When I was growing up visits to National Trust properties meant hours of boredom as I traipsed round dusty old houses.
Whether times, or I, have changed I’m not sure but the National Trust is now about finding places to experience the outdoors, to go for long walks, and to stomp about in the mud (that is what wellies are for isn’t it?).
In Manchester, we are fortunate to live near several National Trust properties and this Easter weekend I learned their true value.
With my 4 nieces and nephews descending on me, my plan was to spend as much time as possible outside. Luckily my sun dance paid off and with an Easter Egg trail, picnic spots, and space to kick a football, Dunham Massey was the perfect location.
The National Trust encourages children to engage with nature. Their “50 things to do before you are 11 3/4” leads to unexpected and easily accessible adventures.
The varied list of activities includes; running around in the rain, playing pooh sticks, rolling down a really big hill (a joy I still haven’t grown out of) and climbing a tree.
To this end Dunham Massey has a log playground with trees to climb and balance on and stumps to jump over. I was surprised at how long it kept them entertained.
The Easter Trail was a big hit, particularly for the girls (aged 6 and 7). Themed for Dunham Massey, they followed clues around the garden to learn about Buzz the dog, who helped soldiers recovering at the house during the First World War.
An hour’s map reading and problem solving challenged them and earned them each an Easter Egg reward.
In the grounds you can also feed the ducks (put on your wellies and head to the big pond – the ducks near the entrance are a little too well fed) and hunt for deer.
There’s plenty of space to ride a bike too.
The sunshine of course made the day, but it would have taken more than a spot of the Manchester wet stuff to put me off.
Next time a torrent of kids descends upon you, don’t panic; leave it to the National Trust to tire them out while they learn, try new things, and have lots of fun in the great outdoors.
Well done National Trust for giving us 4 exhausted children, who were very happy to close their eyes at bedtime to wait for the Easter Bunny!
Dunham Massey: Cheshire WA14 4SJ
We had to pay to for entry to the gardens (approx £30) to take part in the Easter Egg Trail, which seemed a little steep for 7 of us. You don’t need to pay if you only want to enjoy the grounds, where you will find more than enough to do.
Photos by Mark Johnson