I thought we’d pretty much exhausted our local National Trust properties, but living virtually at the junction of 4 different counties increases our options for visits. My best friend and N’s godmother was vaguely in our neck of the woods last week, and as we don’t get to catch up that frequently, we decided to meet up before they headed back up north.
With a nearly 4 year old and a 2 year old, in cold winter, and on a Sunday when places don’t open early enough for us, it was challenging to find places to visit. We needed to find somewhere they could run around and explore, somewhere with an activity that we could enjoy and the boys wouldn’t be totally bored of, and a café or restaurant for some lunch and somewhere for my friend’s OH to chill out while we caught up. With both of us having National Trust membership it was a no brainer, so then we had to find somewhere on their route home but not too far from us.
So Baddesley Clinton it was. Handily it opens at 9 even on a Sunday, although the house doesn’t open til 11, so we would have plenty of time to wander round and explore. Or we would have done had there not been roadworks in seemingly every direction. Now I don’t see that many diversion routes, but I followed the A46 diversion…and then didn’t see a sign telling us where to come off, so we ended up miles out of our way. My friends got stuck in several places, but eventually we managed to catch up and plan our visit.
It really was a chilly day when we were here. It didn’t bother N. We arrived earlier so I practised with my new camera while we walked (until I realised my schoolgirl error and noticed I’d not charged my battery seemed to have mislaid my spare), and N enjoyed himself stamping on and smashing every icy puddle he could find on our short walk.
There’s a lovely big picnic area at Baddesley Clinton although there’s no children’s play area. I did pick up a map for the wild trail walk, although in the end we didn’t have time to walk it. I have to admit, I couldn’t work out where the start was, so I do think it could have been signposted outside better.
We headed into the house first when it opened. It’s a really lovely house outside and in. Even though a couple of rooms were being cleaned so weren’t at normal viewing standard, we discovered some really interesting items, and had a look into the secret priests’ holes.
The volunteers were some of the best I’ve met since we’ve had our National Trust membership. Most approached us with information, pointing out interesting artefacts, furniture or just telling us the history, rather than us having to ask, and they even tried to involve the children as well to help make a historical house more interesting. Baddesley Clinton opt for a ‘look for the little mirrors’ challenge for children, and both boys enjoyed trying to spot them first.
The house is deceptively large, so there’s lots to explore. We finished off with the final room where you can dress up and stand in the frame to have your photo taken. N’s effort was to try on one hat, but he didn’t then stand still for long enough to have his photo taken. I think he’s rebelling against having his photo taken at the moment (boo!).
Come just past midday the cafe was full, but we arrived just before and got a table near the woodburner. The children’s lunchboxes are very cheap at £3.95 (for a carton of drink and 3 items), but the choice was really non-existent. Crisps, fruit, sandwiches, raisins, chocolate bar. The hot meals looked nice but we opted for sandwiches which were tasty enough.
Before we headed home we went for a wander out around the gardens.
With young children you can just let them head where they want to. It was really icy underfoot, but that didn’t stop N from running and trying to get me to catch him.
The walk round the lake was gorgeous. We noticed some area were blocked off due to the recent high winds, but it was still a lovely mooch around, plus a great opportunity for us to have a catch up.
Needless to say N found a stick which had to come back to the car with us. I did manage to persuade him to leave it there before we headed back through the mystery of road diversions that weren’t on the way back.
We really enjoyed the few hours we spent at Baddesley Clinton, and it’s definitely a place I’d like to return to once the seasons have changed so see what the gardens are like then.
Which National Trust or similar properties do you visit?
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