably Wimpole Hall (cos it's brilliant!) if the weather is good.

We were members of the NT for 5 years, but only used our membership on about 4 occasions in total, so reluctantly (as we liked the idea of supporting the institution) we cancelled our membership over a year ago, as it was costing far far too much for something we just didn't use. I think there was one 12-month period when the only thing we used was a NT car park, once, for 30 mins....

Overall, we love 'outdoorsy' family days out, and in theory NT membership should be really useful for us. In practise, we have 3 dcs under 6, and found most of the sites we visited were not terribly buggy friendly (outside) or child-friendly inside. Although a number of the cafes and menus have been redesigned over the last few years, and look really smart, the prices were utterly shocking (around £8-10 for a queue-up to be served-style main course, plus extra for veg, and no childrens portions). As there were no covered/indoor areas to eat food we took with us, we also felt limited to mid-summer for picnic-style excursions.

Finally, there was a real shortage of child-friendly washing facilities, changing rooms etc. Almost all of the sites we went too had combined the changing facilities with the disabled toilets, and they were insufficiently cleaned, which meant that I would emerge, frazzled, from the changing unit, to a queue of tut-tutting people in wheelchairs....hmm

Whilst the introduction of children's activities, searches etc at some sites has been great (we loved the 'how many of x can you find' list at Greenaway, in Devon), overall the sites would need to be a lot more family/young child friendly for us to renew our membership in the very near future. But I do think we will join again when our dcs are older - there is an amazing array of NT sites, with so much to offer, and both dh and I would love to be able to spend more time exploring them (with our teenage children grumbling along behind us....!)

Ingles2 Tue 17-Apr-12 19:53:50

We have NT membership as there are numerous places to visit near us in Kent.
We use it for all sorts of days out. I tend to go to Bodiam Castle to walk the dog, we go to Sissinghurst for special events and Small Hythe is just around the corner for a cup of tea. We won 't go to a NT property this weekend as we did an Easter Egg trail at Small Hythe Easter weekend.
I totally agree with the poster who said you need to look at information and activities for older children. My sons are now 11 and 12 and have just about outgrown "have a go archery" and dragon story telling yet need more to capture their interest than some of the very staid information you find at NT properties.

ouryve Tue 17-Apr-12 19:54:26

I can't say we've been to any NT places with the kids. We do love outdoorsy places, but all the closest boy friendly NT properties aren't that close and are a bit pricey. In contrast, we can go to a local country park or two for free, a local botanic garden for a few quid or a local bird sanctuary for the price of parking and a lot less fuel used to get there.

Ragwort Tue 17-Apr-12 20:09:08

We have life membership of the NT (a very generous gift) and tend to use it quite a lot although there aren't that many places near us at the moment - we move around a lot grin. I love them and enjoy visiting the grounds and houses but sometimes the aggressive fund raising has been a bit off-putting, ie: trying to sell you endless raffle tickets and actually tut-tutting when you say (truthfully) that you have already purchased some from their direct mailing - having said that it has not been too obvious recently. Some of their catering staff need training in customer relations (and speed !).

My DS was also told off once for climbing trees, a bit ironic when this week there was an article in the DT stating how the NT is encouraging children to enjoy the outdoors and be more adventurous !!!

CherylCoalbunker Tue 17-Apr-12 20:28:01

We were NT members for several years until dd decided that we had been to so many that they all blurred into one and she'd had enough grin .

We often used an NT property as a stop-off on a long car journey - nice place to stretch our legs, have a very naice home-cooked meal and use the loos Nice to try traditional recipes sometimes.

We loved the history themed days with actors dressed up in character doing little set pieces and the chance to join in dancing and play garden games. We've seen some great children's entertainers over the years and two excellent theatre productions outside. The best moments for me have been the guided tours where the person has really brought the house to life with tales of the families who've lived there.

I like the fact that the NT resist theme-parking their properties to make them more popular like Warwick Castle

Now dd is older she likes things like Go Ape. Would there be some mileage in the NT providing similar tree-top courses - tastefully blending into the landscape of course? Would love to be able to take a row boat out on some of the NT lakes. Hampton court had a FAB Tudor cookery open day - how about a day-long cookery experience in one of the kitchens? Or an hour or two shadowing a butler or groom seeing how they did the job?

Now dd is 14 we need more adrenaline-focussed hands-on activities to do when we go out.

Jux Tue 17-Apr-12 20:28:42

Are the "places near to ..." when you do the search included in the offer?

gazzalw Tue 17-Apr-12 20:30:47

We have a lovely NT property (and it's free!) not so far away...Morden Hall Park. It's a lovely oasis of calm, Nature and wide open spaces in which we can all let off some steam. A new eco-sustainable centre has been opened up in what used to be the stables block - all very worthy and fun for adults and children a like. A lovely NT teashop provides teas/coffee and scrummy home-made cakes for nibbles when the fresh air gives us the munchies! Also, a lovely garden centre (and a fab Aquarium selling fish) within the grounds, so a very peaceful and happy place to spend a day come rain or shine! They also do fab Nature-driven family focused activities on the Thursdays of school holidays.

It's one of our favourite places to go when we haven't made plans to do anything in particular.

DW and the children, together with grandparents etc... spent a fab day on Brownsea Island last summer. It was all very Famous Five, from the getting across on smallish boat to the exploration of the island which felt a bit like the land that time forgot - as they were tramping through the bracken, admiring all the flora and fauna, DW commented that she wouldn't have been surprised to see a dinosaur or two roaming across the landscape!

We are considering joining the NT but as we are not particularly in an area with a high density of NT properties and are a carless household we are not entirely convinced we would get good value for money...on the other hand, if we took the plunge we might just find that we actually ventured further afield and did get our money's worth!

Just love the whole ethos of the NT really - DW had a friend who worked at HQ in the 1990s - they used to have afternoon tea and cakes for the staff on a Friday afternoon - so quaint and yet so caring at the same time!

Not sure if we will take advantage of this weekend's freebie although DW had already got it on her radar - she never misses a trick ;-0

littleducks Tue 17-Apr-12 20:56:02

Have emailed dh the link and hope to twist his arm into going this weekend.
Thought I would post now incase anyone was thinking of visiting any of the places I have been to. There are several places in Devon that I loved as a child and returned to visit as an adult in the last few years, Castle Drogo, Lydford Gorge and Tintagel Old Post (i know thats Cornwall) being my favourites. If you go to any of those order the Homity Pie.

We used to live near Cliveden, I have never been inside the house, but used to take the children for walks there. It was great in autumn time, much fun was had rolling around in leaves. They built a new playpark, not a trafitional swing and climbing frames thing, but carved animals and twig tipee things. The kids really enjoyed that. The restaurant prices were extortinate though, I wish I could afford a coffee and a cake. The kids menu was total junk food too, which was disapointing, not the locally sourced homemade food I would expect. They do offer half portions of adult mains, but the only veggie option was a pre-sliced pie and so that wasn't possible. So a great place to go but take a packed lunch and a thermos of tea wink

northender Tue 17-Apr-12 21:14:50

We have NT membership and do visit properties quite often. We are an outdoorsy family I would say and so make the most of gardens and grounds. We don't go into the houses very often but a recent good experience was a place near Wolverhampton where the dc were encouraged to touch things and play with Victorian toys etc. The worst experience was (can't remember where) a property where the children were frowned at at every turn and not allowed to touch anything. As an overall experience (property and gardens/grounds) the Wolverhampton place (Wightwick Hall) was probably the best recent visit.

LineRunner Tue 17-Apr-12 21:24:59

I love Hadrian's Wall. Around Housesteads Fort there are also some great pubs!

I've always been amazed at this central section of the Wall built on the crags. Walk it if you can.

It is very accessible for families btw.

CMOTDibbler Tue 17-Apr-12 21:33:15

I think, to my shame, we have only been to a couple of NT properties with ds(5). Generally though, thats as theres lots of great places round here to run madly about for free, and if we are to go somewhere inside, he prefers plenty of hands on experience, rather than frantic 'don't touch' experiences.
We did very much enjoy the NT carriage collection - lots to try doing, but it did have random games not linked to any actual information, or things with a lack of information available

mrspnut Tue 17-Apr-12 21:33:29

If anyone is within travelling distance of Grantham then could I recommend Belton House. It has the most fantastic adventure playground that children up to mid teenage can use. The house is mildly interesting and the grounds are quite nice for a wander but the playground is well worth the trip.

We have membership and sometimes just visit for a few hours in the afternoon when the crowds are going home.

newlark Tue 17-Apr-12 21:34:16

We bought NT life membership with money from various wedding gifts from family members and it has been brilliant. We have lots of places within 45 mins drive of us in Kent and a few within 10-20 mins. It is a fairly regular activity at the weekends - a short walk with the children (3 and 5) round the gardens - a bit of colouring or part of a trail if there is one. Cup of tea and a piece of cake in the cafe smile. We usually holiday in the UK and plan to be in a part of the country with a few NT properties and maybe pass some on the way there or back - last year we went to Northumbria and visited Souter lighthouse (probably one of the best NT places we have ever been with the children), Lindisfarne Castle, Cragside (which had lots of interesting gadgets in the house, a great adventure playground and lovely walks including a woodland labyrinth), Wallington (another good adventure playground).

Being members means we don't have to worry if the kids get bored quickly - we can just leave and don't feel we have to get our moneys worth - I think the individual entry prices would seem too expensive for us.

The properties we've enjoyed most as a whole family are those with something specific for the kids - mine are at the age where a trail with things to spot and tick off is good - an adventure playground is a big attraction for us as the children can let off steam a bit after being shepherded quickly round the house smile

ScorpionQueen Tue 17-Apr-12 21:37:30

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

We love to go out walking and recently got a dog. As we are becoming more 'outdoorsy' I am considering NT membership. I keep meaning to find a good deal.
Our best day out recently was a trip on the train to Dawlish Warren.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

I haven't visited any NT houses but this will change with the free weekend. If DH and the kids enjoy it I'll join.

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?

The children are old enough to appreciate them more now, and hopefully they won't spend the day moaning and bored. The gardens are more of a draw than the houses. Are NT places dog-friendly?

We have visited a couple of properties when friends wanted to go. We have no interest in the inside of houses so to us they were essentially well kept parks with good loos. On balance the entry price is not worth it for us when we have so many good outdoor spaces near us anyway.

The thing that probably tips the balance against joining is the fact that, while you expect the food to be expensive, you also expect it to be served in generous portions and of good quality and that has certainly not been our experience.

We like outdoor days out, but also like knowing that there is somewhere to park, toilets etc. We've been NT members since the DCs were about 3 and 5, ie out of pushchairs, we didn't find NT properties very pushchairs friendly (we were members before they were born but dropped it when they were babies).

We visit Hinton Ampner maybe 5x a season, Mottosfont Abbey once or twice, Uppark and The Vyne maybe once a year, Winkworth Arboretum once or twice (always in April for the bluebells and azaleas). Also use it on UK holidays. We hardly go in the houses, just love wandering round the grounds and looking at the gardens/views/exteriors of houses.

The DCs are 6 and 8 now, they like the treasure hunts, didn't terribly enjoy this year's Easter one at Mottisfont as it was a series of activities rather than a hunt. We haven't tried any of the grown up activities.

Things we like - being able to picnic in the grounds, as at Mottisfont, as opposed to the car park (The Vyne, Hinton Ampner). Simple activities for the children (fallen trees to walk along, climb on etc), treasure hunts, child-friendly maps and information signs.

I would hate to see the introduction of play areas as these are everywhere else and the the children would probably want to stay there and not go round the rest of the property.

MirandaWest Tue 17-Apr-12 23:01:20

I have membership of the National Trust and drag DS and DD along to places quite often. We live in York and like Nunnington Hall, loved Rivaulx Terrace recently, have been to Fountains Abbey several times, beningborough hall is good and when were on holiday it's great to find a new national trust place to visit. We like trails and quizzes especially where they change quite often.

Food is expensive but we normally take picnics wherever we go anyway. Am off to the Isle of Man in the summer and looking forward to making use of the reciprocal arrangements the national trust has there.

The prices if you're not a member do seem pretty high but being a member makes you feel ok about short visits. Although we are often in places near the end of the day grin.

Probably won't be going this weekend as lots of other people will be smile

starlingsintheslipstream Wed 18-Apr-12 00:00:33

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

We like the National Trust places, farm parks, museums, that sort of thing. Quite outdoorsy, weather permitting. We love a bit of geocaching, so that gets us out. Best day out is probably The Forbidden Corner for being totally different and unexpected and for scaring the kids silly!

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

We are members of the NT, though will probably give it a miss on the freebie weekend as it'll be too darn busy! It's been great value for us, even though there isn't a huge amount of properties locally, we use it when we are away and as stop-offs on journeys. Calke Abbey is nearby so have been there a bit. Other highlights are Belton House, Chirk Castle, Fountains Abbey, Clumber Park, Brownsea Island, Dunham Massey, Houghton Mill and Sudbury Hall.

The kids love the spotter sheets in the houses and exploring the gardens/parks. And anything with a tunnel, like the Brewhouse Tunnel at Calke.

I find the staff helpful and friendly, nice with the kids but the cafes are a nightmare. Service can be really slow so we never rely on getting anything there. If we can manage to grab coffee for me and dh and an ice cream for the kids its a bonus.

TINKERBELLE33 Wed 18-Apr-12 00:02:21

We have NT family membership and visit properties quite often. We love Fountains Abbey (went twice at Easter) and Nostell Priory as they are relatively close, have good playgrounds and plenty of space to run around in. We also love Clumber Park and Cragside though this is a long drive for us. We do like to be outdoors mostly, though do enjoy visiting houses, but can't really do them justice as kids are very young and get bored. I have always found NT staff to be very friendly and helpful, especially towards the kids.

We enjoy taking part in the children's activities, most recently the egg hunts and coloured glasses art project. At fountains Abbey art activities are indoors which are great when the weather turns.

One improvement would definitely be to improve picnic facilities. Having a picnic on the grass is fine when the weather is good, but not much fun if not so nice. Last week I had to eat in the car with 3 kids as the heavens opened and there was nowhere to shelter. We did have fun walking in the rain after (and the lovely NT volunteer apologised for the weather and listened to DD trapping on for 15 mins about her first sleepover!)

DisBoCo Wed 18-Apr-12 07:34:46

We are members (so would avoid this weekend in case it's too busy!). Our main gripe is the few places we can take our dog. Lots of places say "dogs on leads in car park only" - fat lot of use that is! For an 'outdoorsy' sort of organisation they aren't really very dog-friendly. The other thing is some sort of playground, even a small one does help the day along with DC's. Some places have brilliant ones but many have nothing. Can't really comment on the service because we always take our own food.

golemmings Wed 18-Apr-12 08:13:11

We bought nt membership when on holiday in the sw a few years ago. For a while we barely made enough visits to justify the expense. A loyalty card type thing would have been ideal in those days - either visit 9 properties and get a 10th for free or a pay £40 and get to visit 10 properties kind if deal which is a perfect introduction to membership and runs over a couple of years. Great for people holidaying in the UK.

We have always been outdoorsy but with 2 small children have reduced our activities (less climbing and kayaking) and look for slightly tamer environments. Our nearest nt place is Attingham and it is our daughter's favourite place to go. We walk round the deer park, play in the play area (looking forward to the new one!) And have something to eat. Perfect for the toddler. Perfect for the baby.

One thing I do mean to do is go with the family and leave them to go to the swings whilst I enjoy a traffic-free, child-free run in attractive surroundings. I will do it one of these days...

We probably ought to explore other places near us but quite frankly dd asks to go to attingham so often we are there most weeks and never seem to get any further...

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

We like a mix of both. Over the Easter holidays we discovered a couple of NT places which were within an hour's drive but I'd somehow missed them

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

We are NT members and have visited lots of them, nearly all the ones in the Midlands and most of those along the M5 corridor to the South West. DD is only two so she just enjoys coming along and meeting people. She usually charms the volunteers in the rooms. She does like the boxes where there are things for her to play with. Also the nursery at Wightwick Manor where she could play with some toys. The tea rooms are always our first port of call, though I agree with the above comments that sometimes the service is a bit slow and inefficient. Maybe there is a venue where this doesn't happen who could share best practice throughout the Trust? I know it's a bit difficult given the huge variation in facilities but I think there are improvements that could be made. We usually love the food, it always tastes homemade and made with 'proper' ingredients. Afternoon cream tea is my bit favourite but please stop making scones with raisins or offer a choice of plain

We love the Christmas events, had great fun doing the Easter Egg trail too. Personally I'd love more costume/lifestyle exhibitions and maybe a bit about architecture too.

