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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

English Heritage membership – is it worth it and what attractions does it include

English Heritage membership – is it worth it and what attractions does it include

We investigate English Heritage annual passes and where you can use them

Whether you love English Heritage and the sites it runs or know nothing about it (and them), we’ve got all you need to know when deciding whether to splash out on an annual membership.

What is English Heritage?

English Heritage manages and preserves over 400 historic monuments and places such as castles, stately homes, palaces, houses, abbeys, Roman forts and archaeological sites.

It also runs the Blue Plaque Scheme in London which commemorates the residencies of famous people of the past with over 900 plaques across the capital.

English Heritage was established in 1983 as a government body and became a charitable organization in 2015, allowing it to raise funds and operate more independently in its work to promote England’s history and heritage for future generations to enjoy.

Now, several million people visit its sites across England each year.

What is English Heritage annual membership?

A pass allowing access to its hundreds of historic places including Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel Castle and more.

It helps raise money for the charity while making access to its sites more affordable and accessible.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to more than 400 sites

Free car parking

Free entry for up to six children

A handbook

Children’s activity pack

Members’ magazine four times per year

Free or reduced entry to English Heritage events

How much is it?

A family membership for one adult and up to six children is £69 a year or £5.75 a month.

Family membership for two adults and up to 12 children costs £120 per year, £10 a month.

Individual memberships are £69 a year for an adult aged 26 and over, £63 for a senior aged 65 and over and £57 a year for a young adult (aged 18 to 25) or student.

Joint memberships start from £96 and lifetime memberships start from £1,350.

All up-to-date membership prices are here.

What about the small print?

Not all events at English Heritage sites are free for members. They do get a reduced rate though.

You will get a reminder letter one month before membership renewal. You must cancel at that time or pay for another year in full.

How much could you save?

Entry to each site varies in price. There are some for less than £20 for a family of four, but others come to £50.

You need to visit two to five English Heritage sites per year to start saving money.

Top Tips

English Heritage have sites in:

The North West including Hadrian’s Wall, Beeston Castle and Carlisle Castle.

The South West including Stonehenge, Tintagel Castle and Old Sarum.

The South East including Dover Castle, 1066 Battle Abbey and Osborne – Queen Victoria’s family home.

The West Midlands including Kenilworth Castle, Witley Court and Stokesay Castle.

The North East including Belsay Hall and Gardens, Lindisfarne Priory and Warkworth Castle.

Yorkshire including Brodsworth Hall, Whitby Abbey and Clifford’s Tower in York.

The East of England including Audley End House and Gardens, Wrest Park and Framlingham Castle.

London including Eltham Palace and Gardens, Ranger’s House and Jewel Tower.

For more ideas visit this page on their website.

Verdict

If there are English Heritage sites near to your or near to any holiday destinations you will be staying at and you think you will visit several in a year, then a membership is definitely worth it.

Having the pass will also encourage you to get out and about more to make use of it.

There are lots of English Heritage properties but if you have National Trust membership as well, do you really need both?

You could perhaps try National Trust for a year and English Heritage another year.

Related content

Our articles include reviews of Stonehenge and Tintagel Castle.

We investigate English Heritage and other popular family membership schemes including National Trust, Merlin, RHS and Chester Zoo – Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

National Trust Membership – everything you need to know

National Trust Membership – everything you need to know

Is it worth getting a National Trust membership, what does it cost and is it worth it?

What is the National Trust?

The National Trust is Britain’s biggest charity and also the largest conservation charity in Europe.

It was founded in 1895 to protect heritage and natural landscapes for future generations,

It owns hundreds of large estates, historic houses and masses of countryside and open spaces.

What is National Trust membership?

An annual pass giving free entry to more than 500 National Trust parks, gardens and houses.

It is staggering that over six million people are members of the National Trust.

What do you get?

Free entry to National Trust sites, free parking at most car parks, a handbook and a National Trust magazine three times per year.

New members also receive a £15 National Trust giftcard.

How much is it?

A family pass for two adults living at the same address and their children or grandchildren (aged under 18) costs £146.40 per year, £12.20 a month.

