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Biddulph Grange Gardens – review, guide and top tips for this National Trust site

Biddulph Grange Gardens – review, guide and top tips for this National Trust site

Everything you need to know about Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire

Name

Biddulph Grange Gardens

What is it?

Biddulph Grange is a series of beautiful landscaped Victorian gardens with surprises around every corner.

A walk here is a feast for the senses through pockets of China, Italy and even ancient Egypt, through tunnels, rockeries, an adventure playground, tree-lined avenues and around a lake.

Part of its magic lies in the way the areas are cleverly hidden from each other through landscaping.

It is a National Trust site – don’t confuse it with Biddulph Grange Country Park next door, run by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, whose 78 acres of woodland did used to form part of the Grange estate.

Tree-lined avenue at Biddulph Grange National Trust

Tree-lined avenue

Where is it?

Biddulph Grange is in Biddulph, in a valley on the edge of North Staffordshire near to Congleton in Cheshire and north of Stoke.

The history of Biddulph Grange

The house and garden were the creation of James and Maria Bateman, who lived there from 1842 for 27 years and their friend, marine artist Edward Cooke. It had previously been a farm.

James employed specialists to collect plants for him from all over the world. They were placed with trees and eclectic garden buildings.

James moved to London in 1868, his son John remained at Biddulph Grange until he sold it in 1872 to Robert Heath who lived with his family there for 50 years. During this time a fire destroyed the middle section of the original house, an Italianate-style villa and it was rebuilt in 1897.

From 1922 until 1991 it was used as a hospital then it was bought by the National Trust and opened to the public.

The National Trust undertook a huge garden restoration project which continues today.

What did we think?

We have been many times as this is one of our favourite National Trust sites, it possibly even scoops the top spot.

It’s simply stunning and the different sections keep any walk interesting. 

It is especially fabulous for children when they have trails and activities to do.

Highlights

*The view at the start

At the start of your journey, you stand with your back to the house on a terrace above the garden and can take in the view of  the Italian garden. You won’t be able to resist taking a photograph here but you may as well keep your camera or phone out as there are so many picture-worthy spots.

Looking down from the start at the Italian section at Biddulph Grange National Trust

Looking down from the start over the Italian section

*The Chinese Garden

It is easy to miss the Chinese Garden, yet it is arguably the most memorable part, bright with colour and complete with Chinese plants and architecture including a bridge and temple.

*The woodland play area

If you walk up the stunning tree-lined Wellington Avenue (worth a highlight section of its own), there is a path off it which takes you through woodland which is now home to a series of wooden frames and stepping stones for children to negotiate their way along, plus a see-saw. This is a fantastic, more recent addition to the gardens.

Playing in the wooden play area at Biddulph Grange National Trust

The Stumpery 

A stumpery is a garden feature similar to a rockery but made from parts of dead trees. The stumpery here, designed in 1856, was the first to be built anywhere and went on to be widely copied in many Victorian gardens and, even in the woods of Highgrove, Prince Charles’s home in Gloucestershire.

Egyptian Garden

This includes stone Sphynx, topiary obelisks, a topiary pyramid and a temple-style building containing the Ape of Thoth sculpture by Benjamin Waterhouse-Hawkins.

The tennis lawn

There are often activities laid out to do in this section. And in the spring there is a cute little daffodil maze to walk through.

More highlights

There are highlights around every corner including tunnels through rock, a lake, a geological gallery and of course the stunning plants, trees and flowers like monkey puzzle trees, azaleas and dahlias – the gardens are famous for their Dahlia Walk.

Dahlia Walk (taken in March) at Biddulph Grange National Trust

Dahlia Walk (taken in March)

Top tips

Can you see inside the house at Biddulph Grange?

No you can’t. The house itself became derelict until a developer bought it and converted it into nine apartments.

You can still access some of the buildings though, used as a cafe, shop and toilets.

Fish food

You can buy fish food for £1 a bag to feed the big fish in the lake.

Biddulph Grange House

Plant sale

You can buy flowers and plants in an area just past the car park on your way in or out.

Trails

Biddulph Grange really comes into its own for families around special occasions, we particularly love visiting at Easter.

