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Summer Holiday Budget Busting Fun with the National Trust<br/>(1 – 31 August)
National Trust properties offer plenty to keep younger visitors entertained this summer, in some of our most beautiful countryside locations. From historic houses full of nooks and crannies, to gardens and woodland just waiting to be explored, these venues also offer a wide variety of activities for children, many of which are free.
On top of this, the Trust is waiving all childrens admission charges from 1 to 31 August at many of its properties in this region, including those listed below.
Cliveden, nr Maidenhead: these magnificent gardens, full of topiary and statues, a secret garden and meandering woodland trails, are great fun to explore. On 17 August, a special Summer Holiday Trail is on offer, which takes children through the garden as they search for clues, leading to a chocolatey prize!
2 per trail, 11.30am 4pm.
One of Clivedens star attractions this summer is its exciting new outdoor play area. With natural materials for den-building, and wigwams in which to hide, the play space has been designed to give children somewhere they can let their imaginations run free. Skilled wood carvers have created life-size models of popular storybook characters, such as J.R.R. Tolkiens Gandalf, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and his crocodile, and these are joined by giant minibeasts in the form of a stag beetle, woodlouse and centiped. There are large logs for climbing on, and the entire area is encircled by a timber stepping stone trail.
Grounds open every day, 11am 5.30pm.
Cliveden, Taplow, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 0JA, Tel: 01628 605069.
Basildon Park, nr Reading: this magnificent 18th-century country house is pulling out all the stops this summer with a programme of Wild Child activities, crafts and trails that introduces youngsters to the natural world around them. A new theme is launched each week, from Busy Bees, Bugs & Beasties, to Brilliant Birds, British bats, and Beautiful Butterflies.
29 July 1 August, 4 to 8 August, 11 15 Aug, 18 22 Aug, 25 30 Aug, 11am 5pm, free.
House and gardens open every day throughout half-term except Tuesday, 11am - 5pm.
Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading, Berkshire RG8 9NR, Tel: 0118 984 3040.
The Vyne, nr Basingstoke: step into another world when you visit this former Tudor palace, with its wealth of indoor treasures and outdoor attractions to explore. House and garden quizzes, plus an Explorer Pack of questions and activities keeps older children busy, whilst under-5s can follow the special Spotter Quiz. Family trails meander through the surrounding meadows, fields and woodlands and a bird hide and lake offers fantastic wildlife-spotting opportunities.
On 25 July, join The Vynes Community Warden on an evening stroll through the tranquil grounds in the search for one of its most elusive and silent residents the bat. Our warden will be using a special bat detector which can reveal the different species flitting overhead!
8 10pm, booking advisable on 01256 883858.
House, gardens and restaurant open every day except Thurs/Fri, 11am - 5pm.
The Vyne, Sherborne St John, Basingstoke RG24 9HL, Tel: 01256 883858.
Greys Court, nr Henley: this pretty country estate, tucked away in the hills of the Oxfordshire countryside, is one of the Trusts most popular venues with children, many of whom return time and time again over the summer! On 29 July, younger visitors can discover more about the magical world of mini-beasts during Creepy Crawlies day (10am 12pm). Meet some of Greys exotic insect life on an exploration of the grounds - home to a wide variety of crawling creatures, from slugs, snails and spiders, to dragonflies, bees and butterflies. Children can learn how to identify the animals using magnifying glasses and illustrations, and find out more about the important roles that they play in plant pollination, pest control and the food chain.
On 12 August, Explore the Past takes youngsters on an intriguing tour of the property to find out more about the Brunner family, who made Greys Court their home from the 1930s. Craft activities included. 10am - 12pm, children 5. On 26 August, Get Your Wellies on leads children beyond the boundaries of the gardens and into the wider estate to learn about Greys plot-to-plate system, which reveals how food from the estate finds its way onto our plates. 10am - 12pm, children 5. Parents need to be present for all activities.
For further information and a full list of all participating properties, visit www.mynationaltrust.com, or call the National Trusts Thames and Solent regional office on 01494 755500.