As well as having some wonderful properties to visit the National Trust also have some of the best adventure playgrounds in the UK. This post rounds up 20 of the best National Trust playgrounds. I often think about what fun it would be to go on a tour of National Trust properties around the UK. One thing is for certain you wouldn’t get bored especially as each place is so different from the other.
Have you considered becoming a member of the National Trust? It’s a great way to save money throughout the year. At most National Trust properties under 5 are free.
Listings in alphabetical order
What is there to play on – There is a big focus on natural play at Hoe Fen Wildlife Discovery at Anglesey Abbey. With a secret garden, giant two-storey lime tree house, discovery cabin, fortresses and outdoor xylophone. Plus a willow tunnel, storytelling, den building and hammocks for swinging.
Other things of interest – Visit the Lode Watermill and see flour being made. You can also look around the Jacobean-style house.
What is there to play on – Indoor adventure play area, plus the biggest outdoor National Trust adventure playground. There’s endless play equipment such as water play, wooden houses, large wooden climbing areas with slides, swings, a miniature steam train, outdoor instruments and so so much more.
Other things of interest – There is a deer park on site and they wander freely so you may see some on your visit. The gardens are also worth a visit, especially the orangery and maze. Belton house itself is also worth a visit.
What is there to play on – Calke Abbey has a relatively new adventure playground. There is a climbing wall and you can abseil down a rope. Plus an underground system, a bridge and more.
Other things of interest – They often have indoor games and activities for families. There’s even the opportunity to dress up. You can visit the house which is full of curiosities. There are trails around the grounds including an old tramway line that’s great for riding bikes.
What is there to play on – There are a number of wild play areas around the 80 acres of gardens. During the second world war bombs allegedly fell on the estate at Chartwell. The crater left behind is great fun for families to play in. Plus there is a Canadian Camp to play in. Other things to find include balance beams. swings, door mouse dens, seesaws and a wooden play structure.
Other things of interest – There are chickens in the walled gardens. Plus gardens to explore and you can look around the house. You can walk around the rooms where Churchill and his family once lived. Much of the house remains as if they were still living there. There are personal pictures, books and mementoes offering intriguing behind-the-scenes insights into his life.
What is there to play on – They have a relatively new play area made of wood with a bridge, slide and climbing wall. A lot of it is made to look like features that you can find on the estate. “We love the wooden climbing frames and stepping stones there.”
Other things to do – There are often trails around the grounds that you can take part in plus children’s crafts. Open on selected days between April and October why not walk up to the Belvedere Tower where you can take in some stunning views?
What is there to play on – The play area is called the Storybook Play Den which is a themed play area. It isn’t massive but it is well done. There are plenty of characters to find amongst the play equipment. They even have a giant slide at the back of the house.
Other things to do – There is a large maze made from over 1,000 yew trees at Cliveden which is fun and challenging. Why not visit the water gardens with fountains and a few stepping stones? They also have downloadable walking trails. The house is also open from Spring until early Autumn.
What is there to play on – They have a fun RAF-themed playground including a climbable control tower and a slide shaped like a crashed plane. Plus a natural-themed play area. The natural play area has recently added Swinging Steps, Rope Walk, Wobble Board and a Log Walk to it. There are plenty of branches lying around to make dens.
Other things to do – Croome court is the mansion house at Croome which you can look around. Why not visit their relatively new museum/visitor centre RAF Deptford? It housed over 2,000 personnel during WWII and some of these buildings, including the hospital, still remain. There’s also a hide to sit and spot birds at Croome.
What is there to play on – Dyrham’s gardens are perfect for little explorers with balancing beams, stepping stones, a mini maze and a much-loved tractor to play on. Build dens in the wood, or take the Journey of Discovery trail and see what you can find. They have two play areas, one for the under 5’s and another for the under 10’s.
Other things to do – You can also look around the 300-year-old house. They have nature trails for children plus craft activities during the holidays.
What is there to play on – You can explore the wild play area at Emmetts Garden and scramble through branches, balance across beams, climb over logs and hide out in the den. Play a game of Skittles or giant dominoes on the meadow and relax afterwards with a picnic. There is also a teepee for imaginative outdoor fun.
Other things to do – They often have trails on for the kids, especially during the school holidays.
10. Erddig, Wrexham
What is there to play on – Suzy from Raising Badgers recommends Erdigg. She says “It has a fabulous, natural playground: the Wolf’s Den. There is a great rope swing but most of the fun is in balancing on the many logs and building dens. We went on a cold, damp Spring day and my two girls played for hours.
Other things to do – You can visit the house, explore the gardens and enjoy one of their walks such as the river walk.
