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Days out - recommended by mumsnet members

142 replies

Marina · 29/05/2001 10:03

Following on from Tigermoth's suggestion about festivals, fetes etc, how about recommending your "grand days out" for families here?
We had the nicest time yesterday with our two year old son. We drove to Tenterden in Kent (easiest via M20, but a prettier route via Goudhurst from A21/A262) and rode the Kent and East Sussex Steam Railway to Bodiam Castle (National Trust). The line was only extended to the castle last year with Millennium Fund money and parking is much easier in Tenterden. The railway has little stations crammed full of memorabilia and gadgets and is run by child-friendly steam fans. It travels along the Rother valley which is full of waterfowl, reed beds, BIG cows, etc. You can even have lunch, tea or a drink on board.
Tenterden has a cafe, a children's play and picnic area, baby changing facilities and a station cat. Bodiam has ruins, a moat with tame carp in it, a river and lots of spiral staircases and dank little holes to explore, plus the usual NT facilities of proper loos for everyone, picnic space, tearooms etc. There is a lovely-looking Shepherd Neame pub on the riverbanks and, although we didn't have time, there is also a river barge running between the castle and nearby Northiam (close to one of the stations). All of it could be managed with a pushchair. What did you all get up to?

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bossykate · 26/03/2003 19:39

thank you so much everyone for these excellent suggestions. following discussion with dh, hever castle is the front runner - pending weather check for sunday.

for anyone in the midlands, i would highly recommend mary arden's house (she was shakespeare's mother) in wilmcote, warwicks. it is about 4m out of stratford-upon-avon, where i recently went to escape from dh and ds for the weekend

it is in a very pleasant rural location and is very historic and picturesque. there is an exhibition devoted to farming in tudor england (ok, i know that might not sound all that great but i found it very interesting!), plus lots of farm animals and a falconry. there are pleasant walks and cycle rides nearby, plus of course stratford itself.

thanks again, everyone, lots of scope here!

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judetheobscure · 26/03/2003 20:33

bossykate - I think you've made the right choice with Hever - I love it, beautiful Italian gardens, lovely compact castle which the kids had great fun "exploring" and, of course, the mazes. Was thinking about food though - I would say you would be best off with a picnic (prepared by children of course!); on Mothers Day the queues are likely to be horrendous especially if the weather is good.

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bossykate · 02/04/2003 19:45

hello everyone.

a big thank you to those who recommended hever castle. we went there on sunday and it does live up to the recommendations here!

jude, you are absolutely right about the food. it is vile! i highly recommend bringing a picnic.

but other than that we had a wonderful day.

thanks again

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mckenzie · 02/04/2003 20:08

a also a big thank you to those who recommended Wimpole Farm in Royston. DS absolutely loved being so close to the animals and as the minature tractors were a huge hit.
We learnt 2 things though from our trip -

  1. never go to Wimpole Farm at about 2pm. We arrived about 10.45 and hardly had to queue at all for anything but by 2pm it was heaving adn the queues were horrendous

  2. take a picnic. we bought some food from the farm shop but the families having a picnic on the grass looked like they were having much more fun and saving a huge amount of money I should think.(I wont tell you what we paid for 'lunch' as it makes me want to cry).
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SueW · 02/04/2003 22:14

Can't remember if I've posted this elsewhere but I joined the National Trust on Saturday. They had a van in Sainsburys car park and were offering 3 months free (or 25% off if you want to look at it that way). Just over 45 quid instead of 60 for a family with two adults and all their children.

Have already used the membership once for Calke Abbey on Monday and planning to use it plenty over the next year. Look out for those vans and special offers.

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Marina · 02/04/2003 22:39

Calke Abbey is really something, isn't it SueW! And I guess you can reach Hardwick Hall from your part of the UK fairly easily. Giant mansion built by power-crazed matriarch with five (deceased) husbands. I should think Bess of Hardwick would made some interesting Mumsnet contributions.
Glad you had good times bk and McKenzie!

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SueW · 02/04/2003 22:45

Yes, Marina, Calke Abbey was amazing. Went with DD and friend and friend's mum. Our children were the only ones there (early break up from school) and all the volunteers made a huge fuss of them. We bought quiz sheets suitable for their age and they had great fun spotting the right things.

We went to watch lambing, then a big walk round the grounds. Lunch in the restuarant (children allowed half portions of adult menu); a walk around the house followed by a game of Scooby Doo Mysteries in the tunnels then tea and cake. Finally hide and seek around the gardens! 4-5 hours on our feet. DD slept in until 11.20am yesterday!

