Summer’s the perfect time to get out and discover some new National Trust properties. Many of the Trust’s famous old houses also have magnificent gardens and woodlands to explore – just the ticket for a ramble or picnic.
You’re never far from a National Trust property, so we’ve listed Green Abode’s top 10 picks around the country for summer visiting. For money-saving days out, National Trust membership pays for itself within a few outings and is superb value for families.
South West England
Brownsea Island, Dorset
If you were ever a Boy Scout or Girl Guide, then you’ll have heard of Brownsea Island, the place where Baden Powell held his first scout camp. It’s also a wonderful summer day out.
Take a ferry across Poole Harbour from the cheerful seaside town of Poole itself, and spend the day wandering rhododendron-lined woodland pathways and looking out for the island’s rare red squirrels.
Stourhead, near Mere, Wiltshire
What better time to visit Stourhead than summer? This is truly one of the world’s most beautiful landscape gardens. Classical temples border a glittering lake, and picture perfect views unfold from almost every corner of this secluded West Country valley.
If you can’t find the perfect picnic spot in this 2,650-acre estate then you’re not really trying! Take the bike – the Wiltshire Cycle Way runs through the estate – climb to the top of King Alfred’s Tower or get hold of a Tracker Pack for some family nature spotting fun.
Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher, Surrey
Set just on the outskirts of London in leafy Esher, Claremont Landscape Garden is the perfect escape from the stress of the city.
Claremont is focused on a delightful small lake and grass amphitheatre, and as you walk round the grounds you’ll find plenty of quirky hidden features.
A new children’s play area has recently opened and the summer sees activities like children’s craft workshops, storytelling and trails, along with guided estate walks.
Aberdulais Falls, Neath Port Talbot
Just three miles outside of Neath in the Welsh valleys, a visit to Aberdulais Falls demonstrates both the power of the nature and the ingenuity of man.
With an inspiring location in a deep gorge, the torrents of water powered an early tin works, and nowadays provide a source of eco friendly energy – its waterwheel is the largest in Europe used to generate electricity.
There are fascinating guided tours during the summer, and don’t miss some delicious Welsh cakes and bara brith in Aberdulais’ tearoom.
Packwood House, Lapworth, Warwickshire
Packwood is a beautiful Tudor house with some super gardens, with a really lovely topiary. Follow the spiral path to the famous Yew Garden or take a meet the gardener tour for insights into how the estate is cared for.
Packwood also hosts popular summer open-air theatre events.
Ickworth, Horringer, near Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk
Ickworth is another fine National Trust house and garden, all set next to idyllic English woodlands. The Italianate garden is one of England’s first and best, and you shouldn’t miss the Spring and Silver Gardens and the fern-covered Victorian ‘stumpery’.
Explore the woods on foot or by bike and be sure to take a look at the house’s impressive collection of old master paintings. The newly opened ‘Ickworth Lives’ display is also worth seeing.
North West England
Speke Hall, Liverpool
Speke Hall is within easy striking distance of central Liverpool and a great spot to escape from city life for a day. It’s a Tudor manor house with a unique interior and is surrounded by pretty gardens and woodland.
The house’s spectacular Great Hall is particularly impressive, and you can even try your hand at a game of billiards. Outside, you’ll find sweeping views across to the Welsh Hills and plenty of signed rambling trails through the woodlands.
Nostell Priory and Parkland, West Yorkshire
Built on the site of a medieval priory, Nostell is now home to a grand old country house and extensive parklands.
The interior of the house is exceptional, but a summer visit means you can make the most of the lakeside walks and lovely viewpoints, plus the garden’s sensory trails.
Kids will also love the 18th-century doll’s house and adventure playground. There are also guided parkland walks every Wednesday and Saturday.
North East England
Wallington, Morpeth, Northumberland
Wallington not only boats a gorgeous 17th-century house, but is also set in stunning grounds, dotted with lakes, lawns, parkland and woodland – just the ticket for a relaxed summer picnic. There’s also an enchanting walled garden and a great farm shop.
Kids even have their own adventure playground and children’s trail.
Mount Stewart, County Down
Mount Stewart is one of the National Trust’s most original gardens and one of the very finest in Europe. Because of the mild local climate Mediterranean plants thrive here, and the whole estate has a real Italianate atmosphere.
There’s a diverse events programme, too, from crafts fairs to car boot sales, plus live music on summer Sundays.
Don’t miss the wonderful views across Strangford Lough from Mount Stewart’s ‘Temple of the Winds’.