When we were out and about during the half term holidays my son picked up leaflets as he always does. I normally then covertly put most of them back where they came from, but on this occasion, one made it home with us. My son is always eager to get another stamp in his National Trust passport and the latest addition to his leaflet pile resulted in us spending a very cold and wet day exploring Newark Park in Gloucestershire.
Newark Park includes Newark House, an old Tudor hunting lodge, as well as extensive grounds. Although the upper floor of the house is closed for restoration following a large water leak earlier in the year, there’s still lots to see, It wasn’t a National Trust property that had been on my radar if I’m totally honest, but the leaflet my son brought home gave us a map of the grounds and a few different routes for walks through the estate. So we headed off for a day of adventures and when we left Oxfordshire it was chilly but dry and sunny.
By the time we arrived to start exploring Newark Park it was bitterly cold, grey and wet. We were greeted by some Morris Dancers who were just finishing their display as we arrived.
We’d decided that we wanted to explore the grounds and go for a long walk, so opted for an early lunch and a hot drink beforehand. It’s worth noting that refreshments are found in a Tea Pavilion close to the house, but to actually sit down you need to either use the outside picnic tables or sit inside the house itself. As the weather turned very quickly, everyone headed into the house and there were no seats in the dining area when we arrived. Luckily the staff were very accommodating and we got to perch on seats in one of the rooms, with me watching every mouthful my son took. He thought it was a great adventure and loved every second of feeling a bit special.
Whilst we were finishing off our drinks my son started to explore the room we were sitting in and was soon examining the porcelain figures in a large cabinet. He took great delight in telling me one of them was Napoleon Bonaparte.
Even on a dreary day it was possible to admire the views across the rolling countryside, on a sunny day, they must have been stunning.
My son soon found a Wentworth puzzle of the house and was eager to fit a few pieces in before moving on to other parts of the house.
I’m a sucker for stained glass windows and there are some lovely panels to be found when exploring Newark Park and the house itself.
We listened to one of the volunteers for a while who was explaining about the different owners of Newark House over the years. She was really interesting and it’s nice to hear that so much was saved from ruin when the storms hit and a water pipe burst in the roof in March.
The weather outside was pretty frightful and my photographs really don’t tell the story.
My son was eager to play tour guide as usual and we decided to explore the grounds before heading off on one of the estate walks.
We were intrigued by the sound of the Sham Castle Folly. Unfortunately the folly itself was out-of-bounds but we could still imagine who might have liked to live there.
Past the folly we spotted a lovely wooden play area and if it hadn’t been pouring down I think my son would have spent ages there having fun.
Instead he headed to the Woodland Play area with its carved animals. The area offered a little bit of shelter from the rain and my son loved spotting the various carvings as he played.
He had the area to himself, clearly no one else was quite as mad as us!
Once he’d had his fun in the playground we headed off towards the lakeside garden with its Crinkle Crankle Wall and Summer House.
I always love just watching my son having an adventure. He doesn’t care what the weather’s doing, as long as he’s got somewhere to explore. If we have the place to ourselves, all the better.
While he enjoyed running around I found a few splashes of colour.
The Summer House give us the opportunity to take cover for a bit and shelter from the worst of the weather.
Some times my son is very good at giving us a running commentary of what he’s imagining and other times it’s very clear that he’s totally lost in his thoughts.
We got to admire Newark House from below before heading towards the woodland walks.
Even though it was freezing we were determined to enjoy spending time exploring Newark Park, and decided to take a walk through Muscovy Wood.
The estate walks all start past the Georgian Carriage Drive and we picked a 2.8 mile route around the estate. We’d have opted for the longer 3.5 mile route but the weather clearly wasn’t going to improve.
Where there are leaves and sticks to be found, you can be sure my son will never be far away.
As the rain poured down we looked back towards the house, what a view it commands over the estate.
Even in bad weather the walk was lovely, and as most of it was under the trees, we managed to shelter from the worst of the rain for a bit.
We’d enjoyed exploring Newark Park and as we ended our walk the rain actually stopped but it was still really cold.
We admired the house once more.
Had one last run around before returning to the warmth of the car.
As we drove away it started to snow, proper snow, in October. I told you it was cold! We’ll definitely return to Newark Park again to see it all in slightly better weather.