We live close to Lyme Park, which is a National Trust site yet it isn’t somewhere I have ever taken the children.
On the final Friday of the school summer holidays we went to Lyme Park and met my mum, auntie, my cousin and her two boys. The weather forecast was for a dry day with rain expected around 4pm. We decided to take a picnic and planned to head up to the gardens and take on the Gruffalo trail that had been there over the summer period.
My mum and the children and I got there around 10am. It costs £7 to park up so after parking up we headed across to the children’s play area. This is pretty good and has stuff to cover most age ranges. Mr D and Miss E had great fun running through the tunnels and clambering over the tree trunks. My cousin and her children along with my auntie arrived not too long after and her boys (who are a little older) soon headed up the climbing frames and slides.
My cousin’s youngest son got stuck at the top of one of the climbing frames, and, as the park was beginning to get busy, I climbed up to help him down. Climbing frames are not made for 30+ year old mums! He then headed off to the large slide with Mr D and they had great fun sliding down together.
Mr D and my cousin’s son (W) then headed back across and onto the climbing frame. Luckily W was much more confident second time around and managed to get up and across the rope bridge. Mr D, however, panicked slightly. Had it not been so busy I think he would have got across the rope bridge. However there were children much older than him who didn’t really want to wait whilst he made his way (slowly!) across. He then looked to me and declared that he needed help. So, up I clambered again to bring him down.
We then headed out to find a picnic spot. Miss E was on my back and my cousin and I headed back to the car. Only half way there the heavens opened. And I mean opened. So much for the dry day that had been forecast! We had nowhere to shelter at the time and the rain was bouncing down. We made it across to a small covered area close to the car park and waited for the rain shower to pass. It did and by the time we had got the picnic from the car and found somewhere to sit it was glorious sunshine again!
The children enjoyed their picnic so we then headed up to the gardens. It’s a steep walk up but they all managed it. As we were in the queue to get tickets Mr D got very fidgetty and declared he needed the loo. A frantic run to the toilets and we found a queue where people had been waiting 20+ minutes. When I asked if he could go ahead (you know with him being only 2 and quite literally dancing he needed the loo so much) I was greeted with a ‘well we’ve all had to queue’ so I dashed out and into the (thankfully empty!) disabled toilets.
By this point I was feeling pretty harassed but we found my cousin and headed into the gardens and sought out the Gruffalo trail, much to the children’s delight.
The gardens are beautiful. They really are and it’s worth a visit. We followed the trail and found ourselves in a sensory garden which the children all enjoyed. The full trail takes you on a lovely walk all around the gardens and we had great fun spotting the Gruffalo footprints and various characters and were having a lovely time until the heavens opened. Again. We took shelter under some trees only to set off again into yet more rain.
We hurried along the final bit of the trail as we had four tired children on our hands and we were all slightly soggy after being caught in too many rain showers. We did stop by to see the exhibition of original artworks by Axel Scheffler and this was superb. Children’s book illustrators are so important and it was great to see the wonderful work of Axel being recognised independently of Julia Donaldson.
Lyme Park is a lovely place to spend the day. I think if you had a larger family and were visiting the gardens and hall then it could work out expensive. D and E were free (due to age) but it cost me around £14 for the gardens and parking. It was a full day out, and a one off but not something I could afford on a regular basis. If we had National Trust membership it would be a far better option, and as I’ve mentioned before membership is something we might think about soon.