We’ve been National Trust members on and off for several years now and visiting one of their places is one of my favourite ways to spend a family day out. The South West is home to all kinds of National Trust-managed landscapes, patches of countryside, historic properties and stretches of coastline. If you’re looking for a nature-inspired, scenic day out with the kids in the West Country, I’ve put together a list of the best National Trust near Bath and Bristol.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the UK is currently in the midst of a national lockdown with many restrictions in place. Please stay local and follow government guidance when visiting National Trust near Bath and Bristol. Please make sure you check protocol for each National Trust place before your visit to avoid disappointment – most places now require advance booking or are open to locals only.
National Trust near Bath and Bristol: days out with kids
Address: Ralph Allen Dr, Bath BA2 5AH
Prior Park was built in the 18th century by Ralph Allen, a Postmaster of Bath who became integral to the development of the British postal system. From humble beginnings, Ralph Allen rose to be one of the wealthiest men in the country and with his riches he built a mansion surrounded by a gorgeous estate with magnificent views of the city.
The grounds, set in a sweeping valley and created with famed landscape designer, Lancelot ‘Capabliity’ Brown as well as the poet Alexander Pope, are incredibly beautiful and contain a stunning Palladian Bridge, the last of three of its kind built in England.
There’s plenty to explore within the gardens, but for even more epic vistas, the Bath Skyline walk (see below) is just a five-minute walk away.
Advance booking is essential. There is no car park here (we parked on a nearby road and walked uphill).
Address: Bathwick Hill at Cleveland Walk, Bath
For some of the most wondrous cityscapes in the South West, you’ll struggle to find more eye-poppingly magnificent than Bathwick Hill. The best place to find parking is on one of the residential roads near Cleveland Walk and make your way between the houses to National Trust Bathwick Fields (signposted). Your immediate reward is an breathtaking view over Bath, sprawling in the distance like some miniature model village, behind acres of open countryside.
From the fields, a 6-mile circular route takes you through meadows, woodlands, 18th century follies and secluded valleys, past ancient Roman settlements and an Iron Age fort (find detailed walking instructions on the National Trust website here). *Current restrictions ask that you walk in a clockwise direction from Cleveland Walk.
To keep little ones entertained, there is a two-mile, buggy-friendly family discovery trail set amongst the woodland. Here you can search for magical doors in the Long Wood elf and fairy foray, hunt for geocaches (my kids new favourite thing to do), complete a series of ’50 things’ challenges or mess around in the woodland play area. To find this lovely little patch, head towards Claverton Down. The play area is opposite the Sulis Club on Claverton Down Road and is marked – for further directions, click here.
National Trust Tyntesfield, Wraxall
Address: Wraxall, Bristol, North Somerset, BS48 1NX
For a healthy dose of open countryside, activities for children and an adventure playground (currently closed) near Bristol, Tyntesfield is one of our favourite destinations.
A handsome Victorian mansion (closed until further notice) sits in the heart of 540 acres of beautiful parkland, woodland and gardens – so plenty of space to roam around in your bubbles as you explore. In normal times, seasonally-themed, family-friendly events take place all year round to liven up each visit with something new – Easter egg trails, impressive pumpkin displays and a Victorian Christmas extravaganza. Keep an eye on their website for when these can safely start back up again. For the caffeine-needy, there are a couple of cafes onsite (currently open) where you can refuel.
Please book your tickets here before you visit. Members can book for free, while non-members will need to pay when booking. Tickets will be released every Friday.
Address: Dyrham, Chippenham SN14 8HY
Set in a sensationally beautiful estate, Dyrham Park’s 17th century mansion (you might recognise it as the Warleggan town house in Poldark), sits snuggled in a steep valley and ancient deer park, against a picturesque backdrop of Cotswold hills and manicured gardens.
Head left upon entering the grounds (all 270-acres of them) and you’ll discover a path lined with carved wooden sculptures. Wander to the right and you’ll find the Old Lodge play area, with its vintage tractors, bug hotel, Cedric the cow (pretend) and a natural wood play area with balance beams.
