We love Cragside and have visited on numerous occasions - as NT members it is free for us to explore and it's one of those places where every time you visit there is something new to discover.
We started our latest visit with a picnic by the main lake near the entrance. OMG it was sooooo breezy here and Steve and I hadn't brought our coats! As soon as our picnic had been devoured we packed up and met up with grannie and grandad before driving through the estate to Crozier car park.
Crozier car park is where you park if you'd like to visit Cragside's play area and I would highly recommend you do this as it's fab and our three love it. There are loo's up here plus and ice cream/coffee kiosk and plenty of picnic tables too. Thankfully it was a lot warmer up here and actually quite pleasant.
The kids wanted to take part in the barefoot challenge which is next to the play park and free of charge. Grandad dutifully walked around with them and I think they enjoyed it!
The main reason for our visit though had been to visit the labyrinth - a part of Cragside we had yet to explore. The labyrinth has it's own car park but we decided to walk from the play area. It's just under one mile on easy terrain and you are rewarded with spectacular views of the countryside. There are 4 'trim trails' along the way too which help to break up the journey - they are basically mini obstacle courses.
The entrance to the labyrinth kind of snuck up on us but to be honest we already felt like we'd been on a bit of an adventure as we'd walked past giant boulders, dens and ancient trees.
|Looking like real adventurers as we entered the Labyrinth|
In the centre of the labyrinth is a rather magical music box which was lovely to discover. You could pedal the swan boat too to light up a light bulb which pleased little miss.
Parts of the labyrinth were very muddy, we had to duck under trees, climb hills and jump from boulders. We didn't bump into many people but when we did I asked them if they knew the way out to which they answered 'noooo' with a little bit of a chuckle. Hmmmmmm.......
In the end though, we made it! Hurrah! I have never felt more victorious. It felt like we were in there for hours but it was actually not much longer than 30 minutes........not sure if 'time flies when you are having fun' is an appropriate phrase here or not?
|Victory is ours! We survived the Labyrinth!|
We decided to drive back to the main car park to explore the house. It was around 4:30pm at this point and we were disappointed to see the house had already closed. I had asked on entry what time the house would close and I was told as long as you are in before 5:30 pm it's fine. Hmmmm! I have to say I was annoyed for my in laws who had actually paid the more expensive entry fee to see the house. Nevermind though I suppose - there is always next time. I would advise to anyone visiting Cragside who would like to see the house though to stop here first.
We headed down the steps from the house to the river in hope of spotting some otters. We weren't lucky on this visit but it was a lovely pleasant stroll along the bridges and there are plenty of places to stop for a spot of pooh sticks.
We ended up at the pump house near the entrance and it was nice to see this in action before it was time to climb the bank to the car park and head home.
We were worn out after our trip to Cragside and the kids fell asleep in the car on the way home. It is such a lovely place for a family walk. I would advise the Labyrinth on days where the ground isn't too wet and think it is best suited for school-aged children and teens. Let the children take the lead and you may be surprised and their skills.