October Half Term is looming and if you’re already struggling to think of how to keep the little treasures happy, look no further! Autumn is the perfect time to get children outdoors to explore their natural surroundings, with hundreds of family-friendly walks from the National Trust. Whilst you’re out and about, you won’t worry about putting that extra load in the machine, or answering the phone and the 101 other disctractions that stop us spending time with the children, so don’t let the weather put you off – get out the wellies and the waterproofs and have some fun with your kids!
From spooky trails to geocaching challenges, red squirrel walks and fairytale adventures to picking blackberries and collecting conkers, there is lots to see and do outdoors during the autumn months and the National Trust in partnership with PruHealth are recommending hundreds of routes for all abilities, available to download for free from www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greatbritishwalk. Once you’ve been out and about, why not inspire other families to do the same by sharing your favourite walks online.
Here are ten of the top National Trust places to enjoy a walk with the family:
Nymans, West Sussex
The Messel family who designed the garden made sure there was a surprise around every corner – perfect explorer kids. Try the family trails in the garden and woods, surrounded by exotic shrub and trees and beautiful woodlands and lakes.
Family Geocaching challenge, 1 September – 4 November, 10am to 4:30pm
As part of the Great British Walk, Nymans has launched an exciting new geocaching trail for 2012 in Nymans woods. It’s a treasure-hunt for the technological age.
Normal admission charges apply. Booking not needed. For more information please call 01444 405250.
Basildon Park, Berkshire
There’s plenty of space to run around on the estate of this 18th-century house. Explore waymarked trials through the historic parkland and head into the woods at Streatley Hill. Don’t miss the dead tree in Pheasant Park – it has been left there to encourage creepy crawlies. After a refreshing walk, head for the new family activity space in the house.
Woodland welly walk, 27 October, 10am – 5pm
Get your wellies on and go for a stomp around the parkland to see if you can spot all the items on our bingo trail sheet.
Normal admission charges apply. Booking not needed. For more information please call 0118 984 3040.
Brockhampton Estate, Herefordshire
This fairytale, medieval moated manor house is set in an extensive area of woodland and traditionally-farmed land. There are miles of walks through the park and woodland, featuring ancient trees and heaps of wildlife – don’t miss the natural play area and orienteering course.
Family landscape detective walk, 27 October, 2pm to 4pm
Join Herefordshire Archaeology for a fascinating glimpse into how the stunning parkland at Brockhampton was formed. Families can learn how to read the landscape and soak up the views. Meet at the Estate Car Park.
Normal admission charges apply. Adult £5, Child £2.50. Booking is essential. For more information please call 01885 482077.
Chirk Castle, Wrexham
Chirk Castle, which stands on a hilltop overlooking the Ceiriog valley, is a magnificent medieval castle full of mystery and intrigue. Uncover 400 years of family living, take in views across nine counties, explore the award-winning gardens with rare trees and shrubs or try on costumes and play games in the family rooms. Be on best behaviour though, as naughty children and parents will end up in the stocks.
Haunted woodland walk, 27 October – 4 November, 11am – 4pm
Follow the walking trail through the haunted woods. What will you find hiding amongst the trees? There are also ghosts hiding inside the castle.
Normal admission charges apply. Booking not needed. For more information please call 01691 777701
Brownsea Island, Dorset
Brownsea Island is an unspoilt natural haven with a colourful history. Throughout its history it has been a coastguard station, a Victorian pottery, a daffodil farm and was once the perfect haunt for smugglers who used to hide their booty in the castle.
Children’s red squirrel walks, 27 October – 4 November, 11:30am – 12:30pm & 2pm – 3pm
Spot red squirrels, learn how they bury their food and see if you can remember where you put your secret supply of chestnuts on this guided woodland walk!
Normal admission charges apply. Booking not needed For more information please call 01202 707744.
This impressive family home is surrounded by lawns, lakes, parkland and woodland that has been the backdrop for family adventures since 1688. Look out for woodpeckers in the wildlife hide and the children can let off steam in the adventure playground.
Forest frights, 31 October, 4:30pm – 7:30pm
Dare you brave our forest of frights, full of strange happenings and spooky characters? All adults to be accompanied by courageous children on this terrifying trail through the eerie woods. Enter at your peril.
Adult £2, Child £4, Family £10. Booking not needed. For more information please call 01670 773600
Longshaw offers spectacular views of the Peak District, with ancient woods, meadows, parkland, heather moorland and many unusual sites – from millstone quarries to packhorse routes. The adjacent Eastern Moors offer a great network of footpaths for family exploring.
In the deep dark woods, 31 October, 4:30pm – 7pm
Come and join us for some spooky fun and a woodland walk around the Longshaw Estate, hearing haunted tales of times gone by. Includes a witches broth (seasonal soup and a roll)
Adult £8, Child £5. Booking is essential. For more information please call 01433 670368
Hatfield Forest, Essex
This ancient woodland is a rare surviving example of a medieval royal hunting forest. Today it is a paradise for walkers and families with young children – with 1000 acres to explore. There are miles of grass tracks for walking and cycling and the forest is teeming with wildlife.
Family deer rut walk, 31 October, 4pm – 6pm
Join an experienced Hatfield Forest deer stalker to watch fallow deer during their rutting season. Learn tracking and stalking skills as long as you are very quiet! This walk is suitable for children under 16 as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
Adult £7, Child £5, Family £20. Booking is essential on 0844 2491895. For more information please call 01279 870678.
Tyntesfield, near Bristol
This enchanting Victorian home, just as the Gibbs family left it, is surrounded by flower-filled terraces and a healthy dose of the great outdoors on the wider estate – the views are breathtaking. Get active with the family on the garden ‘play trail’ or become wildlife detectives around the estate.
Feel good Friday: walk with us, 2 November, 10am – 2pm
Walk with us from Tyntesfield to Failand, via woodland trails, Tyntesfield’s summerhouse and meadow fields packed full of fascinating fauna and wildlife. Find out more about Failand and the Tyntesfield estate from the Head Gardener and Ranger on this family focused walk.
Adult £2, Child £2. Booking is essential on 0844 249 1895. For more information please call 01275 461 900.
Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire
Set in a secluded valley, this informal woodland garden is always bursting with colour and wildlife. Enjoy atmospheric woodland walks, surrounded by the reds and golds of autumn. Don’t miss the new waterfall walk in the West Wood.
Family woodland expedition, 3 – 4 November, 10:30am – 12.30pm
Take a walk on the wild side with Head Gardener Steve Whitehead and discover just how much fun you can have in the woods. Activities will include tree climbing, rope swings, log balancing and lighting a camp fire.
Normal admission charges apply. All tickets £2. Booking is essential. For more information please call 01834 811885
National Trust and PruHealth have recommended hundreds of routes for all abilities, available to download for free.