It’s a steep downhill from the play park to the mansion house, then back to the car park on your return, so be aware the minibus isn’t currently running, but you can email ahead of your visit if you have any access issues.
The parkland, garden and kiosk at Dyrham Park are currently open. Pre-booking essential – members can book for free, while non-members will need to pay when booking.
Blaise Hamlet, Bristol
Address: Hallen Rd, Henbury, Bristol BS10 7QY
Just across the road from Blaise Castle Estate is a hamlet of nine impossibly pretty, olde worlde, 19th century cottages set around a small village green. The site dates back to medieval times and it’s hard not to want to glimpse more of what’s behind the doors of these age-old buildings. While there’s not a huge amount to do there, it is lovely for a quick, picturesque peruse if you’ve been exploring Blaise.
There is on-street parking on Hallen Road.
Address: Abbots Leigh, Bristol BS8 3QB
Just across Clifton Suspension Bridge is Leigh Woods, a National Trust protected area of woodland that it is free to enter. You’ll find parking There’s a number of colour-coded woodland routes to choose from depending on how far you want to walk – purple is 2.5km, takes about 45 minutes and is perfect for families with buggies, red is 1.2km, takes about 30 minutes and blue is Sustrans cycle route 41, 2.25km, takes about 40 minutes and has some hilly slopes.
I’d recommend incorporating the natural play areas (if they’re open – there’s a basket swing, balance logs, hollow log tunnel and little roundhouse) to keep little legs motivated. For stupendous views over the gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge, stroll along to Nightingale Valley (see map here).
There is a car park reached via Abbots Leigh Road opposite Clifton College Sports Grounds. Follow the avenue of beech trees down to the (paying) car park. There used to be a coffee kiosk here, but I’m not sure what the deal is during the pandemic. You’ll also find parking spots along North Road (also off Abbots Leigh Road),which brings you into Nightingale Valley.
Clevedon Court (currently closed)
Address: Tickenham Rd, Clevedon BS21 6QU
Clevedon Court is a 14th-century manor house set within an elegant 18th-century terraced garden. It is closed during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Address: Cadbury Camp Ln W, Tickenham BS21 6RN
About a 35-minute drive out of Bristol, the National Trust-managed Cadbury Camp boasts some of the most gorgeous countryside views around.
The walk begins in Tickenham Village (park at the Village Hall, postcode BS21 6RX) and works its way up to the main attraction – an ancient Iron Age hill fort. The fort – now a sloped, circular mound of grassy banks and ditches – dates back to the 6th century BC and is thought to have been constructed by the Dobunni Tribe who chose this location for its high position and (spectacular) views over the land below.
From the fort you can see all the way out to The Mendip hills, Severn Bridge, Sand Point and Bristol Channel. If acres of space, very few people and wildlife spotting are what you’re after, Cadbury Camp is the perfect antidote to weeks of enforced lockdown.
Read more about our walk at Cadbury Camp here or check out my family day out write-up for the National Trust here.
West Tanpit Wood
Address: Sandy Ln, Bristol BS8, UK
West Tanpit Wood near Abbots Leigh is owned and managed by the Forestry Commission and The National Trust. If you’re familiar with the scenery around nearby Abbots Pool (currently closed due to anti-social behaviour), it’s not dissimilar. Think towering pine trees, aromatic ferns, grassy fields and a stream – Markham Brook – with rope swings dangling from the trees which go down a treat with the kids.
It’s a short walk – no more than 1km, but there’s lots for kiddos to explore and in spring, the forest floor is covered with wild garlic and bluebells. Click here to see a map of the self-guided walk.
To get here, turn down ‘Sandy Lane’ in Lower Failand from the sharp bend in the A369 at Abbots Leigh and follow the narrow road for one mile to reach a small car parking area at the woodland entrance.
Address: Kewstoke, Weston-super-Mare BS22 9UD
The name of this place makes me think it should be in a Tolkien book and its unspoilt ruggedness is probably not too far off!
