Since having our first child 7 years ago, we have been happy supporters of the National Trust; anywhere that offers a place to run around, traffic free paths and more importantly good tea and cake is a winner for us!
Having lived in Shropshire since we had our daughter, we have discovered that we are lucky to be close to a fabulous family friendly National Trust property, Attingham Park.
Built for the first Lord Berwick in 1785, Attingham Hall and its beautiful parkland were owned by one family for more than 160 years. As their fortunes rose and fell they proved themselves to be spenders, savers and saviours – providing a fascinating story of love and neglect whose mark still stands in Attingham’s rooms today.
The house and gardens are a fantastic day out for families of all ages. There are extensive woodland walks for those who need to burn off energy with paths that cross the river and take you across the deer park – spotting a few deer is always a highlight for all ages!
The house is beautifully maintained with staff well placed to answer questions and although not the most child friendly of places (always worried about the toddler escaping under the cordon!) the staff have thought to come up with a ‘Mouse Trail’ giving parents at least a few minutes in each room as the children spot the well-hidden mice!
With an active 7-year-old and puddle hunting toddler in tow, we opted to walk down to the ‘natural’ playing field to let off a bit of steam and explore.
The paths are relatively smooth and nice and wide making the site buggy and wheelchair friendly. The site also welcomes balance bikes which is a nice bonus!
The playing field is an absolute gem! A large oblong meadow which is fenced in, children are provided with a fantastic space offering the traditional slides, swings and roundabouts but also a variety of more natural obstacles to encounter.
Our first stop was the tunnels…a great H shape set of tunnels set into a mound to explore through and over…both children loved this (adults have to bend down – I’m not as flexible as I thought!). We had to force them away from this to explore the rest of the park but quickly distracted them by one of the more recent additions, some extra-long willow tunnels! Running parallel to each other and winding a good 30m or so these made excellent race tracks for my car-crazy boy and both children loved running up and down the winding paths – such a simple addition which blends beautifully into the natural environment.
We continued to head up the field, navigating a dusty hillock (great for sliding down – put the kids in old clothes!) and allowing the older one to climb a fantastic climbing frame made from tree trunks, ending up at the more traditional park equipment. Daddy tried out the National Trust picnic blanket (a handy addition as there aren’t a great deal of places to sit (but this makes the playground more spacious for running around) while the children spent ages on a roundabout (why don’t they ever get dizzy!?).
At this point, we were all starting to get hungry so headed towards the new Carriage House Café for lunch.
We navigated our way via the walled garden (such a fantastically maintained area with an abundance of flowers, fruits and vegetables to explore, some of which are sold in the shop!) and took some time to water the flowers (mini-watering cans are a lovely addition and both children absolutely loved this) and ended up at the Café.
The Carriage House Café is a recently renovated eatery with an extensive menu and all the homemade cakes you would expect in a National Trust property; it also has a ‘real’ barrister coffee machine (a must for me!). As guests of the National Trust we had the opportunity to sample items from the new lunch menu (homemade baked beans with jacket potatoes and fishcakes with salad) as well as the obligatory scones, cream and jam (brilliant to see they had a gluten free option for me so I didn’t miss out!).
The food is a little pricy (at around £6 for a filled jacket) but the food is all home-cooked and portions were massive so I would argue that you do get value for money here. There was ample seating both inside and out and the staff were friendly and attentive. We all went away feeling happily full!
There was just time to have a quick peek at the gift shop and second hand book shop before making our way back to the car before the rain…
Attingham is a ‘must’ for families of all ages. We were guests of the National Trust for the day but our opinions remain our own; Attingham is real ‘gem’ of the National Trust and we look forward to lots of picnics and more exploring over the Summer Holidays!
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