A family pass for one adult and their children or grandchildren is £91.20 a year, £7.60 a month

Children under five go free anyway, so take that into account. You can pay by monthly direct debit if you prefer.

Joint membership for two adults living at the same address is £139.20 a year, £11.60 a month.

Individual memberships are £10 a year for juniors under 18, £42 a year for a young person aged 18 to 25 and £84 a year for adults aged 26 and over.

You can also buy lifetime memberships from £2,020 and from £1,510 for seniors.

All the up-to-date membership prices can be found here.

What about the small print?

It is relatively simple but there are some car parks not included for free. Sites like Stonehenge and Tatton Park, which aren’t exclusively run by the National Trust, can incur some charges.

You have to sign up for a year at a time and can only cancel when your renewal is due. Be sure to mark your renewal date in your diary so you don’t miss it.

How much could you save?

Average entry price to a large National Trust place is around £30 for a family of four so you can save a lot.

Car parking can be costly too, from £3 to £7 at a lot of places. We have just been to the Lake District where we used three car parks in one day, it all adds up.

Verdict

Good value for the sheer number of sites and car parks you can use, especially if you have a good selection near to you, as we do.

Having the membership really gets us out and about, we especially like the ones where dogs are welcome.

Top Tips

*You can buy National Trust Membership as a gift which the recipient can use again and again.

*We always keep our cards in the car as you never know when you will need them, for anything from an unplanned visit to a castle to a National Trust car park.

*National Trust venues are fantastic in the holidays – we particularly enjoy the Easter trails.

*If you apply to the National Trust for an Essential Companion card then members with additional needs can take one or two carers with them for free. Full details here. So a child with additional needs who is a National Trust member for £10 a year, can be accompanied for free by two parents, for example.

*You can take dogs to certain National Trust sites.

*The cakes are usually delicious!

Related stories

We have lots of National Trust articles on this site, including reviews of Dunham MasseyQuarry Bank MillTatton Park, and our Famous Five trail in Dorset.

We investigate National Trust and other popular family membership schemes including Merlin, English Heritage, RHS and Chester Zoo – Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

We investigate some of the popular annual passes for 2024 including Merlin, National Trust, English Heritage, RHS and Chester Zoo

There are so many amazing places to take children across the UK but the cost can really add up, especially over the holidays.

So is it worth splurging on an annual pass so you can visit your favourite places as often as you want? We investigate the most popular options for 2024.

Merlin Pass

The Octonauts ride at Alton Towers

Alton Towers

What is it?

The UK’s biggest annual pass offering entry to 32 Merlin attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland and more.

What do you get?

Entry to 33 attractions including:

The different types of Merlin passes offer other savings depending on which you choose including free parking, discounted fastrack and cheaper food and drink.

Different Merlin Passes

There are four standards of Merlin passes – Merlin Discovery Pass, Merlin Silver Pass, Merlin Gold Pass and Merlin Platinum Pass.

The cheapest option is the Merlin Discovery Pass. It gives off-peak entry only (so excludes entry during school holidays, some weekends and special events) and access to Merlin attractions for over 200 days.  Excludes entry during school holidays, some weekend dates and special events.

Next cheapest is Merlin Silver Pass which also includes some weekends and school holidays, giving over 300 days of entry and 10 per cent off shops, food and drinks. It also includes discounted friends and family tickets.

The Merlin Gold Pass has even less exclusion dates, giving access over 340 days. It also includes free parking, fastrack vouchers and benefits like 20 per cent off shops, food and drinks.

The most expensive option is the Merlin Platinum Pass which gives 364 days entry, with no excluded dates other than paid events. It also includes free parking, £5 off fastrack and Share the Fun vouchers and £19 tickets for friends and family.

How much are the Merlin passes?

Merlin Discovery Pass is from £99 per person.

Merlin Silver Pass is from £169 per person (renewals from £119 per person).

Merlin Gold Pass is from £239 per person (renewals from £169)

Merlin Platinum Pass from £299 per person (renewals from £229).

Can I pay monthly?

Yes you can spread the cost with a monthly membership, on all but the cheapest Merlin Discovery Pass option.

You need to pay a joining fee and then a set monthly rate.

