What’s happening for families this autumn half-term with the National Trust in Bucks, Berks and Oxfordshire
by Katy Dunn
October half-term is upon us and local National Trust properties provide great venues for young children. They are no longer the don’t touch antique houses of years gone by.
There’s a different feel and smell to the air as autumn advances – the tingle of chill in the shade and the golden warmth of slanting sunlight. There’s the smell of woodsmoke and rich earth, sometimes lifted with the tang of apples.
The sounds change too. The rustle and swish of crispy leaves is the soundtrack to an autumn walk, punctuated by the crunch of nutshells and gentle thump of falling chestnuts.
Bring your family to the fabulous National Trust places in Bucks, Berks and Oxfordshire. We’ll give them creative ways to engage with the delights of the natural world this autumn.
Head to Stowe gardens and parkland where you can enjoy leafy autumn walks and stunning scenery. Make the most of Stowe’s accessible paths, tree-lined avenues and quiet lake-side benches. Enjoy a back-to-nature adventure, kick-up a few leaves, collect conkers, watch the wildlife and grab a breath of fresh air. You can finish in the cafe with a delicious bite to eat and drink.
Stowe is open seven days a week, 10am to 5pm
As the days get shorter and the leaves begin to turn, join us to explore autumn in the gardens and parkland at Canons Ashby. The apple trail is now over so try the Autumn Owl Trail (from mid-September) when exploring the grounds. Get your young family to spot the harvest mice in the house. Finally, warm up with a hot drink and treat from the tearooms and take off the chill.
Normal admission prices apply.
Opening hours vary, please check the website for more information.
If you head down Miss Alice’s Drive this half term, you may encounter magical beasts from myths and fairytales in a fantastical safari experience. See if you can spot all the creatures and the rangers who tend them. If you do claim your prize at the end.
The Cryptid Safari Halloween trail runs Saturday, 23 – Sunday, 31 October. £3.50 per trail.
In the evenings, the Cryptid Safari Trail comes alive! As darkness falls, you’ll discover the mighty dragon, trolls climbing trees and faerie folk flying high. The performance continues after the trail in the Stables courtyard.
The Stables takeaway will be open for food from 6-9.30pm.
The Cryptid Safari is performed by Strange-Twig Theatre Company.
Wednesday, 27-Saturday, 30 October, 6pm 7pm and 8pm. £15 adult, £10 child.
Waddesdon is open Wednesdays to Sundays 10am-5pm
Cliveden has designed family fun trails to help you explore new corners of Cliveden this autumn. Visitors tall and small are invited to engage all their senses whilst discovering the delights of the Round Garden. Hunt for minibeasts and learning something new about our tremendous trees and lovely leaves.
Creepy Creatures 18 – 31 October
Wild Wonders 1 – 15 November
Cliveden is open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm
Explore the hidden world of fungi at Hughenden. Carved giant mushrooms are dotted around the estate. They’re dressed in autumn colours and fungi-themed decorations. We’ll also be showcasing the best of the harvest with our autumn produce from the walled garden. There’ll be squash, gourds and pumpkins, apples, pears and medlars on display.
Visit the darker, wilder areas of the gardens with our children’s trail. You’ll discover fascinating facts and put the fun into fun-gi!
Trail runs from 16 October – 7 November. £1 activity sheet available from the kiosk. Suitable for ages 5-8 years.
Our mushroom spotter sheet, designed for adults, follows the path of our short waymarked Woodcock Wood walk. It is a prime place for autumn colour and with a rich humus woodland floor, ideal conditions for a fungi safari. Free to pick up from the kiosk from 1-31 October.
Our woodland play area, alongside the apple orchard, is a wild play space to help children to connect with nature. Carved from giant fallen trees it features rope walkways, wooden stepping stones and hideaways to climb over and explore.
Throughout autumn, you can discover the wide variety of apples in the orchard and walled garden. You can even take home a bag of apples to enjoy at home. Since September, different varieties have ripened and can be experienced up until November.
Hughenden is open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm
If you’d like to explore even more that is on offer at the National Trust click below