Published: 18/12/2023Cambridgeshire, a region steeped in history and natural beauty, offers various sites managed by the National Trust and English Heritage. These organisations play a crucial role in preserving and showcasing the cultural and natural heritage of the area. In this blog, we will discuss three of our favourite sites, their unique features, and the benefits they bring to families. Because let’s be honest, in an era where screens dominate everyone’s lives - us adults included – finding an element of escapism that we can all enjoy is essential for positive family dynamics; you can’t beat something that encourages everyone to wrap up and get outdoors in the fresh air…together.
Wimpole Hall and Home Farm
Located just a short drive from Cambridge, Wimpole Estate is one of Cambridgeshire's must-go attractions. Managed by the National Trust, this vast estate boasts a grand mansion, beautifully landscaped gardens, and a working farm. Families can explore Wimpole Hall, any architect’s dream, and wander through the Walled Garden, past every variety of tree and flower you could imagine. It is stunning. Once you reach the farm, it just adds another layer of fun to a family day out.
The facilities at Wimpole Estate cater for everyone, with a well-equipped playground for children and an impressive café offering locally sourced treats…for the big children! That’s the part we love; if somewhere supports other local businesses, then that is always a box ticked for us. The fact we get to munch on tasty treats is simply a bonus. The estate hosts various events throughout the year, from outdoor theatre to nature walks, ensuring there's always something for everyone. If you don’t get a chance to visit their Winter Light Walk this Christmas, it must be top of your list next year.
Anglesey Abbey House and Gardens
A short distance from Cambridge lies Anglesey Abbey, a testament to the charm of the National Trust sites in Cambridgeshire. The gardens at Anglesey Abbey are a haven for nature enthusiasts, featuring beautiful landscapes, a winter garden, and a stunning herbaceous border. Families can embark on the woodland play area, providing an exciting adventure for kids…who doesn’t like a tree house? Even the adults can venture up, vertigo allowing, of course!
One of the unique aspects of Anglesey Abbey is the Lode Mill, a fully functioning watermill where families can witness traditional milling techniques. The enchanting grounds nurture the curious side of explorers of all ages, making it an ideal spot for family picnics and outdoor activities.
With well-maintained facilities, including a café and gift shop, Anglesey Abbey is an excellent destination for a family day out, combining history, nature, and recreational fun for everyone. Oh, and speaking of light walks, Anglesey Abbey’s own version is another memorable treat. Last year, we shared a reel highlighting some of the display's unique features; it needs to be dusted off and given another space on our Instagram grid. Keep your eyes peeled…
Audley End House and Gardens
If you are up for venturing a bit further from Cambridge, families can discover the beauty of Audley End House and Gardens. Managed by English Heritage, Audley End is a Jacobean mansion set amidst stunning gardens and grounds that seem to stretch for miles. The interior of the house provides a glimpse into aristocratic life, while the immaculate gardens and stables showcase the estate's history. And if you are looking for something more interactive for the kids (because we all know that keeping them occupied can sometimes be a challenge), children can immerse themselves into the world of role play by experiencing life as a servant through interactive displays. The grounds at Audley End are perfect for family picnics, and the adventure playground guarantees hours – if you are lucky - of entertainment for younger visitors.
The Benefit of Family Outings
Engaging with National Trust and English Heritage sites in Cambridgeshire provides numerous benefits for families looking to turn off their gadgets and spend quality time together, as well as a welcome break from the routine of work, laundry, and homework. Exploring historical sites and natural wonders also encourages a sense of curiosity in children. We all need more ‘wholesome’ stuff in our lives!
Moreover, spending time outdoors promotes physical activity, contributing to the well-being of both adults and children. Sad as it is, mental health concerns have skyrocketed considerably in more recent years, particularly following the pandemic. We spent so long hiding away from the world that many of us have become too comfortable with that. Flexible working from home has benefited a considerable percentage of the population, reducing travel time and costs and supporting a better work-life balance. But it has also taken away an essential aspect of our lives: socialising with others in a fulfilling way on a daily basis. Our children have also been affected too. Screen time has become a more dominant part of their lives after being stuck indoors for so long, with only a limited amount of homework and board games to keep them occupied. It is, therefore, now even more important than ever to reclaim some of that outdoor time…with loved ones. Getting dirty occasionally is good for the soul.
Supporting Conservation Efforts
The National Trust and English Heritage both rely on membership fees and donations to fund their conservation efforts. Becoming a member grants individuals and families unlimited access to many sites and plays a crucial role in preserving these sites for future generations. The membership fees contribute to ongoing maintenance, conservation projects, and educational programs. Children, in particular, learn about the importance of preserving historical and natural treasures for future generations, instilling a sense of pride and environmental consciousness. What is there not to like about that?
So, pack a picnic, put on your walking shoes, and embark on a journey through time and nature in Cambridgeshire. That’s what weekends should be about, after all…