'50 things to do before you're 11¾' at Hardwick

Autumn display of conkers

Have fun in the great outdoors and enjoy all that nature has to give by trying our '50 things to do before you're 11¾'. Here are some of our favourite things to do at Hardwick.

1. Get to know a tree

There are an abundant variety of trees at Hardwick, from different species to different sizes and shapes. With a variety of different walks to go on such as Lady Spencer's walk across the 2,500 acres you'll be spoilt for choice to get to know a tree.

Get to know a tree
Children climbing a tree in the grounds of Mottisfont, Hampshire.
Get to know a tree

4. Build a den

One of the staples of childhood imagination and fun, create a temporary home in nature with the branches you can find. Inside the stableyard, opposite The Great Barn Restaurant we have just the materials you’ll need in an open grassy space to do this. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, Lady Spencer's wood has lots of naturally fallen branches for you to collect and build your own den.

6. Go welly wandering

Don't let a bit of rain keep you, grab those wellies and your waterproof jacket and get splashing in some puddles. At the park centre, around the millers pond or along the woodland walk, they'll be many an opportunity spot. After your outdoor, wet wetaher adventure, visit the cafe to warm up with a hot chocolate.

10. Play conkers

Across the estate Hardwick has some lovely horse chestnut trees. Conkers is a classic tradition that marks th start of the autumn season. Collect your conkers and strike a game with yoru friends or family.

22. Find some funky fungi

Get searching to find the fabulous shapes, sizes and colours of fungi that grow at Hardwick. The best place to look is the woodland walk where the damp conditions are great for fungi to grow. Remember, some fungi can be unsafe if ingested so best not to touch, we recommend taking a photo to keep a record of the species the you find on your hunt.

25. Join nature’s band

From beautiful birdsong to the rustle of leaves on the tree, discover the mixture of sounds within nature’s band. Listen closely to the rhythm and pitch then join in. Clap your hands, whistle or knock sticks against each other, it all counts so be sure to give it a go.

30. Go on a scavenger hunt

See what wonderful treasures you can find. Explore new colours, sights and smells and get to know nature’s variety of plants, seeds, prints and animals within Hardwick. Our top tip, is to take a photo of your favourite things.

31. Make friends with a bug

A woodlouse? A caterpillar? A beetle? Which bug will you choose to make friends with? There are a huge variety of bugs in so many sizes, colours and shapes, all of which play an important role in our world. Look closely and discover how marvellous these mini-beasts are. Our top tip is to head to the Ornamental Orchard in the garden, you’ll know it from the tall grass which is kept long to support their habitat.

Getting hands on with some bug hunting at Hardwick
Child hunting for bugs at Hardwick park
Getting hands on with some bug hunting at Hardwick

44. Watch a bird

Take time to watch a bird go about its day, listen to it sing, watch it fly and notice its colours. At Hardwick we are home to a wide variety of birds and can be seen all over the estate, from the windows of the house where you can see the birds soar in the sky, to the gardens where you can see them scurry for worms.