12 Reasons I Love My National Trust Membership

This specific post has not been paid for but I do work with National Trust on occasion.  This post includes some visits which were part of this work alongside some visits which we have enjoyed in our own time. We do pay for our own National Trust Membership and use it regularly. 

We have been National Trust members for over 15 years now and how we use our membership has really evolved over the years. When the kids were little we'd spend our days at National Trust playgrounds, in fact one of my very first blog posts featured a trip to Gibside back in 2012.

Although the quality is terrible, this photo of Harry and Dee dancing on the Avenue to North Tyneside Steel Band at Gibside is one of my favourites. 

Then as the kids were a little older we joined in with various activities including trails, gardening activities, visiting Father Christmas, egg hunts, storytimes, den building and garden games. 

It's always been handy having a National Trust membership during our various UK holidays too and we've visited several fantastic places outside of the North East when travelling around (with St Michael's Mount in Cornwall being a real favourite) and Fountains Abbey is somewhere we regularly use as a stop off when driving South.

Now that my children are teenagers and we have added a dog to our family, we still use our National Trust membership just as much. 

They are our 'go-to' places when looking for a dog-friendly family walk with hot chocolate and cake at the end and I now get a lot of joy from visiting my favourite spots in various seasons and watching how the gardens change. 

I know that we will be National Trust for the rest of our lives. We are genuine big fans and I like that we pay up front for a year's membership so it feels as if our day out is always free (you can pay monthly by direct debit too).

There is always something new to see or a new event / activity to try. Even after 15 years, I am still regularly discovering new things to do. 

Find out more and sign up for National Trust membership here: Sign up to National Trust 

12 Reasons I Love My National Trust Membership 

1 - Fantastic playgrounds 

If your children love playgrounds, you will be spoilt for choice. We have so many fantastic options here in the North East. Here are some of our favourites: 


At Gibside there is Strawberry Castle play area - a large castle themed play frame with a (small) water play and sand area, zip wire, slides, mini castles, tunnels to crawl through, bucket swings and more.

There are toilets and a seasonal kiosk too and it's the ideal place to bring a picnic blanket and spend an afternoon with friends. There is also low ropes course and den building area a short walk away. The kids certainly won't get bored.

Seaton Delaval Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall is home to the Delaval Playdium play area which has been inspired by the Delavals' love of the theatre. It's kind of tucked away in the woods and feels like you've stumbled upon a secret.

I like that this play area is a little different and equipment is based on theatrical equipment around a centre stage climbing frame.

There are magic mirrors to play with and giant chalk boards (bring your own chalk to create a masterpiece) alongside more traditional elements such as basket swings and slides. As well as the playground there is usually a Mini Games Chest out on the lawn and families are invited to try a game of cricket, tennis, rounders, frisbee and more. 


There are not one, not two, but four play areas to enjoy at Wallington - all within easy walking distance of each other and you could spend a full day visiting them all. Choose from a castle-themed play fort (with a seasonal takeaway kiosk next to it), a traditional adventure playground, a play train and a fairly new Little Acorns nature play space for younger ones. 


The play area at Cragside is on the upper estate - you can walk up to it if you fancy a hike (we've done this a few times and it's not too bad - definitely worth it for the views) or you can drive around Carriage Drive and park up next to the play area.

There is a seasonal takeaway kiosk next to the play area as well as toilets and equipment includes a zip wire, cargo nets, slides, see saws, toddler equipment and a climbing tyre. You will also find a trim trail, lovely pushchair friendly walks and the labyrinth close by. 

Housesteads Fort

Did you know that part of Hadrian's Wall and Housesteads Fort is owned by National Trust? If you're visiting the area, it's definitely worth popping in with kids to explore and they have a nice tea room with a big slide outside which kids will love. 

2 - There's always a new walk to try 

River Walk at Wallington 

There is always a new walk to try with National Trust with pushchair friendly options, points of interest and stunning scenery.

You can choose something short and easy that includes playground stops for little ones, walks that take in stunning gardens and wildlife hides, guided walks, wellbeing walks, woodland walks, big estate hikes, seasonal children's trails or even walks which include steppy stones. 

There are far too many to list here but you can find routes online or ask on arrival for walking maps. Here are some of our recent favourites: 

3 - Fantastic seasonal & school holiday activities

Seaton Delaval Hall 

I don't exaggerate when I say there is always something different to try with National Trust and they excel at changing their offerings with the seasons. Most activities are included with admission at no additional cost too.


From Snowdrop Planting, Blossom Festivals and Easter Egg Hunts in Spring and Live Music, Garden Games, Wildlife Activities and Sports in the Summer to Apple Festivals, Halloween Storytelling and Ghost Hunts in Autumn and Winter Trails, Christmas Decorations and Storytime with Mrs Claus in Winter, you can always count on National Trust to have something new for kids to try or as somewhere you can fill in a day during the school holidays without spending much (even if you've been before). 

