Unexpected things to see and do at our places
Fancy trying something a little out of the ordinary? Satisfy your inner explorer at some of the unusual places we look after. Here are ten ideas to get you started.
1. Ride a tandem through the UK’s oldest nature reserve
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire is home to more than 8,500 species of wildlife, scenic cycle trails, a range of mountain bikes – and one tandem. Hire it to explore the wetlands and look for rare birds like hen harriers and bitterns.
2. Go panning for gold
Over 2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire began panning for gold in the wooded hillsides of the Cothi Valley in Wales. As a National Trust member you can have a go yourself, adventuring underground to experience the conditions of a 1930s mine.
3. Step through a waterfall at the Dark Knight’s lair
Henrhyd Falls thunders 90ft (27m) into a wooded gorge in the Brecon Beacons, and recently starred on the silver screen. In the Dark Knight Rises, Batman strides through the curtain of water to reach his hideout. Follow in his footsteps, if you’re feeling brave.
4. Sit in the Wishing Chair at the Giant’s Causeway
The famous basalt columns on the coast of Northern Ireland are steeped in legend. Take the weight off your feet in the Wishing Chair. It’s a natural basalt throne, worn smooth over the years from thousands of visitors sitting and whispering their hopes and dreams.
5. Wet your whistle at a Dickensian pub
The National Trust looks after 35 of some of the UK’s most famous pubs. The George Inn is London’s last remaining galleried inn, visited by Charles Dickens himself and mentioned in Little Dorritt.
6. Go puffin-spotting on the Farne Islands
Visit the place Sir David Attenborough described as his favourite UK wildlife spot. Every year, around 37,000 pairs of puffins come to nest on the rocky islands off the Northumbrian coast, and 1,000 seal pups are born here in the autumn.
7. Discover Churchill’s paintings at his country retreat
Chartwell in Kent was Sir Winston Churchill’s sanctuary from London and his home for more than 40 years. Learn about the man behind the myth and the artist behind the politician, and don’t forget to drop by Marycot, the brick play cottage he built for his daughter.
8. Hunt for fossils along the Jurassic Coast
Charmouth beach, part of the Golden Cap estate in Dorset, is one of the best places to look for fossils. As the sea washes away the soft rock of the cliffs, it reveals the hidden remains of creatures that once roamed its shores. You can pick them up as you walk along the sand.
9. Peer all the way to France from a Victorian lighthouse
A landmark on the White Cliffs of Dover, South Foreland Lighthouse is also a pioneer – it was the first in the world to use an electric light. Climb its tower on a sunny day and you’ll see all the way across the Channel.
10. Get immersed in stories at a medieval castle
Step back in time and set your imagination free at Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. Explore towering battlements, a moat and a wooden portcullis, and listen to a costumed character tell you surprising tales from its sometimes gruesome history.