We have always found the NT to be incredibly family friendly and really rate your volunteers. We've had special lifts in golf buggies when I was pregnant, seats to breastfeed half way around properties, glasses of water brought over, etc. Your volunteers are amazing.

And a big thank you to the NT for doing what they do - without the NT we would have lost so much of our heritage.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

More outdoorsy - popular family days would be woods/picnic/parks; NT properties/gardens (we live near Wisley & go there a lot too); bike riding etc. Best recent visits were to Pennywell Farm in Devon (adorable animals, lots to do/good mix of fun and vaguely educational) and the letterbox trail at Buckland Abbey (NT)

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

We are NT members and have been for a few years now. We get less value for money from it now as kids are 6 & 8 and there is more pressure on weekends but go regularly to our favourite local ones (Polesdon LAcey, Claremont Gardens & Winkworth Arboretum). We also go regularly to a few in Devon near where we visit family (Buckland Abbey, Cotehele, and lots of beach/coastline) We go more in Spring/Summer/Autumn as we tend to focus on the outdoors stuff/walks - the indoors stuff is enjoyable too but we're more of a outdoors family.

We love it when the NT do trails that are a bit different - my two aren't that engaged by 'find the answer to x question' stuff, but spotting things (I think the Cothele house trail was esp good for this) and hands on stuff is always great - letterbox trail at Buckland was a HUGE hit - my two (6&8) romped round the course without pausing for breathe. We also love special days - eg Polesdon Lacey has apple days/punch and Judy/Victorian games day; or Medieval day at Buckland Abbey, or Llama walking. DS also started talking last week about the 'putting the house to bed' talk we went to at Clandon (about 3 years ago!) - still remembered the name of the specific clothes moth you were trapping...

wigglesrock Wed 18-Apr-12 09:59:50

I'm in NI and have NT membership. It was a baby present after dc3, my Mum thought the entrance fees for days out may start to bite grin.

We love Castle Ward, was there last week. My children are still very young but love the "barn" with the ride along tractors, diggers etc out the back and also the upstairs where you can dress up as animals. The colouring in facility is also really good.

I think they would love it even more if you could see the pigs/sheep more clearly. You can't really get a good view from the path. They also love the "Secret Garden" beside the cafe etc although it is a nightmare to negotiate with a buggy!

On the cafe note, we usually bring food but would always go to the cafe for something hot especially with the weather lately grin However when I went in last week (Good Friday actually) there was very little choice and no chips and sausages I was told by a lovely girl that the NT had taken over the cafe and changed the menu. I usually go with a few other families and we would all get a hot sandwich etc and the children a few plates of chips to share. We wouldn't bother with cafe otherwise.

My daughter (6) has been to Mount Stewart a few times - she loves it and the staff.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
We like farms, other places we can see animals/fish etc, places that the kids can get 'hands on' with stuff

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
We like outdoor stuff and it's often cheaper but it's also nice to have indoor places for when it's bad weather

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
The best place we've been in Sundown Adventureland. We could easily have spend a couple of days there. Both kids loved it. We'd definitely go back. There was just so much for kids to do and yet it was very simple too - I thought there were lots of things that other places could easily incorporate in their grounds.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
No new destinations but we did go to Eureka (had been once before) and the kids loved it so we'll definitely be going back more often.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family?
I don't think we have

If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
n/a

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?
I think if we knew there was more for the kids to really get involved with. I always get the impression it's expensive and it's mainly walking around the grounds and a nice cafe. I tend to find it seems more aimed at older couples rather than families. It's the sort of thing my IL's tend to enjoy, which puts me off blush

TheRhubarb Wed 18-Apr-12 10:21:16

I generally think that visiting National Trust properties are expensive, as is the membership fee. Very often there are events on such as a hog roast or apple bobbing in the autumn but there is an additional fee for this on top of the entrance fee. I understand that the National Trust has to keep these properties looking their best, but I think they would get more members if the membership prices reflected the economical times.

We are regular visitors of Lacock Abbey as we have a free pass and we do love going there. The grounds are quite large and ideal for a picnic. There are some great trees around and the children can climb on tree stumps and do activities like counting the rings.
There is also a mini greenhouse filled with exotic plants although I would like to see more plants for sale to the public than the half dead specimens you get on the table on the way out.

Inside the Abbey is great, especially for Harry Potter fans but again, there is little information for children about what each room in the cloisters was used for. They could do more to make it interesting for kids.

Inside the furnished rooms there are guides to tell you about the history and the rooms themselves which is great. The place is vast and you can easily spend the whole day wandering around.

Then the village of Lacock itself is owned by the National Trust and really does feel like you've stepped onto a film set. There are quaint little shops, a brilliant play area for the kids and homely pubs to visit.

We have seen a few National Trust places in the past and my major criticism is that more could be done to interest children and provide more information about the things around them. Also more hands-on activities would be nice, especially in the grounds where children could find out about different kinds of trees and plants. And certainly when special activities are put on, there should not be an additional charge for this along with the entrance fee as most families just can't afford it. If you wanted to treat the kids to a day out would you really pay the entrance fee and the event fee?

I applaud the free voucher, they should strive to do more things like that to encourage families to visit these places and think about getting more people through their doors rather than raising costs. As it is, only well-to-do families and retired couples seem able to pay the rates the NT charge.

Thefoxsbrush Wed 18-Apr-12 10:46:27

What sort of places do you like going for family days out?

Places you can enjoy a picnic, plenty of places for kids to run around, parks, somewhere the kids can learn something.

Are you an outdoorsy family?

Yes, we love woodland walks and camping

What's the bests place you've visited in recent years?

Alnwick garden- we love eating in the treehouse, playing on tractors, walking around and learning about the poison garden, getting lost in the maze and getting wet in the water gardens. Also love the view of the fountains.

Did you discover new family days out over Easter?

No, we went to tried and tested children's farm, walk around woods and local fair.

If you havent visited NT houses or gardens why is this?

We have visited seaton deleval hall but it was free through local sure start. They had a family event on based on the children's book "we're going on a bear hunt" we had a lovely time and would only be likely to visit NT properties if it was for a specific family event. For example we are planning a visit to Wallington hall on May day for their family roman day. If there weren't any specific family events on I think my dc would find it boring and not worth the entrance fee- we could go somewhere more entertaining for free/ a lot less eg beach/ free museum such as discovery museum in newcastle

5inthebed Wed 18-Apr-12 10:58:44

Ooh thanks for letting us know, will go to Cragside this weeken if the weather is nice.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?

We like to go to places that have a lot of things to do outside. Having three boys, they prefer being outdoors climbing on things and running around.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?

Definitely! There is nothing better than being outside in the fresh air, walking through woodlands and exploring new areas.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?

Kielder Forest was pretty good. Lots of different areas to explore, bike hire and a trip out on the water.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

No, the weather was attrocious and DS2 (ASD) hates going out in bad weather.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

We have visited a few in the Northumberland area and some in Scotland as well. We visit Cragside at least once a year as there are a ot of activities for the kids to do and the house is interesting as well.

choccyp1g Wed 18-Apr-12 11:13:43

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? We are quite outdoorsy but do love a nice cup of tea and cake.DS however, is turning into a teenager, and wants to play on X-Box etc.*What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Bowood House, it's not national trust, but a fabulous stately home type place, with tree tops adventure trail, caves to explore etc. Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols? Yes, we went to Waddeston House, (NT), lovely grounds, plenty of things for children to do, interesting house (but not for 11yo DS)

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go? Yes, I love the grounds and walks of Stately Homes, and the Lake District etc. DS likes the mountains, House with playgrounds, trails etc., but is not interested in the houses

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go? N/a

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 18-Apr-12 11:28:32

Jux - there's a full list of participating places here

TheRhubarb Wed 18-Apr-12 11:41:39

Lacock Abbey is one of the participating places and I do recommend it as a place to visit. The village is free all the time by the way. But the Abbey is worth a look as they filmed parts of Harry Potter there, as well as in the village (his mum and dad's house is there. From the film, obviously). My two love the grounds AND the Abbey itself as they do both find history to be interesting and most of the rooms are made up as how they would have been when the Abbey was lived in. Plus they LOVE the massive cauldron in one of the cloisters.

I can also recommend The George pub, the oldest in the village and with an old fashioned dog spit inside (the dog wasn't on the spit, it would rotate it by running in a special wheel). There is a beer garden with a children's play area at the back.

Oh and ice creams from the Post Office are MUCH cheaper than the ice creams from the NT cafe (which they pinched from a local couple who used to run it). Or at the weekends on sunny days, there's an ice-cream van selling Mr Whippy. If you want proper special ice-cream the bakery does flavours like Apple Crumble and Lemon Curd along with proper homemade bread baked that morning.

Am I selling it to ya yet?

Jux Wed 18-Apr-12 12:17:28

Thank you, Helen (The Other Helen, of course, but that seemed rude on its own!).

CharlotteBronteSaurus Wed 18-Apr-12 14:57:02

we're not NT members, but could be interested if Tatton Park stopped charging a fiver for parking (even to members). unlike a lot of posters, i prefer the NT places that do offer children's activities like an adventure playground or farm animals. We have 3 national parks within 90minutes drive (2 within 60minutes) and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty even nearer, so if we just want a nice walk with good scenery we do that instead.

I would also appreciate either an improvement in the food, or shelter picnic areas for wet weather, preferably both. At Easter we were deciding whether to visit Tatton Park, or the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole. Everyone voted for Brockhole on the basis that the cafe is lovely! I don't expect the cafes to be cheap, but there is no excuse for stale sandwiches with thick layers of marge at four quid a pop.

sphil Wed 18-Apr-12 16:07:34

We are NT members and are very lucky in that we have a number of lovely places near to where we live in Somerset. We visit Stourhead, Montacute and Lytes Cary regularly - all beautiful - but have a special affection for Lytes Cary as it has a huge swing in the woods and a hanging willow chair in the gardens, both of which DS2, who has autism, absolutely loves! We often take our campervan, park, have a picnic ( some of the carparks are great picnic spots in themselves) and then have a wander around the gardens. Don't usually brave the houses unless Ds2 isn't with us - still the occasional tutting guide in a cardigan to contend with wink though we did have one who said ' Oh just let him run up and down dear - what does it matter?' and whom I very nearly kissed...

Hanleyhigh Wed 18-Apr-12 16:12:23

I think the NT is fantastic value for money for us.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?

NT places, walking, cycling.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?

Outdoor - we often go to NT land rather than properties.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?

We loved Lyme Park, the new playground is excellent.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

No, just usual haunts and less of them due to the weather. I e-mailed a local NT property the week before Easter to ask if they had a trail on and got a reply well after Easter...

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

Dcs love the trails and the increasing number of play areas (they ask to go to the ones with play areas e.g Lyme Park over Dunham Massey. We spend loads of weekends at either NT land or properties.

My children are 3 and 5 and frankly they are little horrors when surrounded by expensive furnishings. I'd be terrified to go to a stately home for fear of them jumping the velvet ropes and commando crawling over the laliques.

aftereight Wed 18-Apr-12 18:24:54

We've just completed our annual NT membership, and have renewed. Thought it was expensive but as we live close to at least 4 NT properties/locations I have looked at it as a monthly cost of <£10 to have access to the parks, car parks and play areas. We can go for an hour or two at a time rather than have to commit of a full day after paying entrance fees iyswim.
We're not really an outdoorsy family, but NT membership has encouraged us out and about, even in winter! We've also used it on holiday in Northumberland for Cragside and Lindisfarne castle.
The children love the activity sheets for spotting things; over Easter we did an Easter egg hunt. A children's guide to each property would be good, with a simple map and age appropriate history & points of interest to spot etc.

Am a little worried my children will complain when they're older that we only took them to NT places though, rather than theme parks!

Interesting that quite a few people want more play areas, none of our regular NT properties have them and we do remark that it is one thing we really appreciate, because if they did have them our kids would want to spend the entire visit in the play area. If there isn't one they just get on with enjoying the visit and walking, exploring etc.

We can go to play areas for free in the local parks, if more NT properties did have them I would be less likely to take the DCs there as we might as well just go to the park.

Hanleyhigh Wed 18-Apr-12 18:29:20

But you don't have to let them spend all the time at the play areas! We still do all the other stuff too.

Also, the new area at Lyme Park is way different to any park round here, completely different equipment and experiences.

Frontpaw Wed 18-Apr-12 18:32:14

We enjoy ones with large, rambling grounds, like Stowe Gardens. Sadly, the picnic areas in many are just a patch of grass next to the carpark with one or two picnic tables! The staff are usually lovely and friendly and we also visit the NT for Scotland. Properties and have found some real gems in Aberdeenshire.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
We love trips to the seaside (mainly on wild and windy days), places to walk the dog, visiting castles/houses, quaint towns and villages, playgrounds.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
We like both. I love wandering around places pottering. Dh and dd(8) like more high adrenaline activities.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
Knowsley Safari Park recently. Very well run and organised.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
Knowsley, Rufford Hall, Whisby Nature Reserve

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family?
Yes lots. We are members.

If so, which ones? Clandon Park, Polesdon Lacey, Knightshayes, Petworth House, Shalford Mill, Batemans, Scotney Castle, Bodiam, Coleton Fishacre, Devils Punchbowl, Witley Common, Formby beach etc etc My dd loves the children's trails, indoors and outside, special themed days, play areas, the cafe! She did pond-dipping at Coleton Fishacre and listened to the grand piano being played. She likes it when the room stewards are friendly - Surrey is probably home to the least jolly ones! We would like properties to be open in the Winter as there is little to do in Winter months...

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?

Oh yes, I agree they need to be more dog-friendly! The 'dog creche' idea is usually disappointing and unsuitable...

Mopswerver Wed 18-Apr-12 19:44:42

During the Easter Hols my kids took part in a 'Wild In The Woods' session. Three consec. days from 10am-3pm. They had a ball making (brilliant!) dens, rope swings, camp fires, soup, listening to stories, craft sessions and so on. Out running around all day long...just like my childhood really! Can't wait for the next one!

bluebump Wed 18-Apr-12 20:07:21

I'll be taking advantage again of the free weekend, I did it last time they did this.

I really love our local National Trust property (Knightshayes Court) but it is so expensive to visit. We can go on the woodland walk for free but they now even charge to have a look outside the property which is a real shame. I am in walking distance of it and would go a lot more if you could go and sit and have a picnic in the grounds at the front of the house still. They do really good food so we often go just for lunch but would go for a walk around the grounds too each time if it was cheaper.

We like to be out and about and try not to be put off by the weather and Knighshayes has a great mix of woodland, lovely gardens and inside the house (if you pay for the whole lot). I am visiting Killerton for the first time with a friend next week as that is very close to me so if my DS likes it then i'll think about a yearly pass.

EllenRose Wed 18-Apr-12 20:42:12

We took out NT membership this year having recently rescued two Labradors and I realised that there were masses of places we could take them for days out as well. We are lucky that we have Tyntesfield Estate within 15-20 mins drive and now we think of it as free we have been there lots just for walks / den building in the woods plus we did the Easter Egg hunt during the hols which the children loved. We also met up with other members of our family (and members of the NT) for picnics at sites central to us all as a change from descending at one of our houses - much less stressful smile
We intend to take our book so we squeeze in visits whilst we are on holiday camping too. I am thinking of buying membership for my mother-in-law next year so that she can come too.

I know I don't have to let them just use the play areas, but it does rather detract from the enjoyment if they are constantly trying to get you to go back to the play area or are reluctant to leave it. Which is what happens at the local country park, they are very reluctant to do any walking or explore the woods because there are play areas.

