With holidays abroad off the cards for many this summer the National Trust is encouraging everyone to get back to basics and enjoy a summer filled with simple, sensory pleasures.
The unmistakable smell of freshly cut grass, the reassuring sight of blue and sunny skies, the first glimpse of the sea, the tickle of grass between your toes. Nothing comes close to summer at home – and it’s finally here. National Trust gardens and parklands are popping with colour, woodlands are alive with chirping birds, meadows are swaying in the breeze, lakes are glistening, and brooks are babbling.
What’s more, over 100 National Trust places, will be encouraging everyone to experience these simple, sensory pleasures with their summer activity programme ‘Get Set Go’. Thanks to funding from Sport England, visitors will be able to have a go at over 20 different activities; such as ‘go barefoot’, ‘make a splash’, ‘work together’– to stretch those lockdown legs – to explore and get outdoors together – and to connect with nature.
A range of downloadable activities will also be available online, for everyone to enjoy – with simple ideas for making the most of summer in the garden, the local park or even (whisper it), for rainy days spent indoors.
Here’s the National Trust’s pick of the best places to enjoy in Shropshirethe West Midlands this summer:
Get ready for a summer of fun and adventure at Attingham. Bring the family and enjoy being active outdoors surrounded by the sights and sounds of summer. Feel the grass beneath your feet and the sun on your face as you run free in the Field of Play, have a go at a new sport or activity, or follow the family trail. Take the opportunity to find out more about the ‘below stairs’ at Attingham with the basement of the mansion open for ‘Servants’ Home: Putting on a Country House Party’ in early summer, and from early August discover a new story in the mansion.
At Benthall you can play traditional family games outdoors, roll out your picnic blanket on the lawn and enjoy views across the parkland. How many times can you roll down the hill in the garden?
Carding Mill Valley
Dip your toes in the stream and enjoy your lunch in the great outdoors. Follow a nature themed ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ family trail to discover more about the wildlife, people and plants that call the Shropshire Hills home.
Create your own adventures at Dudmaston this summer. Follow the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ summer family trail for nature themed fun in the outdoors. Roll down the hill in the garden, play pooh sticks in the dingle and watch out for wildlife on the water. Bring your bikes and cycle the Explorer trail in Comer Woods. There’s outdoor games and activities in the meadow too.
Wish you were here? Take a ‘day trip’ on a great British summer holiday day out at Sunnycroft this July and August, inspired by the Lander family’s seaside holidays in the UK during the 1900s. The team are bringing some of the best bits of being by the seaside to ‘Sunnycroft on Sea’. Take a promenade around the garden, enjoy a game of badminton, skittles or croquet and settle into a deckchair or laying out your picnic blanket on the lawn. Families will enjoy a dig in our sandpits, and taking aim with the child sized archery set.
Your next adventure in nature is waiting for you this summer at Berrington Hall. Run wild in the natural play area, build a den in the parkland, stop for a picnic by the lake and tuck into your favourite ice cream from the Stables cafe.
This summer, explore woodlands, streams and orchards, taking inspiration from the National Trust’s ’50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ activities. Families can enjoy the newly planted orchards, where there’s space to run and play – rumour has it a rather magnificent tug boat will be setting sail there in August. Brockhampton is also taking part in the Summer of Play with Sport England, so families can get active and reconnect with nature in the orchards surrounding the manor house.
Croft Castle and Parkland
From the wild woodlands to picnics in the vibrant cottage gardens, your summer holiday isn’t complete without a family day out at Croft Castle. It’s the perfect backdrop on a lovely balmy summer’s day with plenty of space to play and lots to see and do. Croft is also taking part in the Summer of Play with Sport England, so families can run wild in the newly recreated natural play area which will be open once again this summer holiday.
The Weir Garden
Nothing beats a sunny day by the River Wye in the school holidays. Head to The Weir Garden to play and relax as you soak up the warm, summer sunshine. Spot birds and play hide and seek – the garden is your oyster, just waiting to be explored. The Weir is also taking part in the Summer of Play with Sport England, so families can run, jump and play throughout the garden this holiday.
Biddulph Grange Garden
Get active with the Sport England partnership and enjoy games and activities on the tennis lawn this summer. Stroll through the Woodland Walk to discover the woodland play area, delight in the Dahlia display and pause to feed the fish in the lily pond.
Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses
Follow the free, self-guided family trail for summer fun on the Edge. Build dens in the woods, track wild animals and go on a nature walk at night. On a quiet, clear night you’ll see a sky full of stars and maybe some nocturnal creatures too.
Shugborough is a fabulous spot for trying out some of the National Trust’s ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities. Roll down the hill underneath Hadrian’s Arch, find the best bridge in the Midlands for Pooh sticks or build a den in the Explorers’ Wood play area. There’s lots of space for picnics and walks to explore for two and four legs.
Baddesley’s lakeside walk is a great place for families to enjoy some dappled shade and spot wildlife such as geese, ducks, moorhens and heron. Listen out for the resident woodpecker too. Around the estate you’ll also find lots of great spots for simple outdoor activities like balancing on felled logs and finding natural materials for den building. Have a look at the National Trust’s list of ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ for inspiration for more outdoor activities.
Picnic on the paddock by the river this summer and take a lazy stroll through the parkland. You might even spot a young fawn in the sanctuary. Get stuck into the conservation stations over the summer holidays. Learn about how the Charlecote team look after the plant life and wildlife across the parkland. Activities will change over the summer holidays so keep popping back for more outdoor fun.
Visitors to Coughton can enjoy a range of summer activities on their visit, from walks around the award-winning gardens, to enjoying a picnic with views across the parkland. Visitors can head up to Timm’s Grove and explore the wood – a great place to listen out for wildlife – or take a longer walk through the Warwickshire countryside to the 14th-century Kinwarton Dovecote.
Visitors to Packwood can enjoy a range of summer activities on their visit, including exploring the estate with one of the walks which are great for all the family, including dogs. The lake at Packwood is a great place for spotting geese, swans and moorhens, whilst listening out for smaller birds and spying sheep in the neighbouring fields. The Welly Walk is a great trail for all weathers with felled trees and logs for balancing, materials for den building and lots of opportunities to have a go at some of the National Trust’s nature themed ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ activities.
Upton House and Gardens
Take a walk through the seasons at The Seed that Grew the Tree nature poetry exhibition, showcasing the artwork of award-winning children’s book illustrator Frann Preston-Gannon. There’s an exquisite nature scene and poem for every month of the year, from foxes in winter snow to otters and oystercatchers in summer. Follow the family trail and write your own poem inspired by the nature and wildlife you can discover at Upton.
Wightwick Manor and Gardens
Wightwick’s barefoot walk will be up and running again this summer thanks to a grant from Sport England. There is a family activity pack to try and the woodland play area has fully re-opened with an ice-cream kiosk on busy days.
Families will be able to enjoy a range of self-led activities on their explorations around the park, inspired by the National Trusts list of ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11¾’.
Enjoy a sensory experience in the cottage garden, wander through the daisy walk, or pause for a picnic in the Sound Garden and have lunch with the birds.
Hanbury Hall and Gardens
Come and take pleasure in the ‘Simple Joys’ of life which start with Hanbury’s summer art exhibition, or have some ‘throwback fun’ by playing nostalgic children’s games like Hide and Seek, Granny’s Footsteps, I Spy, Simon Says and many more. You can even have a game on the National Trust’s only bowling green.