An extension of the Mendip Hills near Weston-super-Mare, Sand Point is remarkably similar to Brean Down – another nearby natural pier which juts out into the Bristol Channel. Sand Point is not quite as steep as Brean, plus there’s a gentler walking route that skirts the beach too, which is where we headed when our 4 year old started giving us the heebie jeebies by refusing to hold our hands close to the pier edge.
The rocky beach is perfect for clambering-keen kiddos and there are spectacular panoramic views across a sky-coloured sea to Cardiff, Severn Beach and Brean. Find details on the 3-mile (1 hour-ish) circular coastal walk here.
There is a National Trust (paying or free for NT members) car park (postcode BS22 9UD).
Address: Brean, Somerset, TA8 2RS
Two miles down the coast from Weston-super-Mare is one of the great natural landmarks of the Somerset coastline. This natural promontory is 97 metres high and sticks out 1.5 miles into the Bristol Channel. It’s a steep climb up over 100 steps, but once you’re there, you’re rewarded with 360 degree views over the Somerset Levels and Bristol Channel, looking back to Weston-super-Mare. Walk to the end to discover the ruin of a Victorian fort – built to defend the country against a possible Napoleonic invasion.
Down below, in Brean’s dramatic cliff walls, there is a hidden ancient Roman temple (although you can’t actually see anything) plus a small but exciting cave to explore, as well as 7 miles worth of beach to play on. Do be aware that this wild and rugged piece of coastline is mudflat territory though, so just be careful to heed the warning signs and don’t walk too far out at low tide.
As it’s National Trust protected, there is parking (postcode TA8 2RS, free for NT members), as well as a National Trust shop and cafe right next to this part of the beach, plus some (stinky) toilets should you need them.
Address: Sutton Lane, Sutton Benger, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 4LW
Sutton Lane Meadows is a series of three National Trust meadows managed as traditional hay meadows near Chippenham, Wiltshire. Two are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the other is a designated County Wildlife Site. It’s a great place to spot butterflies and other wild flowers.
There is limited lay-by parking near the meadows.
Address: Ozleworth, Wotton-under-Edge GL12 7PZ
Grade 1 listed Newark Park is a beautiful country house that dates back to Tudor times. Set in 700 acres of parkland near the village of Ozleworth, Wotton-under-Edge, it overlooks the Cotswold Escarpment and is home to peacock-roaming, lakeside gardens that brim with flowers come spring – in fact the grounds are renowned for their stunning snowdrop displays in February and early March. While the gardens are not extensive, there are long walks to be taken around the estate.
The garden, estate and tea pavilion at Newark Park are open, but you need to book your tickets by 3pm the day before your visit. Although the house at Newark is currently closed, visitors can still access the walled garden to marvel at exterior views of the magnificent Tudor architecture; including the original stained glass oriel window. Tickets are released every Friday.
Address: 7 Court Gardens, Westbury-on-Severn GL14 1PD
Westbury Court Garden is one of the only surviving 17th-century Dutch water gardens in the UK. Originally designed to be productive as well as pretty, the gardens were planted with beautiful flowers as well as vegetables and fruit trees, the long canal was stocked with fish and a warren provided rabbit meat.
Glorious countryside surrounds the immaculately restored gardens, which – saved from ruin – now appear as they would have back in their heyday of 1720. Many of the plants are authentic to the period and style of the garden and, while this National Trust site is not overly huge, garden fans will love taking a gander at the summer house, Dutch-style pavilion, historic apple and pear trees, plus an ancient holm oak (9 metres in girth).
If you time your visit right you can wander down to the river and watch the Severn Bore pass through.
Book before visiting.
Address: Lacock, Chippenham SN15 2LG
A picture-perfect film star village, Lacock has appeared in productions such as Downton Abbey, Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice, Wolf Hall to name a few, thanks to its quaint old stone cottages and unspoilt, olde worlde appearance. Follow in the footsteps of the stars with the National Trust’s film locations map here.
