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Family days out at Scotney Castle

Three happy laughing girls in a garden
Enjoy the madcap story book trail at Scotney Castle this May half term | © John Millar

Let the adventures begin! Explore a moated castle, discover hidden paths and natural play areas, take a walk over the estate or get involved with a packed programme of family-friendly events and activities.

Sometimes everyone just needs to get out of the house to blow away the cobwebs. Here are some ideas for activities you can do with your family this spring and summer at Scotney Castle. Do book your car parking in advance to guarantee entry to the site, but there's no need to book for the trails.

Spotter strolls

Have an outdoor adventure out on the estate, spotting sheep, counting the chocolate brown Sussex cattle and seeing all the diffent colours of the spring flowers. Or why not make a camp in the ancient woodland? The estate's blue route across the parkland is buggy friendly and a great place to let off steam, but if you're looking for a shorter option, you can explore the garden with its hard-surface paths and hidden walkways - perfect for a game of hide and seek. Finish off with a creamy marshmallow-topped hot chocolate or a delicious ice-cream from the tea-room or kiosk and you'll have very happy little explorers.

'Big Top, Big Fun' Summer of Play (27 July–2 September)

Roll up, roll up!

Get ready for fun family-freindly days out this summer with great Big Top-themed games and activities which are included in your entry. Little ones and big ones alike can test their stilt-walking skills, try their hand at juggling, plate-spinning and diablo, conquer the ring of fire and balance your way safely across shark-infested waters. Whatever the ages there'll be lots of activities to enjoy.

More details at 'Big Top, Big Fun' Summer of Play (27 July–1 September) | National Trust

Summer shows

Pack up a picnic and treat the children with a trip to experience the joy of open air theatre this summer. Two of Scotney's four productions are aimed at younger audiences, the nail-biting tail of the hapless Jemima Puddleduck and family favourite, Great Expectations. Older children might also enjoy Shakespeare's classic tale of Henry V.

Click the links above for details of individual show times and ticket prices.

Heritage & Harvest Autumn Fair (14–15 September)

This two-day event is an awesome end to the summer holidays and is great fun for all members of the family. At Heritage & Harvest you'll be able to meet the working Clydesdales, the giants of the horse world, watch a blacksmith and a wood-turner at work, get creative with our nature-themed craft corner and take part in lots of games and activities.

Badger & Pepper natural play area

The Badger and Pepper play area, complete with mud kitchen, ball run, play house, toddler swing and natural drum kit, is a perfect place for younger children to let off steam. You'll find it in the main garden, half-way down the hill on the right-hand side.

Wilderness Camp

Wilderness Camp in Colliers Wood is the perfect place for older children to get back to nature, making dens and playing amongst the trees.

Stardust, sparkle and magic

Is it too early to mention the C word?

We know how some of you love to plan ahead and the festive cheer planning here at Scotney is well underway for 'Curtain Up', this year's Christmas at Scotney celebrations. Christmas starts at Scotney on Saturday 23 November 2024 but if you just can't wait to get into the Christmas spirit, read on to see what's happening in 'Curtain Up: Christmas at Scotney'

A family enjoying time together
Great family days out at Scotney Castle | © James Beck

'50 things to do before you're 11¾'

Here are just a few of the ideas from the list ...

  • No 2: Roll down a really big hill
  • No 4: Build a den
  • No 6: Go welly wandering
  • No 7: Fly a kit - head onto the estate for this
  • No 8: Spot a fish
  • No 12: Have fun with sticks
  • No 13: Make a mud creation - head to Badger & Pepper's play area
  • No 30: Go on a scavenger hunt
  • No 31: Make friends with a bug
  • No 44: Watch a bird
  • No 50: Take a friend on a nature adventure - double the fun!

Why not check out the full list here?

Children having an impromptu picnic in a wooded den
Make a den in our wilderness camp. | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Planning your visit - Good to know

  • Accessible WCs with baby and toddler changing facilities are available in the central Courtyard, near the shop and tea-room.
  • An additional change area is next to the black timber clad property office by the car park.
  • There are no toilet facilities or catering facilities in the garden or on the estate.
  • The tea-room in the Courtyard sells a wide range of snacks and ice-creams, children’s lunch boxes, and hot and cold drinks and full meals. Full lunches are available 12-2pm.
  • At peak times there is an additional kiosk in the Courtyard selling drinks and snacks. Doggy ice-creams are also on sale in the Courtyard tea-room so no family member need miss out.
  • The shop in the Courtyard sells a range of good-quality pocket money toys as well as children's books.
  • The second-hand bookshop by the Visitor Entrance has a Children's Corner. With children's books from 50 pence, and others from £1, it's well worth a visit.
  • If it is practicable, baby carriers are a better way to travel with young ones on the estate as the routes are not fully buggy-friendly. The estate can also become very muddy and water-logged in winter or after heavy rain.
  • Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a short lead. Only assistance dogs may go into the house, castle and walled garden.
  • The all-weather paths in the garden are suitable for prams, buggies and mobility scooters. There are some steps from the terrace at the back of the house, but an alternative route into the garden is available.
  • Prams, buggies and rucksack-style baby carriers need to be left outside when visiting the mansion house.
  • For everyone's enjoyment and safety, scooters, bicycles and ball games are not permitted in the garden.
Girl playing with a football on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset in summer

‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’

Have fun exploring nature and the great outdoors with our list of ‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’.