What is there to play on – Claire Bones from Ladybird Adventures recommends Fountains Abbey and Studley Water Gardens. Quote “Our first stop was the children’s play area. Obviously, it was quite wet but that didn’t stop my two adventurers who were soon climbing over abbey-shaped climbing frames.
There were some things suitable for little ones like bridges and places to hide under climbing frames. The ball track was a lovely area too where my girls liked working out where to start the ball off so it ended in the basket. For my 5 year old there are lots to climb and to be honest she surprised us both by how confident a climber she has become. This has to be one of our favourite national trust play areas. There is so much to entertain kids and because it is in a woodland area it slowly reveals all the equipment to you.”
Other things to do – You can wander through the 900-year-old Abbey and the Georgian water gardens. There are over 800 acres to explore including a Cistercian mill and medieval deer park.
What is there to play on – There’s plenty to play on at Gibside. There is a strawberry castle play area with a slide, swings, zip wire and more. At Gibside there is a natural play area with tunnels, log bridges and more. They even have a low ropes challenge. You can build a den in the West wood activity area or head on over to the stables to relax and read a book.
Other things to do – During school holidays they often have family-friendly trails which will take you around their grounds.
What is there to play on – Their outdoor playground is well located next to the car park and near the cafe and picnic area. There are wooden beams, scramble nets and monkey bars. Plus plenty of other play equipment.
Other things to do – They have free outdoor trails during school holidays. There’s also a spotters trail within the house. Children can discover tables where they can get hands-on with history.
What is there to play on – Crow wood is where you will find the adventure playground which has a little stream running by it. There is a big climbing frame, slide, swings, tree house and more. Helen Miller from Talking Mums recommends the play area at Lyme Park.
Other things to do – There is a house to wander around at Lyme Park plus some formal gardens. They also have a 1,400-acre deer park.
What is there to play on – Explore the play area at Polesden Lacey, which has a giant bird’s nest, burrows to clamber through and lots of swings to choose from. The bird’s nest has a wheelchair-accessible ground level, which is a place for sensory play.
Other things to do – There are many rooms within the house that you can explore. Rooms include a dining room, saloon, tea room, gun room, billiard room, central hall and more.
The gardens and wider estate are perfect for families and are great for enjoying picnics while letting off some steam.
16. Sizergh, Cumbria
What is there to play on – Head out into Sizergh’s woodland trail for hours of family fun. Follow the clues to reach the end, taking on a climbing wall, balance beams and stepping stones along the way. This natural play area was made by the talented ranger team and is roughly a mile long.
Other things to do – The castle is set in landscaped gardens and was based on an impressive 14th-century solar tower. The castle was extended in Tudor times. You can explore the castle and many of its rooms many of which have a medieval feel to them.
The 1400-acre gardens has two walks which you can download to your smartphone. There are two lakes, a woodland garden, a kitchen garden, woodland and a large limestone rock garden. Children can enjoy a natural play trail, pond dipping and quizzes.
What is there to play on – There are a couple of play areas with climbing frames, slides, balance beams and more. Plus a very large maze and a woodland trail filled with music and magic. Rachel Evans from Outandaboutmummy recommends Speke Hall. She loves the fab playground, maze and woodland trail at Speke Hall.
Other things to do – You can borrow a tracker pack with binoculars and magnifying glasses to help find hidden objects in the gardens. They have Victoria dress-up in the dairy and you can help metal mickey solve the mysteries of Speke with a family-friendly quiz.
What is there to play on – The adventure playground has over 30 rides and attractions.
Other things to do – You can explore the neo-classical mansion, explore the 50 acres of landscaped gardens including a Japanese garden and a maze. Plus 1,000 acres of deer park. There is also an old medieval hall and a rare breed farm which is authentic to the 1930s.
What is there to play on – They have four great play areas at Tyntesfield which include den building, balance beams and parallel ropes. There is a play barn down at the farm. They even have an assault course made from apple crates and wood. You can even explore inside a giant guano bird and an enchanted tree house.
Other things to do – You can also visit the spectacular Gothic revival house which is set in 540 acres of parkland.
What is there to play on – The outdoor play area is amazing! It is set on to a hill, so as you walk up you discover more and more areas. There are the standard swings and slides but there are also some really really fun extras like a massive tunnel slide that pops the children out much further down the hill, a zip wire and an area for den building
Other things to do – There are lots of wide-open spaces to play in, massive hills to roll down and walks around the extensive grounds. The highlights have to be the Aviary, which is fairly small but a big hit with the kids. Throughout the year there are numerous events and there’s always something big going on during every school holiday
All prices are subject to change. Please check each link for further and up-to-date information. Please be aware that some of these sites may also charge for parking.