Do you remember the feeling of rolling down a really big hill? For those ten seconds there was nothing else in the world but the smell of the grass and the sun on your face, the smell of the grass, the sun on your face, the smell of the grass and the incredible thrill of tumbling, being on the edge of out-of-control.
Such simple pleasures are among the National Trust’s suggestions for 50 things to do before you’re 113Ž4 – the campaign to get kids outdoors and in touch with the natural world around them. They include intrepid activities like climbing a tree and damming a stream, as well as more intimate activities such as mud pie-making, hunting for bugs, and the joy of a producing a piercing whistle from a grass trumpet.
There are 50 things scrapbooks and activities at National Trust places, alongside enough trails and play activities, crafts and garden games to give the whole family a summer adventure.
The countryside and parkland looked after by the National Trust is perfect for summer exploring and picnicking. The beautiful gardens are at their colourful best in summer, filled with paths and lawns to run along, walled gardens to hide in, and peaceful shady spots where you can close your eyes and soak up summer scents and the dreamy buzz of insects.
National Trust members visit for free, but there is sometimes a separate charge for specific events and activities. All profits go to the care and upkeep of the special places we look after for you and future generations to enjoy. All details and other ideas for family days out can be found on the National Trust website:
Summer family highlights in Sussex:
Petworth House and Park – Imaginary Garden
23 July – 4 September, 10am – 4pm, £3 per child
Step inside your own imagined world this summer by becoming a landscape designer in this ‘Capability’ Brown inspired trail. Who knows where your imagination will take you, but adventure is waiting around every twist, turn and tree.
Petworth House is celebrating the 300th anniversary of Capability Brown’s birth, with a year-long programme of events.
Petworth House and Park – As You Like It! A Shakespearean Family Trail
Every day, normal admission charge, voluntary donation of £2
Join William Shakespeare and characters from his famous plays as they guide you around this mansion on a fun interactive trail.
Become a playwright and create your own script as you hunt for Shakespearean characters hidden in Petworth’s paintings. As the writer, you decide the fate of your actors. What challenges will your theatrical troupe meet along the way? Will your audience be laughing at a comedy or crying at a tragedy?
Nymans – fire and shelter woodland workshop
15 August, 10am – 3pm, £20, book on 01444 405250, for children aged 8 to 14 years
This day out is perfect for the young budding explorer who wants to know how to live and survive in the wild. Join our ranger and learn how to build and light a fire. Work as a team to make a woodland shelter from natural materials and practice your camp cooking skills too.
Nymans – Stage and screen discovery trail
Until 4 September, 10.30am – 3.30pm, normal admission charge plus £1 per trail
Come and be part of the drama this summer and explore the garden looking for theatre and film-themed props. See if you can spot the theatre script or glimpse the director’s chair. Collect your own Best Performer certificate at the finale of your trail. Get even more involved and come dressed as your favourite film character.
Sheffield Park and Garden – Evening wildlife walk and BioBlitz
Fri 1 Jul 8.30pm & Sat 2 Jul 10am-5pm, adult £6, book on 01825 790231
A night and day of fun activities looking at the wildlife on our floodplain.
Sheffield Park and Garden – Playing with perspective trail
Sat 9 Jul-Sun 11 Sep, normal admission
Excite your senses on this interactive trail involving mirrors, sounds and textures and see the garden from a whole new perspective.
Sheffield Park and Garden – Changing seasons
Sat 23 Jul-Sun 4 Sep, normal admission
Exhibition of the work involved in restoring the Capability Brown landscape.
Sheffield Park and Garden – 50 Things Wild Wednesdays
Wed 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31 Aug 11am, Child £3-£5, book on 01825 790231 Try our most popular workshops.
Sheffield Park and Garden – Outdoor cinema
Fri 12 & Sat 13 Aug, doors open 6.30pm, Adult £13, book on 01825 790231 Experience cinema under an open sky with exclusive screenings on the historic cricket pitch. See website for details.
Sheffield Park and Garden – Talk: Discovering Capability Brown
Sat 20 Aug 6pm, Adult £18, book on 01825 790231
Author Sarah Rutherford reveals the life of this revered garden designer.
Standen House and Garden – Summer holiday fun
Sat 23 Jul-Sun 4 Sep 11am-4pm, normal admission plus small charge for activities
Fun family activities in the house, garden and wider estate.
Frog Firle Farm open day
Sun 10 Jul 12noon-4pm, donations welcome
Explore this traditional Sussex farm with crafts, games, walks, refreshments and family fun.
