National Trust gears up for the summer in Surrey

Crispin Scott, regional nature conservation advisor for the National Trust, reveals why it's set to be a great summer for the young

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2009Crispin Scott, regional nature conservation advisor for the National Trust, reveals why it's set to be a great summer for the young

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We're not just about grand stately homes and beautiful formal gardens at the National Trust, lovely and important though these places are.

We also look after huge swathes of the British countryside. Millions of animals, birds, trees, flowers and fish rely on our careful management of their natural homes for their survival, and it's my job to help make sure they are properly cared for. Now that summer is under way, I'm hoping that lots of people will get out with the National Trust and discover the joys of nature and the countryside for themselves. We are also running a brand-new campaign this year, called Wild Child, with loads of opportunities for youngsters to delve deeper into nature, too. The aim is to ensure that children of all ages have an outdoor summer that's full of fun. Events in Surrey In Surrey, there are quite a number of Wild Child events taking place, including Wild Child Wednesdays every week in August at Polesden Lacey near Dorking, with storytelling and crafts. Watery crafts and trails are happening at Dapdune Wharf and along the River Wey in Guildford every Thursday in August, and children aged four to 11 can join in outdoor games at Box Hill and Headley Heath on selected August afternoons. Even after the school holidays are over, the fun continues with an Animal Fun Day at Claremont Landscape Garden in Esher on Saturday September 26. Check out for more details of dates, times, prices and booking requirements. Once children have completed their first Wild Child activity, we will give them a free pack full of ideas for crafts and activities to take home and do in the garden or on their next family day out. There's also a fantastic website - - with other ideas for natural-world adventures, plus simple and ambitious games and wildlife challenges for all ages. Just a little bit of imagination can lead to some amazing days outside. For example, children can enjoy listening to the dawn chorus, planting flowers or photographing wildlife - all in the comfort of their own back gardens. There are so many ways to attract wildlife into the garden. Just like us, birds, insects and animals are always on the look-out for the perfect home. Providing pollen-rich plants for bees and butterflies and log piles for fungi and small mammals to live under will ensure a rise in the garden's wildlife population. A water feature (some water in a washing up bowl or old dustbin lid will do) can also attract water insects, frogs and toads, and turning a section of the lawn into a wild flower meadow will also prove popular with insects. During rainy weather, families can visit the Wild Child website to discover more activities, quizzes, games and secret downloads. So there's really no excuse for anyone not to get involved in nature during the school holidays. I love the summer and can't wait to see what new aspects of the natural world I will discover over the next few weeks!