Close to the picturesque village is Lacock Abbey, which was founded in 1232 as a nunnery and abbey before becoming a Tudor family home and later, family residence of William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the photographic negative. The abbey and museum are currently closed, but the grounds are open to local visitors.
Advance booking for local visitors has been introduced to keep everyone safe and maintain social distancing. There is a dedicated National Trust car park, please do not park on the village streets.
Address: The Cliffs, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3QE
England’s largest gorge (122m deep and 4.8km long) is one of the UK’s most spectacular natural wonders. Above ground, there’s a spectacular circular cliff top gorge walk (about 4 miles long), with sweeping views over the Somerset Levels, Glastonbury Tor and Bridgwater Bay. The terrain is characterised by dramatic cliffs, crags, pinnacles, making this an exhilarating walk. Keep an eye out for local wildlife – the gorge is home to goats, sheep, bats and birds.
When everything’s open again, be sure to pop into the village for some famous Cheddar cheese.
Check out this map for the Gorge Walk.
Address: Nympsfield, near Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, GL10 3TS
Nestled in the Cotswolds, surrounding an unfinished Victorian mansion, the secluded valley of Woodchester Park is home to the remains of an 18th- and 19th-century landscape park, a chain of five lakes fringed by woodland and pasture, and lots of wildlife. The National Trust are currently in the process of restoring the land here to native woodland and wild flower meadows from commercially-planted conifer trees, so nature can thrive in the future. There are three signed walking trails in this beautiful secluded wooded valley, including the 3.5 mile ‘Boathouse Walk’ – keep your eyes peeled for bats which roost in the historic building.
For kiddos, the Woodchester Park Play Trail is a winner. Located in the woodland, you’ll find wobble beams, stepping logs, a see-saw, wooden hop-scotch, balance bridges, rope swings and climbing frames.
Dogs must be kept on a lead due to grazing livestock. The parkland and car park are open but there are no toilet facilities.
Tredegar House, Wales – currently closed.
Address: Tredegar House, Pencarn Way, Newport, NP10 8YW
The red-brick Tredegar House is one of the best examples of a 17th-century Charles II-era mansion in Britain. Located near Newport, Wales, the mansion is surrounded by 90 acres of parkland with three walled gardens to explore.
Since 1974, Tredegar House has been restored and re-furnished with many original pieces and there is a lot of exciting research work going on at the moment to help them find out more about the House.
Address: Atworth, Melksham SN12 8NH
A 15th-century, medieval manor house with a magical arts and crafts-style garden, orchard, topiary houses, a rose garden and ponds.
You may recognise this magnificent mansion several famous films and TV shows including The Other Boleyn Girl, Tess of the d’Ubervilles and Wolf Hall (playing Thomas Cromwell’s house).
While the manor is closed at the moment, the garden at Great Chalfield is currently open for pre-booked visits only.
Westwood Manor – closed
Address: Westwood, Bradford-on-Avon BA15 2AF
This fifteenth century stone manor house near Bradford-on-Avon is known for its quirky topiary. The gardens, with their manicured bushes and two small pool gardens, are also home to the rare and protected great-creasted newt.
National Trust in the Mendip Hills
A designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Mendip Hills run east to west across Somerset from Frome to Brean Down and are characterised by dramatic gorges and ancient forests. There are some excellent walks and natural landmarks to explore:
Ebbor gorge (postcode BA5 1AY), on the edge of the Mendips, has woodland, rocks, caves and streams. Dolebury Warren (postcode BS40 5DL) is the site of an Iron Age hill fort with breathtaking views over the Mendips and North Somerset, while Tor Hill Woods (postcode BA5 2XP,) offers a beautiful backdrop to the city of Wells, a mosaic of paths through the woods and views of the stunning Wells Cathedral.
Crook Peak is one of the largest areas of open land on the Mendips, rising 191m above the Levels with eye-popping views to boot. Further along the limestone ridge from Crook Peak is Shute Shelve Hill (postcode BS26 2EA), which boasts a Saxon boundary bank track and ditch.