National Trust used to team up with Cadbury but these days organise their own with more emphasis on enjoying nature and the surroundings and carrying out activities rather than solving clues. Children still get a chocolate egg at the end.

The trails are fabulous at taking you around all corners of the garden and Biddulph Grange pulls out all the stops.

See footage of our last Easter trail at the end of this article.

Arrival time

If it’s a Bank Holiday or special occasion, I really advise getting their early to get a parking space and avoid any queuing.

What is the best time of year to visit?

If you have children, it’s lovely to visit when they have an event on like the Easter trails.

The gardens change with the seasons. The dahlias start to bloom in July and reach their peak in early-September.

Biddulph Grange information

Parking: There is a free car park – free for National Trust members and included in the ticket price for non-members. There is also an overflow car park. 

Food: There is a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating, lovely in the sunshine. There is also a picnic spot next to the car park.

Opening hours: Vary depending on the day, but 10am to 5.30pm for much of the year, check out the times for specific dates here.

Cost: Free for National Trust members, £12 adults, £6 children, less for family and group tickets latest ticket prices here.

Are dogs allowed at Biddulph Grange?

No, only assistance dogs.

Best for: All ages.

Time needed: I would say you need at least two hours here, but on a sunny day with friends you could spend much longer.

Access and restrictions: It is not an accessible site, although a lot of the site has pathways, it is on a hill, there are more than 400 steps and uneven surfaces.

Address: Biddulph Grange Garden, Grange Road, Biddulph, Staffordshire, ST8 7SD.

Website: Biddulph Grange Gardens

Related content:

National Trust membership – everything you need to know

The 20 best National Trust gardens in the UK revealed

Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall – review, guide and top tips

Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall – review, guide and top tips

We take our children and dog to explore this once secret garden in Cornwall

Name

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

What is it?

The Lost Gardens of Heligan are Europe’s largest garden restoration project.

This secret garden was lost for decades until a door to a walled garden was discovered in 1990.

After an award-winning restoration, there are now 200 acres of subtropical gardens, woodland and jungle to explore.

Where is it?

The gardens cover steep ground in Cornwall, near the town of Mevagissey, not far from St Austell. It is in quite a remote location with small lanes leading to the entrance.

What did we think?

This is a wonderful place for children with a huge playground, lots of space, a farm and a brilliant jungle area. It’s a lot of walking and some of it is steep so younger children may get tired.

A giant's head at The Lost Gardens od Heligan

A giant’s head

Highlights

*The Jungle

This is the best area, jungle plants in a valley with boardwalks to explore and a wobbly rope bridge to cross. This was the part which captured our children’s imaginations the most.

Crossing the rope bridge at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

Crossing the rope bridge

*East Lawn playground

This large playground has a lot of modern equipment and plenty of space to run around. There are also great views and it is a good spot for children to let off some steam

*Home Farm

A small farm with pigs, sheep, chickens and horses. Ideal for younger children to get up close with farm animals. It is also near toilets and food outlets.

*Woodland Walk

A fun stroll through woodland you can do either at the start of end of your visit. There is a small play area called the Giant’s Adventure Trail and look out for the Mud Maid sculpture.

Tha Mud Maid at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

The Mud Maid

Our top tips

*Plan your route

There is a lot of walking involved so we suggest making your way to the furthest point of the site initially and working backwards towards the entrance. That way you will avoid the crowds and won’t be too tired when you are furthest away from the way out!

*It’s uphill on the way back

Take into account that all the routes back to the entrance are uphill. It is a very steep walk back, so plan your route accordingly.

*A manageable route

The simplest way for families to see the most child-friendly parts of the gardens is as follows: Go down the Woodland Walk and then head for The Jungle, go around that area and then visit the East Lawn playground, then you can use the toilets and facilities at the Steward’s House Cafe and enjoy the farm before making your way to the exit through the beautiful Flora’s Green.

*The rope bridge

The rope bridge in the jungle area is 100ft high and among the longest in Britain.

Crossing it is a wobbly, fantastic experience.

But dogs are not allowed across it and people with a fear of heights might not fancy it either.

Fear not, there are ways around it, then you may also be able to get a picture of family members crossing towards you.

*Toilets

There are only two areas with toilet and facilities – at the entrance and then near Home Farm. There are large parts of the gardens with no facilities.

