Posted by Samantha Hicks on 31 Jul 2019

BLOG UPDATE: 18th March 2020

‘At this time of everything closing the National Trust have agreed to remove all pay barriers from National Trust parks and Gardens. This is in response to do what we can for everyone at this time to support social distancing and the need to be outside in nature for our own mental wellbeing. It will mean that all the grounds behind pay barriers will now be open for everyone. In addition all carparking chargers will be removed. You can enjoy the open space and keep your socialdistance as per the government advice.

We will however be closing all cafes, houses, retail, and cancelling events. So take a flask and a sandwich.
There is no commercial drive behind this, it will cost the charity a significant loss in income – but we acknowledge mental health and wellbeing at this time is the priority.
Also, the National Parks are free and always open.
Stay at home as much as you can, but when you need it – nature is there for you and free’. 🌳

As a parent of two I’m sure I’m not alone in dreading those ominous two words: ‘I’m bored’….. never fear we are here to help with our series of blogs on what to do!

Below I have explored in detail some of our local National Trust sites with options for all budgets, you’re sure to find something that is worth a closer look for you and your family. We have assumed that you aren’t members of the National Trust, please note prices will differ if you are and car parking will be free at most for NT members.

Claremont Gardens, Esher KT10 9JG

This landscaped woodland area situated on the way to Cobham is perfect for getting kids into nature and away from their tablets. You can take a tranquil stroll around the large lake with a huge variety of wild birds to spot which you are welcome to feed with seed from the kiosk. There is a children’s play area with mini versions of the on site attractions, such as the amphitheatre and Belvedere tower. As the gardens themselves are not ‘formal’ as such, there are no restricted areas, although scooters/bikes are not allowed around the lake. There is an opportunity for den building and the Thatched Cottage houses dressing up clothes from bygone eras. If it’s stunning views you’re after and you don’t mind the climb, then the 250 year old Belevedere tower is open on certain weekends (check website for details) on a clear day from here you can spot The Shard, Wembley Stadium and Windsor Castle.

Adults £9.50
Kids £4.75
Car park: FREE

Frensham Ponds, Frensham GU10 2QB

An alternative to the coast, if you’re up early and the mercury is high then these two large ponds built in the middle ages are perfect for cooling off! There is a small sandy beach, and you can paddle and even swim in the water. The surrounding step-free paths are suitable for walking and cycling and if you haven’t packed a picnic don’t worry, the cafe apparently serves very good food. Be aware the car park gets very busy and is usually full by noon, but it’s well served with public transport with a bus stop right outside. There is plans in place for new visitor centre to be opened soon.

Entry FREE

Car park: FREE weekdays, £4 weekends

Morden Hall Park, Morden SM4 5JD

It’s well worth exploring this hidden urban oasis, step over the pretty bridge by the entrance and there’s a pleasant and well-stocked garden centre, and even an aquarium with colourful fishes to be marveled at by little ones. If you venture further in there’s workshops and a stable yard, and a shaded large natural wooden play area with zip wire and swings.The river Wandle runs straight through the centre of the park with a white bridge that’s perfect for a game of pooh sticks. Follow it round and you will reach the decked wetland area where you can spot dragonflies and even a frog or two! For transport enthusiasts there is a tram crossing where you can wave at passing trams, if you like you can then follow the signs to Deen City Farm (featured in our farm blog) which is entry by donation.

Entry FREE

Car park 1.5 hours FREE, £1.50 thereafter

Polesdon Lacey, Great Bookham, RH5 6BD

An Edwardian House and estate near Dorking that allows kids to run wild and explore the plentiful woodland areas. There’s a wooden play area with trim trail and a hill that can be used for rolling down by the more energetic among us, and deckchairs on offer for those less energetic! The house itself offers guided tours and a dress up option. Often there are different child-friendly trails on offer depending on the time of year, and the mobile ice cream van is popular in the summer months. Margaret Greville, the owner in the first half of the 19th century was a keen dog lover, reflected in the small dog cemetery at the side of the house.

Adult £13.60
Child: £6.80

Car Park £5 all day

Wisley Gardens, Woking GU23 8QB

Actually part of RHS not National Trust these spectacular gardens still deserve a mention – they are set over 240 acres so make sure you wear comfortable shoes! There’s a soft play in the cafe which is suitable for under 5’s and an outdoor play area which is suitable for over 5’s. There is a large car park and always something to spot – at present there is a display of modern and contemporary sculpture dotted around the gardens. The family theme this summer is ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ celebrating 50 years of the book, there’s a trail, storytelling, music and crafts to enjoy. The impressive glasshouse also hosts various themes/events throughout the year.

Adults £14.50
Over 5’s £7.25

Car Park: FREE

We’re so lucky to have these scenic areas of nature on our doorstep, hope you manage to visit some with your family over the holidays!

Sam xx

Samantha Hicks
Samantha Hicks is an Epsom based writer and mum of two who has contributed to a number of online publications and also managed several social media pages for local information Facebook pages. She can be found at various soft plays and toddler groups in the area and is constantly on the lookout for new activities to keep her small people entertained!

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