ValiumQueen Wed 18-Apr-12 20:56:49

Nothing in Scotland sad

UniS Wed 18-Apr-12 22:12:38

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
Outdoorsy, like days out with walks and finding things. Tend to go out on nearby moorland or to a beach.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
Dartmoor- close to home, letterboxing, desolation and beautiful hills.
Bude - good beaches, good ice creams, easy car parking ( at least in winter) decent loos.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
Yes- Okehampton Castle.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones?
Yes. Finch Foundry ( regular local walk , plus school trips)
Cotehele- first try of taking a 4 yr old to a historic house. not bad considering, but we were very fast round the house.

What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited?
DS likes looking out for things that are like things we use at home.

Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
For us its spring/ autumn, before or after teh tourist season when teh roads are clogged and places are busy.

I

Indoorsy or outdoorsy depends on the weather!

Been to Blickling Hall with DS1. Before DS2 was born, I think... Generally a good outing needs to involve lots of space for running around. The boys get very bored with just looking at things. Unfortunately we're unlikely to be able to get to an NT place this w/e. We went to the Natural History Museum over Easter which was good even though we didn't really get a chance to read any of the exhibits properly. DS1 got to borrow an "explorer kit" which helped him to get more involved. I think there were things like that at Blickling too, but he was a bit young for it then.

Marking place.

zipzap Thu 19-Apr-12 11:10:48

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
Ones that aren't too expensive, that will have good basics (ie clean loos, plenty of parking), nothing where the dc can run off and injure themselves badly if you take your eyes off them for a moment, or likewise where they can run off and damage something really valuable wherever we are. Places that have free worksheets that target different age groups to give them something to help structure their visit and give them a bit of a challenge as they go (rather than having to drag them around and 'just look') is good too. Oh and pushchair friendly too - if you have a child in a pushchair you don't want to have to be leaving it unattended somewhere or carrying a child(and all their accompanying gubbins) around with you.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
No a very outdoorsy family at all - although dh and dc are more outdoorsy than me who is firmly entrenched indoors. DC both love playing outside and running around, kicking a ball or throwing a ball around.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
Milton Keynes museum - very hands on, lots of different things to do for all ages, pushchair friendly, we went on a bit of an impulse without knowing what was there and were very pleasantly surprised.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
Nope - but not for the want of trying; unfortunately we were all in bed with flu sad

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones?
Only one in the past few years has been the gardens at Stowe school

What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
It's nice at all times of year - particularly autumn when all the trees are beautiful colours, summer when it's lovely to have a picnic at and run around, winter you get to see the amazing structure of the place and in spring it's all just bursting forth with new life. great for kids to run around and let off steam and have lots of different exciting things to explore on the way around.

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that?
There don't seem to be many near us and with young kids and busy lives we don't often have weekends free to take off and explore such places. Plus the cost is another factor to bear in mind - I tend to think that NT places (and others too, not singling out the NT!) will be quite expensive and so wouldn't think to do them on an ordinary weekend, would be for more of a special event. And my dc are currently at an age where they are more excited by the prospect of going to the zoo (we have a fantastic safari park just down the road) or the farm (that belongs to my sis and BIL) or to granny (fantastic cycling around her house) than off to see 'just' a house or garden.

Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?
Hopefully once the boys are bigger we'll get to go a bit more. It's also knowing what's on - rarely see any info about NT properties in our local paper. I've just checked on the NT site and there are 5 within 15 miles of where I lived - I only knew about 2 of them and even then, they are about 10 miles away and it is very rare to see anything in the local press about any upcoming special events or even just reminders they are there when holidays are coming up. And as our local papers come most weeks but not all weeks, it would be good if they advertised stuff for at least a couple of weeks beforehand so you have a chance to see stuff in enough time to actually go. If the paper comes on a friday and you finally get to pick it up on a sunday morning to flick through, nothing more frustrating that discovering you have missed something the day before, whereas if it was in the previous week's paper too, you would have made sure you went to it.

gingercat12 Thu 19-Apr-12 12:21:45

Our favourite NT property is Wallington, Northumberland. We love letting DS run around and enjoy the adventure playground. We also love the long walk around the property.
Gibside is another favourite, but car parking is a problem there.
Seaton Delaval has just recently opened, so we hav only been a few times, but we like that, too.
This year we have a NT card, but in the past we made full use of the open days.
We mainly like to go when it is dry, as we hardly ever go indoors.

MaresyDotes Thu 19-Apr-12 13:14:43

We are NT members, GP buy us family membership every year for our Christmas pressie which is fab. We aren't particularly 'outdoorsy' but do love visiting new places, and revisiting old favourites.

Best place we've visited lately was probably Bletchley Park, what a fascinating place! And plenty of room for kids to run around. We went to Lincoln Castle over the easter hols, lovely place but it was chucking it down with rain so we didn't get to see much of the outside. sad

We've been to dozens of NT houses, if we're driving any distance we like to see if there's one 'on the way' so we can break the journey, if it's a nice place we'll make a special trip to see it properly. We love Oxburgh Hall which is very local for us, we go there several times a year, especially in the summer - sometimes I pick DD up from school and go straight there for an hour for a walk round the woods (with the obligatory trip 'down the priest's hole'! grin). Peckover House is another local one that is really nice, DD likes the Cabinet of Curiosities and I love the gardens!

We keep meaning to go to one of the 'putting the house to bed' days when everything's being packed up for the winter, but haven't managed it yet.

It really irritates me that there aren't more affordable snack-type meals available, there are usually full hot dinners for around £8 but honestly, in the middle of the day, all we want is a simple sandwich. It doesn't have to be arty-farty houmous and caramelised onion, just a ham or cheese or egg sandwich would be wonderful - at a non-bank-breaking price. We usually end up with a cream tea as it's the quickest and cheapest option. The service is invariably very very slow, it seems like there is huge room for improvement there.

oooggs Thu 19-Apr-12 13:16:14

We joined the NT this month and have been to 3 properties and have nearly recouped our money already. DH and I and our dcs (8,5,5 & 3). We did this when we were small and our children have now enoying the pleasures.

So far we have done Corfe Castle & Brownsea Island in Dorset and Cotehele House in Cornwall

MaresyDotes Thu 19-Apr-12 13:16:21

Oh, forgot to mention - DD loves the childrens activity sheets that most NT properties have, but they don't change - ever! It would be nice to have several sheets that can be rotated each year so the children have something new to do when we visit again.

moonbells Thu 19-Apr-12 13:44:10

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
Trains! (Have small DS...)

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
Outdoors if the weather holds!

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
Best place? Lappa Valley in Cornwall. Toddler/preschooler heaven esp for boys. Trains, sandpits, canoes, crazy golf, adventure playgrounds...

Nothing over Easter. Weather too bad!

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

I've only visited pre-child. I was a member for a few years but the price of membership is eye-watering

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?

They should consider partial memberships. If they did a category where instead of unlimited visits, you got, say, four redeemable tokens for a year, for a third or half price, I would be tempted into going. Once you've used them all, back to paying, but you would still get free car parking and the mag.

Also I'd like more things to interest DHs who loathe anything housy or garden-related and so don't want to be dragged along too esp given the one-off costs! (Because he won't be dragged along, I can't really take DS, so none of us go.)

Finocchio Thu 19-Apr-12 15:11:36

We joined for a year and quite enjoyed it but by the end of the year we had lost enthusiasm, many of the stately homes and gardens did feel a bit sameish. And they seemed quite staid in their approach to families. Elderly volunteers standing guard reminding the children not to touch anything, when with our young children we'd have really appreciated more spaces where you could touch things (we are used to this in museums, areas where you can be hands on, as it's hard for children to engage with things cordoned off and not to be touched).

We also thought that the "family trails" were pretty unexciting - spot a hedgehog in each room, etc, rather than something which engaged the dc in the history of the house, or the objects inside it.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
Museums, outdoor activities, castles, mountain walks or cliff walks, beaches, watersports lakes. I feel we are the sort who should like NT properties but we don't.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
We like both. we like history, art, science, and outdoor pursuits.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?

St Fagan's museum was very good, all the big London Museums, Cardiff museum, National mining museum (Wakefield).

What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

We did really like St Michael's Mount. And Styal Mill. Especially Styal mill as it showed the life of the poor. I do feel that many of the stately homes seem to show the life of the rich a bit too obsequiously. I know they sometimes show the "servants' bedrooms" etc but they skate over the actual living conditions of the servants and the estate workers, or the fact that often the wealth came from slavery, etc. (I'm a bit Marxist for the NT, perhaps grin).

We do like the NT preserved coastlines.

Malachite Thu 19-Apr-12 16:13:33

- What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?

We love being outdoors but being in the Northwest we don't often have the weather! We especially like visiting castles.

- What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?

Beeston Castle

- Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

No, been stuck at home recovering from a c section

- Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

Tatton Park - toddler liked being able to run around off the reins. I like gardens but not so keen on visiting houses as I find them a bit dull and they're not great for young children. Best to go when it's not raining so summer is best.

poorbuthappy Thu 19-Apr-12 17:54:57

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
Perferably indoor and outdoor places. Tbh we will more or less go anywhere!

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
Outdoor definitely, well Spring/Summer! ALthough as above its good to find somewhere that has both in order to keep everyone happy.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
Puzzleland just outside Coleford, Folly Farm West Wales.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
See above!

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones?
We go to Tredegar House quite a lot, gardens with dog, special events in the house etc. But this is beause we are 15 mins away so its very very easy for us.
What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited?
Kids just enjoy being outside. We are take picnics, and generally force everyone to enjoy themselves!

Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
When things are open?? Seriously we don't have a certain time of year to go anywhere. We don't worry about weather (unless severe storms), dress appropriately, take good food and a thermos.

Have downloaded the vouchers and will be visiting Dyrham Park on Saturday.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Thu 19-Apr-12 18:00:12

We are NT members and I've just signed up DD and her boyfriend. We've made good use of our membership we've been to Anglesey Abbey, Wimpole Hall, Chastledon House, Sutton Hoo, Nunnington Hall, Ickworth, Hatfield Forest, Felbrigg, Dunwich, Orford Ness, Houghton Mill and Chedworth recently. We loved the untouchedness of Chastleton which we discovered at Easter, we will be going back. We are lucky enough to visit Wicken Fen every day and my kids grew up playing there, DS is now a full time falconer and that is probably partly due to him growing up watching the harriers here.

BodyOfEeyore Thu 19-Apr-12 19:23:22

We've always been put off by the price, so the voucher is perfect for us - especially on the weekend before payday! We're off to Nostell Priory, vouchers in hand, this weekend.

notcitrus Thu 19-Apr-12 19:41:44

We've been given membership for the last couple years. Haven't used it as much as planned as our nearest place, Morden Hall Park is actually free, though 10% off food is nice. We hoped to be able to go to NT places instead of service stations on long car journeys but theres none suitable along the M3/M27.

However it's worth it as gps live next to Claremont and means we can go to the enclosed uncrowded

notcitrus Thu 19-Apr-12 19:49:55

Oops...
Playground and see the ducks for an hour or so without paying huge amounts. Polesden Lacey is also good for lunch and indeed many elderly people go there for lunch rather than meals on wheels.

Ds is 3 so so far we stay outside and avoid activity days which would scare him with crowds. But the 3 places I listed all have great food, loos and changing facilities. What's less good is website info - eg MHP has a crappy map that doesn't show which road the entrance and parking are on, and it took googling to find that yes there are NT places round Winchester, but without proper food. Nearly had a nasty surprise!

The trails and other activities should be good when ds is older. And he loved watching the llamas come round the lake at Claremont; still talks about them a year later!

SurvivalOfTheUnfittest Thu 19-Apr-12 21:39:33

Members of the NT for about 5 years. 2DC aged 4 and 2. We are very outdoorsy. Visit 2-3 times per month. Love running around the grounds, looking for wildlife etc.. Haven't been in any of the houses as the DC are a liability. grin Love the flowers, nature, friendly people. We like going throughout the year and wish that the majority weren't shut throughout December/January. We'd also like them open by 10am at weekends as 11am is too late for us and means we have to take a picnic/buy lunch.

We go to NT places loads as we are members at the moment. We got a special offer plus cashback, and the kids are still young enough to go free at the moment, so it only takes a few visits to pay for itself and work out a lot cheaper than a lot of other attractions! But we also visit other places - Beamish is popular with the kids (and free for a year once you've paid for first visit) and they also like train places, general countryside, and museums.

At Easter we went to the Space Centre in Leicester, DS (4) liked that a lot and it's good for rainy days!

We go to Wallington and Cragside lots as they are our nearest and there's loads to do. The DCs love the bird hides and play areas and exploring the garden, having picnics, going for walks. We don't go in the houses as often as we've been in several times (and DS is sometimes a bit scared of them!), but we do go in sometimes for a change, if it rains or if there's a special activity. We also liked Fountains Abbey and the place near Leeds (Ormesby?), but they are a bit far to visit often. Also went to Cherryburn recently, which was OK but there was obviously less to see and do than the bigger places so it was just a short visit.

We go at almost all times of year, in fact we are sometimes caught out by places being shut or closing early when we didn't think to check - we've had lovely (but cold) walks in the snow at Wallington for example. We used to go to NT places with my parents when I was small, but only ever when the forecast was for (warm) sun - I think they missed out!

Oh and I agree with Survival about the 11am opening, especially for places that have a lot to see and do but might be some way away! it would be nicer to be able to get there earlier and have more time.

kevinkusman Fri 20-Apr-12 11:13:04

Just returned from visiting castles in Scotland which the kids absolutely loved. Will take them to a castle close by this weekend

booellesmum Fri 20-Apr-12 12:34:10

If you go through QUIDCO at the moment you can get discount on membership and cash back - worked out I got years membership for me, hubby and kids for £49.00 and then all properties are free to visit - lots of trips planned !

lynniep Fri 20-Apr-12 12:35:56

We try and get the children outdoors if the weather is good. We're in Cambridgeshire, and go to Wimpole Hall (sometimes we pay for the farm, sometimes just walk around the gardens) Stanwick lakes is wonderful for a free day out - we take the kids bikes and they can cycle around happily and play on the fantastic adventure playground. Shepreth Wildlife park is very popular - not only does it have the animals, but a lovely outdoor play area, and a great indoor one too. anywhere that is free is a bonus (such as the local garden centres). Old Hurst Farm has animals (including crocodiles) to view, a farm shop, and a great big play area and castle and ride-ons and it doesnt cost a penny (unless you get carried away in the shop or the cafe!)
On unpleasant days, we tend to go for soft play areas instead.

The most brilliant place we visited over easter was dinosaur adventure in Norfolk. Whilst I didnt love the indoor section (cramped, and hell slides are not my idea of safe play TBH) the outdoors area was just fantastic. We got tesco vouchers to go this time, but I would pay full price to go again because the kids had so much fun.

We visit Wimpole Farm out of the NT places close to us - because there is lots of space for the kids to run around. Not so much Houghton Mill, because of the water (my youngest is 2 and drawn to water) When on Holiday, I try to find any NT sites that would be good to visit (we were members last year) - anywhere thats good for small children to explore is great. They love things like riding on horse drawn trailers and such like.

I love the National Trust and their places smile. It has been an absolute Godsend to me a city-dweller, to get me out and about after suffering Post-natal depression. I could go to a property knowing that there would be all the facilities needed when looking after a toddler, pre-schooler (baby-change, cafe, water, space to roam in a relatively safe environment (not as exposed and isolated as a walk in the country), shelter should the weather suddenly take a turn fro the worst). Since those initial days I have become a member and have been to all but one property nearest me, though mainly the grounds, where we just enjoy walking and running and the odd picnic. I have almost semi-adopted the nearest property's gardens as my own, I go there so often with DD and sometimes with DH and DD. I have even gone there for a walk on my own just to get some "head-space" or practice photography. I am yet to go in and see the house!

Membership to the NT has also encouraged us to go to places we wouldn't have normally have visited due to cost, and on a camping holiday in Cornwall last year, we had free car-parking in coastal car-parks, and visited three NT properties/gardens, one of which had its own beach where we skimmed stones and rock-pooled and enjoyed a maze. Although paying out for membership cost us initially, it has meant that the overall spend on holidays in the UK is dramatically reduced. We often get little nature check pages or find there are activities on for children and the cafe's are reasonable. The fact that under 5s go free has been excellent and has meant that while in the pre-school years I can meet up with another mum and treat them and our pre-school children to a nice morning, afternoon or day out.

