Our First Proper Day Out This Summer

As of 4 July, one household can meet up with another household in any setting. I had booked tickets to Belsay Hall a few weeks ago and originally, it was just going to be me, Steve and the kids going.

But Steve landed a new role at work and his hours changed which meant he could no longer make it. So I asked if my brother and his son (4 year old Evan) would like to use our spare ticket (under 5s are free so I booked another ticket for Evan). My bro lives with my mam and we realised my mam had the day off work too so we thought we would make a day of it and invite mam along too so I booked another ticket. Luckily there were still tickets left. 

Tickets to Belsay Hall need to be pre-booked in advance. They have plenty of availability on their website right across the summer. They are free for English Heritage members or you can pay for day tickets if you are not a member. 

So we packed up a picnic and it was me & the three kids in my car, then Mark, my mam and Evan in another. I realised this was our first day out together this year which is so weird for us! 

The staff at Belsay were fab, things have changed a little and there is a one way system around the whole site which means the entrance is via a field behind the loos - they scan your tickets under a little gazebo. 

The tearoom is based outside now - you place your order and they bring it out to you so there is no queuing / hanging around inside. A few people were enjoying takeaway food and drinks in the picnic table car park which would be a nice thing to do after your walk. 

There are only one set of loos open - in the car park. This was my first trip to a public loo post lockdown and it was 100% fine. It felt totally normal in fact. 

There was a bit of drama in the car park as we were heading towards the entrance. One guy was setting up his mobility scooter and another guy got too close. The first guy asked the second to stay 2m away due to social distancing which caused the other guy to go right in his face and shout at him that he could do what he wanted.

The original guy then shouted at the top of his voice GET AWAY FROM ME as he was sitting in his mobility scooter. Absolute scenes! I felt so sorry for the guy in the scooter and it is a good job I wasn't closer otherwise I would have given non-social distancing guy a piece of my mind. These guys were in their 70s! 

The new entrance
The route around Belsay Hall Gardens is fully accessible for wheelchairs, pushchairs and mobility scooters. It is a short walk from the entrance to the castle - perfectly suitable for toddlers. Dogs are welcome on leads. The woodland areas are beautiful. 

We didn't see that many people on our walk. Entrance times are staggered and the whole route is one way - below is the closest we got to anyone. 

The quarry gardens are my all-time favourite. The leaves are pretty epic! 

As you emerge from the woods, the view of the castle is as stunning as ever. Gorgeous! The castle is open and you can take a look inside. 

I have no judgement against those who do not choose to social distance - each to their own. We are still trying to where possible though, especially with my mam who is deemed high risk. Staying 2m (or 1m+) during our walk to the castle was ok. 

Evan is only 4 and we decided in advance that we would try and social distance with him still but we did recognise that there may be times where this did not happen and for him, we decided it was ok. I mean we weren't hugging or holding hands but if he walked alongside his cousins, we weren't going to make a big deal of it. I think agreeing rules for your own family in advance of a day out like this really helps and causes a lot less worry / stress. 

Our picnic was probably the hardest place to maintain social distancing but we managed ok using the 1m+ mitigation rule. Mam and Mark sat opposite each other and I sat at the other side of the bench opposite open space. The kids sat on their own picnic blankets. 


I cannot explain how nice it was to sit and have a picnic with my mam and bro. We were able to have a proper catch up and chat rather than a quick 20 min chat over al fresco coffee which is what we had been doing up until now. 

On our walk back to the entrance, the kids seemed to go a little wild. They invented a Zombie Goose game and started chasing each other through the woodland and pretending they were zombies. They were screaming with laughter and after over 3 months of hardly seeing each other, it was lush to see they still had a super strong bond.

This was the happiest I had seen them all in ages. I am sure they loved the freedom. They really tired themselves out so I reckon we can call Zombie Goose Game a PE lesson. 

Ramps in place for pushchairs / wheelchairs......

You walk back through the walled garden which wasn't as colourful as it has been in previous years (I am guessing due to furlough) but it was still nice. 

There is a member of staff with an ice cream stand just outside of the hall (which is closed) and a seat here with an ice cream is absolute bliss. 

Evan demonstrating the Zombie Goose game.....

Our first proper day out this summer wasn't nearly as stressful as I imagined. The kids had the best time and it was lovely for me to spend some proper time with my mam. We were there for around 1.5 hours in total.  

PS there are hand sanitisers at the entrance and end. 

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Thank you for your support as always. 

Please follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines , respect the local area. leave no trace, take litter home, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Always check updated opening hours / protocols with venues direct before setting off as things may have changed since this post was published. 



  1. Just signed up and booked after reading this review. Thanks so much for sharing!! Xx

  2. Aww! How lovely to have a proper day out. It must have been so nice to go with your brother and mum too. It sounds like you had a fab time. Gorgeous photos x


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