So we FINALLY bought a car! Yeah! The very next day we had to plan an adventure and as the sun was shining we decided to head to one of our favourite picnic spots. Gibside is a National Trust property in Gateshead/Durham a few miles from the Metrocentre. Entry is free if you are NT members as we are. See website for non-member prices.
There is a HUGE variety of things to do at Gibside and our afternoon only just scrapes the surface. We were there to chill out and enjoy the sun. We did think about walking up to the stables but the kids were far too hot after an hour in the adventure playground so we knocked that idea on the head and are saving it for autumn.
First up is Gibside Chapel and the avenue. The grassy tree-lined lane goes on for as far as the eye can see. This is right next to the entrance and a fab spot for a picnic. In the summer there are often bands playing in front of the chapel and I always remember watching a fantastic steel pan concert here in 2011. Jack was just a baby, Heidi a toddler and we all had fun dancing the afternoon away.
If you walk around the chapel and past a field of cute cows, you'll find the Strawberry Castle play area which was the main reason for our visit. It's fantastic with mock castles and houses, a giant sand pit, water play (when in operation), rope swings, zip wires........plus it's own toilet block (although they need to increase the number of loos from 2 I think) and ice cream/coffee hut. It's the sort of place you could spend all day and I noticed a few mums had brought their books to read as the kids ran off to play - definitely what I'll be doing next time.
It was super busy on the day we visited but we managed to find a good spot on the grass and enjoyed a little sunbathing session as the kids ran off to play hide and seek amongst it all.
They returned after 45 minutes of playing asking for drinks/ice creams. Ice creams will set you back a cool £2 each and the kiosk does not take card payments. You won't be able to resist so make sure you plan ahead. Their coffee is lovely. I never used to understand how adults could drink coffee on a boiling hot day but now I get it......we need the caffeine!
Ice creams finished and after some more play, we packed up our picnic bags and headed to the walled garden. I am a sucker for walking around beautiful flowers and plants and the walled garden will not disappoint.
There was an interesting exhibition in one corner of the garden.......
There is usually always something going on at Gibside. In the past we've enjoyed a blindfolded team-building obstacle course in the woods, bushcraft activities, campfire cooking, den building and made bird feeders. Today's activity was to make your own salad tray. There was no additional charge for this and the volunteer helpers were lovely, taking the time to help H&J. It was really well organised and the kids were very pleased that they could bring their 6 herb and salad plants home......let's hope we can keep them alive!
We ended our afternoon with a couple of refreshing drinks from Gibside's tearoom. Their courtyard had some lovely shaded seats and it was a nice place to cool down before our journey home.
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I'd love to hear about your favourite National Trust property :-)
Disclosure: We paid for our own day out