*Dogs

Dogs are welcome on a lead and it is a great place for them to enjoy and explore. The Lost Valley is the quietest area and a good one for those coming with dogs who want a more strenuous walk.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan information

Food:

*Near the ticket office – Heligan Kitchen, Coffee Bar, Ice-cream Hut.

*In the Steward’s Garden near Home Farm – Steward’s House Cafe, BBQ Hut, Ice-cream Hut.

*Picnics are welcome and there are lots of benches to sit on.

Opening hours: Daily April to September 10am to 6pm, October to March 10am to 5pm.

Cost: Adults £17.50, children aged 5 to 15 £8.50, under 5s free. Family ticket £48. Book here.

Best for: Children aged 5-15, you do need some stamina to get around so younger ones may get tired.

Time needed: Minimum of 3 to 4 hours to explore the best parts of the site. You could easily spend a whole day here though.

Access and restrictions: Mostly accessible but some steep slopes to navigate. The Jungle and wider garden routes are not accessible and not open to wheelchairs. Accessible Maps available from the ticket office.

Address: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St Austell, PL26 6EN.

WebsiteThe Lost Garden of Heligan

More Cornwall content

Can’t get enough of Cornwall? Don’t miss our other stories, including reviews of Tintagel Castle and Lappa Valley.

Find out all about the amazing cottage we stayed in at The Valley in Cornwall.

And read about our whole holiday here: We take our children and new dog on a family holiday to Cornwall – find out how we get on

*Our trip was supported by www.visitcornwall.com – the number one website for visitors to Cornwall, helping visitors find everything they need for a great time in Cornwall.

The top 20 best National Trust gardens in the UK revealed

The top 20 best National Trust gardens in the UK revealed

Have you been to any of the country’s favourite National Trust Gardens?

A National Trust garden in Cheshire has been hailed the best in the UK on a list of the top 20.

Tatton Park scooped the top spot in research by Rated People, an index which uses Instagram and Google review data to work out how rated and picturesque each garden is.

The park near Knutsford has 50 acres of landscaped gardens which include a maze and a Japanese garden, plus 1,000 acres of parkland with deer and meres.

There is also a working farm and large playground. Read or full review and top tips here : Tatton Park in Cheshire with children.

Tatton Park

Tatton Park

The second best national trust garden has been named as Corfe Castle in Dorset.

We visited this castle as part of an Enid Blyton holiday.

Corfe Castle was the inspiration for Kirrin Castle in the Famous Five books, full story here: Four holiday in Dorset: Following in the footsteps of the Famous Five

Corfe Castle, the inspiration for Kirrin Castle

Corfe Castle, the inspiration for Kirrin Castle

Here are all the top 20 National Trust gardens.

1. Tatton Park, Cheshire

2. Corfe Castle, Dorset

3. Stourhead Landscape Garden, Wiltshire

4. Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire

5. Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

6. Lyme Park, Cheshire

7. Waddesdon Gardens, Buckinghamshire

8. Calke Gardens and Parklands, Derbyshire

9. Hardwick Gardens and Parkland, Derbyshire

10. Chartwell Garden, Kent

11. Belton, Lincolnshire

12. Scotney Castle, Kent

13. Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

14. Lacock, Wiltshire

15. Nymans, Sussex

16. Mount Stewart, County Down

17. Tyntesfield, Somerset

18. Mottisfont, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

19. Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire

20. Bodnant Garden, Conwy

 

Review and pictures: Abbeywood Estate and Gardens in Cheshire

Review and pictures: Abbeywood Estate and Gardens in Cheshire

We take our children to Abbeywood Estate and Gardens in Delamere

What is it?

A country house with 45 acres of gardens, a small playground and woodland trails. Also a wedding venue.

Children at Abbeywood Estate in Delamere, Cheshire

Where is it?

Between Northwich and Chester directly off the main A556 road.

What did we think?

This is a quiet, relaxing spot for a fun family walk with an excellent cafe. The gardens are beautiful.

Gardens at Abbeywood Estate in Delamere, Cheshire

Highlights

Woodland trail – The landscaped gardens are stunning but the best part for our children was the woodland trail around the perimeter of the site.