Silver Pass – joining fee £39.99, £10.99 a month, total cost £171.87.

Gold Pass – joining fee, £49.99, £15.99 a month, total cost £241.87.

Platinum Pass, joining fee, £59.99, £20.99 a month, total cost £311.8.

What about the small print?

The passes are delivered digitally to your email inbox ready to use.

You need to pre-book tickets online.

How much could you save?

This depends on which pass you go for and how often you visit Merlin attractions.

Merlin have an online calculator tool to show you how much you can save.

For a family of two adults and two children with Merlin Discovery Passes, visiting just Alton Towers once a month, could save £2,868, so a huge saving.

In fact just going to Alton Towers twice would save you £148. But you would have to go to a Legoland Discovery Centre five times to make your money back.

Nobody should be paying the full price for tickets though with offers available on cereal packets and in newspapers – although always check as often booking online in advance can work out cheaper.

Verdict

If you are a fan of Merlin attractions, know you will be going anyway and can afford it, these passes would seem like a fantastic investment which will encourage you to get out and make the most of them for a fun-filled year.

Carer passes

Carers of Merlin Annual Passholders with additional needs who require assistance, can receive a free Merlin Annual Pass.

The passes are transferable between carers. They just include the name, date of birth and a photo of the guest with additional needs.

You need to submit your request here.

Top Tip

Look out for Merlin pass discounts – this usually happens in January and June.

Related stories

Our Merlin content on the site includes reviews and guides to Warwick Castle and LEGOLAND Windsor Resort.

Another popular article tells you How to beat the queues at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with the Reserve & Ride (formerly Q-Bot) Ride Reservation System.

National Trust membership

deer outside Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey

What is it?

An annual pass giving free entry to more than 500 National Trust parks, gardens and houses.

What do you get?

Free entry to National Trust sites, free parking at most car parks, a handbook and a National Trust magazine three times per year.

New members also receive a £15 National Trust giftcard.

How much is it?

A family pass for two adults living at the same address and their children or grandchildren (aged under 18) costs £146.40 per year, £12.20 a month.

A family pass for one adult and their children or grandchildren is £91.20 a year, £7.60 a month

Children under five go free anyway, so take that into account. You can pay by monthly direct debit if you prefer.

Joint membership for two adults living at the same address is £139.20 a year, £11.60 a month.

Individual memberships are £10 a year for juniors under 18, £42 a year for a young person aged 18 to 25 and £84 a year for adults aged 26 and over.

You can also buy lifetime memberships from £2,020 and from £1,510 for seniors.

All the up-to-date membership prices can be found here.

What about the small print?

It is relatively simple but there are some car parks not included for free. Sites like Stonehenge and Tatton Park, which aren’t exclusively run by the National Trust, can incur some charges.

You have to sign up for a year at a time and can only cancel when your renewal is due. Be sure to mark your renewal date in your diary so you don’t miss it.

How much could you save?

Average entry price to a large National Trust place is around £30 for a family of four so you can save a lot.

Car parking can be costly too, from £3 to £7 at a lot of places. We have just been to the Lake District where we used three car parks in one day, it all adds up.

Verdict

Good value for the sheer number of sites and car parks you can use, especially if you have a good selection near to you, as we do.

Top Tips

*You can buy National Trust Membership as a gift which the recipient can use again and again.

*We always keep our cards in the car as you never know when you will need them, for anything from an unplanned visit to a castle to a National Trust car park.

*National Trust venues are fantastic in the holidays – we particularly enjoy the Easter trails.

*If you apply to the National Trust for an Essential Companion card then members with additional needs can take one or two carers with them for free. Full details here. So a child with additional needs who is a National Trust member for £10 a year, can be accompanied for free by two parents, for example.

*You can take dogs to certain National Trust sites.

*The cakes are usually delicious!

Related content

We have lots of National Trust articles on this site, including reviews of Dunham MasseyQuarry Bank MillTatton Park, and our Famous Five trail in Dorset.

English Heritage membership

A visitor does a handstand in front of the stones at Stonehenge

Stonehenge

What is it?