The only downside I have found so far is that the cafes often don't sell bottled water in plastic bottles. So if suddenly in a heatwave, there is no easy way of taking water away with you around the grounds if you are majorly disorganised/lazy have forgotten to bring your own from home.

Other than that tiny tiny point hooray for the NT! grin

goingdownhill Fri 20-Apr-12 17:30:45

We hold NT family membership. I would say it has been brilliant value for money. We are not a massively outdoor family but joining the NT has given us a boot up the bum to get outdoors more and the dc love it.

In recent months we have visited Chirk Castle and Powis Castle and had a brilliant time at each. We go to Attingham Park generally once a month as we live about 20 minutes away. It is one of the children's favourite places. I am excited for the instillation of the new playground, as the old one is a little tired and ready for a face lift!

Our children are 3,4 and 5 and I always aim for a place with a playground and would love to see them in more properties. I also find they love to run around in the gardens. It is also lovely when some crayons and colouring is provided for a damp day.

Although the children are a little young to appreciate the history behind places they enjoy seeing inside the houses and although we tend to whizz through quickly there is always something they enjoy seeing.

I think the only improvement I could think of is maybe more covered areas to eat in poor weather.

Keep up the fabulous work the National Trust smile

Bluebell99 Fri 20-Apr-12 17:51:31

Notcitrus do you really get 10% off with National trust membership at Modern Hall cafe? Gutted if you do, as have often meet family there for lunch and wasn't aware of that!

Anyway we also have National Trust membership and have done for several years. We don't have many properties that close though to be honest, closest are about 40 minutes away. Over Easter we visited Basildon Park and Stonehenge. In the last month we have also been to the Vyne and Mottisfont. I like looking round the houses, the children not so much, but we have enjoyed special days out at the Vyne when they have had people dressed up in tudor costume, quite surreal seeing Henry vIII wandering round the grounds.
I really think they could do much more for children and families to be honest, in terms of having adventure playgrounds in the grounds. We also enjoyed doing the trails in the woods at the Vyne. We all enjoyed visiting the newly reopened Manor House at Avebury, and it was good that you could touch stuff and sit on the beds and try out the exercise chair, that was quite innovative!

We are also members of the Hawk Conservancy, and the WWT and Longleat and the children prefer going to these places. They enjoy feeding the birds, canoe trips and pond dipping at WWT, and the bird shows at the Hawk Conservancy. We all love LOngleat and it is our favourite day out at the moment. It has everything going for it but in particular a chance to get up close to animals.

We have just joined Historical houses for the first time, and one of the advantages so far, is that two of the houses close by have fantastic adventure playgrounds.

Posted earlier but just wanted to mention some of the places we'd been as I had to do a school run so posted a bit quick:
Tyntesfield - closest to us and great gardens for children to play in and explore. Nice lawn for picnics and a kitchen garden to get inspiration, and buy produce. Brilliant for pumpkins and winter squash in October.
Dyrham Park - Not so great for small children as a steep climb back to the carpark especially when the shuttle bus isn't running and also a large pond could prove risky with bolters.
Stourhead landscaped gardens around a large lake. Beautiful for enjoying the different seasons and enough grottos etc to keep children interested.
Also like Leigh Woods for learning to ride a bike, Clevedon Court just for an explore though grounds not half as big as the first three mentioned.

Further afield we have enjoyed:
Glendurgan in Cornwall with a fantastic maze and Durgan beach (rockpooling, sandcastles and skimming stones opportunity) on the Helford River, also careful to remember it is a climb back up the hill to the top for the car.
Trelissick in Cornwall with riverside walks and picnic spots with summerhouses.
Colby Woodland Garden in Pembrokeshire - general wildlife spotting (first sighting of newts for a long while), some fun bamboo for hiding in, general exploring and picnics.

This is without all the coastal paths and places like Lulworth Cove and The Lizard Point and Studland Bay.

We're not a sporty outdoorsy family but do enjoy being outdoors and getting out the city when we can.

LaVitaBellissima Fri 20-Apr-12 18:15:38

I grew up in Cornwall and my parents bought a family pass each year, there are so many lovely properties with fantastic gardens and I have fond memories of Summer picnics at Lanhydrock & at Trelissick Gardens.
Another good reason in Cornwall to have a NT membership is that a lot of the coastal/beach car parks are owned by them so it's free parking smile

Now my twins are toddling I might get a family membership, we live in SW London now. If the Weather is nice we may go to Ham House on Sunday, so fingers crossed this rain stops smile

We've been to quite a few properties but most memorable calke abbey, beatric potters house and artworks place, sudbury hall and museum of childhood. All of those were fantastic for children. My dd is only three so ive been quite conscious that the average stately home would be a bit boring for her so i've chosen quirky places. Calke abbey was fabulous for the sheer absurd way in which the house was just abandoned in its state and all credit to the national trust for recognising it and not trying to 'renovate' it in the traditional sense. TAking a child there was brilliant as all artifacts through time were just left in extraordinary ways and it was great for a curious little mind. My dd had a fab time in the gardens too.

Beatrix potters house was a bit staid for a small child but there is something magical about your child standing next to a gate that you can then see in a book in their bedroom.

Sudbury hall i actually visited on the last free weekend which was in the radio times. It was absolutely the best free trip out we've had. Although the hall wasnt great for small children the museum was excellent. My dd keeps asking if she can go back and climb the chimney there as she was too scared before. It introduced her not only to a bygone age of schooling but toys of my own childhood. It was her first introduction to barbie.

I love the quirky places that sit alongside traditional stately homes. I'd love to do more garden events like the easter egg hunts but the weather never seems to be great. My only gripe is the cost. A property can be really expensive to visit and whilst the annual pass is good value, its only good value if your child is of a school age to take some learning away from the property as a whole rather than a preschooler. That means im restricted in places that will appeal until dd is older.

merrymouse Fri 20-Apr-12 20:43:32

We have had National Trust membership in the past, and might rejoin if we want to visit one of the properties or go on holiday to an area with a convenient NT beach car park (e.g. if we visit Corfe this summer)

We don't have an NT property in the immediate area but if we did we would probably join now - I find that with young children (mine anyway) it is more fun to visit one local place and get to know it really well than be constantly visiting new places.

Ponders Fri 20-Apr-12 20:55:35

we took out NT family membership in 1991 - we've probably only visited a dozen places in that time (there are very few close to us) but the real point of membership is to support the Trust so we don't feel we've missed out

over the years we have visited Lyme Park, Sudbury, Studland (where we signed up), Formby, Bateman's, Styal, Fell Foot & Dunham Massey among others. It's so nice to know that pretty much anywhere you go on holiday in this country, there will be some lovely houses & gardens to visit smile

Ponders Fri 20-Apr-12 20:58:27

PS for frankie4 (in case nobody else has smile)

Waddesdon Manor

Ponders Fri 20-Apr-12 21:07:46

finally - for those wanting to find out where they could go at the weekend - the find a place to visit page on the NT website is very helpful

azazello Fri 20-Apr-12 21:11:47

I have life membership (a very generous 1st birthday present from my granny!). I go occasionally at the moment but most are a 40 minute car journey each way which gets a bit much.

The children love the playground at Waddesdon but I daren't take them in the house! We've been to Hughendon for some of the special events and that's good. My favourite is Snowshill. DD (5)quite enjoyed it but it isn't the easiest place with small children and the tea room had a wasp nest outside.

We're within walking distance of Blenheim ( so not NT) but similar and go there at least fortnightly in the summer. Blenheim do a pass where you pay full price for admission and then get a pass which allows you in free for a year. Membership of an individual site might be worth considering for a lot of people who couldn't justify a full membership.

We will be going to Washington Old Hall on Sunday, lookig forward to a family day out smile

leenapeena Sat 21-Apr-12 09:42:58

We live near Nostell Priory which has a fab adventure playground. My five year old daughter loves it there and keeps asking to go back - we are not members of the NT at the moment so it is a pity this weekend it will be too wet to take advantage of any free entries!

Ponders Sat 21-Apr-12 10:38:08

My niece got married there, Stealth - fabulous setting smile

melezka Sat 21-Apr-12 13:01:51

Our family are very interested in history and historical places.

But we are also fairly poor.

We have tried a few NT properties over the years. We saved up for approximately one visit a year. But after the THIRD year in a row of being basically harangued by some Hyacinth Bucket-a-like for not getting a membership instead of a single visit ticket, despite explaining the above, we gave up. We visit other places now.

Cheld Sat 21-Apr-12 15:59:24

Went to Stourhead today with this offer and had a great day. Dd loved splashing in puddles and exploring the grotto and walked a surprisingly long way. She wanted to ransack the house so that was a whistle stop tour but the staff were very nice! We are quite outdoorsy but tend not to go to NT places much because of the price and because they're at least an hour's drive away. We enjoyed Wimpole Hall home farm last weekend and the play park was a big hit.

Kveta Sat 21-Apr-12 16:07:01

We went to Wimpole Hall and Home Farm today with this offer. And clearly were not the only ones! It was very busy!

Had a lovely day though - DS (2) loved the farm, especially the pigs (he was massively interested in the suckling piglets particularly, and hasn't stopped going on about pig mummy milk since we got home grin), and the toy tractors. Sadly the heavens opened after about 40 minutes at the farm, but we sourced a lovely lunch in the old refectory restaurant, and went to explore the Hall afterwards - DS loved the clocks, but it was quite a quick march round with a toddler, and a heavily pregnant woman (me), neither of us wanted to linger.

The closure of the cafe at the Home Farm was a shame, but the food in the restaurant was good, and not badly priced, especially with the 20% discount voucher this weekend!

We are thinking about getting National Trust membership when DC2 is old enough to appreciate long days out, and will definitely take kids to Wimpole Hall again.

Indith Sat 21-Apr-12 18:34:10

Well we went to Gibside this afternoon and it was lovely. The dcs raced around, ds loved reading about everything and dd adored milking the cow in the stables. I thinnk some of the signage could be better, it would be nice to have a sign or map at the various crossroads.

We never made it to the play areas and other bits and bobs because the dcs decided to down to the river and we ended up looking for deer and gruffalos in the woods which took us on a long walk then it rained, dd got too tired and had a wobbly and it was getting late so we just went back to the exit and the big ones played on the slide there while I fed the baby. I expect we'll be back.

I agree with someone further up the thread that passes for individual properties would be great. I think if we could get a pass for Gibside we would but certainly this year because we are spending our holiday abroad visiting family we would not get full value from membership. Next year though we won't be going abroad and so we might well get membership.

WitchOfEndor Sat 21-Apr-12 18:41:09

Went to Attingham Park this morning. It seemed really nice, lots of people bringing their dogs along but we made a major mistake. In order to get the best of the weather we went early, before DS had had his morning nap. About 20 minutes into our visit we tried to get DS to leave the play area so we could do the guided house tour. Big mistake, huge meltdown as he got down on his knees and howled. Tantrum continued all the way back to the entrance where we decided to take him home for a nap. It did start raining on the way home though! I think Attingham will be lovely next year when (hopefully) he will have grown out of his morning nap.

feedthegoat Sat 21-Apr-12 18:51:42

We visited Nostell Priory this afternoon and had a lovely time. Despite living less than 30 minutes away I have to be honest and admit we have never been before.

Ds (6) did enjoy looking round the house taking photo's but it was very busy. The staff were all very keen to chat about the history of the place and were very friendly.

We particularly enjoyed the outdoor spaces though and ds loved the playground. We probably spent a good hour in there before going on a little nature walk. Even the weather was better than expected, with only the odd shower.
I do understand why admission costs to such places are high as they must cost a staggering amount to run. However, it does make it a costly expense for a family visit. We have a lovely old hall and country park within 5 minutes walk of our home. The grounds are free and the hall admission in only a couple of pounds. We tend to visit there more often as it is more affordable.

gazzalw Sat 21-Apr-12 18:58:40

Oh I went there many, many moons ago...lovely place.... One of those grand homes owned by coal mine owning families I seem to recall...

think that what the NT properties all share is a mix of open spaces and some culture/history.... so brilliant as are the NT cafes selling all of those lovely home-made cakes and coffee/tea too!

PepeLePew Sat 21-Apr-12 19:15:52

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
Forests, woods and gardens. Anywhere the children can run around. They don't necessarily need entertaining, they just like sticks and trees to climb.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
I don't think the children are particularly outdoorsy, though I am. They are quite urban, but I try and encourage them to go outdoors where possible.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
Audley End is great for children, and they always love Hatfield Forest

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
Their grandparents took them to Warwick Castle which I think they enjoyed/.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family?
Yes

If so, which ones?
Hatfield Forest, Overbrooks in Devon, Ashdown House.

What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited?
Depends where we are - Hatfield Forest is where they like best, although they enjoyed exploring Overbrooks. I always like a National Trust property - can't beat the tea and cakes.

Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
No

Fuchzia Sat 21-Apr-12 19:25:16

We went to Polsdon Lacey. Generally we love being outdoors and find NT properties a great day out now we have small kids. Our toddler can run round safely a go on short walks. There are lots of benches available which lets me breastfeed the baby when he needs it (although somewhere more comfortable was available that would be great too!) today there were loads of outdoor games in the orchard which was a nice touch. The house is nice and I think if you had the time to explore in detail it would be great, but with small people it's not easy to stay focused. I managed to find out almost nothing about the house or why it was important, perhaps an idot's guide would have been helpful.

aokay Sat 21-Apr-12 20:22:46

we're NT memebers but since Ive become a wheelchair user Im getting fed up with access issues and poor sanitation faciilities - don't fefeel like paying for next year as dont think NT have a clue about inclusivitity especially where there's a family with a disabled (adult) in the party - I want gto be able to do things with my kids despite my disablity. I do not want constant access issues.

3duracellbunnies Sat 21-Apr-12 21:03:59

We are quite an outdoorsy family. We do sometimes visit NT properties, Batemans and Bodium are two of our favourite ones the children are quite into 'blood, guts and gore' so castles are probably higher on our list generally, although some of the NT properties fall into this category, some of the insides of houses the children can do for a short while before they get bored. We didn't discover much over Easter except a+e and the tedium of potty training on rainy days. Might try to find somewhere tomorrow and test out the reactions to travel potties, hopefully better than the dislike of breastfeeding. Generally my view is a child who isn't screaming for milk or dripping with wee is preferable to one that is, but I appreciate that not everyone has the same perspective.

bubby64 Sat 21-Apr-12 22:16:47

We are using the voucher tomorrow to visit Long Melford Hall, as our sons are doing the St Georges Day parade with the scouts in the village, it will add to a nice day out. We have quite a few NT places near us, and have had family membership in the past, but, unfortunatley, we just cannot afford it this year. One of my biggest gripe about NT places is there is often extra charges to see interesting features or special exhibits at their properties. I think that is you have paid the (often expensive) entry fee, this should entitle you to see everything there is to see. Also, you pay quite hefty prices in a lot of their resturants/cafes, and often the service is poor.

Sabriel Sun 22-Apr-12 09:40:58

I took DD to Lacock Abbey yesterday. Fantastic architecture and a beautiful building. They gave her an eye-spy leaflet to look out for various things. She got all of them but wasn't impressed that there was no actual prize at the end (I think she was expecting Easter eggs!). It was quite good having to look for them though, because it made us look up at the carvings on the ceiling, and the different chimneys.

Inside the Abbey she got another sheet but nowhere to write anything down so it was difficult to hold her interest (she is 5). We did have to spot toy kittens, so that was fun for her.

There is also an attached photography museum but she wasn't interested so we didn't stop to look.

There is a picnic area across the road, with a play park. It was very busy so we didn't go in. (Lucky we didn't as we'd just got back to the car when it emptied down).

We hadn't been before, because NT places tend to be quite expensive, and we've got English Heritage membership so we tend to go to an EH property instead. Didn't appreciate having to pay for parking (NT members park for free) especially when we found the FREE car park in the actual village after we'd been directed to the paying one. Other than that we had a good visit.

Sabriel Sun 22-Apr-12 09:48:16

Ooh I forgot to mention that ALL the staff we encountered were lovely. All of them chatted to DD and showed her things. One lady explained why all the chairs had a teasel on them, and several helped her spot the kittens. DD is the sort of child who approaches random adults and asks odd questions, and in some places we've been to they ignore her. I was very impressed by all of the staff at Lacock.

