Autumn’s beautiful backdrop, its crunchy carpets of leaves and glossy conkers create a natural playground for children. For families who love exploring the great outdoors, there’s no shortage of seasonal delights to discover this October half-term.
At Mottisfont, Hinton Ampner, The Vyne and Uppark, family trails will bring kids closer to nature as they explore acres of parkland, fields and woods. Mottisfont is offering different nature-inspired mini-trails and self-led activities every weekend, until 1 November.
Make sure you pick up a ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activity planner when you arrive. Autumn is one of the very best times to have an outdoors adventure – make a wild crown from colourful leaves foraged from beside The Vyne’s lake, or master the art of playing conkers – look for champion conkers under Hinton Ampner and Mottisfont’s chestnut trees. There are loads of fun challenges that’ll encourage kids to feel safe in our Great Outdoors.
Autumn is also a great time to help native wildlife, before winter sets in. Our ‘50 things’ pack shows you how to make simple homes for hedgehogs and bees – something you can do when you visit, or in your own garden. .
We’ve got loads of additional activities to help keep kids busy during October half-term. Download a spotter sheet or two before you visit – they’ll help children identify all sorts of nature, from leaves and woodland creatures, to garden wildlife. And our how-to guides provide lots of inspiration for fun at home, with star-gazing, baking, and bird feeder-making tips. .
Don’t forget to share your outdoor adventures with the National Trust on social media using #EveryoneNeedsNature. Every half-term visit you make helps us keep these places open for future generations of families to discover.
Planning your visit
To ensure everyone’s safety, we recommend you book your visit in advance, especially at busy times like school holidays and weekends. Every Friday we release new tickets for the following week. Visit the website of your chosen destination for all the details.
Here’s what’s happening at our Hampshire places this October half-term:
Mottisfont, near Romsey
Mottisfont is one of Hampshire’s ‘top spots’ for families in autumn. There are acres of lawn to run and play on, nearby meadows to explore, and a sparkling river with plenty of bridges from which to play Pooh Sticks. In fact, Mottisfont is the National Trust’s No.1 Pooh Sticks destination. It’s also a top spot for conker gathering amongst the autumn leaves.
From 19 September Mottisfont is offering different nature-inspired mini-trails and self-led activities every weekend, from leaf-boat making to creating ‘wild art’. Throughout half-term (17 Oct – 1 Nov) a new harvest-themed trail takes families on an exploration into autumn nature – try dancing like a leaf, or find inspiration in the trees for poems and pictures.
There are several hot and cold takeaway refreshment outlets in the grounds, with family-friendly snacks and treats. There is also limited indoor seating in the Old Kitchen Café.
Hinton Ampner, near Alresford
In Hinton’s walled garden there’s a scarecrow and his little dog to seek out, keeping guard over brightly coloured pumpkins. Then pick up your ’50 things’ activity sheet and set off on a scavenger hunt in the parkland. Look for animals living in the veteran trees there – you can actually climb inside one of these trees too (if you’re small enough). If you follow the estate trail you’ll discover huge been woodlands where you can set up camp.
Hinton’s café is open for delicious hot and cold takeaway refreshments, including kids’ mini tuckboxes.
This quiet country estate is littered with trails suitable for families to explore on an autumn day. If it’s been a bit rainy, don’t forget to bring your wellies – our woodland walk can sometimes get a bit muddy (which kids love, needless to say). The different landscapes, including fields, woods and wetlands, make this the perfect place to tick off some ’50 things’ challenges, such as welly wandering. The woods are especially good for den building, and making ‘wild art’. Our 50 things pack shows you how to hunt for animal clues too – footprints, feathers, fur or poo that you may well find among the trees.
Then warm up with a treat or two from the Brewhouse café – there’s takeaway food, plus some limited indoor seating.
Uppark is one of our very best places for kite-flying. Perched high above the South Downs, there’s lots of space to fly your kite (and to run around), plus you’ll see amazing views over the South Downs too. Uppark’s little woodland is right next to the gardens and good for a spot of tree climbing – one of our most popular ’50 things’ activities. In the garden itself you’ll find an unusual mound – perfect for hill rolling – another 50 things challenge ticked off.
Uppark’s café is serving takeaway refreshments and has outdoor seating that offers a panoramic vista over the countryside.