If you’ve never been to Trentham Gardens, I’d definitely advise a visit. Make a day of it – there’s the gardens themselves, a shopping village and the garden centre. We just do the gardens, arranging to meet my friend and her children there because it’s nearly midway between us. But there’s plenty more I’d like to have a look round.
We visited Trentham Gardens on a day which wasn’t the warmest or driest – it spotted rain most of the day, but it was still nice to have a day getting the boys enjoying each other’s company, and running around, while we had chance to catch up.
Trentham Gardens isn’t the cheapest place given it is just somewhere to walk and explore. There’s also no family day ticket. You can upgrade to an annual pass if you know you’ll be back within the year. For children you only pay a pound extra (£10 total), for adults it’s more pricy (£12 day, £67 annual!). If you’re visiting midweek they do have 2 for 1 discount vouchers, and you can also visit Monkey Forest next door for a £1 discount with your other ticket. Alternatively you can use Tesco clubcard vouchers. But it’s a great place to meet and enjoy what there is happening, especially if there’s lots going on (we’ve been where there’s been rowing competitions on and there’s been a lovely hustle and bustle to it.).
Trentham is lovely to walk around even outside of summer when the formal gardens have all the flowers out. We walked around the lake, looking out for the fairies, and noticing even more animal sculptures than previously. It was funny to see how different the boys are, especially now N is older. And how different we are when we take the boys out.
I’m a child led parent. I just let N roam and do his own thing. He’ll ask questions when he wants to (or more likely gives his opinion on something). My friend will talk all the time about what we see (I used to do that with N when he was younger – the baby and toddler ongoing communication and commentary – but N is never interested in what I point out). Encouraging them to look at specific things and explaining. Maybe this is why my godson is a really good reader at his age.
They did go into a bird hide – only 1 mallard seen and they were too noisy to keep birds from flying away or appearing. And there were plenty of fairies and other sculptures to keep an eye out for.
With lots of little diversion paths, and areas to explore and hide in, they had a lot of fun. Plus running races always go down well. I think N liked being the oldest, because he so rarely is when we’re out with friends. Usually they’re older if we’re with family, or same school year. So he could take the lead, and watch how others react.
We didn’t go on the miniature railway (it’s tiny) and the boat ride wasn’t a draw for N. He’s still refusing boats, although he forgets he has been on plenty before with no problems. We just walked and chatted until we arrived at the playground and café.
I’d taken a picnic because I’d thought my friend was, but then she didn’t, so we ended up eating in the café. We were expecting more on offer. Children had a choice of sausage, chicken nuggets or fish goujons with choice of beans/corn on the cob, or fries/sweet potato chips, and then a drink. N wasn’t impressed with his chocolate babyccino (although my hot chocolate was really good).
The standard menu was like a brunch menu – toast, toasted tea cake, bacon toasted ciabatta, mushroom soup, a steak dish, a special of fish and chips, and then oat cakes filled with brunch-y type fillings. We were mystified by the oatcakes (to us they’re like savoury crackers), but they turned out to be puffy pancakes with fillings. We had no other real choice, and the oatcakes turned out to be quite nice, if rather stodgy. A very bizarre menu with no sandwiches or the like. No wonder at lunchtime it was less than half full. The kids were given a menu with activities on, but no pencils (until we’d found 1 pen between us that they were sharing, then the guy serving us came and suggested he could give us some crayons). It was an interesting experience – maybe people tend to walk then go back out to the cafes in the shopping village for a better choice of food.
Afterwards, it was back to the play area which is brilliant – with areas for tots, younger and older children. With the weather not being so warm, it wasn’t too busy, so they were able to go on what they wanted without struggling amongst crowds of other children. N loves the obstacle course – telling me ‘it’s like ninja warrior’. He also enjoyed the twisty high slide, once he’d worked out the strange ladder up to the top of the tower. Then later he worked out the climbing wall side as well – zooming up before too long.
We love the sensory garden for exploring as well, so headed through there. There’s plenty of places to hide and explore, and things to climb and interact with.
My friend wanted to ensure her son was worn out by the end of the day, so we decided on an amble (or run for the children) through the formal gardens, then an ice cream before an amble through walk back round the lake. There were plenty of sculptures to see around the grounds, and they’re certainly a talking point (mostly the fairies, where the boys laughed a lot about them not having pants on!).
Overall we walked about 6 miles over the day. We were lucky in that we’d got to the shopping village just in time before the rain started properly.
One day, maybe we’ll be able to actually do some shopping as there are some shops and cafes there I’d like to try out. Visiting Trentham really is an all day event, or even a weekend if you want to visit Monkey Forest and do everything else as well.
It was lovely to spend some time outside after not being out much over the Easter holidays and great to catch up in another beautiful location. I’m sure we’ll be back again in the future.
Have you ever been to Trentham Gardens? Where else similar would you recommend?
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