Unexpected things to see and do at our places

Man stands on a fallen branch of a tree looking towards a waterfall

Fancy trying something a little out of the ordinary? Satisfy your inner explorer at some of the unusual places we look after. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

1. Go behind the waterfall into the Dark Knight’s lair

Step into the silver screen at Henrhyd Falls, the 90ft waterfall in the Brecon Beacons. Behind the tumbling wall of water you'll find the mysterious cave that starred as Batman's lair in The Dark Knight Rises.

 

2. 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.

Enjoying the balcony view from Foreland Lighthouse on the White Cliffs
A couple looking out to sea from the lighthouse balcony
Enjoying the balcony view from Foreland Lighthouse on the White Cliffs

3. 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 search for them as you walk along the sand.

Finding a fossil on the beach is always a rare treat
A girl holding up a pebble with a fossil in it on a beach in Yorkshire
Finding a fossil on the beach is always a rare treat
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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.

Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland
The picture shows a couple sitting on the rocks
Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

5. 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 South Wales. As a National Trust member you can have a go yourself, adventuring underground to experience the conditions of a 1930s mine.

Discovering what lies beneath the surface at Dolaucothi Gold Mines, South Wales
Close-up photo of family wearing head torches inside a gold mine
Discovering what lies beneath the surface at Dolaucothi Gold Mines, South Wales

6. 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.

Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire, with amazing wildlife walks, cycle routes and even a tandem...
Wicken Fen - Walkers on the boardwalk trail
Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire, with amazing wildlife walks, cycle routes and even a tandem...

7. Wet your whistle at a Dickensian pub

The National Trust looks after 39 of the UK’s most famous pubs. The George Inn in Southwark is London’s last remaining galleried inn, visited by Charles Dickens himself and mentioned in Little Dorrit.

Visitors in the pub garden at Gibside
Visitors in the pub garden at Gibside, Tyne & Wear
Visitors in the pub garden at Gibside

8. Go puffin-spotting on the Farne Islands

Visit the place Sir David Attenborough described as his favourite UK wildlife spot. Each year thousands of puffins come to nest on the rocky islands off the Northumbrian coast. In 2018 we counted 44,000 pairs of the much-loved sea bird. And there are seals here too. Last autumn over 2,600 pups were born - a 50 per cent increase from five years ago.

Watching puffins on the Farne Islands, Northumberland
Birdwatchers on the Farne Islands
Watching puffins on the Farne Islands, Northumberland

9. 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.

 

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.

Exploring the Gatehouse at Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Visitors on the Approach to the Gatehouse at Bodiam Castle
Exploring the Gatehouse at Bodiam Castle, East Sussex