During the half term holiday, we decided to make use of our National Trust membership once again and explore the grounds at Waddesdon Manor. Located near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, this National Trust property has been on our to-do list for a while now having visited it for a wedding a few years ago and it being recommended by friends with children, as a great day out! As with Cliveden and Hughenden Manors, the grounds here, are stunning. There are woodland walks, children’s play areas, formal gardens and even an aviary! The grounds are very buggy friendly, even in the woodland areas (so long as you keep to the paths) and everything is clearly signposted and easy to navigate. Though the grounds are vast, the main attractions are located fairly close together, making it friendly for little legs (or adults with knee injuries!!), you can do as much or as little walking as you like!
Once we had parked and collected a map from the ‘welcome pavilion’, a shuttle bus took us to the North Fountain, in front of the Manor house. This was a few minutes ride but you can follow a footpath, if you would prefer. We were also advised that they provide a cloakroom area (by the Manor itself) to store any bags or picnics, a handy feature as the carpark is so far away.
From here, we chose to head straight for the children’s play area which is all set into the woodland with its natural dappled shade, an ideal location on a hot summers day! There are areas of the playground for different age groups so we spent a few minutes sussing out where everything was first. As it runs through the woodland, it does make it a little tricky to keep an eye on more than one child, so we designated a base, before allowing them to go and play which allowed us to keep a closer eye on The Boy (6) while the girls knew where we were. Please be aware that there are a couple of tunnel slides that link between different levels (it’s set on a slope), so younger ones could pop out at the bottom quite disorientated, however, the whole playground is clearly fenced off with wooden paths, slopes and steps making access easy to all areas.
At the far end of the playground we found a woodland trail designed to attract various forms of wildlife from bugs to bats, with hedgehog hidey-holes and dangling bug hotels, bird baths, feeders and perches as well as bat boxes and structured wood piles.
We passed deer sculptures, peeking through in the greenery, bivouacs to hide in and beautiful views, out across the countryside.
The trail took us back to the top of the playground area where we decided to have our picnic before heading to the Stables Cafe for a treat. I would highly recommend taking a picnic if you’d like to keep costs down, especially if you have a larger family. Two coffees and three, single scoop, ice-cream cones cost us over £12 but the quality was excellent so we really couldn’t complain and you have to have a treat on a day out!
Next, we headed back past the Manor and its wine bottle sculptures, through the more formally structured gardens, looking out onto more stunning views and on towards the Aviary.
Though I’m not a fan of keeping birds in captivity, these ornate cages were stunning and do feature some rare and exotic birds with a view to helping preserve the species.
Waddesdon Manor host special events throughout the year and over half term ‘Colourscape, a labyrinth of intense light, colour, space and music’, was set up in the Aviary Glade. Unfortunately, the queue was over an hour long by the time we got there, so we decided to give it a miss and instead, headed back towards the woodland. We don’t ever seem to go anywhere without finding a good tree or two to climb, and here was no exception!
Waddesdon Manor will definitely be going on my list of The Best UK Woodland Walks. It was a lovely day out with plenty to do and explore for the whole family. It was such a beautiful day that we wanted to spend our time outside, so on our next visit, we still have the Manor itself and the wine cellars to explore!
Where did you visit with the kids over half term? Do you have a National Trust location to recommend?