August bank holiday stop-offs

'We often bring our grandchildren to Gibside for the bank holiday family fun days as there is always plenty for them to get involved in. Den-building is always everyone's favourite. What also makes Gibside so special for us is that we can still find a place to ourselves near the river or walk into the woodlands and barely meet a soul all day. We would definitely recommend it'.
- Geoff and Sandy, grandparents of Jack, Amy and Nicola, visitors to Gibside, Tyne and Wear.

For anyone hitting the highways this bank holiday, why not take the family on a detour to somewhere exciting.

Re-fuel on delicious home-made food; stretch aching legs in gardens and parks in full bloom; breathe in the final days of fresh, summer air and let the kids have their last chance to try and take on the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ challenges.

Here are just some of the great places you can get away from it all this bank holiday:

    Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

    An outdoor adventure is always around the next tree, hedge or statue at Anglesey Abbey. Explore the wildlife discovery area, discover the working water mill, climb the tree house, or help the kids complete some ‘50 things’ activities including building a den, spying on bugs and hearing birds sing. Why not see if they can tick off more than 25 this summer and complete the ‘50 things to do before you're 11 ¾' wild time challenge. For those who are a bit peckish, why not try something delicious and fresh to eat at the Redwoods restaurant.

    Close to A14

    Chartwell, Kent

    ‘The natural play area at Chartwell is 'brilliant simple fun', according to families who visit. It has swings, a camp where Canadian troops were stationed in the Second World War, people-sized dormouse dens and a real bomb crater now a kids climbing challenge. Formally opened by Sir Winston Churchill’s great-grandchildren in 2013, the woodland at Chartwell is also a great place for families to explore.’ - Tracey Willis, staff member at Chartwell.

    Escape the bedlam of the M25 with a trip to Chartwell. Bought by Sir Winston Churchill for its beautiful views, this was his home from 1924 until the end of his life. The rooms and gardens remain much as they were when he lived here, with personal mementos remaining throughout the house. There’s plenty of space to let off steam - with Mary Churchill’s original playhouse open for children to play in and trails to guide you around the house and garden, this is a great place to visit with the family on a summer’s day.

    Close to M25

    Erddig, Wrexham

    Erddig is a fascinating 18th-century country house telling the story of the upstairs, downstairs life of the people who lived there for over 250 years. The beautiful gardens offer plenty of places for children to run wild and complete lots of ‘50 things’ activities. You can pick up an explorer map, borrow some binoculars to go bird watching, build dens or try out the rope swing in the new Wolf’s den play area. For something to eat, head to the restaurant or tea room for home-cooked meals, light snacks and local Woodlands ice cream.

    Close to M54 and A4

    Gibside, Tyne and Wear

    This 18th-century landscape park and nature reserve offers a taste of the country on the edge of the city. Discover Derwent Valley views, winding paths, play areas and refreshing open spaces to stretch tired legs. Escape along the avenue for miles of relaxing walks and picnic spots, enjoy family adventures at the woodland playscape and challenge trail, or grab a bit to eat at the bustling walled garden, café or local farm shop.

    Just off A1

    Hatchlands Park, Surrey

    Built in the 1750s, Hatchlands Park is one of the largest country estates surrounding Greater London. With the mansion and over 400 acres of parkland to relax and play in, this is a great place to spend a bank holiday. The kids can see how many of the ‘50 things’ activities they can complete; they can discover the wonderful natural play area with hand-crafted willow tunnels, domes, balance beams, sculptures and even a totem pole with wood piles for den building. After a long walk, stop-off in the friendly tea-room open to enjoy great food indoors and out.

    Close to M25

    Mottisfont, Hampshire

    Ancient trees, bubbling brooks and rolling lawns frame this lovely old house. Crafted from a medieval priory, Mottisfont is full of surprises that the whole family will love to discover, from hidden doors, fun mysteries to unearth and a room where nothing is what it seems. Outside, why not explore the riverside walks, complete some of the ’50 things’ list, build dens, bring a picnic to share or sit and enjoy an outdoor theatre with homemade food from the tea room.

    Close to M3 & M27

    Nymans, West Sussex

    In this peaceful garden, perfect for children and families to enjoy, there's a surprise around every corner, just as the Messel family who designed it in the 19th century, planned for it to be. With their intention of making a dream country home, you can see wonderful flowers, trees, woodlands and lakes, follow trails through the gardens and house, or relax in the grounds with a delicious picnic.

    Close to the M23 and A23

    Osterley Park and House, Middlesex

    Surrounded by gardens, park and farmland, Osterley is one of the last surviving country estates in London. Once described as 'the palace of palaces', today you can explore the interior with handheld audio-visual guides, let the children dress up or follow trails, all which bring the house to life in a completely new way. Outside, the gardens are a relaxing retreat from urban life and the park is perfect for picnics, leisurely strolls and running around.

    Close to M4

    Studland Beach, Dorset

    Take the children for a fabulous day out on this golden sandy beach that stretches four miles from South Haven Point to Old Harry Rocks, with shallow bathing water and lots of opportunities to have some ’50 things’ adventures. Be sure to bring buckets, spades and picnics for a blissful day on the sands. You can also visit the nearby ruins of Corfe Castle to discover over 700 years of history and relive childhood memories by seeing for real the inspiration behind Enid Blyton’s Kirren Castle in the Famous Five.

    Near the A35