Cliveden Parterre

 Following the mantra that there is no such thing as bad weather… only inappropriate clothing, some of our best days out with the kids have been to National Trust properties. With beautiful gardens, wonderful cafes (often serving home-grown produce) and play trails / adventure areas for the kids, it’s a great opportunity to get the whole family outdoors. Educational too, with fantastic historical properties, although the kids usually groan when we suggest going inside the houses they always find something interesting to look at from Tudor bedrooms slept in by Kings and Queens  to Victorian kitchens (…and a promise to swing by the sweet counter at the NT shop usually helps.)


Sometimes we’ll meet up with a crowd; it’s fun for the kids to dress up and do the mazes and trails with their friends or cousins. On these occasions we tend to take picnics as a big crowd with kids can be overpowering for other diners as well as frazzling for parents, but often if it’s just the four of us, we’ll grab something to eat in the delightful cafes and restaurants. Whenever we travel in the UK, we’ll find a National Trust place to stop and recharge our batteries at a half way point. The properties are everywhere and much nicer than stopping at a motorway cafe (sorry Heston!) After a couple of hours in the car, a stroll around stunning gardens letting the kids run off pent-up energy is just what we need and as we visit regularly, the Family Membership is excellent value for money at under £100 per year (see link for special new member deals).

Throughout the year there are a host of additional activities and especially during the summer months, there is outdoor theatre, live music, guided DSC_3846walks and afternoon teas – booking essential. We’re spoilt with Cliveden in Burnham Beeches, Basildon Park near Pangbourne and the Vyne in Basingstoke all on Windsor’s doorstep, but if you’re travelling further afield there are hundreds of place to visit.

Summer Highlights –

BASILDON PARK – Berkshire – 0118 984 3040

Nature Walks 2013

Every Friday 11am-12 noon

Free Guided walks with a ranger or wildlife volunteer

Climb a Tree on Father’s Day

Sun 16 Jun 10am-5pm

With ropes, harness and karabiners, see

From £6

Finding Mr Darcy tour and tea

Sun 7 Jul 1pm-3.30pm

Hear about films that have been shot on location here followed by cream tea

Adut £25

CLIVEDEN HOUSE – Buckinghamshire – 01628 605069

Family Camping, Moths and Moonlight

Sat & Sun 13, 14 & 20, 21 July 2pm-11.30pm

With bat watching, moth trapping, bug hunts, camp fires and storytelling.  Breakfast provided

Adult £27 Child £17

Wild Wednesdays

Every Weds from 31 Jul – 4 Sep

Drop in sessions for children (must be supervised by an adult)

Child £2

Outdoor Theatre – Babe the Sheep Pig

Tues 6 Aug 2.30-4.30pm & 6.30-8.30pm & Weds 7 Aug6.30-8.30pm

Bring a picnic and some friends to enjoy this tale in the Water Garden

Adult £13 Child £10

THE VYNE – Hampshire – 01256 883858

Outdoor Theatre – Alice, an Extraordinary Adventure

Fri 28 Jun 6.30-9.30pm

Bring a picnic and join the fun

Adult £12 Child 7 Family £30

Summer Holiday fun at the Vyne

Wide range of school holiday activities.  See website for more details.