A while ago I won a couple of National Trust family passes from @southeastNT. I hadn’t got around to using them as I have been busy at work, but as it is the Easter school holiday myself, DH, my mother-in-law and children 2, 3, & 4 decided to make use of them. We visited Belton House, which is just outside Grantham in Lincolnshire. Belton was begun for Sir John Brownlow in 1685 and is a wonderful example of a large English country house. Details can be see here: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house/
I visited it myself when I was a child and I have taken my children on a number of occasions due to the lovely adventure playground with a mini train that runs through a forested part of the grounds. The kids love it there and the play equipment has something to challenge all of them despite number 2 being aged 13. To be honest it also challenges myself and the DH too – I felt obliged to climb the giant tree trunks and always challenge the kids to see who can balance all the way along the balance rope (I get my excuses ready early such as ‘I was carrying the bags’, ‘my shoes are not very suitable for this’ etc and I am always beaten by No 2!). As usual No 4 impressed us all with her ability to travel along the monkey rings apparently effortlessly, whilst the rest of us fell off the first ring.
As my mother-in-law was with us we decided to visit the house, which we usually don’t do due to the desperation of the children to get to the adventure playground. No 4 loved seeing the bedrooms and decided that she would love to have a bedroom like the Red Bedroom. They also loved using the tour guide leaflets and navigating around using the map which are new additions since I was last in the house. The NT guides in each of the rooms were extremely knowledgeable and happy to chat to the children about the features in each room. They all wanted to move in but it was only near the end of our walk around that No 3 noticed that there were no electronics anywhere in the building and at that point moving in lost its appeal!
As a child I remember loving the tunnel between the house and the old kitchen but it has been closed the last few times I have been in the house, so I was delighted that they are now giving guided tours of the basement. The lady taking the tour was extremely knowledgeable and gave us lots of information about the way of life below stairs and how different it was in Downton Abbey! The kids were all fairly shocked at the jobs that they would have been expected to do in years gone by and by the contrast between the upstairs and the downstairs. The tour lasted about 50 minutes and by the end there was some complaining from the younger two about tired legs and boredom but this was soon alleviated when they were running across the lawns towards the playground.
We could have spent considerably longer there as we did not have time to see the rest of the grounds but it was a lovely afternoon out and was finished off with a trip to the gift shop and the cafe.
At £33.50 for a family ticket for the whole property it is not a cheap day out. This does reduce to £25.60 for the grounds only but this is still pretty steep for a trip to an adventure playground. Thankfully it didn’t cost us anything with the free pass and we have now purchased membership of the National Trust for Scotland so hopefully we will be back in the adventure playground soon (they have a reciprocal agreement with the National trust in England so you can access all of their properties but it is about £25 per year cheaper).