Not really a cheap day out though as I spent the best part of £20 on food and drink for the two of us. Very nice it was though.

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Batters · 03/04/2003 10:02

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tigermoth · 03/04/2003 10:49

yes I've been, and no I wouldn't recommend it, batters. We went one easter when ny oldest son was 5 and somehow the whole thing didn't gell for us.

A highly personal view, so feel free to ignore: The farm is near a busy road, the grounds are flat and, imo, uninteresting and unatmospheric. There is no stately home, well tended gardens or woodland to provide a pleasant backdrop. There is also is little sense of 'farm' unless you count the indoor exhibits of hop farm life. My son found them totally boring, actually I did too. Sorry any hop farmers out there.

I remember feeling increasingly resentful throughtout the day as my purse got emptier and emptier. The entrance fee was steep,
very little was free and the large restaurant served nasty food in a nasty setting.

I won't go on, chiefly because I cannot remember much more about it. I just know that vowed never to go there again.

HTH

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Batters · 03/04/2003 11:11

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Batters · 03/04/2003 11:26

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Marina · 03/04/2003 20:02

Might see you there then Batters, after the rave reviews Hever has had we were thinking of going there too!

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mckenzie · 03/04/2003 20:26

where is Hevers please?

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XAusted · 03/04/2003 20:27

For any Midlanders, Chatsworth is great for a day out. Avoid the house if you have little ones but wander round the gardens, paddle in the Cascade, get lost in the maze ... There's a farm and playground too if you feel like spending the extra money. And if you get the chance to lose the kids, the house is well worth a visit on your own but prepare to get a stiff neck gazing at painted ceilings!

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Marina · 04/04/2003 12:45

McKenzie, Hever is near Edenbridge in NW Kent. Tigermoth or bossykate can probably give you accurate directions by car but it is an easy day trip from anywhere in S or W London, or from E Sussex/Surrey (or indeed Kent).

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Batters · 04/04/2003 12:50

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sykes · 04/04/2003 14:36

We went to Hever castle last week and it was v good. So good we're going back for the Easter trail thing. Didn't eat there as the restaurants seemed to close v early - went to pub across the road which has a beer garden (it was incredibly smokey inside) but was rather scuzzy. Food not v nice at all. The water maize is supposed to be excellent at the castle for children of all ages - I think - but not sure if it's open yet. Apparently if it is a change of clothes is recommended.

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Maudy · 04/04/2003 15:42

Does anyone have any recomendations for days out in the South West. Haven't been in Bristol for long so don't know any of the attractions. I have 2 boys - 5yrs and 9mnths. Any help greatly appreciated.

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Ems · 04/04/2003 15:46

Maudy, we really enjoyed '@ Bristol'. Hands on science place, plus IMAX cinema, and other bits and pieces, including a pizza place and if its sunny, they have lots of fountains and water things outside in a big piazza area.

Your 5 yr old will enjoy it and there is lots going on for a babe to be amused!

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jac34 · 04/04/2003 15:59

There is a steam railway at Taunton (or just outside), goes to Minhead.
We were planning to go last year, I think it's called the Sommerset Steam Railway, they did have a website, with time tables etc. Not sure, but they proberbly open Easter time, but it will say on the website.

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Elderberry · 05/04/2003 04:06

Not sure if this counts as the SW but is a good day out for parents and kids - Slimbridge bird reserve (somewhere off the M5). We went with friends and their 2.9 year old plus our ds age 1 and we all really enjoyed it.

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emsiewill · 05/04/2003 08:34

Ems, didn't you find @Bristol expensive? I've looked at the website, and although it looks very entertaining with plenty to do, it was about £60 for a family of 4(IIRC). Is it worth it?

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Mumkey · 06/04/2003 13:12

Anyone eaten at Smollensky's on the strand recently? Hoping to take my 8 and nearly 4 yearold for birthday treat next weekend.

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prufrock · 06/04/2003 22:14

No - but can I suggest an alternative? I always used to take my little brother and sister to the Chicago Rib Shack (Knightsbridge) when they came to visit and they LOVED it. Posh enough to impress, they do burgers (but quality meat) or ribs (and it is amazing how many ribs a 6 year old can eat), wonderful desserts, and kids seem to enjoy wearing the plastic bibs and getting wonderfully messy, (and watching adults do the same). They also make a mean margarita

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Batters · 07/04/2003 07:00

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