Gotta love the National Trust
UPDATE: A lot can change in 48 hours. As of midnight 21 March, the National Trust has CLOSED all their gardens and parks in addition to their houses, shops and cafes, to avoid crowding that puts social distancing at risk. So, please don’t go!
The National Trust have just announced that despite needing to close all houses, cafés and shops due to the Coronavirus, they will (where possible) be keeping as many of their gardens, parklands and coastline open, free of charge and dropping all car parking charges.
The charity is advising us to observe the government’s social distancing policy but acknowledge that being outside in nature is good for our wellbeing and Lord knows we all need a little help with that right now!
We’re blessed in Devon with some awesome National Trust gardens and beaches to visit and here are a few of our Muddy favourites – just remember to pack a flask and a sandwich!
Killerton House, Exeter
Muddy loves Killerton as everything is on just the right scale to imagine you could be lady of the manor, with flat gravelled paths fine for older rellies and open spaces for the Mudlets to run round. The thatched Bear’s Hut (pictured) at the end of the lawn dates back 1860s and horror of horrors considering its small size, really did once house a black bear called Tom, brought to Killerton by the 12th Baronet’s brother from Canada. Plus, plant geeks will appreciate the amazing collection of trees brought back by the early plant hunters, over 100 rhodos, magnolias and awesome views out over the rolling Devon countryside.
Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton
Yup, the scaffolding is still up at this, the last castle to be built in England, but the Grade II listed Lutyens gardens are always worth a gander, with their formal terraces and views over Dartmoor. Don’t miss the Bunty House if you’ve got littlies with you, it’s every child’s dream of a Wendy house. And it’s pooch-friendly, with designated routes for the dog-walkers.
Knightshayes Court, Tiverton
Loadsa space here, with the imposing Gothic house as a backdrop, both formal gardens and woodsy spaces to play hide and seek in. Don’t miss the huge walled kitchen garden which supplies the Pannier Market in Tiverton for much of the year. Kids will love the topiary fox and hounds, and your hound is welcome too in the parkland and woodland, on a lead please.
Buckland Abbey, Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton
It’s blossom time in the gardens of the 700-year old home of Sir Frances Drake. Head to the Cider House for a wild area and kitchen garden. Things to spot en route include sheep – of the wire and real kind – herons, magnolias and covetable trained fruit trees and wisteria on the house walls.
Arlington Court, Barnstaple
The house and Carriage Museum are closed but you can still enjoy the easy two-mile lake walk with its bird hide and herony, or if you fancy something slightly more demanding the three mile dog-friendly stomp through the deer park with its cute red deer. If gardens are more your thang, there is a Victorian garden with a conservatory housing plants from the Southern Hemisphere, kitchen garden and pond, sure to get your green fingers tingling.
Please note, some of Devon’s fave NT places have had to close, including Greenway, Lydford Gorge, A la Ronde, Overbecks and Coleton Fishacre. Check, check, check before you set out.
Ps. As a charity the National Trust will see significant losses over the coming weeks too, so perhaps we could all remember their positivity and generosity (it is their 125th birthday after all) and make a small donation next time we visit as way of saying thank you.