You can follow the signs around, with a few shortcuts available if you want. The walk takes around an hour.

Woodland trail through Abbeywood Estate in Delamere, Cheshire

Playground – There is a small playground in shaded woodland with a climbing frame, swings and trampoline (closed when we went due to the Coronavirus).

Play area at Abbeywood Estate in Delamere, Cheshire

Animals – You can spot different animals on your walk.

There are a few horses, goats, sheep and an enclosure with chickens and rabbits. There aren’t loads of animals like a petting zoo but they are a pleasant distraction on the walk.

Animals at Abbeywood Estate in Delamere, Cheshire

Top tips

The map you are given at the entry doesn’t show the full size of the gardens so make sure you don’t miss out on parts of the woodland trail.

You can’t take picnics so make sure you eat in the car park or use the cafe.

Gardens at Abbeywood Estate in Delamere, Cheshire

Abbeywood Estate and Gardens information

Food: There is a large, pleasant cafe with indoor and outdoor seating, selling hot meals, sandwiches, cakes, drinks and tubs of ice cream.

Opening hours: The gardens are open Wednesday to Sunday in summer between 9am and 5pm.

Cost: Adults £6 each, children free.

Best for: Ages three and above.

Time needed: 90 minutes.

Access and restrictions: The site is mainly lawned with a few gravel paths. It is fairly flat but isn’t fully accessible for wheelchair users and for prams and pushchairs.

Address: Abbeywood Gardens, Chester Rd, Delamere, Northwich, CW8 2HS.

 

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens – our review, tips and all the information you will need to visit

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens – our review, tips and all the information you will need to visit

We take our children to Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens for a family day out

What is it?

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens has 260 species of animals around 160 acres of beautiful parkland. This zoo has lots of rare and endangered animals.

Where is it?

The wildlife park is two miles south of Burford on the A361 on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, in Oxfordshire.

What did we think?

It is a cross between a traditional zoo and a visit to a National Trust-style stately home and gardens. There are lots of interesting animals for children to see, but adults can also enjoy strolling around the lovely gardens.

Watch our video below before reading our highlights, top tips and essential information!

Our Highlights

*There are good views of the animals, even for little ones thanks to cleverly designed fences and slopes.

*You can get face-to-face with the giraffes as there is a high viewing point called the Giraffe Walkway.

Two giraffe faces at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

*The adventure playground and skymaze is a fantastic play area for children, even those older and more daring.

The adventure playground

The adventure playground

*The fabulous gardens – beautiful to walk through on the sunny day we were there.

*The range of animals include red pandas, giraffes, rhinos, penguins, lions, wolves, tropical birds, meercats, zebras, tapirs, camels, otters, lemurs, monkeys, snakes and crocodiles. In case you have an elephant-lover, note that there are no elephants at this zoo.

A parrot at Cotsold Wildlife Park and Gardens

*There is a farmyard section where you can pet goats in an open field.

A girl pets a goat at CotsolA girl pets a goat at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardensd Wildlife Park and Gardens

Our top tips

*We asked a member of staff for the best route to walk around the park and as we had arrived first thing she recommended we visit the walled garden first of all. See the penguin feeding at 11am and the lemurs feeding at 12pm in the Madagascar area, then head around the park either clockwise or anti-clockwise. That brings you into the grounds in time for a picnic.

A meerkat relaxes at Cotswold Wildlife Park

A meerkat relaxes

*There is a little train which takes you around the park and which is worth doing to rest tired legs at only £1 per person (under 3s are free). It runs from April to October, weather permitting. There isn’t an organised queuing system though so make sure you don’t miss your turn to get on board. The train ride lasts around 10 minutes and departs from near the walled garden and playground. There is a place to leave pushchairs and wheelchairs next to the platform and there is room for two wheelchairs on the train.

*The lemur collection in the Madagascan Walkthrough, is only open for part of the day so check opening times if you are keen to do this.

*A guide book and map costs £2.50. If you just need a map there are boards around the site. Just snap one on your phone and take it round with you! Or click here for an online map.

*Dogs can be taken here as long as they are kept on a lead. There are some areas with free ranging animals that they aren’t allowed into including the Bat Belfry, Reptile House, Children’s Farmyard.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens information

Food: Picnics are allowed and there are plenty of nice spots and benches to eat them.