Birling Gap – Pond dipping and bug hunting
Fri 22 Jul 2-4pm, £4, book on 01323 423197
Find crazy creatures on our family fun bug day.
Birling Gap – Berwick circular guided cycle ride
Sun 31 Jul 10am-1pm, £5, book on 01323 423197
Enjoy panoramic views and country lanes. Stop at Alfriston Clergy House for a short tour.
Birling Gap – Big beach picnic
Fri 26 Aug 12noon-3pm, donations welcome
Enjoy all things coastal with kite flying, beach art, games and rock-pooling.
East Head beach – wildlife breakfast
2 July 7.30 – 11am, £9 each, book on 01243 814730
East Head is a beautiful place of sand dunes, beach and lots of wildlife. Explore the early morning dunes for furtive creatures, and help identify our over-night moth visitors with the team from Sussex Moth group. Finish by joining us for a bacon roll and hot drink (included in the price).
Slindon Estate – brilliant Bignor wildlife
16 July, 2 – 4pm, adults £4, children £2, book on 01243 814730
Come and see for yourself the many beautiful species of wildlife that flourish on the Downs in high summer, on this ranger led walk. We will be particularly looking at butterflies and the wild flowers they depend upon for their survival.
East Head – beach bonanza days
Saturdays, Sundays & Thursdays from 23 July to 4 September, 11am – 3pm, free, call 01243 814730 for more information
At weekends and Thursdays throughout the summer holidays, we’ll be running a host of exciting ’50 things to do before you’re 11 3Ž4’, from beach safaris and bug hunts, to investigating tidal pools and making wild art. Come on a beach safari, catch a crab, fly a kite and much more. Check out our noticeboard or website for more details.
Slindon Estate – wild beast safari
28 July, 2 – 4pm, children adults free, book on 01243 814730
Bring your best explorer’s hat to discover the many weird and wonderful mini beasts that live in the woods and grasslands of this ancient country estate. We’ll bring the equipment and some refreshments, you just need to have fun.
Slindon Estate – bats in the belfry
3 August, 8 – 10pm, adults £4, children £2, book on 01243 814730
Join our ranger for a talk and gentle walk in search of these mysterious creatures, Using a bat detector, we’ll hear the high frequency squeaks the bats use to catch their prey.
Slindon Estate – a teddy bear’s picnic
12 August, 11.30am – 2pm, children £4, adults free, book on 01243 814730
If you go down to the woods today…..make sure you bring your favourite teddy and picnic lunch! Join us for this fun family event, taking you to Northwood where there will be children’s activities and light refreshments. A toilet will be provided on site
Slindon Estate – crafty little creatures
24 August, 1 – 3pm, children £5, adults free, book on 01243 814730
Join us in Northwood for the afternoon and get creative with nature. Hand-paint your very own woodland creature and decorate Northwood with clay Green Men and woodland materials. Light refreshments and toilet also available on site.
Woolbeding Countryside – bat, moth & star gazing night
14 July, 9 – 11pm, adults £3, children £2, book on 01730 816638
Hear and glimpse the shyest wildlife stir as dusk turns to night. Enjoy the twilight hours as we search for woodcock and the elusive nightjar across the woodland edge and heath, finishing with a look at the stars.
Woolbeding Countryside revealed
4 August, 10.30am – 2pm, £3 (not including tea), book on 01730 816638
Take in the changing landscape of river, wood, farm and heath on a guided walk through this beautiful river valley. We’ll stop off at Woolbeding Gardens tea room on the way, for refreshments.
Woolbeding Countryside – woodland art & campfire cooking
11 August, 11am – 1pm, £5, book on 01730 816638
Make your own natural art and have a campfire lunch in our glorious woodland – all materials provided, just roll up!
Woolbeding Countryside – Picnic in the Park, free
20 August, 6 – 9pm, free entry
Bring a picnic, sit back & enjoy live music from local bands, in a beautiful park setting.
Woolbeding Countryside – Dog Fun Day
Sunday 31July 10.30am – 3pm, free entry, £1 per class
Shows, dog agility, working dogs, stalls, a must for all dog lovers!
Watch the fun, or take part. We’ve got dog showing classes, dog agility and working dog demonstrations. Support local stalls and charities and find out how you and your dog can get along better with livestock and wildlife.
Drover’s – bat walk
24 August, 8.30 – 10pm, adults £3, children £2, book on 01730 816638
Search for bats in the woods and along the old railway with an expert from the Bat Conservation Trust, and his bat detecting kit.