Back in April this year I took a picture of Paignton Pier and posted it on Instagram using the tag #UKexplore. A few weeks later the lovely Rachel from The Ordinary Lovely blog selected my pic as her top choice for the month and I won a family of four pass to visit a National Trust property. And finally we got around to using it.
About 50 minutes away from us, on the other side of Exeter, is the National Trust property and gardens, Killerton. The estate covers 64,000 acres in total and is one of the biggest estates looked after by the National Trust. It includes 18 farms, woodland, orchards, parkland and landscaped gardens. We certainly weren’t expecting to cover all those acres but were looking forward to checking out the house and the surrounding gardens.
When we arrived everything was really well signposted and we quickly found our way. After a short walk from the car park we arrived at the lovely little courtyard that housed a cafe, the shop and the entrance to the grounds. As we were signed in we were given a great map of the layout of the grounds including how to get to the house, and off we went.
We decided to tour the house first and then head to the garden for a picnic. The house looked beautiful in the summer sun.
On entering we were greeted by a volunteer who gave the girls a worksheet to complete while visiting all the rooms. Their task, to find a mouse in each room and write down what room the mouse was in and what they were dressed up as. We were also told to look out for the ghost in the painting in the drawing room and to find the secret door in the library!
Each room was laid out as you imagined it would have been when the Acland Family lived there. What was great is that you were encouraged to make yourself at home and try the seats out and pick out and read the books on the shelves.
The views out of window into the gardens were gorgeous, it must have been a delight to live in the house.
After visiting all the rooms downstairs we made our way up the grand staircase and found the current fashion exhibition that is taking place. The girls were in heaven! There were outfits dating back to the 1700’s up to the present day along with an exhibition from students from Exeter College who had been inspired by the fashion on show.
While visiting the exhibition we were encouraged to pick our favourite colour, write on the colour post it note why we liked that colour and then peg it up with the all the others. Seeing all the post it notes hung up by colour was a great sight.
The highlight of the fashion exhibition for the girls was the Rainbow Closet. This was basically a room full of colourful fabrics, pegs and accessories and everyone was invited to dress up. My two were in their element!
After all that fun we made our way back downstairs and went outside to start exploring the gardens. They were beautifully laid out with loads of space to find a plot for a picnic in the sunshine or under the shade of a tree.
If you don’t have a picnic there are a range of places to eat. As well as the cafe at the entrance there is also a restaurant in the house itself. There is also the diary cafe in the grounds, which sells lovely ice creams.
Another nice touch was the wooden garden toys that were scattered around the garden for anyone to play with. My two had a fab time after our picnic playing on the wooden hobby horses pretending they were their princess steeds.
After play time we decided to take a walk around the grounds and followed the Acland trail. The leaflet we picked up said it would take about 40 minutes and was relatively flat and easy for pushchairs.
Not long after we started the trail we came across the Bear Hut which had actually housed a real life bear! The girls loved this and enjoyed learning about what the hut was made with and where the bear lived.
The trail then took us past a memorial that had amazing views across the countryside, past the ice house and the biggest beech tree we had ever seen. We then went past the back of the house and onwards towards the chapel, which is still used these days for weddings and christenings. Unfortunately my phone battery died and I couldn’t get pictures of it but before we got there we did find some rope swings which were a great source of entertainment.
After visiting the chapel the trail took us back to where we started at the courtyard where we treated ourselves to a well deserved cuppa and ice cream for the girls.
We had a fab day at Kilerton, spending about 5 hours visiting the house and grounds. I am already trying to work out when I can visit again, which I think will be around Christmas because apparently they light everything up with lots of twinkling lights, that’s me sold!!
If you visit Killerton or have been before I would love to hear about your trip in the comments below.