There is a restaurant – the Oak Tree Restaurant – behind the manor house. And seasonal (only open on busy days) kiosks selling hot drinks, ice creams and snacks.

Opening hours: Daily 10am to 6pm April to October, 10am to 5pm November to March. Last admission two hours before closing time.

Cost: Adults £16.00, children aged three to 16 £10.50, under 3s free. E-tickets booked online in advance are £14.00 and £9.50.

There are no disabled concessions but there is a discount for groups of six or more disabled people and their carers.

Best for: All ages but it is a large site so under 5s might get tired without a buggy.

Time needed: At least three hours, potentially all day if you take your time.

Access and restrictions: This is a flat site with good paths throughout so great for wheelchairs prams and buggies. There are disabled toilets in every toilet block as well as a Changing Places toilet near to the gift shop with a bed, ceiling hoist and shower (ask in the gift shop for the security code to get in).

There are wheelchairs available to hire for free. Mobility scooters can be hired for a charge and must be booked in advance.

Address: Cotswold Wildlife Park, Bradwell Grove, Burford, OX18 4JP

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(We were given complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

Tatton Park in Cheshire with children – read our review and top tips to make the most of a family visit

Tatton Park in Cheshire with children – read our review and top tips to make the most of a family visit

Read our review of all the best bits of the fabulous Tatton Park in Cheshire plus the costs for National Trust members

What is it?

Tatton Park is one of England’s largest historic estates – it has a stately home, 50 acres of landscaped gardens, 1,000 acres of parkland with deer and meres. There is also a working farm and large playground.

Where is it?

Tatton Park is near Knutsford in Cheshire a few miles from junction 19 of the M6 motorway.

What do we think?

There are so many options for children on a day out here, truly something for everyone. You can explore the parkland for just £6 a day for a family – or pay extra for the other attractions.

Our highlights

The park

The park is vast with plenty of different areas to explore.

There are two large meres where sailing takes place, woodland walks with deer to spot and places to picnic.

The wide paths through the park for cars are also popular with cyclists and supervised children on bikes and scooters.

You can park at different points inside (it is £6 per car, there is no National Trust discount for parking).

The gardens

The gardens cost extra (free for National Trust members) but can be a quieter, different and beautiful area to enjoy on busy days.

They begin with fruit and vegetable patches before expanding off a central path to some fabulous areas.

Our particular favourites are around the Japanese Gardens (you can only venture inside on a guided tour) and the bridges over the pools. There is quite a tricky maze, regular family trails to follow, a fun scarecrow hunt in February, Easter Egg hunts at Easter time and other activities all year round.

Note – you are not allowed picnics, bikes or scooters in the gardens.

colourful flowers in a Japanese garden at Tatton Park

The peaceful Japanese Garden at Tatton Park

The farm

A five-minute walk from the main car park is Tatton Park farm. Entry is £7 for adults, £5 for children (half price for NT members). It is a traditional 1930’s working farm with pigs, horses, donkey and chickens.

There are old tractors to sit on and Aunt Mary’s 1940’s cottage. In one barn you can ride on toy cars and tractors.

Next to the farm is a good adventure playground, picnic area and woodland trails.

pigs and piglets walking at a farm

Pigs are just one of the animals at Tatton’s working farm

The mansion

Home to the Egerton family, the house contains a huge library and other artefacts.

The main interest for children is exploring the large servants’ kitchen and living quarters, which are nicely done. The mansion is used for events at Easter and Christmas geared to children.

Child-friendly facilities

There is a huge playground next to the main car park which is always very busy.

There is often a small train to take children from the playground to the farm (at a cost). Burger and ice cream vans are on site too.

In the main stables courtyard near the garden’s entrance there is often a couple of carousels (£2.50 a go). There are also two restaurants – a large self-service area and the smaller Gardeners’ Cottage.

National Trust

Unlike most National Trust sites, National Trust members still have to pay to park at Tatton Park, which costs £6, unless you park in Knutsford and walk in, but it is quite a walk to the main part.

However, entry to the house and gardens is free to National Trust members and entry to the farm is half price.

