Our plan to swim our way through half-term was scuppered by Noah’s accident on Pancake day; he managed to burn his finger to blistering point on a frying pan. I am now scrambling to find alternative, cheap activities for us to do (that wont get his bandage wet). Today, we visited a local National Trust property, Hardwick Hall.
When we arrived, Noah exclaimed that he “loved mud” and squelched his way to the visitor centre. There’s a charge for non- National Trust members to visit the house and gardens, but for a £4 carpark charge (or free for members) there is access to the restaurant, toilet facilities, shop, used-bookshop, picnic areas (including an undercover area), large green to play on and various walks around the grounds.
It was eerily quiet, maybe because it was drizzling a little. This didn’t bother Noah though as it meant he didn’t have to wait his turn using the ride on tractors.
We decided we would go on a woodland walk. It was time to fuel up. We’ve eaten at the restaurant a few times and the food was good, but today’s budget called for a picnic.
The woodland at Hardwick Hall is an excellent area to explore for youngsters with short attention spans (like Noah) but certainly not buggy friendly. There is plenty for children to see and do as the trail doubles up as a place to play as well as walk.
It wasn’t long before we discovered the first part of the ‘play trail’.
Noah was thrilled to find there were swings suspended from branches of trees. I was less than impressed to have mud from his shoes flying at me every time I tried to push him.
Down another path… Noah had run ahead. When I finally caught up with him I had not expected to see that he had scaled a mammoth fallen oak tree.
Another family had caught up with us and Noah couldn’t resist encouraging a little girl to also climb up. (He spent a good portion of the walk playing with the girl and sulked when her family took her in a different direction).
Down some steps we found a peaceful, little stream.
At the end of the woodland area, there was a gate. We’d never walked this far so we decided to investigate. It took us out onto a rural road where Noah found the jackpot of muddy puddles.
Our return to the vistor centre involved a bit of backtracking through the wooded area. We found another path through the woods and eventually spent a bit of time exploring off the beaten path. Eventually we found ourselves at a gated entrance to a large green area used for keeping animals.
We made a game of navigating through the field without landing on the ‘poo’ (there were quite a few animal droppings about). What was even more of a challenge was the volume of mud.
“Aha… I can see the carpark!”
For more information on prices and visiting hours, visit the Hardwick Hall page on the National Trust’s website.