Family days out have been a rare occurrence this year. I miss being able to just jump in the car and head out for a spontaneous day out somewhere. We’ve never been the best at planning ahead for days out. Now we have to be more organised; book days out in advance; make sure we arrive in our specified time slot. Still, it does feel good to venture out again as a family. Last weekend we headed to Hughenden for a family day out.
Hughenden Manor was the country home of the Victorian prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, and was used as a secret map-making facility during World War II. The buildings are currently closed but the gardens and parkland are open with one-way systems in place in some areas. The shop and café are also open, with take-away drinks and light snacks available from the café. Sophie was very happy that she could get a stamp for her National Trust passport in the shop. Instead of stamping her passport though, they gave her the stamp on a small piece of paper for her to stick in later.
One of the things I love about days out is seeing Thomas and Sophie walking hand-in-hand together. It’s so good for him to have the space to explore, and Sophie is such a good big sister. She loves holding his hand and encouraging him on and is (mostly) patient with his frequent stops when something catches his eye. Drain covers with numbers on are particularly fascinating to him at the moment, although much less so for Sophie!
With the weather being grey and drizzly, we would have normally sat inside the café and had lunch there, but the restrictions meant that wasn’t an option. Thankfully it did stop raining for a while and we enjoyed our picnic in the orchard. There were lots of picnic benches spread out in this area and it felt like we had plenty of space around us. I’d packed a flask of hot chocolate and a pot of marshmallows which always goes down well too.
The plus side of a grey and drizzly day is that there are lots of puddles. Our walk towards the house after our picnic was quite a leisurely one with Thomas stopping to stomp in every little puddle he spotted along the way and Sophie gently encouraging him on by pointing out the next puddle ahead of them.
There was a one-way system in place around the house and some steps down into the garden. We didn’t look for a step-free route as my husband was quite happy to bump the empty buggy down the steps but the Hughenden website does state there is a step-free route around the gardens.
There are various walks signposted around the estate, although we weren’t sure how buggy-friendly they would be. We’ve previously done a couple of walks through the woods with the girls without a buggy. I remember there being some fairly steep sections and lots of muddy paths. We decided to stick to the route around the gardens. This was a nice length for Thomas’s little legs and quite manageable with the buggy.
I was quite impressed by how much walking Thomas managed. He was quite happy to walk with Sophie throughout our visit and only started to get tired as we were heading back towards the car. He and Sophie had a lot of fun on the steps and ramp leading up to the ice-house. They loved climbing the steps and running down the ramp holding hands, or chasing each other down the ramp.
Once the children had enough of chasing each other down the ramp, we headed back through the walled garden and up the hill to the car park. The wooden plane that was part of the play trail along the path to the car park is still there, but there are signs saying that the play trail is old and no longer safe. There is a new play area off the orchard, but this was not open when we visited. Although Sophie couldn’t play on the wooden play trail, she did find a den in the woods along the path which she was very happy about.
We had such a lovely afternoon out in spite of the drizzle. It was so nice to get out and explore together.
Visiting Hughenden – what you need to know:
Entrance to Hughenden is currently through pre-booked timed tickets. For more information and to book tickets, click here.