Nestled in beautiful countryside and just a stones throw away from Bristol, you will find Old Down Country Park, a majestic manor house surrounded by 66 acres of parkland and an ideal place to visit for the family.
On a recent sunny day, we decided to pack a picnic and have a family day out to explore the grounds.
As we drove along the windy road we were unaware of the treat that was waiting for us. As we walked through the main gates it became clear that there was lots to see and do, and the children decided they were going to feed the animals. We purchased our animal feed for £1 and went to meet some furry friends.
Feeding the animals was a good idea initially but when it actually came down to it, the grown ups fed the animals as my children had suddenly become frightened and shy.
The feed was quickly gobbled up, which meant only one thing – time to explore the grounds. Fortunately, there were several trails to follow and there is the added bonus of a sweat treat on completion, which was a great motivator and made walking past the lure of the trampolines and mini playgrounds much easier.
We followed the meandering path towards the fairy garden, which was enchanting. My children were quick to point out all the intricate features like the mini tree ladders and the fairy lights.
At this point, we’d only managed to collect a couple of trail stamps, so off we went in search for more. This is when we started to fully appreciate the amount of land there is to explore.
Our first encounter was the adventure playground. My children’s eyes lite up like all their Christmases had come at once.
A wide open space filled with wooden obstacles and climbing frames, as well as a huge bouncy pillow and a play bus. We could have spent most of the day in just this section, but the call for lunch made itself heard.
We made ourselves comfortable at one of the picnic benches to enjoy our food and admire the stunning views. An alternative to bringing a picnic would have been the Barn Cafe which serves freshly made hot and cold meals.
With bellies suitably full, it was time to use up our energy to explore the rest of the grounds using the nature trail that takes visitors through the vast parklands of the estate. To start with, we walked through beautiful wild meadows where my children tried to spot the flowers that were also growing in our garden at home.
Further down the trail we came to the lake, home to many enthusiastic fish. We took the opportunity to have a rest whilst watching the damselflies and dragonflies chase each other around the water.
The next stop on our exploration was a peaceful woodland, a break from the blazing sun and the perfect opportunity for my children to pretend they were on camp. It was heartwarming to see them collecting sticks, building a pretend campfire and singing campfire songs, while toasting our imaginary marshmallows.
We then hiked back to the main entrance to finish off the trail, which only meant one thing: ice cream time. We even had the pleasure of Frank the Macaw as company whilst we enjoyed our well-earned afternoon treat.
Prices for Old Down Country Park are £8.50 for adults and £5.50 for children (aged two to 15 years). Children under two go free. Visit www.olddownestate.co.uk for more details on prices and discounts.
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