FuntimeFelicity Sun 22-Apr-12 10:54:19

If we're going somewhere specifically for a 'family day out' we aim for somewhere with a mixture of inside and outdoors things to do in case the weather is changeable.

The dc are 5 and 2 and, while the 5 year old is beginning to show an interest in the inside of places near us like Chirk Castle and Erddig, ds2 is more of a liability. For this reason, so we avoid places that are strictly 'house and gardens' and try to find places where ds2 can do indoor stuff like craft or building or finding activities if it rains.

We've also taken out NT membership so that we can go places on spec without feeling as if we've wasted our money if the children are having a bad day or the weather is foul. I like the way that the NT membership is structured. Places like Chester Zoo have really shot themselves in the foot with photo ID and zero flexibility (the main reason why we and didn't renew a gift membership there). Please don't go down this route National Trust, it will lose you a lot of goodwill!

Staff at attractions near us are always happy to see the children, even in the rooms with the most fragile china grin.

And a last mention for Chirk Castle - ds1 is loving the (free) den building area and ds2 adores the (free) little ride-on tractors and diggers grin.

BodyOfEeyore Sun 22-Apr-12 11:26:42

We went to Nostell Priory yesterday and it was lovely. DS (5) loved the adventure playground. I bought some very reasonably priced lavender plants too!
I'm glad we took advantage of the freebie, as there is no way I would pay £20 for us to go otherwise. Especially with £2.50 parking charges as well.

Ponders Sun 22-Apr-12 11:36:44

Eeyore, if you took out family membership, it would cost you 70.12 for the first year & with that you could visit any NT places as often as you want, take extra kids along as well, & generally no parking charges (I've a feeling there are a handful of places where even NT members have to pay but I don't know which ones)

It's definitely worth considering smile

I tell you what would be useful, two car stickers. At weekends we mainly use my car because it is small and economical so we keep our NT sticker on that one. But we take the other (bigger) car on holiday and then find we haven't got our sticker to take advantage of the car parks.

MirandaWest Sun 22-Apr-12 12:26:24

We've had two car stickers before - think we asked and they sent us another one.

Ooh, thanks, I'll give them a ring. I guess they don't want to send them out routinely because people would give them to their friends.

LadyInPink Sun 22-Apr-12 13:17:01

We don't have a membership for the NT as tbh there aren't that many places near us to warrant a membership that we as a family would want to visit more than once or if ever. Our DD is energentic and so loves to have things to do not just walk around pretty gardens although she does love to play fairies and make believe stories when we do go to such places but it's sporadical and therefore a treat.

We visited Corfe Castle yesterday and spent the equivalent money saved on 2 books in the NT shop. It was raining rather heavily when we arrived (and for the duration) so we only stayed an hour. There had been a jester there for part of the day which was fantastic for added value but we missed him. They also had a tent with a rail of medieval clothes to try on which again was an amazing surprise and one of the staff obliged with taking our photo smile There was also a trail for the children to follow and answer questions relating to Corfe Castle and DD won a medal at the end for completing it correctly. The rain really hindered our full enjoyment but what we saw we enjoyed immensly but wouldn't return again in a hurry as once seen, it's seen imho.

I think a partial membership would be a good idea with maybe a redeemable booklet containing 3 stamps/pull out vouchers over a year costing about a 3rd of the price - i would sign up for that as we loved Brownsea Island and would go again as not been for 3 years also if on holiday we may stumble across one on a whim (we realised we were staying next to Antony House last year for eg) and could pop in.

Thankyou NT for the free voucher, as we wouldn't otherwise have gone to Corfe Castle smile

Ponders Sun 22-Apr-12 14:19:04

WhoKnows, supposedly they have them in the ticket offices & will give you another one if you ask

(it says this in the handbook but I've never tested it out)

bluebump Sun 22-Apr-12 14:30:26

Thanks to this thread we popped up to Knightshayes today with a friend and their children, all soaked to the skin but we had a good time smile

We are family NT members, and always get our money's worth, as we are a bunch of geeks and even the DCs read all the information boards they can findgrin.
I love Lyme Park's new playscape, we had DSs 9th birthday party there, free as we brought a party picnic.
Others we visit regularly are:
Dunham Massey (nice pub food locally)
Quarry Bank Mill & Styal
Tatton Park (put off by the parking charge)
Beningbrough Hall
Little Moreton Hall

We usually visit a few on holiday or on the way back, it's a great way to kill a few hours and let off steam.
I love the app, it has a good amount of information and is helpful in choosing places to go.
I would like more "treetop adventure" things, and more available in the winter, along the lines of Dunham's winter gardens.

FuntimeFelicity Sun 22-Apr-12 15:19:26

What age is the Lyme Park playscape suitable for inmyparentstime?

There's a sandpit digging area and a broad slide for 2 or 3ish upwards, but still plenty of physical challenges for young teenagers. It's very well thought out, it has tree trunks with climbing holds, tunnels, rope netting etc.
BTW, it's not inmy parents timehmm, that made me cringe slightly, they have even less spare time than I do!

FuntimeFelicity Sun 22-Apr-12 15:53:01

Sorry, I'm not sure where that name change came from shock grin!

BodyOfEeyore Sun 22-Apr-12 17:35:47

Ah, but to make £70 worth while we would have to be visiting at least four times a year, and I doubt we would get a chance to do that.

Ponders Sun 22-Apr-12 17:54:45

well, 3 times if you include the parking cost wink

If you'd never visit any others I suppose it wouldn't be worth it - I can see Nostell Priory is quite a distance from the rest.

BeerTricksPott3r Sun 22-Apr-12 18:16:54

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

We are pretty 'outdoorsy' but the best thing to keep us all entertained is a walk followed by a visit to a NT property, thus giving us a destination in mind and something to entertain DS (9).
The best place we have visited in recent years is Monk Coniston, with a ride on the Steam Gondola (DS got to steer it, which made his day!)

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
We have visited Hill Top, Wray Castle, Freshfields Nature Reserve, Townend House and Rufford Old Hall. My favourite was Wray Castle, as it was between tenants and there was a guided tour round the interior - fulfilling a lifelong ambition of mine to get inside. DS preferred Rufford Old Hall, as the Great Hall was full of armour and weaponry.

Carmenthebarman Sun 22-Apr-12 18:28:37

We've been to Beningborough hall today with dds aged 3 and 18 months. We chose Beningborough as even though we've been there a couple of times we haven't actually been in the Hall. We also love the area and have spent a LOT of weekends pre dcs camping at Linton on Ouse.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in both the gardens - playing amongst the trees and on the lawns, and the hall - trying to decide which bed might have belonged to Harry Potter.

We were NT members pre DCs. But found that we didn't get our moneys worth when they came along. We debated today whether to join, but decided to give it another year before we think we'll really optimise membership.

banditqueen Sun 22-Apr-12 18:31:43

Marking my place for the prize draw.

I took DS to Ham House today taking advantage of the voucher offer. We would never have visited otherwise because of the cost. Pretty disappointed as most rooms were nearly completely roped off, the children's activities consisted of felt tip pens and paper on a table, and it was a faff to get there via public transport. I have enjoyed visiting NT properties before although the price is usually prohibitive. We often go walking on NT land (free).

ToothbrushThief Sun 22-Apr-12 18:33:52

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Adventure parks, museums, countryside for walk/picnic, seaside

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? Both?

I would visit NT properties more if they were cheaper. It's just too expensive for us. We went today and loved it. Youngest DC was patient in the house and did the quiz. There were scrapbook showing more of the history to the family that lived there which meant it wasn't just a 'dry' experience of ornaments etc

I once decided to treat the DC to a lunch - very expensive and not child friendly (menu etc) so that always means taking a picnic which is ok except if it's raining.

I love the houses that link to a family/servants living there and give you a feel for what it was like. I like the gardens but mostly the less formal gardens... ones which link to local countyside are good.

Before today I last went to a NT property (Llanhydrock) exactly a year ago and it was really expensive to get in. Food and drink also expensive and DC were bored so I had to rush around the house missing most of it. It put me off totally.

ToothbrushThief Sun 22-Apr-12 18:38:06

The volunteers today were brilliant. In every room, they offered information to my DD - not in a harassing way, but just right for her.

Shop is also too expensive for me. If you sold cheaper gadgets you'd find the kids would buy smaller items.

I've tried joining the national trust but found it so hard to take ds1 (severely autistic) to anything I stopped the membership. It's a shame because ds1 loves looking around houses and behaves well enough most of the time for the NT to be ideal. I had real problems getting a carer's card (which I need because dh works so in the holidays I need to bring one of my carers to help me out with ds1, but i employ mote than one person). It's supposedly easy to do but I was passed from pillar to post so gave up. Also sometimes issues with waiting in busy spots.

spartafc Sun 22-Apr-12 18:44:51

We have NT membership, have done for a few years.
It's worth it because we live near a couple of really nice places (Nostell Priory being one that we go to at least a couple of times a month. It has fab grounds; a lovely adventure playground and, if DS has passed out after tearing about the lakeside, there's a big old house to look around) and our parents live near a beach with NT free parking.
We also go to Wales a lot and there's a fair bit to see there.
Over the Easter Hols we discovered a non-NT place (Newby Hall in York) and immediately signed up for an annual pass as it was such a great day out.
I agree that the food at NT places is always over priced and, in the case of Nostell, not really toddler appropriate. But a picnic is always nice in good weather smile
I like having NT membership as it forces us to go and see places to get our money's worth! It's normally paid for itself within 4 months.

Agree that it's expensive. I would like to visit, for example wembury beach more often but parking is so expensive with no concessions for blue badge holders, even those in receipt of higher rate mobility. If I go there with ds1 I never know whether he'll stay more than 10 minuntes so I really don't want to pay ££££'s parking. so we go to bigbury where we can park for free if ds1 is with us.

greensnail Sun 22-Apr-12 19:52:59

We went to Killerton house and gardens today as we had my parents visiting and DH wanted to do something different and take advantage of the free weekend. Our days out tend to be to parks and beaches locally and we have zoo membership so go there a lot. I was slightly dubious that the dds (age almost 2 and 3.4) would find it very interesting, but they loved it! There was loads for them to do in the house including dressing up, a piano to play (very carefully) and a mouse hunt which dd1 entered into with great enthusiasm. They also enjoyed exploring the gardens, seeing the animals and both enjoyed their food in the cafe. Food was slightly expensive, but delicious (and we had a voucher for 20% off and Grandad was paying anyway wink ).

I would definitely consider going to a NT property for a day out again, although I think it would be too expensive for us to go too often, but would maybe visit a couple of times a year.

severnofnine Sun 22-Apr-12 19:55:49

I took the 3 boys to ickworth house today as DH had to go into work. We had a great time and were pleasantly suprised that it wasnt heaving.

we're an outdoorsy family and already have english heritage membership. WE've also brought national trust membership for family presents- but never been to a property ourselves. There arent that many around in this part of the world.

The gardens were amazing and we had a great time exploring. the trip around the rotunda was great too- a lovely lady gave the children a card with things to find in each room- they loved that! and a very helpful older gentleman guide had a great chat with DS1 about some of the sculptures. There was also a bagatelle type game tucked away that kept them amused when it was raining.

Only thing i would mention was that there was lots about how the children should go out and climb trees ( things to go before 11 3/4?) but nowhere was suitable to do it... and the playground was a bit uninspiring. otherwise we had a great time

Bluebell99 Sun 22-Apr-12 21:06:21

I posted earlier on this thread but thought I would post again as we ended up going to Avebury today. We are members so no advantage to free weekend for us and actually it was pretty busy. Unfortunately it started to rain shortly after we arrived. We had to get a timed ticket for the manor house and we had an hour to kill before our time. We had a look found the museums and we like the barn especially because of all the interactive displays. We have been to the manor house before but I really like the way this house has been done up, to reflect different periods in different rooms, and that you can touch and sit on the furniture. After the house, we went on a trail with a quiz sheet where you had to find different birds, and then we made a wooden bird box with one of the wardens for £5! I really enjoyed that. We then used the 20% off voucher in the restaurant on coffee and cakes. It was a really good day out despite the rain.

BikeRunSki Sun 22-Apr-12 21:10:33

We are an outdoorsy family and like outdoorsy days out. DS is 3 and DD is 6 months, so we are not a adventurous as we once were, but I am really enjoying discovering a new world at "small scale". We usually go out for walks or bike rides (often Forestry Enterprise trail centres like Sherwood Pines but also NT Clumber Park). We are Friends of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and I must be there about once a week (it is 5 mins away) with one or both children and also visit the National Coal Mining Museum a lot (lots of indoor and outdoor stuff, activities in holidays and it's free) quite often. We went to Magna in Rotherham last week too for the first time and enjoyed it.

We've used lots of NT car parks with the DC - mostly to explore the country side around Mam Tor (locallish), Llyn Ogwen (holiday) and Marsden Moor (local), but very few NT houses. I took DS to Lyte's Cary in Somerset and Stourhead in Wiltshire when he was tiny - a few months old - but that is mainly because I was going along with my mother who is local to them and an NT member. My parents is/were NT members, so I have always been intrigued by the idea of taking the DC. I suppose we have never thought to visit NT houses or gardens because I've not been sure that my very energetic 3 yo son would be interested or well behaved enough around the antiquities. I guess to, that with the unpredictable moods, likes and disikes of small chidren, you want to stick to what you know Until now ...

I'd printed off the NT "Free Weekend" voucher, so today we put on our waterproofs, braved the rain and decided to at least go and have lunch at our nearest (and only really local) NT property, Nostell Priory about 25 mins drive away. To be honest, I have always thought NT cafes to be rather pricey, but we had the 20% off food voucher too. My heart sank as I realised that the house was a 500m car walk from the car park, something I don't remember from visiting pre-DC. However, grumpy son cheered up enormously when a "golf buggy train" turned up and took us up the the house and visitor centre. He loved that and the NT volunteers were great at helping us on and off with child, baby and pushchair etc.

The cafe was absolutely packed. Aaaah. Hmm. Then we noticed - on the other side of the courtyard - "A bite to eat" - a much smaller cafe selling sandwiches and hot drinks - with no queue and a free table. Excellent. Bought sandwiches, crisps and drinks and ate up. Then, as all trips out with children, to the loos, which were all clean and fine. Nice baby changing facilities too. Then, finally to the house! It was pouring with rain still, so it seemed like a good idea to check this out first and cross our fingers and wish for dry weather by the time we go to the playground. We had thought to bring a sling for the baby with us, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we could have borrowed one too. Good thinking NT!

Anyway, my three year old son loved the house. He was fascinated. Athough he was exited and giddy, he was brilliantly well behaved and asked lots of questions - some of me and DH, and some of the guides, who were only too pleased to talk to him (rather than directing their answers at me). He loved the four poster beds, doll's house and billiard table. Baby daughter was also suitably amused I think. We must have been in the house for about 45 min.

After our trip round the house, he headed for the playground, which was amazing. Brilliant woodland setting, lots of unusual and interesting things to play on. Just fab. Ice cream stall too - but not doing much trade in the (now slightly less heavy) rain. Loads of space to run around. The rain did stop and we were in the playground for well over and hour. I was beginning to get a bit cold and peckish, so I suggested we went to the cafe for a cup of tea and slice of cake. Now, my son loves cake more than life itself, but did he want to go to the cafe - no. He asked to go back to the house!!!! DH took the baby to the cafe to feed her but DS was happy with a manky old box of raisins from my pocket so he could go back to the house. We went round the house twice more. DS was "guiding" me - "now then Mummy, here is the bedroom with two big bathrooms then the, what's that Harold thing called Mummy, (that's a harpsichord Love), here is the library (no Sweetie, I don't think they have the Smartest Giant in Town) and the BILLIARD TABLE!!!!......" Then finally, exhausted Mummy got the cafe for a sit down and a scone.

