We know that many of you have discovered some wonderful new places for days out with the kids in our Top 5 for Creative Kids and Top 5 for Woodland Playgrounds features – thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us! Next up in the series is the perfect collection of National Trust sites for children who just love animals. Got some favourite spots that aren’t on the list? Feel free to add your recommendations in the Comments section below. Don’t forget, you can also check out the rest of our Best National Trust Sites for Kids series for more ideas.
1. Wimpole Estate
Wimpole Home Farm near Royston, Cambridgeshire is an impressive mansion with stunning Georgian interiors, walled gardens and herbaceous borders. All of which are definitely worth a visit, but let’s skip to the best part for animal lovers – the Home Farm.
Built over 200 years ago, the Wimpole Home Farm clashes the traditional with the modern to create a fantastic working farmyard. It plays home to many rare breeds of sheep, pig and horses to name a few and there are multiple hands-on activities for your get-stuck-in kids. Parents and children alike can ask the Stockman about the animals to learn more about farming, or quiz the gardeners about what to grow and when.
Maybe your children would love to groom ponies, collect chicken eggs, spot piglets or meet the rabbits – all of these things (and more!) are possible at the Wimpole Home Farm. Farm activities are held daily, including living-history days, bat and wildlife walks and free family trails. Open-air theatre events run through the summer too.
There’s even a woodland adventure playground complete with slides, swings and mini pedal tractors. A day out at Wimpole Estate is guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained!
The Wimpole Estate is open daily from 10.30am – 5pm, and costs £38.70 for a family ticket, or £24.90 for just the farm.
Call Wimpole Estate on 01223 206000 for more information.
Wallington near Morpeth, Northumberland, is a typical National Trust property: quaint, old fashion and cottage-like on the outside, yet grand, lavish and exciting on the inside.
While the house itself is beautiful, it’s the walled gardens that are worth a visit here. The grounds of Wallington consist of huge lawns, lakes and woodland, including a conservatory and a beautiful grassy courtyard area. This house is the perfect place for a picnic. Throughout the summer there is also an open-air theatre, guided walks, music, family fun days and hands-on activities such as den building for the children.
Let’s not forget the reason why Wallington has been included in the ‘Top 5 Sites for Animal Lovers’ though. Not only can your kids spend the afternoon spotting squirrels from the wildlife hide, they can also take a look at the cows, sheep, pigs, horses, chickens and various other farm animals right on the Wallington estate!
The Wallington Farm Shop is an integral part of the local community – you can even sample it yourself in the farm shop kitchen. Why not take home some fresh sausages, free-range chicken or baked there-and-then cake as a souvenir of your day?
The house is open daily from 11am – 5pm during school holidays, and the gardens are open longer from 10am – 7pm. A family ticket is £27, or £18.75 for just the gardens. Please note that they do not have credit card facilities at the entrance!
Call Wallington on 01670 773967 for more information.
Tatton Park is perhaps THE most exciting National Trust site for children. Witness the working 1930s-style farm by petting the goats, feeding the chickens or taking part in one of the many activity days over the summer. You’re guaranteed to want to go back.
Tatton Park in Knutsford, Cheshire, is a stunning National Trust property set in a 1000-acre deer park. The house features a myriad of Victorian antiquities ranging from china and silverware to furniture and books. Outside there is an array of gardens to choose from, including a walled garden, Japanese garden, rose garden and orangery, all of which contain 250 years of history.
As magnificent as Tatton Park’s house is, it’s definitely the parkland that holds the key attraction. Not only it there a new nature trail – your kids will love to spot the plants and wildlife as they wander around the parkland – in the grounds of the house there is an outstanding 1930s-style working farm, complete with several traditional breeds of animal.
Children can feed the chickens, meet the pigs and even see newly hatched chicks and ducklings in the new indoor hatchery! If that’s not enough, there are also donkeys, horses, cows and a lovely little sheepdog named Kippy. Your children won’t know where to go to first – especially when they see the new all-weather play area.
On Sat 16th and Sun 17th July it’s Rare Breeds Weekend at the farm, and 16th and 23rd August see ‘Boredeom Buster’ days where kids can join the rangers to hunt for mini-beasts in the park’s ponds!
The house and farm are open Tues- Sun, from 12pm – 5pm. Admission for everything is £20 for a family of up to 5 people, or £13 if you only want to see the farm.
Call Tatton Park on 01625 374435 for more information.
4. East Riddlesden Hall
East Riddlesden Hall in Keighly, West Yorkshire, is a 17th century manor house with medieval looks and a ghost-filled past. Rumour has it that several spirits patrol the corridors and move things around! The house has a cosy, relaxing feel and is full of tapestries, oak furniture and spooky goings on. This house is for the brave kids among you!
The outside of East Riddlesden Hall however tells a completely different story. Picturesque cherry trees, clematis and daffodils in award-winning gardens offer a serene and peaceful environment in which to play and relax.
For the little nature lovers, there’s a nature-themed play area including a climbing wall, swings, slides and animal rockers. Children’s events and trails run through the holidays, and there’s even a grass maze to get lost in! Check out the new herb and composting areas to add a bit of education to your day too.
East Riddlesden Hall is open Sat- Weds from 10.30am – 4.30pm and is £12.90 for a family ticket.
Call East Riddlesden on 01535 607075 for more information
5. Crom Estate
The Crom Estate in Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, Ireland is set in the breathtaking landscape of the Upper Lough Erne. It comprises of 2000-acres of nature conservation areas, woodland, castle ruins and picturesque islands, making it a brilliant place for young explorers!
To truly appreciate the location’s striking beauty, the Crom Estate is definitely a place worth visiting on a bright, sunny day. It’s even possible to stay on the estate for up to a week in one of the seven holiday cottages, or at the campsite – perfect for leaving no stone of this incredible scenery unturned!
Wildlife lovers will have a great time on one of the guided nature walks through the woodland, run regularly by the conservation warden. Take a tour of the islands and see how many rare species you can spot, or wander around the historic castle ruins and pretend you’re in a fairytale.
Still not enough? Why not hire a boat and explore the island for yourself? For the most daring family members there’s the chance to have a go at coarse angling or pike fishing. Visit the mammal hide to try and spot some rare pine martens too!
The Crom Estate is open daily from 10am – 7pm, and costs an incredible £7.50 for a family ticket. If you’re in Ireland this summer, don’t miss out!
Call the Crom Estate on 028 6773 8118 for more information
Special offer on National Trust memberships:
Buy your annual National Trust membership online today and pay by Direct Debit, and you’ll get 3 months free! For a typical family, that’s only £66.38 for the whole year.
As a member, you’ll enjoy free admission to over 300 National Trust sites, including 30 of the best family friendly sites, free parking at the sites and at most of the National Trust coastal, woodland and countryside car parks, and lots of information about the sites you’ll be visiting. While stocks last, they’ll also throw in a set of binoculars – great for budding birdwatchers.
National Trust members also enjoy reduced rates (and occasionally free entry) at historic sites in other countries including Canada, Australia, The Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados, New Zealand, Malta, Cayman Islands, Italy, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey and Scotland.
Buying or renewing your National Trust membership through Really Kid Friendly helps make it possible for us to run this free resource for parents and carers living in and visiting the UK. Thanks for your support!