Perfect places for outdoor play at Gibside
Our 18th-century heroine, Mary Eleanor Bowes, grew up at Gibside and loved playing, exploring and gardening here as a child. Today, we pride ourselves on offering one of the North East's best natural family days out.
Discover four outdoor play areas and walks to suit children of all ages and energy levels. Here are our top 15 things to do with kids.
Check out our new family highlights trail and tick off some of the National Trust's 50 things to do before you're 11¾.
Wide open spaces
It needn't be a trudge. Gibside's parkland and over 15 miles of footpaths offer everything from a short bimble with a buggy to a longer hike for older kids. Our oak-lined avenue is great for running races from tree to tree, while Green Close Field is the perfect spot for a kickabout.
Family highlights trail
Let your kids lead the adventure and follow our family highlights trail. Download and print out a simple walk sheet and map, taking in some of Gibside's best spots for children and parents to enjoy the outdoors.
Strawberry Castle Adventure Play Area
A short walk from Gibside's entrance, our adventure play area is inspired by the mystery of Strawberry Castle. It's also one of the biggest adventure play areas in Tyne and Wear, with everything from wildlife hides with slides to badger tunnels, a zip wire and team swing.
Venture into the Nature Playscape for log bridges and a wooden climbing wall, squeeze through our tree-trunk forest and much more natural woodland fun. It's a brilliant place for plodging in puddles and streams with wellies after wet weather too.
Low Ropes course
Located in a historic quarry beside a babbling brook in West Wood, the Low Ropes course is a great challenge for children and adventurous parents alike. Who can make it across the rope activities hung from tree to tree without touching the ground? Link this with a trip to the Stables and Nature Playscape for a great three-mile family circular walk.
West Wood sculpture trail
Make the mile-long walk from the Stables and Nature Playscape to the Low Ropes fly by as you spot five woodland creatures hidden in West Wood. The first letter of their names spells out a special word for Gibside. Can you work out what it is?
Little Seedlings' lunch bags and family café
Gibside's take on a happy meal for our family visitors. Pick up a lunch bag and choose your favourites from a selection of healthy kids' treats. We now also have a new family café at our Strawberry Castle adventure play area so you don't have far to go for lunch!
Family gardening at the Tots Plot!
Drop into the tots plot in our newly restored walled garden to give your child a taste of gardening and have fun together while planting seeds, growing veg and harvesting your crops. Every Thursday morning at 11am, designed for under-5s, booking advisable on 01207 541820.
Daisy the cow and the Food Trail
Take a journey through Gibside's foodie history and future as you wander around the estate with our action-packed Food Trail family backpacks. From turning the butter churn to peeking inside the Ice House and - every child's favourite - milking Daisy the cow, it's a great way to build up an appetite.
Indoor play at the Stables
When it's chilly outside or you're dodging rain showers, warm up or dry off at the Stables. Our new Wildlife room has interactive cameras and displays to help children get to know nature. The mini-Gibside Hall in our Discovery room is a two-floor wendy house with a difference where little ones can imagine life centuries ago.
Pocket money treats
Our shop offers a selection of little gifts that are great for treating the kids without breaking the bank. Perfect for your day out at Gibside, pick up wildlife-spotting gadgets or outdoor games, like a mini kite for just £5.
Bushcraft Birthday Parties
Celebrate your child’s birthday with an outdoor adventure for them and all their friends. Enjoy great value party packages led by our play team, including activities of your choice and a home-cooked party feast at Strawberry Castle Adventure Play Area.
Free family events every school holiday
We've taken away the complexity of planning what to do with the kids each school holiday with free and fun outdoor activities every weekday. Things like orienteering on Explorer Mondays, seed planting or weeding on Foodie Tuesdays, Wildlife Wednesdays for bird ringing and mega-bash conservation, Adventure Thursdays for den building and campfires or Fab Fridays for frisbee golf, plus much more.
Family camping at West Wood Yurts
West Wood Yurts offers the adventure of family camping with the comfort and convenience that a night in a tent can never match. Nestled in a woodland glade, within easy walking distance of our play areas, the yurts make the perfect short break, week-long stay or extra-special sleepover with friends.
Many families first visit Gibside on the basis of a recommendation from their kids after a school trip or residential stay. With cosy bunkrooms, tasty catering and bespoke outdoor activities, we're one of the North East's leading centres for environmental education. You can also hire the space for family reunions and parties.
Don't wait for the weekend - even if it's an hour or two after school, it's a rewarding way to round off your Monday to Friday, with far fewer other children to share the place with.