We have been members of the National Trust for years which has enabled us to visit some of the most beautiful parts of our country.
Mostly we use our membership to “pay” for our regular access to the South West Coast path, much of which is owned by the National Trust.
There are, however, some fantastic National Trust properties inland too and Knighthayes, a country estate on a grand, Gothic scale just outside Tiverton, is one of our favourites.
Knightshayes, National Trust Property
The house is full of quirky areas to enthral children who aren’t too keen on touring houses. There are gargoyles and grotesques, minstrels’ gallery, carved heraldic dogs and stunning ceilings galore.
We love the gardens though. The huge walled kitchen garden is a fascinating example of how a Victorian working garden would have functioned to feed dozens of people. It’s beautifully laid out, with paths perfect for little ones to wander around, the big pond to gaze into and families of ducks and chickens to admire.
It’s at the peak of its glory in late summer (146 types of tomato) but the ornamental nature of the garden means it has beauty and interest at any time of year.
Sadly dogs aren’t allowed in the kitchen garden so after a far too short time exploring its wonders, we head down to the woodland and parkland walks. Surrounded by glorious Devon countryside, the hills roll away on either side of this huge outdoor wonderland for children with the freedom to just RUN.
There’s also the natural wood play area for the adventurous ones. Magically created out of 4 huge trees that fell during the 2014 storms, it includes lots of areas to scramble, climb, hang upside down and peer through as well as a tree house.
We’ve had some great nature spots here – lots of interesting trees to tick off and a good range of animal life too, from the flocks of rare sheep and the red deer to the smaller tracks of rabbits.
There are stunning looking formal gardens too, but I’ve only ever managed a peek because of the dogs. One day I will manage to have a proper walk round them.
We usually take a picnic to eat while enjoying the views but there is also the Stables Café and a shop too.
Opening times vary but the parklands are open mostly dawn to dusk and the rest of the estate, including house, shop, café and formal garden areas from 10am to 4pm in the winter and 5pm in the summer.
Check up to date opening times and find directions on the National Trust website – Knightshayes, National Trust Property is a family favourite day out.
And a big thank you to the National Trust for letting me use some of their images – sadly my camera battery ran out so I only managed to get the one above of little miss sheltering from the rain.