We arrived at about noon, and just before 5 pm we carried a weary 3 yo back to the car. He fell asleep on the way home. Every night at bedtime, we talk about what we did that day. His favourite thing today was "the big house". We practised saying the name and he is very proud that he can say it "I know it now Mummy". So best thing - the big house. Not the fantastic playground, not playing with his best friend this morning, not cake in the cafe. No. The big house. I am constantly surprised by my son, and today was one of those days. We'll be back - maybe on a summer's day when we can walk round the lake. Maybe with Granny so DS can guide her round the house, but it is definitely somewhere I can see us visiting again.

legoballoon Sun 22-Apr-12 21:52:23

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
Anywhere where you can get away from the crowds - have NT membership and use it a lot. For £70 a year, saves us a lot of money as usually visit about a dozen sites per year - using some as stop-overs on long journeys, using local sites for brief changes-of-scene at the weekend, and having days out on UK holidays. Many of the sites now have proper adventure playground/ picnic / toilet facilties, and many more now offer activities for school-aged children during the holidays, which is much appreciated.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? Weather permitting, outdoorsy.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
Went to Crealy Park in Devon - first visit to an amusement park. Kids loved it, but very busy and had to queue for 20mns to get on any rides. At £60 for a family of four, not expensive by national standards, but would have been as happy/happier on a beach with a picnic and bucket and spade.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go? Like going to NT places out of weekends and school hols best, when you have them to yourselves. Love Castle Drogo (interesting artefacts around the house, great views), Isaac Newton's house (great science exhibitions for kids aged 6+), Anglesey Abbey (one of the NT's finest gardens), Stourhead (absolutely beautiful and vast landscaped gardens - fab for hide and seek, walks, picnics etc).

One bug-bear - if you renew membership on direct debit, it costs you £20 more annually than if you cancel and join afresh - this is nonsense. Also, you should be given the option to opt out of all the bumff sent to members - we never have time to read the magazines / marketing letters, and think it a shameful waste of paper and postage to be sent them in a cardboard folder and plastic envelope. Would rather receive marketing electronically (for environmental reasons) or not at all. This should be an option for new members.

Other than those 2 whinges, really think the NT has improved for family members in the last 5 years.

ataraxia Sun 22-Apr-12 22:24:47

I was really excited to hear about the free offer this weekend but when I sat down to decide where to go I found that all the places I was interested in were 1.5 to 2 hours away by public transport. Decided they were too far too go when a storm may roll in at any moment like it has all week. And that's the crux of it, I'd love to join the NT but as a non-driver I just couldn't get my money's worth if it would mean a 4 hour round trip each time.

My family and I like stately homes with gardens - gives some options if the weather is changeable and a nice balance of culture, photography and nice walks. Places like Chatsworth - not sure if that's NT? Also like historic sites like Fountains Abbey . I'm also interested in NT's cultural properties such as Beatles Childhood Home - having said that, that one requires booking which is a bit more advanced planning than my family tends to go for!

We tend to visit on holidays like Good Friday. Cost is probably the main disincentive when factoring in tickets for everyone, refreshments, transportation and gift shop.

Still, I have kept my shortlist of 'nearby' NT properties and may go one weekend when the weather is less variable!

PrisonerOfWaugh Sun 22-Apr-12 22:26:50

We visited The Vyne near Basingstoke today with the free voucher, and had a great day out smile. It was pretty rammed - due to the free offer by all accounts, and we had to dodge the downpours, but despite the the kids were clamouring for more.

I asked 5yo DD what was the best bit, she claimed at first it was "getting my trousers wet and muddy running back to the car park in the rain" hmm, however on reflection it was "finding the mice" - which were actually 15 toy 'rats' hidden about the house and which made traipsing around a stately home with little people almost a pleasure grin. The staff in the house were also universally warm and welcoming and very willing to talk to small kids which made the visit much more relaxing.

We also enjoyed the police and fire engine displays out the front and the kids were fascinated by the working blacksmith. They also loved rolling down the grass bank out front - one of the 50 things the NT think kids should be doing.

We didn't get time to visit much of the grounds, but a return visit is on the cards smile

Thank you National Trust

Llareggub Sun 22-Apr-12 23:04:56

We went to Packwood House today and did their marvellous welly walk, which my sons love. It is a great setting for a picnic, the yew trees are fantastic for hide and seek and it is one of my favourite places. We have NT membership and use it a lot, but my area has an abundance of NT properties so it is well worth the price of membership. I have at least 3 within a 10 minute drive!

Verybadmummy Sun 22-Apr-12 23:43:29

We went to packwood too!! Had a great day and managed I dodge the rain!

lostinpants Mon 23-Apr-12 06:29:28

Dragging reluctant teenagers round stately homes is painful. When they were smaller it was a lot easier, activities are organised for younger kids - Easter egg hunts, trails, art & crafts etc. There is not much to engage a teenager, it is all a bit 'dry'. Our involvement with the NT tends to be limited to using the car parks to go for interesting walks. I also find entrance fees expensive, especially as activities to draw you in are often extra.

BumptiousandBustly Mon 23-Apr-12 08:55:40

We went to Ightham moat. It was great - we printed off hte voucher and brought it, and they accepted it without any trouble. Ightham moat itself was brilliant - the gardens were lovely - just hte right size for DS2 - who kept saying "more bridge, more bridge" (thankfully there were lots of bridges). The staff were lovely and helpful - one even left her post to get the "I spy" clipboard for DS1 and another stoped us to tell us all about the otter DS2 could touch (wooden, carved btw) - we actually managed to look round the house (First time since DS1 started walking) and while it was at very high speed and DS2 protested at top volume occasionally - non of the staff gave us cats bum mouths at all - but were all very friendly and pleasant. We loved it. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

TheRhubarb Mon 23-Apr-12 10:09:59

Can I just say, if there are National Trust people reading this, that charging people for parking on top of the very expensive entrance fees I feel is just awful. It's all very well for those who can afford annual membership fees, but the hard sell and the car parking charges are just there to try and force people into joining up because they end up spending a year's membership in just one day. That is frankly appauling. No wonder the NT appeals more to well off families and retired couples. If you want these things to appeal to all then how about scrapping car park charges - especially when there are FREE parking places often just yards away from the main NT car park as in Lacock. Also free parking would stop everyone from parking in dangerous places, double parking and blocking driveways because there would be no need for people to drive round looking for free parking spaces.

Also at Lacock there is a donation box labelled "to help pay for the upkeep of the village" yet nothing states that actually, the money goes to the NT itself and NOT necessarily to pay for the upkeep of the village. I presume that is the same with ALL the NT places. Donations are not separated but go into one big fund and that should be made very very clear.

I appreciate all that the NT do, but feel that they do ask for more and more money from people, which in turn makes their historical homes and places unaccessible for those of us on low incomes. I also disagree with some of the NT tactics which can often be a bit, how shall I put it, bullish?

We visited Wimpole Hall & Home Farm (near Cambridge) over the free-entry weekend. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anybody. The farm (especially the baby pigs/ducks) was a huge hit with my son (just turned one), and there were so many animals to see. I also like that they have a board which tells you what time different animals are getting fed/handled so you can chose what to see (or avoid the crowds - depending on who you are!). There are also two play areas with pedal-on tractors or a tractor-shaped climbing/slide thing.

Being England in April, it did then totally downpour. But ... that gave us a chance to have lunch in their restaurant (they have two so they don't get overcrowded). Plenty of highchairs, paper cups offered instead of glass, microwave for heating babyfood if you needed it. And, most impressively, all the meat in their meals came from Wimpole farm itself. You can't get more local than that!

Since it was still raining (even the NT can't fix the weather!), we then went to see the Hall itself. I was a bit worried about my son toddling about trying to touch their lovely antiques or the baby carrier being two bulky to get round the tight corners in the attic rooms, but the staff were so helpful. They let us leave the carrier in reception (raffle ticket reclaim system) and lent us a hip-seat to contain the toddler on the way round. They also have kid's tour sheets for slightly older kids to hunt out interesting items.

We followed this by a stroll through the gardens and a second trip to see the baby pigs at the farm before heading home.

We would definitely consider going again (but probably when the grandparents are paying!).

stinkymice Mon 23-Apr-12 10:33:33

I am upset to find out that I have just missed out on the free weekend. I love the local NT properties (Exeter/Devon) I we visited a few when DS1 was small, but then 2 more DS came along and now as a family of 5 we just can't afford to visit sad

FuntimeFelicity Mon 23-Apr-12 10:46:21

Just to add to my previous post, some picnic tables under cover (even if just under a shelter) would make it easier for families with younger children to visit. Getting small children into a very busy cafe on a wet day (even without a buggy and before you consider the cost of a lunch) is a nightmare sad.

LaGuerta Mon 23-Apr-12 11:41:44

We visited Bodiam Castle in East Sussex.

The castle is the perfect Medieval Castle and really appealed to my 3 yo DS's notions of what a castle should look like. We dodged an amazing hail storm and explored the castle during a dry spell. My DS liked the introductory film the most hmm but we also had fun climbing up to the top of the ramparts. A word of warning though: climbing back down the steep spiral staircases was a bit daunting for my 3 yo but we managed it safely. I would also advise taking a backpack for carrying babies and toddlers in rather than a pushchair as they can't be taken into the castle itself.

The volunteers and staff were very amiable. We had sandwiches in the cafe during the hailstorm which were fine but nothing exceptional.

There is also a steam railway 5 mins walk from the castle. It's not NT but could be combined with a trip to the castle for a bigger day out.

All in all a very happy day out that the whole family enjoyed.

elizaco Mon 23-Apr-12 12:07:48

Unfortunately we didn't make use of the voucher this year, due to work committments, but think the voucher weekend is a great idea! We love NT properties. Have been family members in the past, but have probably exhausted our local properties, so just tend to visit when holidaying in this country. Think my favourites have to be Hilltop, Kingston Lacy and Arlington Court.

WowOoo Mon 23-Apr-12 12:21:09

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?

We like places with a lot of space for children to run around. Animals are always a bonus. Also like interesting things to see and do.
Some of our local NT places often have events and nature trails to keep the children busy and focussed.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?

We like outdoor stuff the best. Lots of fresh air. Prefer being able to take a picnic and make a day out of it.
I think it's important for children and adults to be around nature - trees, greenery, be able to spot birds and other animals. I am always refreshed after an outing like this.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?

one of my favourite places is Cragside. It has something for everyone. Beautiful grounds, excellent for walks in the woods and also a great children's play area.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

We realised there are some National trust properties that we haven't been to. But, they were closed, so we could not go.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family?
Many.
When we go to visit relatives or for weekends away we always check if there are any properties we can go and visit en route or while we are there.

If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

Most of the places in the NE and Durham area. Lots more dotted around the country.

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?

Without membership, it's expensive. We used to alternate member ship between Englsih Heritage and National Trust. Children have said they prefer NT places so we might renew this year again instead of joining English heritage.

As we go quite often, the best time to go in the summer is as soon as it opens, early in the morning as some of the palces can get quite busy.
When i get a day off during the week, I'll take my youngest as it's much quieter than on weekends.

stubbornstains Mon 23-Apr-12 12:22:15

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

For us, living in Cornwall, it's beach beach beach. We also have a cheap locals' pass for the nearby seal sanctuary, so we go quite often. We're definitely outdoorsy!

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

DS is only 2, so we haven't been to any yet!

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?

See above.

We tried to go to East Pool Mine on Sunday, but encountered a problem with this offer. Neither my friend or I possess a printer, so couldn't print the voucher out.

I tried to call the site to see if there was a way round this, but no answer. So, we thought we'd try going along anyway. No deal, no admission, not even allowed in for a sneaky peek upstairs to see the engine workings. Apparently, if we'd turned up earlier, (we were there at 3), they might have been able to print it out for us. Shame nobody answered the phone then- they could have told us that!

In all fairness, we were then told about a couple of free locals' days later in the year, so we might come back then. But we were definitely left with a sense that the National Trust doesn't really understand the difficulties faced by families on low incomes.

After that, we went to the newly opened Heartlands, down the road, which was great- and free to everyone with no strings attached.

We went to Belton House in Lincolnshire with our voucher, on Saturday. Belton was recommended by other parents at DH's work who have taken their young children there. We had planned on going to the Southwell Workhouse, but decided it's not really suitable for toddlers. The best bits at Belton were the food, as we could afford to eat in the cafe as we didn't pay to get in - DS (2) loved the sandwich / lunch bag that he had and ate more than usual, the 2nd hand bookshop, the minature train and the gardens - Ds spent a good 15 minutes rolling down slopes on the lawns. The bad bit was the weather - it rained very heavily twice, mid afternoon, and had rained for a few days before so there were puddles everywhere - the adventure playground was like a swamp and DH got soaked when it hailed as he was too tall to shelter in the Wendy house! We'll be going back, but in the summer when the weather's been consistently dry and we can take a picnic to reduce costs. Also, their indoor play area should be completed by then.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 23-Apr-12 13:13:03

We went to Clumber and had a lovely time. Weather wasn't too bad, a few showers but generally dry. Wetook our own bikes with us but you can hire bikes there. We biked round the lake which took about an hour. There's lots of other woods/areas where you can bike as well.

There's a new adventure playground there which is good, not as big as the one at Belton but still lots of fun.

I used to have NT member ship but its lapsed now. There aren't many NT places near me so I didn't feel I was getting my money's worth. Clumber is about half an hour away, but there are closer non NT outdoorsy places that we tend to go to. Sherwood, etc.

We do tend to go to one or two nNT places in the sumemr if we're holidaying near any. Cragside is probably my favorite of all the NT places we've been to. Interesting house, lovely gardens, walks, woods, adventure playground. I've been to too many NT props where the houses are just a bit boring even for me as an adult never mind kids. However I realise I'm probably a philistine (sp?).

Going to Norfolk in the summer and plan on is it Bickling Hall - looks good?

I've posted once about our NT day out but realised I hadn't answered the questions in the OP.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

We tend to go for outdoor places now. We have a two year old boy, so anywhere he can run around with a ball or his bike, We also like places with play areas or beaches. We went to Colby Woodland Garden near Tenby, on holiday last year. you could walk through the woodlands down to a beach or wander round the gardens, which was nice.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

I went to loads of National Trust places as a child, often when we went away on holiday we'd go to 2 or 3 places, but DS is too young at the moment to really do visits to NT houses. He got bored and frustrated on Saturday that he couldn't touch things and rooms were roped off with only relatively narrow areas to walk through so it was hard to hold his hand and get past people who wanted to stand and look. Also, when we decided to end our visit to the House at Belton Hall we couldn't get him out quickly, and just had to carry on the prescribed route through the house, which was difficult - we felt awkward carrying a tired and crying toddler past loads of people who wanted to quietly contemplate rooms. DH and I used to go to Clumber Park when we lived nearer, and cycled there. It's lovely. We'll go cycling again once DS is old enough to keep up. We're not keen to stick him on the back of our bikes as he wouldn't get the exercise he gets using his own bike. We prefer to go to NT places in the summer, so we can take a picnic and keep costs down, or when we're on holiday in early autumn as we tend to holiday in the UK. Some NT places are lovely in autumn / early spring if you can walk in the parkland with mist / frost / deer around. very atmospheric.

NewMatic Mon 23-Apr-12 14:56:56

over priced food that you have to q for a lot

LaVitaBellissima Mon 23-Apr-12 15:04:01

We went to Ham House on Sunday, on the website it said that there was giant lawn toys/games, but there was only croquet on the day.
We had a picnic on the lawn and really enjoyed the house, especially the beer tasting in the cellar grin

muminsuburbia Mon 23-Apr-12 15:42:40

We planned to go to Chartwell in Kent this Sunday as it was my father's birthday. We are all members already so weren't making use of the voucher. Unfortunately the place was rammed when we arrived at about midday and they'd had to close the site down - most disappointing and not the best way to celebrate dad's birthday as we then struggled to find somewhere else to go to in the time we had left. In the past we've had some wonderful days out at National Trust properties so I hope this was a one off blip because of the popularity of this weekend.

Rajie Mon 23-Apr-12 15:53:51

Hello!! I did visit a National Trust Garden along with my husband and family yesterday. Thank goodness the weather was ok. We were at Claremont Landscape Gardens and my Son had a whale of a time exploring and following the trail. I live close to Osterley Park and we do go quite often to the park and sometimes we take a picnic with us. Its quality time spent with the family. It was great yesterday as my little one had loads of fun rolling around in leaves. The play area is quite nice though he is a bit too bigh for it, he enjoyed himself with his Dad playing hide-n-seek and pretending to be the king of the castle.

