Just before we headed off on our mammoth road trip to France a friend gave me a piece of advice; she suggested that on our way back up through the UK we factored in time to visit somewhere for a mini day out. Not only would it break up the driving but it would also give the kids the chance to let off some steam.
Although we left it until the last minute we picked Waddesdon Manor as it was only slightly off the route we would be taking to get back home and because the morning we set off it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day.
Set in Buckinghamshire, Waddesdon Manor is a National Trust property and is a stunning manor house which was built in the style of a 16th century French chateau; we couldn’t have chosen a more fitting place to visit actually. It was like being transported right back to the south of France.
On arrival, you are given the choice to travel up from the car park to the house by bus or by walking. We were advised that it was quite a long walk for the children and that we might be better taking the bus. There are three stops; the manor, the coach house and the car park.
The manor itself is surrounded by gorgeous countryside. Oxfordshire, the Chiltern Hills and the Vale of Aylesbury all surround the estate.
We hadn’t realised prior to turning up that you have to book in advance in order to be able to see inside the house and there are only certain appointment times. Definitely something to bear in mind if you are travelling specifically for the house. It didn’t matter too much to us as we were looking more for the outdoor adventures to help the kids unwind.
There was a special event running alongside our visit to relating to pirates. Although it cost extra we couldn’t say no.
The kids could take part in a treasure hunt around the woodlands and were given little bags with hats, telescopes, eye patches and stickers inside which went down a real treat. I am always a fan of the National Trust special events as I think they put a lot of thought and effort into them and this was certainly no different.
We didn’t eat at the manor as we had brought our own picnic but there are several options should you want do; the Manor restaurant, the Stables cafe and a couple of food outlet stands dotted around as well.
As well as the woodland walk the manor also has Victorian style gardens, an aviary filled with exotic birds which we didn’t manage to get round to visiting, a woodland playground and plenty of opportunities for children to get up close and personal with wildlife.
We particularly liked the bug house tree which was set up along the woodland walk and Eli got in some tree climbing which was fine until he got a little bit stuck and had to be rescued by his Daddy!
It was absolutely heaving on the day we visited which I imagine is in connection with how nice the weather was that day alongside the special event but it is something to bear in mind; the playground is not huge and there were several moments when we we lost eyes on the kids.
* Remember to book an appointment if you want to see inside the manor.
* The playground is quite small for the size of the estate, which could prove tricky on a busy day.
* There are lots of ways to explore and get close to nature which is always a winner for us.
We had a really nice day and what was supposed to be a short break for lunch and a leg stretch ended up being well over 4 hours!
Waddesdon Manor is in Buckinghamshire, UK
Entry prices: Free for National Trust members / Adult: £18 (Gardens only £8) / Child: £9 (Gardens only £4) / Family: £45 (Gardens only £20)