A pass allowing access to over 400 historic places including Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel Castle and more.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to more than 400 sites, free car parking, free entry for up to 6 children, a handbook, children’s activity pack and members’ magazine four times per year. Plus free or reduced entry to English Heritage events.

How much is it?

A family membership for one adult and up to six children is £69 a year or £5.75 a month.

Family membership for two adults and up to 12 children costs £120 per year, £10 a month.

Individual memberships are £69 a year for an adult aged 26 and over, £63 for a senior aged 65 and over and £57 a year for a young adult (aged 18 to 25) or student.

Joint memberships start from £96 and lifetime memberships start from £1,350.

All up-to-date membership prices are here.

What about the small print?

Not all events at English Heritage sites are free for members. They do get a reduced rate though.

You will get a reminder  letter one month before membership renewal. You must cancel at that time or pay for another year in full.

How much could you save?

Entry to each site varies in price. There are some for less than £20 for a family of four, but others come to £50.

You need to visit four or five English Heritage sites per year to start saving money.

Top Tips

English Heritage have sites in:

The North West including Hadrian’s Wall, Beeston Castle and Carlisle Castle.

The South West including Stonehenge, Tintagel Castle and Old Sarum.

The South East including Dover Castle, 1066 Battle Abbey and Osborne – Queen Victoria’s family home.

The West Midlands including Kenilworth Castle, Witley Court and Stokesay Castle.

The North East including Belsay Hall and Gardens, Lindisfarne Priory and Warkworth Castle.

Yorkshire including Brodsworth Hall, Whitby Abbey and Clifford’s Tower in York.

The East of England including Audley End House and Gardens, Wrest Park and Framlingham Castle.

London including Eltham Palace and Gardens, Ranger’s House and Jewel Tower.

For more ideas visit this page on their website.

Verdict

There are lots of English Heritage properties but if you have National Trust membership as well, do you really need both?

It will depend on how many English Heritage sites there are near to you and around any holiday destinations you are visiting in the next year.

You could perhaps try National Trust for a year and English Heritage another year.

Related content

Our articles include reviews of Stonehenge and Tintagel Castle.

RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) membership

What is it?

An annual pass perfect for people who love gardens and gardening.

What do you get?

Unlimited entry to the five RHS Gardens for the member and a guest or two children (four children for joint memberships), free entry to over 200 partner gardens at selected times, access to events, reduced rate tickets to RHS flower shows and a monthly magazine The Garden (worth £59). You also get unlimited, personalised RHS advice over the phone or online.

How much does RHS membership cost?

Individual membership starts from £74 (49.33 if pay by direct debit), joint membership from £110 (£73.33 by direct debit).

Student membership is £10 and life membership starts from £935.

Full details here.

Where are the RHS Gardens?

The five main gardens, all included in the membership, are Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in Devon, Wisley in Surrey and Bridgewater in Manchester.

Where are the RHS Partner Gardens?

There are over 200 Partner Gardens across the UK and beyond in Barbados, France, Japan, Singapore and South Africa.

They include privately-owned gems and some of the world’s most popular gardens.

All the Partner Gardens can be found here.

The small print

The free entry to 200 Partner Gardens is only for the main member in a joint membership and only at selected times.

Top tips

*At the time of writing RHS, keen to share the joy of gardening with as many people as possible, is allowing those who receive any of the following benefits, to visit RHS Garden Harlow Carr for just £1: Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

You can book £1 tickets for yourself and up to five people accompanying you which can be a mixture of children and adults. Only one member of the party needs to be receiving benefits. You will need to present proof of your benefits on arrival at the garden.

*Able to visit the gardens for free at the time of writing are:

Up to two carers with a disabled visitor

Under-fives

Schoolchildren on school visits

Affiliated horticultural societies

Community groups supported by the RHS Community Outreach programme 

Carers

There is free entry for essential carers accompanying visitors with a disability at the main RHS Gardens – Wisley in Surrey, Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in Devon, Harlow Carr in Yorkshire and Bridgewater in Greater Manchester. If your membership has a guest entitlement you can still use this in addition to your carer.

Carer arrangements vary at the 200 RHS Partner Gardens.

How much could you save?