The restaurant was ok and so what was on offer for the kids menu. I personally would take a packed lunch. So a great place to go, with a natural play area and loads of rambling to do!

Lilymaid Mon 23-Apr-12 16:06:26

We've been through the whole NT family experience from babies to very reluctant teenagers. We are probably more outdoors people and retain our NT membership now largely because of its work preserving countryside such as the Lake District.
When the DC were young we did find the attitudes of some of the volunteers pretty off putting. NT was trying to encourage families, but some (certainly not all) volunteers did not want children around in the houses.
When they were teenagers there was nothing of interest for them at all.
My biggest bugbear now is the standardisation of what is on offer in the tea shops. Where once you would get locally produced food on nice china in pleasant tea rooms, the general offering is now bog standard catering stuff served by people who scarcely know how to make a cup of tea. this this drop in standards has coincided with vast improvements in private tea shops/cafes and I would now choose the private tea shop outside the grounds to the NT cafe.

Bramshott Mon 23-Apr-12 16:30:49

We went to Hinton Ampner last weekend and were very impressed with the children's activities - this is definitely an area that has improved lots in the 8 years we've been Trust members. There was a quiz for DD1 (9) which she enjoyed and all the volunteers were really helpful, and a brilliant picture quiz for DD2 (5) which didn't involve reading.

MustControlFistOfDeath Mon 23-Apr-12 16:38:59

We (me, 17mo DS, DM and DSF) went to Tredegar House in Newport.

It has only just been taken over by the NT, and the staff were hopeful that there will be some further improvements/restorations in the future.

We enjoyed it, although most of my time was spent trying to prevent DS from breaking things (no pushchairs allowed in the house) - I was particularly twitchy when he made a beeline for the display stand containing about 60 19C ceramic jelly moulds shock.

The staff were very friendly and knowledgable, and there were staff available in every room to explain about the details/history etc.

It was a shame it rained as the grounds are particularly nice. We didn't venture into the cafe/tearooms due to DS's massive tantrum coupled with a bit of waiting around when reclaiming the pushchair, but it was really busy in there and smelt gorgeous.

Many thanks NT

We went to Wimpole Hall Farm. It was unfortunate that the farm cafe was being refurbished, which also affected the outdoor play area. My son loved this area on a previous trip.

I guess in part due to the weather we didn't feel that we actually saw many animals blush. We really appreciated the free weekend but the normal entry fee of £25 for a family ticket seems expensive so I'm not sure we will go again.

PavlovtheCat Mon 23-Apr-12 18:25:56

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

The beach, places with big open green spaces, big trees to climb. Now DD is growing older, places with some things to do, history about them.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

We love Saltram House, go there a lot with the children, love the Easter Egg Hunt they do, lovely grounds. We also visit Wembury a lot, which is not itself National Trust, but the carpark is, so our membership saves us a lot there and is the main reason for our membership. Love Landydrock and the maze. Greenway Holt, the Agatha Christy Holiday home is next on our list by steam train. Love the family friendliness of most of the places, easy parking, locally sourced food in cafes, beautiful grounds to run in. I like that my membership means I can just nip in with the children if I dont want to spend all day there. There are more places to visit with our new membership and this year is going to be busy visiting waterfalls, small secluded beaches, as well as our usual haunts.

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go? NA.

surelythisisnotnormal Mon 23-Apr-12 18:59:06

I have just written a strongly worded email to the NT about their TOTAL RIP OFF Easter egg hunt at Lyme Park.
Advertised as £2 per child.
It actually cost : £ 5 car park entry <pllllease>, £11 adult entry to house and gardens, and £5.50 per child entry to the house and gardens, so the total cost would have been £31 to go get 2 Cadbury's eggs I didn't want to go to the house and gardens. I wanted to go on an Easter egg hunt. For £ 2.
And THEN three members of the NT said to me "why don't you buy a membership then you can get a refund?"
Hardly a refund. For an egg they probably got free from Cadbury's.

Anyhow, as you were.

Bit elitist innit. Not for us poor single parents wink

LaVitaBellissima Mon 23-Apr-12 19:42:23

surely YADBU

PiedWagtail Mon 23-Apr-12 19:57:41

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
Gardens, forests, rivers - anywhere we can walk and spot wildlife/birds and the kids can run about!

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
Outdoorsy definitely.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
Ooh - hard to choose just one. we like Paradise Wildlife park in Herts and Woburn safari Park in Bucks.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
Killerton house in Devon!

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family?
Several - Housesteads fort, Hadrian's wall, Dunstable downs, Whipsnade tree cathedral, Ashridge estate (one of our favourites!!), Anglesey abbey, Avebury, Waddesdon manor, Claydon, Stowe Gardens, Ascott House, and loads more!!! Visited Killerton House in devon this weekend and really liked it.

What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited?
The nice loos, the good food and service at the cafes, the kids' playparks, the sensible parking all help us to enjoy a day out smile Love the kids' activities and special events as well (for example, in Ashridge estate, bird song early morning walks, badger walks, bat walks, deer spotting walks).

Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
No, they all have some good ualities at any time of year. I esp love going to the gardens in the spring though adns eeing tulips, daffs, blossom on the trees, azaleas, etc etc blooming!

hth

Concordia Mon 23-Apr-12 20:19:01

We used the free voucher this weekend to go to Fountains Abbey in north yorkshire. We had been before, but about 5 years ago when DS was a baby. he is nearly 6 now and DD is 3.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
we prefer outdoorsy stuff.
DS is mad on trains, the best days out we have had lately have been train trips and thomas days.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
i don't know about time of year.
we tend to use national trust car parks for walking etc, in the lakes and on holiday in cornwall (e.g. kynance cove, walking around tarn hows)
in cornwall we enjoyed st michael's mount. this was a surprise as i thought the children aged 3 and 5 would want to wreck the furniture if we did an indoor stately home thingy.
but it was relatively small and child friendly and the causeway and castle on island thing was quite exciting for them too.
they absolutely loved getting a medal at the end too and wore them for the rest of the holiday.
at fountains abbey we mainly wandered around the abbey and then walked up to the visitors centre and playground.
DD aged 3 liked the playground there and they both liked the ride on sheep at one of the exhibitions (swanley grange)

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?
we have been although not that often.

If you're planning to go along to a National Trust house or garden as part of the free weekend on 21st and 22nd April, you can also be entered into the prize draw if you add your feedback on the free weekend to this thread (once you've been of course!). Let us know which National Trust place house or garden your family visited, and your general opinions on the day - highlights, any lowlights(!) etc.

it was quite busy at fountains abbey but we enjoyed it.
it was just me with DCs who are 3 and 5 (DH was busy job hunting).
the children were good so i think they were probably enjoying it!
i liked the fact there was a playground and ice cream to reward the children when they'd done quite a bit of walking around.
DS aged 5 liked trying to follow the map.
i thought the map was clear, when i could get hold of it. liked the way there were walking routes.
there were other activities on due to world heritage weekend but we didn't quite make it to any.
i liked the way there were plenty of picnic benches and thought we could probably come for a full day in the 'summer' and bring a picnic. there also seemed a nice mix of indoor and outdoor stuff although we didn't do much indoor stuff as the children have a relatively short attention span.
children liked the exhibition at swanley grange (? i think) as it was quite child friendly with ace ride on sheep!
also liked not having to pay for parking.
think we would probably go back.
DS certainly asked to go back.
lowlights - the ice cream queue wasn't particularly long but still seemed to take about 10 mins (sorry we are very impatient!). apart from that there weren't any serious lowlights.

UniS Mon 23-Apr-12 20:34:59

I took DS to Castle Drogo on Saturday- with grandparents ( NT members) and DH. We had a really good morning out, DS had visited the castle before with school and I was surprised at how much he remembered and was keen to show DH and I. we got a few odd looks for DS and I lying on the floor in teh dining room looking under teh table for teh electric socket- but we found it. The picture trail was just right for DS's level of reading and he liked hunting for things.
On Sunday we visited Barrington Court in Somerset ( again with GPs) Nice restraunt, family friendly. but not juvenile ( which would have annoyed grandad) . no picture trail, but DS was OK listening to the audio bits particulary about the children who had lived there in the past.

JaffaSnaffle Mon 23-Apr-12 20:57:32

We are NT members and make the most of our membership. I have one DD, (2.2).

We live in Cambs and visit Angelsey Abbey and Wimpole Hall the most. Definitely outdoorsy visits. My DD has a great time in the walled garden at Wimpole and thinks it is Mr McGregor's garden. We often see squirrels and pheasants.

However, my family live in other parts of the country and we break our journey up with visits to NT places on the way. Much nicer than a service station, lovely food, decent loos and changing facilities and a proper chance to walk about somewhere pleasant. Often go to Clumber Park when travelling on A1. We have also used the membership for costal car parks.

We go throughout the year, but less in winter. We have had lovely times in autumn in particular gathering conkers.

My only criticism is the the queuing for food in the restaurants. The food is usually lovely, but sometimes it is a trial to buy, particularly when struggling with a toddler. I have queued for over 10 minutes quite a few times. The set up at Angelsey Abbey is particularly bad. If you would like a cold drink, the fridge is before the queue for food, so you end up holding two or three drinks on a tray, which makes looking after little ones very hard when you have no spare hands, and gets quite heavy after a while.

Llareggub Mon 23-Apr-12 21:05:25

On the subject on cafes, we visited Coughton Court in Warwickshire and had a fabulous experience. One of the NT staff noticed that I was struggling with a toddler and a baby and kept them entertained and safe whilst I got lunch. When I visited the loos I found nappies and wipes - top marks to The National Trust!

EddiesTeddy Mon 23-Apr-12 21:39:27

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
Yes I would say that we are a very outdoorsy family and walk very regularly but mainly on various bridleways and canal/river walks as it is free apart from the petrol money.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
A couple of years back we visited Weston Park, it is not National Trust but a stately home. We didnt go into the house itself but really enjoyed the grounds, particularly the play area for all ages of children.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
Me and my partner used to be members but stopped visiting after my son was born because at the time it was very difficult to get around the houses and grounds with a pram, this is the first time that we have taken my children and they loved it!
I dont think that there is a best time to go, summer is good for picnics etc whereas the houses feel a bit more magical in the frost and snow.
This weekend we visited Attingham Park, a beautiful place with fantastic grounds, the children loved doing the geocaches on there (the main reason that we chose that house over any other) and we really appreciated the mouse trail where there was a mouse in each room for the kids to find as they were soooo enthusiastic and I think with the number of rooms there they may have been bored by the time we finished them all.
We also went to Whitwick Manor near Wolverhampton, I have been here a few times as it is the closest NT property to my home. We found the staff here to be brilliant and so nice to the children (aged three to six) - even taking them to see things they considered may have interested them, for example the picture of a kangaroo on a wall. The other thing that was great here was that the children were allowed to play with the toys in the nursery- a nice change from them being continually told to look but not touch!

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?
I think the National Trust would get more visits from families with young children if they put more emphasis on how fantastic the grounds of the properties are for playing/exploring/picnics etc instead of the image of dragging bored kids around a museum where they cant touch and have to look at furniture.

BenedictsCumberbitch Mon 23-Apr-12 21:45:40

We used the voucher on Sunday to visit Wallington Hall, DD (8) had a face on when I suggested it as going out with her parents is supremely uncool and DS (2) is generally happy to do whatever. It was a particularly soggy day but that didnt stop anyone from having a great day, there were loads of 'St George' activities and even DD thoroughly enjoyed herself doing the knights trail etc. We're not regular NT visitors as the cost is prohibitive but we did enjoy our freebie.

androbbob Mon 23-Apr-12 21:46:15

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?

Beach, parks locally - free days out in fresh air

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

Blenhiem Palace - grounds were great fun

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

Not a great amount of properties near us but we like Speke Hall on a suny day - grounds are great for picnics, playing and walks through woods. Added bonus of watching planes take off from adjacent airport! Has a great playground and maze.

We took advantage of free weekend and went to Rufford Old Hall and went round the house - DS (5) did a bug hunt inside and out which kept him amused.

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?

I think the National Trust would get more visits from families with young children if there was more made for kids to do in thr grounds - giant chess, play area and activities / trails to do.

Q. What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? A. Definitely go for more outdoorsy days out, unless the weather is really awful. Lots of walks, picnics etc

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols? We were abroad for Easter, but we really like a NT place - to which I will refer in the next question!

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go? We really like going to Gibside, it is great for quite small children as there is a lot of space to run about, and quite interesting little paths through the woods, as well as a great new playground. It's a little further away from us, but Cragside is a great day out too. It's just a shame that in Durham there isn't an obvious NT place to visit; we could do with a nice place for Sunday afternoon walks when the weather's a bit wild for the moors.

CakeJunkie Mon 23-Apr-12 23:51:14

We went to Claremont Landscape Garden this weekend. We moved to the area about a year ago, and Claremont had been on my list of things to do, but we'd never quite got round to it til the free weekend gave us a bit of a push.

We first tried to go on Saturday afternoon, but got there to discover that the car park was full, as was the overflow car park on the common to which people were being directed. We could have probably found space at a car park elsewhere on the common, but given that this would have entailed walking a good mile with DS in his pushchair along roads with no pavements, and the highly changeable weather, we gave up for the day.

However, we're not easily deterred, so we had another go at visiting on Sunday morning. DS (23 months) liked the playground, though it was hard for him to climb the castle structure to use the slide (he's very tall and a good climber, so this isn't usually a problem). He enjoyed feeding the birds around the lake but, much to our surprise, his favourite part of the garden was the haha - he could probably have spent the entire morning running down the bank into the ditch and back up the other side, pausing only to squelch through the mud at the bottom. DH and I enjoyed wandering round the garden and the view from the top of the ampitheatre. We were impressed by the range of toddler friendly food in the cafe and all enjoyed the scones. We're still trying to work out how often we're likely to visit and so whether it'd be a good investment to join the NT, particularly given we're outdoorsy, so are less likely to visit the big stately homes with the higher entrance fees.

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Tue 24-Apr-12 09:20:01

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
We're a very outdoorsy family, and love spending time exploring the large estates, grounds and woodlands that NT owns, I am luckily alone in my love for the houses, so I get an hour to myself (to muse about the life I should have lead) while DD and DP play and wander around outside.
Although it's not an NT property we recently visited Drumlanrig, and was blown away by it, the grounds (walking and cycling) was fantastically laid out, the house was gorgeous, and the kids play area was one of the best we've ever been to (although the cakes didn't quite rival the cream tea at Basildon park)

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
Basildon Park is just down the road from us so we spend a lot of time there especially in the summer.
We also frequently visit Mottisfont (most recently for the lovely Angels Exhibit), Wallington, Cragside, Cliveden and Sutton Hoo as they're near family, and have really nice outdoors spaces for DD and DP to enjoy.
We always make sure we visit any local NT properties whenever we go on Holiday in the UK and at out last count had visited about 75% of the properties/places in the book blush
We often try to arrange any long trips via a NT property as it provides a better break than motorway services, and the cakes may play a small part in that decision smile

Basically - although we accept that family annual membership can be a bit pricey (although thankfully DD is only 2 so still free) it's well worth the numbers of days out and free parking it provides.

mulberryoutlet Tue 24-Apr-12 10:16:50

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Annamaria0 Tue 24-Apr-12 11:24:00

I absolutely love National Trust. I am originally from Poland, but have lived in this country for nearly 9 years, and I think NT is doing an amazing job - many countries have no equivalent organisations, and either neglect their heritage, or have to go cap in hand to their governments and taxpayers.
We are NT members and visit NT properties frequently - the last one I saw was Stourhead, which was breathtaking. I always recommend NT to friends.

