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Family days out at Scotney Castle

Children enjoying an Easter trail
Get ready for your Easter Adventures at Scotney Castle | © Chris Lacey

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 at Scotney. 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 is buggy friendly but the ground is still quite wet and muddy at this time of year so, for a shorter, drier option, you can always explore the garden instead 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.

'Scotney Story Book' half-term trail (25 May–2 June)

Create your own story-time classic with our summer half-term trail. Pick up a trail booklet from Visitor Entrance, find the numbered dials around the garden and spin your way to creating your very own story. Share your finished masterpiece with the team in the shop and claim a small reward .

This family-friendly trail costs £3 and is very suitable for 4-10 year olds.

There's no need to book for the trail but do book your car parking well in advance to guarantee entry to the property. For more details visit Half-term trail: 'The Scotney Story Book' (25 May-2 June) | National Trust

Coming up - Big Top Big Summer (27 July–2 September)

Welcome to Scotney's Big Top Big Summer of Play with great games and activities included in your entry for easy family days out. Little ones (and big ones too) can test their stilt-walking skills, play a relaxed game of "Clown-Who?" or try their hand at juggling, plate-spinning and diablo. Whatever the ages there'll be lots of activities to enjoy.

Coming up - Summer theatre

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.

For details of show times and ticket prices click the links above.

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.

'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?

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

Good to know

  • Accessible WCs with baby and toddler changing facilities are available in the central Courtyard, near the shop and tea-rooom. An additional change area is next to the black timber clad property office by the car park. (Note there are no toilet facilities or caterign 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 is also well-worth a browse with children's titles from just 50 pence, and other books from £1.
  • 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 lead. Only assistance dogs may go into the house, castle and walled garden.
  • The paths in the garden are all-weather and 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.
A ewe stands next to her two lambs at Scotney Castle, Kent, with all of them facing towards the camera.
A ewe with her two lambs at Scotney Castle, Kent | © National Trust Images/Sam Milling
Two girls exploring the woodland trails at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire

‘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’.