Family fun at the Needles Old Battery

Little girl looking out over the Needles from the Search Light at the Old Battery

The Needles Old Battery has amazing views, and a dramatic past waiting to be discovered, which makes it perfect for a family adventure. Hunt for Major Mindup and his gunners who are hidden around the fort. Or find out what it was really like to be a gunpowder soldier at the Battery, with our dressing up costumes. There’s a secret tunnel too with a winding staircase, but what will you find at the end?

Find the Battery's gunners

See if you can find Major Mindup and his gunners who are hidden around the Battery. Then when you've found them all, draw and name your own gunner. If you're lucky, he or she may be chosen to be part of the trail next year. You can pick up the free trail leaflet at Visitor Reception where you'll also find a free 'Major Snap's Photographic Challenge' trail too. See if you can find the places featured in the photos. Both trails are great for those aged 5-12 years.

Have fun dressing up

Try on the special clothing that the soldiers wore when working with gunpowder. The red spot on the hat meant that the ammunition was live and ready to fire. It's a great chance to get some photos too, so you might want to bring the camera.

Dressing up in the cartridge store
Needles Old Battery children dressing up
Dressing up in the cartridge store

Find the secret tunnel

On the Parade Ground there's a little gateway. It doesn't look like much but enter through it and you'll find a spiral staircase leading to a deep, twisty tunnel that will take you right through the chalky cliffs. But what will you find at the end?

More to discover

We’ve lots of ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities to try at the Needles Battery. You could use the binoculars in the tea-room to try No. 44 and watch a bird swooping and diving over the sea. Or walk up to the Needles New Battery and complete No. 28 by climbing up a huge hill.

Out on the parade ground there’s a replica of an Anderson shelter that you can crawl inside, and when little tummies start to rumble, there’s the 1940s tea-room to head too.

Needles Battery cream tea

Family friendly food in the tea-room 

As well as warming soups, freshly made sandwiches, tasty lunches and indulgent cakes, the tea-room has lunch boxes that are perfect for little tummies and smaller portions of the main meals are also available. There's water to help yourself to in mini cups too. It's open until 4.30pm each day.

Useful things to know

  • Baby changing is available in the accessible toilet which is located on the Parade Ground of the Old Battery.
  • Pushchairs welcome.
  • The nearest car park is at Alum Bay (not National Trust and chargeable; 20% off for National Trust Members) and there is a short, 15 minute, uphill walk on a tarmacked road to the Battery.
  • There are some steps and steep slopes and due to a spiral staircase, it isn’t possible to take a pushchair into the tunnel.
  • Breastfeeding welcome.
  • Highchairs are available in the tea-room.
  • Dogs on leads are welcome at the Battery and in the downstairs seating area of the tea-room, but we ask that only guide dogs venture upstairs in the tea-room. You'll find water bowls outside the shop and tea-room for your four-legged friend.
  • Picnics are welcome across the site and there are benches available just outside of the tea-rooms.

Whatever the weather….

The Needles Battery can be quite exposed and windy so it’s best to wear appropriate clothing. When the rain drops start to fall, the tea-room is a good place to escape to for warming drinks and yummy cake. On hot days, the dark, shady Cartridge Store and Shell Store can be nice and cool, and they’re just as good for hiding in on a wet day. If you forget any essential supplies, the shop has a selection of seasonal items for sale.