A visit to Harlow Carr, one of the five RHS Gardens, costs £47.50 for two adults and two children (aged 5-16 – children under five are free).

A joint membership, allowing four children to visit with you, would cost £82.50 a year, so you would only need to attend twice in a year to gain. If you visited once a month you would save over £488.

Verdict

If you love beautiful gardens and live near one of the main five listed, then membership would be worthwhile.

Chester Zoo membership

An orangutan and a baby orangutan in a hammock at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo

What is it?

Annual membership to the most popular tourist attraction outside London.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to Chester Zoo, 10 per cent discount in the zoo’s shops and cafes, experience discounts, , access to junior members’ events, free entry once a year at several other UK zoos (Bristol Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo, Newquay Zoo, Marwell Zoo, Paignton Zoo and Twycross Zoo). It also includes Member Days where you can bring friends and family at a discounted rate and access to Our Zoo where members are emailed exclusive content.

How much is it?

There are two available prices for all memberships – a standard price and a 10 per cent cheaper price if you pay by direct debit.

For example, the price for a family of two adults and two children is £320 or £288 if you sign up by direct debit.

One adult and two children is £215 or £193.50.

Children aged 0 to two are free.

Additional children aged three to 17 are £81 or £72.90 each.

For all the up-to-date prices visit the website.

What about the small print?

Fairly straightforward, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. You can go anytime. If you are using your free visit to another zoo you must take your membership card and membership letter.

You still have to pay the same price for the Christmas light show The Lanterns and other special events outside of opening hours.

How much could you save?

A day visit to Chester Zoo is up to £116 for a family of four booked in advance. There are rarely offers and discounts available.

You must all visit the zoo three times per year to start saving money.

Verdict

If you live close enough to visit regularly and have children who enjoy it, a Chester Zoo pass is a great family treat. Plus if you are members, you don’t feel you have to see every single animal and area each time and spend a whole day there for every visit, which is far more relaxed.

Top tips

If you have visited the zoo in the last month, Chester Zoo will take your ticket prices off the membership cost.

If you are planning to visit, don’t miss our popular article Chester Zoo – our top tips to save you time and money.

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

 

National Trust Membership – everything you need to know

National Trust now CLOSES its park and gardens to help stop coronavirus spread

National Trust closes its parklands from March 21

The National Trust has now CLOSED its parks and gardens to help restrict the spread of coronavirus.

The trust had been offering people free entry to its open spaces despite indoor areas being closed.

But there were crowds of visitors taking up the opportunity which made social distancing tricky.

Director General Hilary McGrady said: “Despite our desire to keep our outdoor spaces open, the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors has to be our top priority.

“We have now sadly taken the decision to close all of our parks and gardens, in addition to our houses, shops and cafes, to avoid crowding that puts social distancing at risk.

“We know that people are likely to need space and fresh air in the coming weeks and months and we will do all we can to provide access wherever possible.

“Our countryside and coastal locations remain open with parking charges waived, but we encourage people to stay local and observe social distancing measures.

“Over the coming weeks our digital platforms – our website, social media feeds, podcasts and video – will become even more important, ensuring the places of nature, beauty and history that we care for on behalf of the nation can remain open for business virtually while we are temporarily closed.

“We will also be ramping up our efforts to help people connect with nature wherever they are and to find moments of joy in the world around them. We will be providing rich content and staying in touch with our members and followers throughout this time.”

For more information go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

Coronavirus school closures: Visit National Trust parks and gardens for free to keep children active

Coronavirus school closures: Visit National Trust parks and gardens for free to keep children active

Explore National Trust sites safely during the Coronavirus crisis

The National Trust has announced it is giving free access to its open spaces during the coronavirus outbreak.

It is closing indoor sites like houses, cafes and shops to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

But the trust is allowing families to enjoy its parklands and gardens, after the governent closed schools and asked people to social distance.

The trust is planning which gardens and parks will be open to the public based on factors such as whether they allow enough space for adequate social distancing.

Director General Hilary McGrady said: “The National Trust was founded 125 years ago for the benefit of the entire nation. We want to honour our mission – to enable people and nature to thrive.

