Keeping children entertained over the long summer holidays can be a real problem for parents.
Coming up with an exciting itinerary for the six-week break can be very taxing and expensive.
But the National Garden Scheme has come up with a nationwide plan to help.
The charity gives visitors unique access to over 3,500 exceptional private gardens in England and Wales to raise funds for nursing and health charities.
And children go free at many of its gardens across the two countries.
A spokeswoman for the National Garden Scheme said: “Keeping children entertained over the long summer break can often be a challenge, especially if you’re on a budget.
“But, did you know that in the vast majority of National Garden Scheme gardens children go free, making a visit to one of our gardens a great value day out. Many also offer special activities or have features that are of particular interest to children – like riding a model railway at Barnards Farm in Essex or playing with remote control boats at Dale Farm in Norfolk.
“With so many wonderful options, exploring our family friendly gardens will keep you and the family entertained over the summer holiday period and beyond.”
Here we take a look at some of the highlights of the family friendly gardens taking part in the open days scheme.
In Northumberland children can enjoy a fairy walk, sculpture walk, a croquet lawn and a tennis court at Bichfield Tower in Belsay. The six acre maturing garden in its fourth year of rejuvenation and is set around a Medieval Pele Tower. It is staging an open day July 14.
There is also Coldcotes Moor Farm in Ponteland, which has a play area created especially for the owners’ grandchildren, which visiting children can also enjoy. It is staging open days on July 17 and 20 but visitors need to pre-book tickets via www.coldcotesmoorgarden.org.uk. The cost for children is £2.
Down in Yorkshire and the Humber there are a raft of attractions to charm the children. At Pilmoor Cottages in North Yorkshire you can take a ride on the miniature railway. It runs through two acres of gardens and the journey takes you across water, through a little woodland area, past flower-filled borders, and through a tunnel behind the rockery and water cascade. The venue, near Helperby, is staging its open day on August 25.
Other attractions in the region include the jungle garden at 14 Chellsway, Withernsea, which is holding its open day on August 4. Children can wander by exotic plants that combine with hardy perennials to create a tropical effect rarely seen growing on the Yorkshire coast.
Further afield, the East Midlands also has plenty of child-friendly gardens. Cascades Gardens in Derbyshire is perfect for young explorers with its illuminated old lead mine. The four-acre garden in Matlock is throwing open its doors on July 21 and August 18.
And 68 Watts Lane in Louth, Lincolnshire, has a great garden for children with its activity trail to find where the frogs are hiding. Children can also see lots of different butterflies and bees, feed the fish and look for Cedric the spider, Simon the snake and Colin the crocodile. The garden is staging multiple open days in late July and every Sunday in August. It is also open by arrangement. There is plenty to see and do all over England. In the North West there is Laskey Farm in Warrington with its treehouse and children’s quiz. Its open days are on August 10 and 11. It is also open by arrangement. Lytham Hall in Lancashire also has a mount to climb, 4km of paths and a children’s woodland trail. Its open day is on July 21.
The NGS scheme also covers Wales, and the country’s gardens have lots to offer youngsters. At Llwyngarreg, Carmarthenshire, children can enjoy climbing inside the ‘monkey cage’ of willow and other living willow structures. There are also swings and dens.
Bwlch y Geuffordd Gardens in Ceredigion also offers great day out for all the family. It’s perfect for children, and the young at heart. Highlights include a play area, musical instruments, a train, den, treasure hunt, pond dipping, and a fairy door. It is open by arrangement only.
There are a multitude of gardens down in the South East and South West which cater for children. Highlights include Hurst House in Kent which has a graffiti wall, woodland walk/painted forest and intriguing features and sculptures. It has open days on July 20 and 21.
While, Foxhole Community Garden in Devon is showcasing its attractions on July 28 and 30. It has a nature trail and garden crafts for children, mud kitchen, plus talks and walks.
This is just a snapshot of what the NGS has to offer families. To see more sites in your area go to www.ngs.org.uk.