There are plenty of activities for adults too including garden and history talks, holistic treatments, live music afternoons and concerts and guided walks. 

4 - A day out by public transport 

Did you know that most National Trust properties in the North East are accessible by public transport? I have rounded up all the info you need in this post but do make sure you check with transport providers for current timetables before setting off. 

5 - Dogs are welcome 

Dogs are always made to feel welcome at National Trust properties and we have enjoyed many walks with Fozzy over the past 18 months. I especially appreciated visiting when he was a tiny puppy as I knew there wouldn't be any dogs bounding up to him. 

Seaton Delaval Hall 

National Trust operate a canine code and Pawprint rating system for every site (with three pawprints being the best) which I would recommend reading online before visiting with your dog. It's worth reading again even if you're a regular visitor as sometimes the info can change.

Here are links to the main ones: 

Three Pawprints 

Two Pawprints 

One Pawprint 

Dogs should be kept on a short lead when walking around grounds and estates & picked up after. There are usually dog water bowls at the cafes, plenty of bins and some sites have additional facilities (Gibside has a dog shower and enclosed dog exercise area where you let your dog off lead).

Enclosed dog exercise field at Gibside

There are good information points at National Trust sites which provide information about where dogs are allowed and where they are not permitted. 

As a general rule, dogs are permitted to join you around most outdoor areas including walks and some areas of non-enclosed playgrounds. To the best of my knowledge, dogs are now welcome inside all of the North East's National Trust Tearooms which is great news if the weather isn't great (some tea rooms have specific dog-friendly areas). 


Dogs are usually not permitted inside enclosed playgrounds (like the one at Cragside) or inside most of the houses / indoor areas. 

6 - A chance to try or learn something new 

I am always open to learning something new and I would describe my children as inquisitive too. Our National Trust membership allows us to do just this.

I especially enjoy learning about the wild parties at Lindisfarne Castle and Seaton Delaval Hall. If only the walls could talk! Do take time to ask the volunteers and room guides about their favourite stories.

Garden tips from Gibside 

Learning experiences often pop up in the most unexpected places. During our recent trip to Gibside we found little tips from the estate's gardener dotted around including how to clear moss from your waterlogged lawn (which applies to us - our lawn is covered at the moment!). I took a little snap to re-read and action at home. 


If your kids are interested in STEM, I would definitely recommend at trip to Cragside where you can learn a lot about engineering and Britain's original smart home. 

And if you fancy trying something a little different, did you know you can hire bikes at Wallington? 

7 - A day out for all ages 

As I was researching this post, I am so pleased I stumbled upon this photo of my grandad (who is sadly no longer with us) and stepdad from 10 years ago.

They were looking for signs of bats around Seaton Delaval Hall. It's weird as I recently visited again with my Stepdad and he did the exact same thing - started looking for signs of bats. It's nice to create and share these memories / traditions together. 

A day out at a National Trust venue is something we regularly plan with our extended family including grandparents and younger cousins. I am often asked about places to visit with grandparents or children of mixed ages and I would definitely suggest National Trust as a good option.

Even our teens still like getting stuck in with a competitive game of egg and spoon or running around with their younger cousin.

We have also bought National Trust membership as a gift for family members in the past which is the gift that keeps on giving as you can plan lots of nice days out together over the year. 

8 - Stunning gardens / places to enjoy nature

Seaton Delaval Hall 

I love a good garden or floral display and we are very lucky to have so many to enjoy near us whether this be the Crocus Lawn and Snowdrops across the Wallington Estate in early Spring, the beautiful Laburnum Arch at Seaton Delaval Hall or the stunning colours of the Rhododendrons at Cragside and the tree-lined Avenue that seems to go on forever at Gibside, there is always a new display to enjoy. 


There are so many opportunites to enjoy nature too with Bat Talks at Wallington and Seaton Delaval Hall, the chance to spot Seals basking at Sugar Sands from the rooftop of Lindisfarne Castle, Red Squirrel Hides at Wallington and if you're lucky you might just spot Otters at Gibside or Wallington. 

9 - The best cakes and scones 

I am a big fan of National Trust Tearooms and Cafes. They honestly serve the nicest cakes, scones and seasonal lunches. It's always something to look forward to after a nice walk. Here is a little look at some of the delights I have enjoyed in the past year: 

Housesteads Fort 



10 - Perfect for exploring the UK 

There are over 500 National Trust venues to explore and a membership is ideal to use when on holiday somewhere in the UK (you can use your membership in Scotland and around the world too).

