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Top 5 Woodland National Trust Sites

We’ve handpicked the Top 30 Family Friendly National Trust sites, with plenty of ideas for lovely days out with the kids to help you make the most of your National Trust membership. Whether your children love their history and art or simply a good run around and some fresh air, these National Trust sites are certain to give them something to remember.

First up, 5 of the best National Trust sites with woodland adventure play areas, including Polesden Lacey, Belton House, Cragside, Chirk Castle and Killerton House.

1. Polesden Lacey

Recently refurbished, Polesden Lacey has a new visitor centre, coffee shop, play area and nature hide. An ideal location for kids who love to learn!

Polesden Lacey, near Dorking, Surrey, is a magnificent Edwardian country estate designed with the rich and famous in mind. Famous for its walled rose garden, the house also has extensive lawns to wander round at leisure and provides some of the best views in Surrey.

For the kids, Polesden Lacey certainly doesn’t fall short of the mark. The house has a fun, outdoor play area named Squirrels Corner hidden away in the woods. There are also trails and walks around the grounds created especially for children, with free binoculars available to truly take in the 1400 acres of land. The main house even has a kids quiz and dress up area to prevent boredom and engage the children in the house’s history.

The house and gardens are open daily from 10am – 5pm.

Polesden Lacey even has its own holiday cottage for 6 people – why not make a weekend out of it?

Call Polesden Lacey on 01372 458203 for more information.

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2. Belton House

Belton House Lincolnshire National Trust siteThis location is stunning, and perfect for those sunny summer days with family and friends.

Belton House in Grantham, Lincolnshire is a country house with a difference. Set in the middle of a deer park with 1000 acres of enclosed space, Belton House is not short of woodlands, lakes or orchards in which the kids will love to run free. The enormous amount of open space is great for family picnics, whether they be against the beautiful setting of the house, the gardens, or deep in the woods.

Boasting the largest adventure playground in Lincolnshire, Belton House’s play area is built in the woods, and provides a fantastic place for children both young and old to let off a bit of steam. With slides, tyres and climbing frames there is something here for every child to enjoy.

The playground is open daily from March through to October, from 10.30am to 5.30pm.

The house also plays host to various Easter, Summer and Hallowe’en kids’ events, trails, and quizzes, and a miniature train runs throughout the summer holidays.

Call Belton House on 01476 566116 for more details.

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3. Cragside

Woodland at Cragside House National Trust site in NorthumberlandCragside house is a place of ingenuity, science and innovation, and has outstanding woods and gardens that’ll make you say ‘wow!’ This is one for the explorers of the family.

Cragside House, Northumberland is the first house in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity. Built on a rocky crag, the house has fantastic gardens, lakes and woodlands that stretch for miles. If you plan to visit, walking boots are a must!

Woodland and wildlife are key features of Cragside house, and the kids will love to spot birds and wildlife from the outdoor nature hide. Tracker Packs are also available in school holidays, where Wednesdays and Thursdays are also designated family activity days.

There is a large wooden adventure playground complete with swings and climbing nets, and then there’s the unforgettable ‘Nelly’s Labyrinth’; a network of paths and tunnels through a vast rhododendron forest. Perfect for those budding Indiana Joneses.

The gardens are open daily from 10.30 – 5pm. 

Call Cragside on 01669 620333 for more information.

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4. Chirk Castle

Boy dressed as knight at Chirk Castle in Wrexham, WalesAward-winning gardens and medieval history provide an Oscar-worthy location that’s ideal for that perfect family day out.

Chirk Castle in Wrexham, Wales, is the model medieval castle; complete with both towers and dungeons. And that’s before you even begin to take a look at the outstanding gardens. Herbaceous borders, rock gardens, wild flowers and mature trees make up only a small portion of the outside space.

Kids will absolutely love to meet the medieval guards, explore the dungeons, try on armour and join in with guard duty. There are family activity rooms and a children’s quiz available too. Chirk Castle is perfect for your budding knights and princesses.

Outdoors there is an excellent children’s play area, and the option to explore the fortress, gardens and woods. Tracker Packs are perfect for a woodland walk with the whole family. There are even giant-sized games in the garden!

The gardens and medieval tower are open 10 – 5pm during the summer, on Mon-Fri and Weds-Sun alternate weeks. 

Why not make a weekend out of your trip to Wales too – a holiday cottage at the heart of the estate sleeps four people and is available for short breaks or whole weeks.

Call Chirk Castle on 01691 777701 for more information.

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5. Killerton House

Killerton House Devon (5)This family home is full of charm, and children will love to explore the gardens and woodland – and perhaps even take a look at where a real life pet bear once held residence!

Killerton House in Devon is one of the largest estates the National Trust has acquired, and has over 6,400 acres of land. The house was originally built as a family home and so has less glamour than other estates, yet it is still a place full of fascinating history.

On top of the vast gardens, sloping lawns and majestic trees there is also a great children’s play area hidden away in the woods, and a Discovery Centre open throughout school holidays. The main attraction is the Bear’s Hut; a rustic summer house which was originally home to the family’s pet bear! Woodland walks and orienteering routes are available for those who love a challenge – or for those who simply love the idea of getting lost! Inside the house itself it’s even possible to try on replica costumes.

The gardens are open daily from 10.30 – 7pm (the house is open 11 – 5pm).

Call Killerton on 01392 881345 for more information.

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Did we miss one? Let us know your favourites too – just add a comment below!


National Trust memberships

The National Trust are offering 15% off membership fees, which means (at the time of writing) you’d pay less than £7.50 a month for a family of four. That’s amazing, especially considering the huge number of child friendly and buggy accessible National Trust sites and the superb activities available during half term and school holidays. It’s even more incredible value when you realise that it can cost over £30 for a family day out without the membership.

Your membership includes:

  • Free admission to over 300 National Trust sites, including the best family friendly sites handpicked by ReallyKidFriendly
  • Free parking at the sites and at most of the National Trust coastal, woodland and countryside car parks
  • Free pair of binoculars (while stocks last)
  • Map guide, magazine and National Trust member’s handbook with lots of information about the sites you’ll be visiting.
  • 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. Just sayin’ 🙂 [button link=”″ type=”big” newwindow=”yes”] More about National Trust memberships[/button] [/box]

Images for Polesden Lacey, Chirk Castle, Belton House and Cragside courtesy of National Trust. Image of Killerton House by Gary Bembridge (Flickr).

Written by Louise


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