Conclusion

Tatton Park is geared towards children – you can have fun here without entering any of the paid attractions but if you do choose – the farm and gardens are the best value.

Our top tips

*Enter Tatton Park from the smaller, less-used Knutsford entrance and you can drive through the park to get a feel for it and park next to Melchett Mere for a good picnic spot.

Tatton Park information

Food: Picnics are welcome, except in the gardens. There are two cafes/restaurants in the courtyard, near the garden’s entrance – a large self service area called the Stables Restaurant, perfect for children and the smaller and more formal Gardeners’ Cottage. There is also a shop selling ice creams.

Opening hours: It varies depending on the time of year and the farm is open at more limited times, check here for details.

Cost: Car parking costs £7 (even to National Trust members). A Totally Tatton family ticket to all attractions is £33. Adult ticket £7 per attraction, child (aged four to 15) £5. National Trust members – free entry to gardens and mansion, half-price entry to farm.

Best for: ages three to 10.

Time needed: Doing every attraction is a full day out. Visiting the park for a walk or bike ride can be done in 90 minutes.

Access and restrictions: All Tatton’s shops and the Stables Restaurant are fully accessible to wheelchair users. Electric buggies (gardens only) and manual wheelchairs are available for loan but can not be used to move between attractions and in the park. Book a wheelchair loan on 01625 374400.

Address: Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN.

Have you been to Tatton Park? Do you like it as much as we do? Let us know in the comments.

(Pictures in this article are courtesy of National Trust Images and Tatton Park).

Our top tips to get the most from a family day out at Dunham Massey in Altrincham, Cheshire

Our top tips to get the most from a family day out at Dunham Massey in Altrincham, Cheshire

What to see and do with children at the National Trust’s Dunham Massey near Manchester

What is it?

A stately home with gardens, a large deer park, good walks and cafes, run by the National Trust.

Where is it?

Dunham Massey is near Altrincham in Cheshire, just a few miles from the main A556 dual carriageway.

What did we think?

This is one of the best places to take children, the grounds are safe and large, there are good facilities, regular special family trails, shows and events.

There is enough to keep you interested at Dunham Massey for at least half a day.

Our highlights

The park

The large deer park has long paved stretches for scooters and bikes (child bikes only allowed), plus lots of areas to build dens, play hide and seek, explore fallen trees and small ponds.

There are lots of deer in the park and they are fairly tame so you can get quite close – sometimes they even hang around by the house and cafe area. It is a very safe, flat and expansive park to play in.

deer at Dunham Massey

The deer are regular visitors to busy areas

The gardens

You have to pay extra to enter the gardens (free to National Trust members). There are paths throughout with flowers all year round. It claims to be one of Britain’s biggest winter gardens.

There are regular children’s trails to pick up at the entrance and follow, especially at Christmas and Easter.

The rose garden and bridge over the lake are fun parts for children. It is a lovely area to explore and enjoy.

rhododendrons in bloom at Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey’s gardens are colourful and host regular family trails

The house

Pretty much your traditional National Trust old house, of interest to lots of adults but a bit dark and gloomy for children, without a great deal to keep them amused.

However, it does have regular exhibitions and events – it was turned into a World War One hospital recently which was an interesting experience for our little ones. It costs extra to enter the house (free to National Trust members).

an aerial view of Dunham Massey

The house at Dunham Massey from above

Facilities

A newish visitor centre has a shop, cafe and toilets at the entrance. Remember to get your garden or house tickets from there before you go any further – even NT members need a ticket.

The cafe at the visitor centre has a nice outside seating area but it gets busy.

We prefer the restaurant in the park, which is large with family seating area, but this also gets busy and peak times. There is an ice cream shop in this area too and toilets and it is nearer the gardens and house entrance.

Conclusion

Dunham Massey is a great place to take scooters or bikes and explore the parkland, the gardens are also worth a visit although you can probably give the house a miss.

Our Top Tips

*You need tickets for the house and garden even if you are National Trust members. Get them at the main entrance before you go any further – you can’t buy them anywhere else.

*It gets very busy at weekends in good weather – and you often have to queue for the car park so try and go very early or later in the day.

