Sometimes a day just doesn’t go to plan. I try to throw in a spontaneous day out, giving N a few options. But mum usually knows best, on this occasion ending up at National Trust’s Coughton Court after an aborted trip to Ragley Hall.
Ragley Hall disappointment
After N requested a trip to Ragley Hall (the lure of the adventure playground overrode anything else suggested), I looked up the opening times as 10am with tours in the afternoon. We don’t do tours – a 6 year old wants to go round stately homes at his own pace. So at just after 10, we were trying unsuccessfully to find our way into the hall. This after struggling to find the parking, only spotted by N, and guessing we were in the right place. It wasn’t an optimistic start to the trip.
It turned out that the hall isn’t generally open at 10, just the café. And that tours are the only option if you want to see inside. With 2 ½ hours to kill, that we knew we wouldn’t be able to to fill, N was let loose on the adventure playground.
While it wasn’t worth the £17 entry we’d paid, it entertained him for an hour, and could have spent longer there. With an amazing climbing frame and slides, plus a maze and lots of bridges and walkways, it was child heaven. There was also an over 12s play area so something for every age.
I was getting angsty and decided instead of trying to hang around, we would head off to nearby Coughton Court instead. Nothing like National Trust membership to make the most of your membership.
Coughton Court National Trust
Coughton Court is a magnificent looking house with lovely formal gardens, a large walled garden, kitchen garden and orchard. The grounds are varied with a river walk and bog garden too. I hadn’t realised that half term was our last chance to visit before it closed for winter, so it was good timing. And explained why it was so busy.
We picked up timed house tickets and headed for a walk round the gardens first. N had forgotten his camera so decided he was taking over mine. Thankfully my phone takes good photos, but he did manage to take a few nice shots that I was impressed with. He certainly seems to take on board my tips:
Easy photography tips for kids and beginners
- Use zoom if needed
- Move your feet to get everything you want in the picture
- Keep it straight
- Find one thing to focus on
- Press the button half down to focus before pushing down fully
The garden was beautiful, still with a few climbing flowers in bloom around the various archways. The wonderful sunny weather helped make you feel relaxed and warm as you walked round. But lunch called so we didn’t explore all the way to the end of the gardens.
Lunch took a while – we queued up to the small serving area for around 20 minutes, and there was limited choice of sandwiches at 12pm. N was happy with a children’s lunchbox, and there was plenty of table seating inside and out despite the queues. You can also eat your own food in the picnic area.
With a bit of time to spare before our house slot, there was time for a few games of outdoor noughts and crosses. Unfortunately I’ve given my winning secret to N so he’s pretty smug about knowing how to win each time when you start. I think it’s great that National Trust provide outdoor games to entertain children, it certainly makes hanging around waiting for parents to finish a meal if they’ve got something to entertain.
The history of the house
We didn’t pay to do the Gunpowder Treason trail around the grounds, so it was a little disappointing that there was no challenge for children in the house. But it was really too busy to move around comfortably inside. Given there were time slots, I think the crush of people was because there was only 1 way in and out, rather than a one way system you usually see in stately homes.
At Coughton Court you’re advised to go up the tower and to the roof first, then work down. Getting up and down the tower is a challenge when it’s busy, but was worth the view.
Twenty generations of the Throckmorton family have lived at Coughton Court since 1409, and lived through the challenges of catholics vs protestants. So there is plenty of history to learn about, especially around Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot.
All in the day ended up nicely, with a relaxed wander round the grounds at Coughton Court. A bonus trip vs the disappointment at the start of the day.
Have you visited either of these? Where’s your favourite stately home to visit?
Why not take a look at these similar posts.
opps sorry forgot to say #CountryKids
Im sorry the first stop didn’t go to plan although the adventure playground does look good. And I know that Monkey would have opted for the same! Love how he’s got your secret! x
It does mean that playing noughts and crosses is a tad boring nowadays!
Glad your trip to Coughton Court made up for Ragley Hall, although that adventure playground does look absolutely awesome! Gorgeous photos from Coughton, especially that tree lined avenue. #countrykids
Glad the trip to Coughton Court made up for the slightly disappointing trip to Ragley Hall and that you managed to visit before it closed for the winter. Those gardens look beautiful 🙂 #countrykids
Shame that Ragley Hall didn’t go to plan 🙁 We always fall back on National Trust places too and make the most of our membership – especially on a beautiful, fine day! #CountryKids
Membership is so handy isn’t it. There’s always somewhere to go and you don’t feel obliged to have to stay all day
We’ve got a NT membership and it is worth it’s weight in gold. It’s a shame your first visit didn’t live up to expectations, at least it had the fantastic playground. I always find that giving the children a camera will keep them entertained when all else fails #countrykids
Cameras are great for kids. We just need to remember to actually take it out with us!
Looks like you had a great day even it if wasn’t quite what you planned. Think NT properties are becoming more a more popular – membership offers such good value for money and they are the perfect ‘go-to’ day out. #countrykids
Yes, true (plus of course us bloggers keep telling people about them). Nowadays it’s always the membership queue that’s long and not the non-members queue.
What a shame things didn’t work out at first (although the play area looked fab), but sounds like the day was fantastic once you had changed locations 🙂 #countrykids
Yes, we were lucky there was NT nearby.
Sounds like a great double visit and a good decision to move on. I was impressed to hear that there is a play area for over 12s at Ragley Hall, I struggle to get my kids out to places like this as there is never anything for them and they still aren’t mature enough to appreciate the scenery and houses. Good old National Trust, Coughton Court looks lovely and some lovely photos from you and N. My favourite is you taking a photo of N.
It is a huge play area. There’s a wall maze, bridges, the over 12s area which had climbing stones, and various other things, then the climbing frame and slides for other kids.
You can get a lot out of your membership but opening times are a pain out of the summer!
They are. Ragley is private owned, but National trust are annoying when they onlyopen afternoons. We don’t go if they’re afternoon only, unless we go on from somewhere else and just for an hour
It was a shame your day didn’t start off as planned, although the adventure playground does look fun. I love National Trust places and Coughton Court looks lovely. The photos are stunning. #CountryKids
Thank you. Yes, it was a good option to visit. I’m sure we’ll be back some othertime
Looks like you made the most of the day despite the hiccups. You seem to have to pay a lot on top of memberships #countrykids
It’s only really food and the occasional trail when it’s a big event. Mostly they extra activities are free I’ve found, for National Trust