Didi75 Tue 24-Apr-12 12:18:32

I love taking my 3.5 year old daughter out and about, as its preferable to being stuck at home some times and she enjoys it as she can run around relatively safely and get the chance to jump in muddly puddles (very important for a young child!). We are fortunate enough to live in an area where we have a wealth of places on our doorstep - the Basingstoke Canal, the River Wey, Wisley gardens, Painshill Park and not to mention several national trust properties, as well as all the theme parks for children. Having good rail links also means we can explore London relatively easily too.
One of the best days we have had out is Paultons Park near Romsey. I do not think you can beat it for a birthday treat for a young child.
We have recently joined the national trust and its been brilliant. It gives you an excuse to explore what is around locally and try new places. So far we have been to Polesden Lacey, Hatchlands Park and Claremont Landscape Gardens. I particularly like the events they have running for children and the recent article about the 50 things children should do before they are 12 - I am a big advocate of children getting outside and off their computers etc..
We went to Claremont on Sat and they had farm animals so that was great.
I would agree with someone else's comment on here about the cafes. Some of them are quite small, slow to serve and expensive. If NT are on a recruitment drive which it seems they are, they may need to invest in upgrading these refreshment areas.
Looking forward to being able to explore some more places in the very near future!!!

HairyToe Tue 24-Apr-12 13:51:48

I like visiting National Trust properties, and was always taken as a child. I often take the children there along with my parents when they come to visit as it is a good way of entertaining everyone of all ages.

I do agree the entrance fees are pricy but then so are a lot of places you go to for a day out. Over Easter we went to @Bristol Science Museum (family ticket £35) and Bowood (family ticket £30). For us days out like this are 'occasional treats'.

A couple of years ago I paid £90 for an annual family pass for the National Trust but felt a bit cheated at the time as I didn't end up using it as much as I would have liked and was a bit cross that most places closed over the Winter Season so in effect I felt I was paying for 8 months rather than 12. But that may have just been the particular properties in the area where I lived at the time (Cambridgeshire).

I'm thinking about buying an annual pass again soon as the children are getting older and appreciate it more and I'm also not so against driving a bit further afield now (as compared to when I had babies in tow). There are quite a few properties in my area (Somerset/Wiltshire) but they are mostly at least 40 mins drive away. Also my perspective on the cost of the annual pass has changed - I did think £90 for the family for the year was a bit expensive, but having shelled out £240 for an annual pass for Longleat last year the NT one seems like a right bargain!

We used our voucher to visit Lacock Abbey last weekend and thought it was lovely, and I agree the staff were very friendly especially to the children. Walking round a stately home with an 8 year old, 5 year old and a 2 year old boy (!) is always going to be a bit stressful! In one of the rooms there were some Victorian toys/curiosities laid out and the lovely man there spent ages demonstrating them to the kids and letting them play with them. As others have said though, I do think Lacock is missing a trick by not making more of the Harry Potter connection. DD1 was very excited to see the information board telling you about the filming there and it would have been good if there had been more info about it showing where various scenes were shot etc.

My favourite ever NT property was Wimpole Hall, with Home Farm in the grounds. Spent loads of time there when DD1 was little.

As other posters have said the things that would encourage me to visit NT properties would be more things to interest the children. Games/treasure hunts in the houses are good and things they can interact with (we have been to some places where they could dress up in period costumes). Also although DD1 is interested in history its good if there are other things outside to do to let off a bit of steam once we've 'sensibly' walked round the house, so maybe play equipment/adventure trails in the grounds. Also we've sometimes been lucky enough to visit on days when craft activities have been runnning in various outbuildings - either quite simple painting/glueing pictures or models, but on one occasion DD1 and DD2 joined in a feltmaking activity which was brilliant.

Reading this thread maybe it would be a good idea for the National Trust to produce a booklet specifically aimed at families/children highlighting which properties are most suitable for children of different ages and what they have to offer?

fahmida Tue 24-Apr-12 14:13:20

We visited Knole house/park this weekend and had a great time. The weather was lovely so we made the most of the park. The highlight was of course the wild deers. They were beautiful and the dc enjoyed watching them quitely (even my normally chatty toddler).
they have walks for pushchairs and I can imagine wonderful cycle trails for when my dc are a bit older. Cafe was ok.... And the house was really a quick tour.

Voidka Tue 24-Apr-12 14:22:45

We visited Belton House this weekend (Saturday). We are members anyway so didnt use the free weekend voucher but I think thats a nice idea.

We love Belton and go quite a lot. We are not 'outdoorsy' really but the children enjoy the adventure playground, especially the big twisty tunnel slide. (I would like it more if it had a few more places to sit). We are really looking forward to the beehive indoor area opening next month. We have been in the house before but we dont usually go in as my DC's are a bit too 'touchy' for my liking. The first time we went in DS2 wanted to take his shoes off and get on the bed.

We went to Calke Abbey for the first time for the Easter Egg hunt - it was very nice and we enjoyed a afternoon there. We will go anywhere with a good playground and nice cafe so we are easy pleased!

Im back again to say we used our voucher for belton house on sunday. Oh my god the weather!!! I usually make my family go to educational places as i like to have learned/experienced simething new when i have a day out but stately homes are wasted on my 3yr old. I packed the waterproofs and we stayed in the adventure playground for around three hours! It was torrential rain, hail, mud, dd fell face down in the biggest puddle ever.

But what a fabulous time. We went to the cafe and having read other comments on the thread i was really looking around. The choice of food was excellent but the cost was quite high. The cafe seating area was lovely but absolutely packed because of the rain. The plans for the new indoor play area and cafe looked great too.

We had an absolutely brilliant time, dd and dh rode the little train in the hail much to my amusement. It was lovely to let dd just run riot and get muddy. She jumped in puddles splashing, climbed up trees and got caked in mud. At the end she was crying because she was cold and wet and i changed her into some snuggly clothes in the car as we left. She had got quite upset at falling in mud but we laughed and told her it was fine, it was part of being a kid. It was fab to just give her some proper grubby childhood play. We didnt make it round the house so i'm gonna go back. If they did individual membership to properties i'd join belton in a heartbeat.

If anyone from national trust is reading this thread. I researched belton before i went and it was a one liner about the adventure playground, no pics etc. it was this thread that inspired me to go and see. It was far better than your website indicated and a massive selling point from a family-centric point of view but it wasnt marketed as such at all.

mrspnut Tue 24-Apr-12 16:04:26

I know Doctors, I can't believe on the website and in the handbook there are no photographs of it or a decent write up of it.

It is such a great place to spend the afternoon, and we have annual membership just for Belton really. Three trips over the year and we've made our money back on the annual fee.

mercibucket Tue 24-Apr-12 16:14:31

we were members for a year and visited a lot of places in the north
I enjoyed it but the kids were not very impressed. the playareas are nice but we also have lots of nice playareas and parkland without having to be members
I'm afraid I still find it to be a bit too 'white middle class' for my liking, sorry. I didn't expect it, perhaps it is the types of volunteers, I don't know. Maybe when I am in my 50's I will love it grin

sophonthemove Tue 24-Apr-12 16:16:37

We are already members, and went to Croft castle in south Shropshire, near my mum's. It was lovely- the sun shone! There's great play area, complete with 'castle' then went for a beautiful walk up to old iron age fort with fabulous views. My son (aged 6) was even excited by walled garden (called it the secret garden to entice!) especially the tadpoles and trained apple trees along the walls. We ate in the cafe and there was food to suit all tastes. Highly recommended.

Voidka Tue 24-Apr-12 16:44:49

I agree that Belton isnt really sold on the website - its so brilliant and NT do let it down a bit. It does feature on the '10 best playgrounds' page, but you would only see that if you were looking for it.

Lizzylou Tue 24-Apr-12 20:17:42

We have been NT members for the past 4 years, we always get our money's worth.

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
Somewhere where the children can have fun and run around. Can be a castle/stately home, beach, moorland, whatever we feel like at that time. We've used NT membership during UK breaks as well, great if weather is grim.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
Mixture of both, I have 2 boys so outdoors wins mostly but a mixture of both is great, they both love quizzes and dressing up.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
Rockpooling in Anglesey

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
Yes, none of which were NT, we explored the east coast of Anglesey. We also realised how beautiful Conway was, once you got off the A-road.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited?
*So many! Sizergh Castle, Gawthorpe Hall, Lyme Park, Fountains Abbey, Arlington House, Quarry Bank Mill, Hardcastle Craggs, Chirk Castle, Errdigg, Rufford Old Hall. Think my favourite was Hardcastle crags, because we could have a stomp around and then the boys could push buttons/dress up etc."
Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

No, not really.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Tue 24-Apr-12 21:08:02

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out? Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities? What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years? Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?

We went to Sheffield Park gardens at Easter. It was lovely.

We are not remotely sporty, buy enjoy being outdoors (especially, in my case, if that means being in a garden). The prospect of a cafe and cake always gladdens our heart.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones? What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

We have been NT members for years and now dd is a member too on our family ticket. We go to several properties every year – either for a proper cultural/historical experience or to break a journey (the NT offers splendid coffee and loo breaks blush). Over the many years we have been members, we’ve probably been to the majority of NT properties in southern England.

On the whole, I am very glad we are NT members. We have got a lot from it. Inspired by Horrible Histories, dd loves history and always manages to find something bloodthirsty gory appalling fascinating to look at. I love the gardens, dh loves the kitchen gardens (where they have them) and (again where they have them) dd loves running amok in the playgrounds.

However, there are less good aspects:

Only recently waking up to the existence of members under the age of 40, let alone those under 10: Perhaps we were simply unlucky in the choices of properties to visit when dd was a toddler, but we never found one with a playground. I know many people don’t want their enjoyment of the garden to be disturbed by the sounds of children playing, but surely that’s all the more reason to create a playground?

Unimaginative activities for children: Why is it always a dismal questionnaire attached to a clipboard, and a pencil that one is sternly warned to give back because obviously, having paid £100 to be there, one is trying to steal a pencil? Why not more hand-on rooms, as in most museums? We went to Warwick Castle last year and I thought it was very tacky, but at least they had tried to make it more animated for children.

And finally

The volunteers (described a few pages ago as tutting in cardigans): I know they are responsible for priceless objets and they have to be on their guard for vandals and international art thieves, but must they be so dour? Countless times when dd was a toddler, a volunteer would bark “don’t touch” at her, long before she’d even got near the objet in question. Oh, and the endless and officious checking of tickets gets irksome too. Perhaps a training need here?

WindUpBird Tue 24-Apr-12 21:19:56

Having not visited a NT property for many years I have been to two in the last three weeks. The first was Hatchlands in Surrey (to see the bluebells but they weren't quite out yet) where we (me, DD 6, DS 3 and grandparents!) visited the grounds and the absolute highlight was the newly-constructed woodland play park. I've never seen anything like it and it was fascinating to watch all the children respond to the natural setting in various creative ways. Some were building dens, creating pathways, playing hide and seek in the willow tunnels; all of them were using the materials to create their own unique play park.
We visited Ightham Mote on the freebie weekend, and again I was amazed! We only live half an hour away but have never visited. Even though it was busy the house and grounds still had a very magical feel and I can't think of anything negative to say about it. The house was in a stunning setting and my knight-obsessed children were able to get a sense of what it was like to live in a grand medieval home.

Mousey84 Tue 24-Apr-12 21:41:04

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
I usually try to get an educational element in, and we spend a lot of time in science centers and museums

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
My dd is outdoorsy, but Im nore indoors unless the weather is really good.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
Science Museum in London

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
We visited Fermanagh (about 2.5 hours away by public transport) and its very much an outdoorsy place. We did go to the castle museum and the outdoor pursuits center. We went back last weekend and visited the National Trusts Castle Coole, and plan to do the other NT property, Florence Court in the summer when we go back to stay in the area.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones?
We visited loads with my parents when we were younger and only a few now I have my DD, but mainly as I cant drive, the options are pretty limited. Castle Ward in Co. Down being one of my favourite (and still is), also been to Florence Court, Rowallane Gardens, Murlough Nature Reserve.

What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited? Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?
I think the spring and summer are the best times to go as the kids can run around and really enjoy the grounds to the full. DD is old enough now to appreciate the house tours, but under the age of 6 its a bit too boring. Maybe an alternative family tour in high season might be good.

If you haven't ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family, why is that? Is there anything that you think would make you more likely to go?
I do go, but would go more often if they were easier accessed. If there were special bus tours (eg with Translink in NI) in the summer months, Id happily go, but having to get two or three buses to get to a town, then a taxi to get to the NT house/ reserve is just too much hassle! In fact, if there was some just running in the summer, Id prob get a membership.

As I said, we visited Castle Coole on Saturday, it was alright but we wont be back again for a while as there isnt enough to draw us back. The park was small, but a good mix of equipment, the shop was also small, but the products seemed well thought out and relevent. There are gardens set away from the house which we didnt get to see.

In a somewhat irrelevent point - my brother and I got plastic plates from an NT property (pretty sure it was Castle Ward, but too young to remember really), about 20 years ago, and they still look brand new despite hundreds of runs through the dishwasher. Thats the kinda souvenier I like to buy smile

AlmaMartyr Wed 25-Apr-12 10:53:32

We're members and go to National Trust places a lot. The kids are still little so we avoid going inside the houses too much but they love running around the gardens. Lots of the events are really good these days and I think the NT is getting a lot more child friendly although places do differ. I went to one Halloween trail at our nearest place and it was a bit dull and involved taking the buggy down huge flights of stone steps and dodgy rocky paths. Some other events have been great though. Parking is generally easy and membership is good value if you live near a few places. Restaurants often have good things for kids, like mealboxes, but I'm often underwhelmed - not much choice, especially for a vegetarian.

leddeeburdee Wed 25-Apr-12 12:05:51

We're National Trust members and go to the various properties often. Our favourite local one is Waddesdon Manor but we've been to a whole host of them. We quite often plan them into any long car journeys we take within the UK as an alternative lunch venue. That way we get to let the DC's run around for a bit and also enjoy the food which is much better than stopping at a service station!

We went to Corfe Castle over Easter which was terrific. The DC's are 3 and 5 and loved doing the hunt for clues and winning the medals at the end of it for completing their crib sheets. They've still got the medals hung up in their bedrooms - they were a big hit. We combined that with a trip from Swanage on the steam train, although the National Trust cafe at Corfe wasn't as good as many of the other National Trust places for eating I found.

We are a very 'outdoorsy' family and I haven't been into many of the actual houses since having the DC's. We tend to focus on the grounds and just generally exploring and playing. We go to Keswick at least once a year and have found our membership really useful for having free access to the carparks at the start of the walks; and similarly when we go to Studland beach in Dorset and Barafundle in Pembrokeshire.

I'm not sure that there is a particularly good time of year for us - we go year round. If I was going in the school holidays I would probably plan to arrive early or later in the day to miss some of the crowds, but I've never had a particular problem with parking or it being too crowded.

alreadytaken Wed 25-Apr-12 15:57:18

What sorts of places do you like to go for family days out?
It's varied with the age of the child(ren). National Trust was good when they were small enough to enjoy collecting leaves and so on. It's not good for teenagers.

Are you 'outdoorsy' as a family or do you prefer indoor activities?
Bit of both.

What's the best place you've visited as part of a day out in recent years?
With teenagers I'm afraid it's theme parks.

Did you discover any new family day out destinations over the Easter hols?
no.

Have you ever visited any National Trust houses or gardens with your family? If so, which ones?

Quite a few. Used to fuind membership useful wehn travelling around the UK as you'd always find somewhere to visit.

What do you/your DC like about the one(s) you've visited?
Space to run around, clean toilets, cakes and plant shops.

Is there a certain time of year that you think it's best to go?

In dry weather.

We have sometimes taken a child from another family on the free weekends. It is seen by their families as rather a middle class - and expensive - thing to do and they don't really see why anyone would bother. Brownsea Island might win a few converts to the NT. I'm afraid children like more than a nature trail clipboard these days, Warwick Castle might be tacky but they loved it. They loved Chepstow castle too.

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 25-Apr-12 17:21:12

Hi all - thanks to everyone who added their comments/reviews to this thread - the National Trust asked me to pass on this message:

"The National Trust would like to thank all the Mumsnetters for their responses and really appreciate the honest feedback. We’ll be reading all the responses and where appropriate sharing them with the relevant properties you’ve visited and ultimately using them to help make National Trust days out even better for families."

I'm also pleased to announce that the winner of the prize draw is...

Concordia

Congratulations - a £100 National Trust voucher is yours! I'll PM you to get your details.

Concordia Thu 26-Apr-12 18:54:15

woo hoo, thanks mumsnet! it is lovely to win something, we will make good use of the vouchers.
I have sent you a message back helen.

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