Every Spring I earmark the fabulous Lanhydrock National Trust estate as a must-do to see the early azaleas, fabulous pink and white camellias, bright purple rhododendrons and huge white Himalayan magnolia trees in full flower. Located near Bodmin, the old house and huge estate is a popular landmark. If you visit early in the year you will also see vibrant plantings of daffodils and tulips around the 19th century house and formal garden.
For adults there is plenty to enjoy, from the splendid gatehouse (who wouldn't want to live right there!) to the lovely family church. Lanhydrock house looks rather like a mediaeval castle with its castellated roofline. This Grade 1 listed building was originally built in the 1620s and was extended in Victorian times after a damaging fire. A self-guided tour takes you through the splendid interior which has 50 rooms, stags head on the walls and family portraits in the gallery. Very Downton Abbey, if you like that sort of thing!
Things to do with children at Lanhydrock
If you are including children on the house tour, pick up the free guide book for children and follow one of the three house trails, each aimed at a different age group. Lanhydrock thoughtfully has added some tables around the house with things that children can pick up and touch, such as the Victorian toys in the family school room.
You may prefer to skip the house and go straight to the huge park. The woodland area lends itself to a lovely walk and the kids can run on ahead exploring without any danger of traffic or getting lost. Children will enjoy exploring, balancing on fallen tree trunks, throwing sticks in the river or finding the giant monsters built from recycled materials along the Sculpture Trail.
There are plenty of pine cones and conkers to collect in season. Young visitors will no doubt find plenty of caterpillars and creepy crawlies if you encourage them to overturn a mossy rock or look inside a hollow tree. I bought my kids magnifying glasses from the gift shop and they thoroughly enjoyed peering Sherlock Holmes-like at everything that moved! Make sure they wear old clothes for the visit so you can assist them in their attempts to climb a tree.
Geocaching at Lanhydrock
There are several geocaches on site at Lanhydrock if you want to hunt for hidden “treasure”. All you need is a GPS app on your phone and the co-ordinates of the hidden boxes. Once you discover the boxes, which should be in plain sight if you know where to look, you can open the box, sign the book, take out a treasure and leave something for someone else ‐ a pen, a coin or a small novelty is always appreciated.
Kids will love the adventure playground behind the picnic area, and the thatched cottage in the garden. Inside there is an exhibition about the gardens of Lanhydrock. After that, consider treating the kids to a snack or lunch from the excellent children's menu in the Servants' Hall Restaurant. It gives you a chance to sit down and catch your breath as peace prevails for a time as they munch on their chosen treats.
Have you visited a National Trust property with active children? What did they enjoy doing most? Would you recommend any particular NT attraction for families to visit? We'd love you to add your contributions below.