“Over the coming weeks we will do all that we can to keep on providing public benefit through caring for places and giving people access wherever possible.

“While we will close our indoor areas to help fight the spread of coronavirus, we recognise that people are likely to need access to open space and to nature, beauty and history.

Outdoor space and fresh air is important for children and for everyone’s mental health.

Mr Grady added: “We’ll try to keep as many open spaces available as possible but this is a changing situation and we’re strictly following Government advice so please keep checking our website for updated information and always check the site before you visit any of our places.”

The trust has said that the wellbeing of its staff, volunteers and visitors is its top concern.

And many volunteers fall into the over-70s age bracket.

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts 2019 – all you need to know about this year’s National Trust trails

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts 2019 – all you need to know about this year’s National Trust trails

The popular Cadbury Easter Egg hunts will be held at over 260 National Trust sites for 2019

What are they?

The National Trust/Cadbury Easter egg hunts take place every year and prove really popular with young children and families (us included).

This year (2019) there will be trails at over 260 National Trust sites around the country.

The children are usually given a map and follow a trail around the grounds or through an historic house.

At some sites they may have to find letters to fill in on their sheet and solve an anagram, other times they have to find bunnies or eggs or answer clues – we sometimes attend two or three over Easter and each is different (yes we love them that much)!

The trust links up with Cadbury to provide chocolate prizes at the end of the hunts.

When is it?

Most hunts only run on the Easter weekend (April 19-22) from Good Friday to Easter Monday. At some larger sites, the hunts are on throughout the Easter holidays. If you are going outside of the Easter weekend then check in advance that a hunt is on via the website.

How much does it cost?

If you are a National Trust member, the sites are free to enter. Each Easter egg hunt does cost extra, usually between £2 and £5.50 per child.

Non-National Trust members must pay the admission price plus the egg hunt cost on top.

If you aren’t a member, choose a smaller site to do your hunt as it will be cheaper to get in.

What do you get?

All hunts end with a chocolate-based prize. This is usually a medium-sized Cadbury Easter egg or chocolate bunny, sometimes the children can select their prize from a box or pack.

When is the best time to go?

It is the busiest time of the year for many National Trust places so these sites get very busy if the weather is dry.

The best time to go is as soon as the sites open (usually between 10am and 11am). Alternatively consider going at the end of the day (last hunt times are usually 4pm) but be warned it has been known for sites to run out of eggs as prizes.

Can I park?

Unless you arrive early or late in the day, be prepared to queue to park your car or to park outside the grounds and walk. Consider a public transport alternative if there is one available.

What are the options?

With 260 places around the UK, there will be something fairly near to everyone. Below is a selection of the places available.

London

Nine locations including Osterley Park and house. Hunt costs differ at each site from £2 to £4.50.

Example hunt: Fenton Gardens. The closest site to central London where the trail goes through a sunken garden, ancient orchard and across lawns. Timed tickets on entry which are issued from 11am. Cost £3.

Birmingham

Nine locations within 20 miles of Birmingham.

Example hunt: Moseley Old Hall in Wolverhampton. You must complete a nature trail to find all the missing pieces and claim a prize. Cost £2.50

Manchester

Nine sites within 30 miles of the city. Hunts cost £2.50 to £4 per child.

Example hunt: Biddulph Grange Garden. Follow a trail through tunnels, around hedges and along woodland paths to find the clues. Cost £2.50. The car park gets full fairly quickly.

Leeds

Six sites within less than 30 miles.

Example hunt: Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire. Find all the giant eggs, nests and feathers on the bird detective family trail to claim your chocolate treat. Costs £2.50

Bristol

Four sites within 30 miles of Bristol.

Example hunt: Prior Park Landscape Garden, Somerset. Follow a trail around the garden to find a bird with their nests to receive a prize at the end. Cost £2.50.

Glasgow

Four sites within 10 miles of the city centre.

Example hunt: Greenbank Garden. Follow a bunny’s clues and complete an adventure to win a chocolatey prize. Cost £2.

Cardiff

Two sites close to the city with four more between 40 and 50 miles away.

