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National Trust gardens: The little known gardens that are hidden gems for half term week

The National trust launch the Dogs Welcome Project

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Half term is underway for millions of school-aged children, and the long Platinum Jubilee weekend will see entire families looking for fun things to do throughout the week. The National Trust offers free entry to more than 500 of its sites across the UK, many of which will be running special activities for all the family, to mark the bank holiday. With plenty of ‘hidden gems’ tucked away throughout the nation, there’s no better time to visit somewhere new this week.

National Trust sites to visit this half-term

Whether you’re looking for a summer walk or a picnic spot, there are plenty of ‘secret’ National Trust gardens that can be visited for free, or just a small fee across the UK.

Blickling Estate, Norfolk

This 55 acre estate is surrounded by beech hedge on three sides of the landscape, making it the perfect spot for a secluded picnic in the “wilderness area”.

You can visit the secret garden from 10am to 5pm, with the park open from dawn until dusk.

A family can visit the house and garden for £35, all of which will go to supporting the trust’s conservation work.

Croft Castle, Herefordshire

This enchanting walled garden can be found alongside a working Vineyard, with plenty to do for all the family throughout the day.

The nature connections trail will be held everyday between 10am and 4pm until Sunday, June 5, with fun activities and prizes along the way.

For a day out around the garden and the castle itself, a family can visit for just £32.50.

Killerton, Devon

These gardens are “full of hidden features”, according to the National Trust, with everything from a secret rock garden to a bear’s hut to enjoy.

Families can visit the secret paths which lead to historic ruins, or clamber over fallen veteran trees while hunting for the unique elements on the grounds.

For full access to the garden, park, house, chapel, café and shop, a family will pay just £32.50 for the whole day.

Mottistone, Isle of Wight

The stone archway makes this site feel secluded and intimate from the moment you step foot on the winding paths.

Visitors can make their way down to Oak Corner at the top of the garden, where a weeping lime tree hangs over the secret space.

The “magic” Mottistone flower pot characters are hidden throughout the site, which can be enjoyed by the whole family for under £20.

Nymans, West Sussex

Known for its extensive yet intimate gardens, Nymans is the perfect spot for families in and around Sussex to enjoy a day out this half term.

A free guided tour of the Nymans garden is held every day between 11am and 2pm, so you don’t even have to spend a penny to enjoy the landscaped grounds.

This hidden site is set around a “romantic house and ruins”, according to the National Trust – and it’s not one to be missed.

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Stowe, Buckinghamshire

This overgrown woodland site can be entered through an enchanting wooden door which is disguised in an old wall.

The National Trust said: “The Lamport Garden had been untouched for almost 200 years, until it was reopened in 2013.

“It’s more like an overgrown woodland or a wilderness, with huge gnarled trees, mossy areas, cascades and rock pools.”

A family can visit this fairytale site for just £32.50, with endless layers of history to unravel as you walk through the stunning grounds.

Wallington, Northumberland

The garden at Wallington in Northumberland is an unexpected gem, tucked away at the edge of the woods behind Neptune’s Gate.

Surrounded by a high wall, the large site is full of surprises, and will take a full day to explore the site.
The National Trust said: “You can’t see it all in one go, and it seems to unfold as you walk through it.”

Bishop’s Gate Gardens, Downhill Demesne, County Londonderry

Located in Ireland, this 18th century site was created for the Earl Bishop, Frederick Hervey many years ago.

Downhill’s secret garden is a new attraction, having only recently been unearthed.

According to the National Trust, the semi-woodland glade is the “perfect hideaway” for curious explorers of any age,

With a small wall surrounding the secret spot, the garden feels like a new world for families to escape to for the day.

The outdoor space at Downhill Demesne is open for the public to enjoy but, unfortunately, the Mussenden Temple interior is not currently accessible.

You can visit the stunning landscape and beautiful gardens for free, though on-site parking will cost £5 per vehicle.

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