We've used our membership as far North as Ayrshire and as far South as Cornwall. You can even use your National Trust membership to visit Stonehenge (entry is usually £76 for a family ticket so it's a decent saving). 

We regularly try and stop off at National Trust sites as a service station alternative when travelling too. 

Here are some of our highlights from over the years : 

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire

Culzeon Castle in Ayrshire 

Culzeon Castle in Ayrshire 

Isaac Newton's Birthplace in Lincolnshire 

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire 


Fountains Abbey and Studley Gardens in North Yorkshire 

Beningbrough Hall in North Yorkshire 

St Michael's Mount in Cornwall 

11 - A Rainy day option 

There are plenty of things to do indoors at our local National Trust sites and they're handy to keep in mind for a rainy day option.

Seaton Delaval Hall 

Seaton Delaval Hall 

Highlights for us include the 'upside down room', indoor stage, 'game of Seaton Delaval Hall' and secret keyholes at Seaton Delaval Hall, the stunning interior of Cragside House (we love the Victorian Kitchen), climbing to the top of Souter Lighthouse and admiring the Dolls' Houses at Wallington. 

Lindisfarne Castle 


Lindisfarne Castle is also not to be missed and somewhere a little different to visit with your membership (although do check tide times). 

12 - I'm doing my bit 

Every penny spent on National Trust membership goes towards preserving and protecting nature and historical sites for future generations to enjoy.

National Trust is Europe's biggest conservation charity and they do a phenominal amount of work in conservation, wildlife protection, in communities and supporting achaeological projects. Find out more about the work they do here. 

Where can you visit in North East England with National Trust Membership? 

There are a number of ways to purchase National Trust membership including an option to buy as a gift, pay by monthly direct debit or become a lifetime member. You can use your membership to visit over 500 venues across the UK (and beyond) as many times as you like for as long as your membership is valid.

Most people reading this will live in North East England. Here are some of the best places you can visit: 

National Trust also care for the Farne Islands however at time of print, due to on-going avian flu, island landings are not permitted until the end of summer. It's such a tough time for the island's birds at the moment and I do really appreciate that some of the £ from our membership goes towards their care and conservation efforts. 

I really enjoyed writing this post and looking back at some of the memories we have created over the years and I look forward to making even more in the many years to come. 

12 Reasons I Love My National Trust Membership

1 - Fantastic playgrounds 

From a choice of 4 fab playgrounds at Wallington to the Strawberry Castle play area at Gibside, the Delaval Playdium at Seaton Delaval Hall & the more traditional playground at Cragside, there is loads of choice for playground fans and all equipment is kept in fantastic condition. 

2 - Always a new walk to try 

Our recent favourites include the explorer trail at Gibside, the formal gardens and gorge walk at Cragside and the river walk at Wallington. 

3 - Brilliant seasonal & school holiday activities 

Including snowdrop planting, den building, pond dipping, nature trails, sports to try, bat talks, history tours, guided walks, blossom week, apple festivals, ghost stories and more....... 

4 - A day out by public transport 

All National Trust venues in North East England are accessible by public transport. 

5 - Dogs are welcome 
Dogs are welcome on short leads in the grounds of National Trust sites and inside the cafes and tearooms too. We love to visit with Fozzy. Some venues have additional facilities including an enclosed dog exercise field where you can let your dog of lead at Gibside (it's next to the Stables - no need to book, just turn up). 

6 - A chance to try or learn something new 

Do ask the volunteers and room guides for their favourite tale - they have some brilliant stories to tell (especially about the parties at Seaton Delaval Hall & Lindisfarne Castle). 

7 - A day out for all ages 

I am often asked about places to visit for a group of mixed ages and National Trust definitely fits the bill. 

8 - Stunning gardens & places to enjoy nature 

Highlights for me include the Snowdrops and Crocus lawn at Wallington, Laburnum arch at Seaton Delaval Hall and Rhododendrons at Cragside as well as the chance to spot otters at Gibside and Seals basking at Sugar Sands from the rooftop of Lindisfarne Castle. One of the UK's largest bat roosts of Pipistrelle bats can be found at Seaton Delaval Hall. 

9 - The best cakes and scones 


10 - Perfect for UK staycations 

We have used our membership across the whole of the UK during our travels from Culzeon Castle and Robert Burns' birthplace in Scotland to St Michael's Mount in Cornwall. Did you know you can use National Trust membership to visit Stonehenge too? 

11 - A rainy day option 

Our favourite indoor options include the 'upside down room' and stage at Seaton Delaval Hall and the beautiful houses at Cragside and Wallington. 

12 - I'm doing my bit 

National Trust is the biggest conservation charity in Europe and every penny spent on membership goes towards the work they do to conserve and protect wildlife and historical sites for future generations. 

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12 reasons I love my national trust membership


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