While N isn’t always a big fan of National Trust visits, when we’re on a full day out and he’s had a good morning, he’s more open to multiple visits. We do usually visit places in the morning to avoid busy times, but as the Wimpole Estate was on our way further north in half term, we decided it was worth stopping in. That’s one of the reasons I love having a National Trust pass, there’s less pressure to make a whole day of it because we can fit in more visits.
We arrived just before lunch during a cold February half term, and realised it was going to be busy. There’s a new car park and visitor entrance at Wimpole Estate, so there’s a bit of a walk. Like many National Trust venues there is a shuttle buggy although I’m not sure where it picked up from.
The walk down to Wimpole Hall was a bit muddy at the edge of the path due to the rain and recent building works, so definitely put kids in wellies if they’re partial to not keeping to paths!
Our first stop was the café. You can get drinks in the stables area where the shop is, but we headed for the main restaurant alongside the house. Being just after 12pm, it was packed and the queue was pretty long. National Trust café queues are always long, but you get near the front eventually.
We only grabbed sandwiches so we were able to pay quickly, and N had grabbed a table just separated from another one so we didn’t have to hang around waiting for one or eat in the cold outside. It does frustrate me when you see a family right at the back of the queue grab the only spare table, go and order 1 drink, and then sit and eat their sandwiches they’ve brought from home. Totally selfish when others are at the front of the queue having plates of hot food they’ve bought.
Our sandwiches were fine (it was nice to have some non-fussy ones like egg mayo) and it was nice to be in from the cold before heading back out.
I did get to see some snowdrops, but we were a little late, as in the east of England they were a few weeks ahead of where our flowers are back home. The walks around the grounds are lovely and there are plenty of gardens to see – N refused to let me in the walled garden (he knows I’d have wanted to take lots of photos), but we enjoyed a brief wander through the parterre to see the views from the back of the house. It must look lovely in summer when there’s a riot of colour in the flower beds.
We decided to do the house first before Home Farm. This was sensible as most people’s shoes were deemed too muddy and they needed to put on shoe protectors. Ours were ok as we’d not walked over muddy areas. It’s nice there were no time slots needed, but they might be at busier times of the year. We didn’t find it too busy when we were there – we were able to roam as we wanted, and could take things at our own pace. We could see what we wanted without being held up by groups of visitors.
Wimpole Hall has been through several families’ hands since it was built, with the most recent being Elsie Bambridge (Rudyard Kipling’s only surviving child) who passed it to the National Trust on her death.
It’s lovely to walk round and plenty of history to find out about. The biggest surprise (a pleasant one) was the daffodil display in the dining room.
I always like the servants’ quarters best, and the kitchen; the housekeeper’s room at Wimpole was probably the nicest we’ve seen in stately homes.
After seeing the house we headed towards Home Farm. It’s nice to have something a bit different at a National Trust property – always good to have something that children will really enjoy as well as for adults to see the house.
Home Farm has is a working farm, but there’s plenty to see. From shire horses to pigs, chickens to cows. There’s a grain store above the barn which has activities to teach children about the types of grain there are and how a combine harvester works. There was also the chance to pull the rope to winch a bag up to see how hard it is. Even though N lives on a farm and knows lots of this information, he was still keen to get involved and make the bits of the combine harvester move.
We spent some time looking at the horses and the dummy horse showing the different bones in a horse’s body. The cows were a bit far away as they weren’t accessible up close, and the chickens didn’t interest N much. But we spent quite a bit of time in the large piggery. Because who doesn’t like watching piglets.
There were some only a week or so old, going up in age. Plus some siblings who seemed to be getting very excited with each other causing some hilarity amongst a couple of teens filming them on their phones. N thought it was funny too, that the pigs obviously didn’t realise they were both male and not much would be happening there.
There’s an area at the back of the farm which is where you can eat picnics, alongside a playground area. We didn’t head there as it was really busy, and a lot of playgrounds now state that they’re for children under N’s age. He prefers quiet playgrounds anyway so he can go on the equipment at his own leisure.
We had a lazy walk back to the house again, and up to the car park. We were leaving around 3pm and there were still plenty of people walking up on arrival.
Visiting Wimpole Hall and Home Farm was a lovely stop off on our journey, and a definite win with N as there was no complaining or trying to hurry me on too much.
Check out the video of our visit
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