Example hunt: Tredegar House. Staff have hidden different types of eggs around the garden and visitors need to find them and work out who they belong to Cost £2.50.

Newcastle

Six sites within 20 miles of the city.

Example hunt: Washington Old Hall has a garden nature trail with clues to solve for visitors. Cost £2.50

Norwich

Nine sites around Norfolk and Suffolk to explore with hunts and prizes.

Example hunt: The theme this year is the butterflies and moths found at the estate. The hunt takes place around the springtime garden. Cost £2.50.

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt extra information

Where is your favourite site for an Easter Egg hunt?

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt logo

Review: A family trip to Stonehenge with children and our tips for visiting this wonder of the world

Review: A family trip to Stonehenge with children and our tips for visiting this wonder of the world

All you need to know about Stonehenge in Wiltshire

What is it?

Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.

It is a huge man-made circle of standing stones, built over hundreds of years. Nobody knows exactly why Stonehenge was built, but people probably gathered there for religious ceremonies.

Research shows that the site has continuously evolved over 10,000 years. The structure that we call Stonehenge was built between 5,000 and 4,000 years ago and was once part of a larger sacred landscape.

With over 10 million visitors a year, Stonehenge is one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions

Where is it?

It stands on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, England and its giant stones can be seen from miles around.

Highlights

Visitor Centre

There is a £27 million visitor centre, 1.5 miles from the stones, which opened in 2013. There is plenty of free parking and it is very nicely done.

The entrance to Stonehenge Visitor Centre

The entrance to Stonehenge Visitor Centre

Once you’ve got your tickets you can go into the new museum. Our children were encouraged to enter through a ‘magic door’ into a 360-degree video of Stonehenge in all weathers.

Our children loved pretending it was really snowing and it got them excited about the museum.

A 360-degree video of Stonehenge

A 360-degree video of Stonehenge

A 5,500-year-old skeleton and a timeline of Stonehenge proved the other most interesting items for our seven and three-year-old children in this museum.

Outside there are examples of how hard it was to move the huge stones and recreations of Neolithic Houses. You  can go inside them to see how some of the earliest settlers lived.

Reaching the stones

You can walk but it is 1.5 miles and would take a long time with small children. Stonehenge put on regular buses, every five minutes, shuttling from the visitors centre to the stones and back.

Our three-year-old loved the bus ride and it made the experience more exciting for her. You can stop off half way and walk up to the stones if you prefer but in February it was easier for us to take the bus all the way.

The bus you catch at Stonehenge from the museum to the stones

The bus to catch to the stones

The Stones

Visitors are dropped off a few hundred yards away and then make their way up a wide path.

You can get within about 30 yards of the stones, there are a range of viewing points but on a busy day it can be a battle to find a clear spot to take a photo.

Part of the fun is seeing tourists from around the world posing for their snaps – we even found one American doing a handstand! There are information boards around the site, which are child-friendly.

 

A visitor does a handstand in front of the stones at Stonehenge

What a pose

In conclusion

The facilities, which also include a shop and busy cafe, are good. The museum, although small, is thoughtfully done and the 4,500 year old stones inspired all ages.

At £50, it isn’t a cheap way to spend a couple of hours but this is a child-friendly attraction.

Top Tip

It costs £50 for a family ticket to Stonehenge but it is free to English Heritage and National Trust in England members (not National Trust Scotland members) if booked in advance.

If you take into account that family membership of either is around £100 per year (National Trust £114, English Heritage £96) it is worth joining before you visit.

If you are paying on the day, £50 is quite a lot for what will probably only take a couple of hours – unless you are going for a long walk in the woods on site.

Stonehenge information

Food: Picnics are welcome and there is a cafe near the shop in the visitor centre.

Opening hours: Varies depending on the time of year. Entrance through timed tickets.

Cost: Entry costs £49.40 for a family. Adult entry is £19.00, child (5-15) is £11.40. Free entry for National Trust in England (not Scotland) and English Heritage members if booked in advance.

Best for: ages eight to 15

Time needed: Two hours

Access and restrictions: The main areas are accessible by wheelchair.

Address: Stonehenge, near Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE

Have you been? Tell us what you thought of Stonehenge below.

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).