Dunham Massey information

Food: There are two nice places to eat, a cafe in the visitor centre at the entrance and the other,our favourite of the two, a restaurant off the courtyard, with hot food and delicious cakes. It is big but very popular and can get very busy. There is also an ice cream parlour in this part. Picnics are also welcome in the park but not the gardens.

Opening hours: Open every day in school holidays from 10am to 5pm. During term time, it is open Tuesday to Sunday and closed on Mondays.

Cost: Car parking £7, includes entry to the park (free for NT members). Family entry to house and gardens £36.25, garden only £25. National Trust members free.

Best for: ages three to eight.

Time needed: Can easily fill half a day or just pop to the park for an hour or so.

Access and restrictions: There is free disabled parking. The ramp running from the car park to the Visitor Centre is accessible by wheelchair and mobility scooter, but is quite steep. Wheelchairs and personal mobility vehicles (PMVs) are available to borrow from reception. Book in advance to ensure availability on 0161 941 1025.

Address: Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ

(Pictures in this article are courtesy of National Trust Images).

Is the National Trust’s Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire a fun day for all the family?

Is the National Trust’s Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire a fun day for all the family?

Read our review of this popular park and mill near Manchester

What is it?

Quarry Bank Mill, also known as Styal Mill, is one of the best preserved textile mills of the Industrial Revolution.

Built in 1784, it was the inspiration for Channel 4’s popular drama, The Mill.

Now it is a museum of the cotton industry where visitors can discover the story of mill workers and how the Industrial Revolution changed the word.

It is set amid lovely gardens to explore.

Where is it?

Quarry Bank Mill is in Styal, Cheshire, south of Manchester Airport, on the bank of the River Bollin, which provided water to power the waterwheels.

What did we think?

The gardens are very child friendly and the short walks and playgrounds are good too. The mill is interesting and fun but may be a bit much for younger children.

Highlights

The Gardens

Recent improvements have made the gardens far more child-friendly and accessible.

The paths are new and varied, the 43 steps down towards the river proves a popular counting challenge for our little ones.

The stroll along the River Bollin is fun with weirs and colourful trees and flowers lining the route. It is an easy, safe and manageable place to explore.

a couple stroll next to Quarry Bank Mill

There are plenty of places to stroll around

The play areas

There are two main play areas. A traditional playground with small slide, fireman’s pole and a few swings. It is small and gets packed on busy days.

There is also what they call a natural play area. This has logs to carry, tree stumps to step across and a muddy hill to scramble up.

Despite falling over and getting covered in mud, on our last visit, both areas took up an action packed 20 minutes each.

The mill

(NB The mill is closed until some time during summer 2018 for major works to install a lift).

The mill is a fun experience although best suited to those over six.

They have volunteers explaining what life was like in full costume and you can watch hand spinners at work.

The scale of the pump room and water wheel are amazing. There are good exhibits on how they made clothes in the Victorian era and many of the exhibits are hands-on.

a woman dressed in old clothes operates a cotton spinner

Hands-on exhibits take you back in time inside the mill

The water works

If you head away from the mill toward the large weir, there is another short walk around a lake.

It is not a taxing stroll, you can spot birds and fish in the lake, or take a footpath towards open fields above the site. Watching the machines control the water flow keeps little eyes interested.

Conclusion

Quarry Bank Mill is a good wet and dry weather option. On a sunny day the gardens and walks are beautiful, on a rainy day the museum is fascinating.

Our top tip

*Eat at the garden cafe and then go for a riverside stroll in the woods next to the garden.

Quarry Bank information

Food: There are two cafes on site. The main cafe has a bit of a canteen feel but the cakes are tasty.

The new garden cafe is in a much nicer location and serves all its food and drink in disposable crockery to be kind to the environment.

Opening hours: Open daily, the estate is open 8am to 6pm, attractions open from 10.30am. The Mill is closed until summer 2018 but everything else is open.

Cost: Entry costs £50.50 for a family ticket, adults £20.25, children £10. Free for National Trust members.

Best for: ages five to 12.

Time needed: At least two hours, more if you want to take in all the talks and activities in the mill.

Access and restrictions: A lift is currently being installed so that for the first time the whole mill will be accessible to everyone.

Address: Quarry Bank, Styal Rd, Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 4LA.

(The pictures in this article are courtesy of National Trust Images).