We’ve been to Trentham Gardens a few times now, and each time there’s something new to see or try. We met up on a beautiful May day with my best friend and her 2 children, which is always a challenge. The 6 and 8 year old get on fine but with an under 2, we need to go slow but also ensure there’s enough to keep all entertained.
Trentham Estate is large – it incorporates not only Trentham Gardens, but Monkey Forest, the garden centre, and a retail outlet set in ‘chalet’ units. Great for a day out (or even a weekend if you want to see everything).
N just wanted to head for the playground, but we needed to do things we adults wanted to see as well so started with a walk round the gardens first and to explore the ruins which we’d never looked at before.
We could set the boys off running in different directions giving them places to reach while we ambled more slowly. The spring flowers were just finishing with the summer ones not yet through, but I’m sure in a couple of months they’d be back at their best. I loved the gorgeous flower pot display of tulips heading up towards the ruins.
The ruins are quite spectacular. You can imagine how beautiful the buildings would have been years ago. We were saying how beautiful the curved buildings would be for weddings if it was done up.
Only parts of the hall are standing, although the church is as is – it sounded like there was a service on when we were there. The boys liked the steps up to the viewpoint where you could see all the way down the formal Italian gardens to the lake and the Perseus and Medusa statue.
A further walk around took us up to the playground where the boys had a short play before we decided lunch was needed. The café at Trentham Gardens is odd. Our previous experience was that there were no sandwiches served, and that’s what we wanted. Unfortunately the takeaway ice cream shack didn’t have any sandwiches on the shelves, so we decided to head round the lake to the café at the end.
It’s a lovely walk, and they’ve add extra animal and bird ‘statues’ to watch out for, as well as the usual nature inspired animal creations and dragon tunnel. We had to stop and see many of these in detail until N was just getting too hungry and we moved on to reach the café before it got too busy. There were a couple of tables left inside so we’d timed it just right, ahead of the boat arriving.
There are a couple of meal deal options – for children and for adults, with sandwich, drink and crisps. But it was so complicated to work out what was included, and whether there were children’s sandwiches or not, we gave up and just got the children toasties as well as us. It was pricy – we paid over £12 for 2 toasted sandwiches, 2 packets of crisps, a hot chocolate and fruit shoot. Nothing else came with the sandwiches – no garnish or crisps. And it turned out the cheese wasn’t good – I prefer mild cheese, but N loves extra mature, so we couldn’t work out what wasn’t tasty about it. N only ate half of his toastie and I couldn’t eat all of mine either.
It was going to be a long walk back round the other side of the lake. The boat wasn’t going to be coming back any time soon, so we decided we’d catch the miniature train back. We were lucky to see a black swan and her cygnets on the walk to the train station, then it was a long wait with the boys to wait for the train.
It’s £1 for a single ticket each and it was a comfortable and fun ride back in the sun. Certainly better than a warm walk trying to round up children on the way.
We’d promised ice creams and they wanted to do the barefoot walk. The ice cream queue was unsurprisingly long, but the ice creams were well worth it.
I didn’t fancy the barefoot walk but the boys are old enough to do it alone and I just walked along to check they weren’t going to get stuck in any mud. My godson was nearly running across all the different surfaces while it was more painful going for N. Either my godson has rock solid feet or it’s the fact he’s probably a stone lighter than N that means it’s less painful. Once they’d finished they wanted to go round a second time, and a third. So they were happy enough, while even my friend’s youngest had a go. They were sad they couldn’t reach the pedals of the water squirting bike though. Maybe in a couple of years N will have long enough legs.
There was a final stop at the playground for them. It was busy, but N had several goes on the slide, and they found a couple of other things to have a go on. It did seem to be a lot of older children hogging some of the equipment though.
The last time we went there were a couple of climbing wall areas, but these have now gone and were replaced with a rope roundabout type thing, and a swinging ‘snake’ rope.
It didn’t feel like we did much while we were at Trentham Gardens, but we were there for 4 ½ hours, so plenty long enough.
What we liked:
- We spotted a couple of new fairies
- The train ride (next time we want to go on the boat)
- New playground options
- Ice creams
- There’s a new butterfly sculpture display coming later in the year (reason to return)
- The ruins are beautiful and give a different view of the gardens
What could be better
- Cold lunch options – 2 places didn’t have any, and the quality of the café sandwich toasties weren’t great for the money
If you’re in the area, we’d recommend Trentham Gardens for a lovely day out. It’s great for photos and there’s lots for children to explore as you’re walking around.