Where can I take the kids during lockdown?
Yep, we’re feeling it too. We’ve been locked down during a dark, dank month and yet we still have children who need fresh air and exercise. Calling all options: now is the time to present yourselves.
“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” cried every parent of children a certain age as Boris announced Lockdown No.2. “WHAT IN HELL’S NAME AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THEM NOW?” Because as we are all well aware, restrictions or no, children simply cannot sit in their home for the weekend, quietly idling away the hours. While we’d like to think they might make up some educational, deeply creative and immersive game, the fact is they whine for snacks, build dens with your £1,000 sofa and send push bikes down the stairs. So, in parental solidarity, we’ve done you a, erm… solid. Here’s what’s still open in terms of National Trust and English Heritage estates for weekend ‘household exercise’. And if the police pull you over and ask what you’re doing out and about, just point to the back seat and grimace.
So the manor, bookshop and shop are out of bounds but the gardens, woodland (plus obstacle course) and parkland are open for business. You’ll need to pre-book tickets, of course. The cafe is doing takeaway too if you need a sharpener.
The adjoining house and park are closed (no surprises there) but the West Wycombe Hill car park is open and you can have a good yomp up the hill and surrounds. There’s also the fab mausoleum, church and graveyard at the top if gothic is your thing.
Pre-book your ticket and you’ll get access to the gardens and parklands (although the maze and lovely kids play area is closed), plus both the kiosk and conservatory are staying open for takeaway refreshments. You’ll need them after you’ve done 10 laps of the Parterre.
As ever, pre-booking is a must but you get acres upon acres to tire out your beloved offspring. The cafe is open at the New Inn (where you enter and exit the park) and you can always picnic. We know it’s November but desperate times, etc.
No tickets needed here. Just good luck in terms of getting a space in the tiny car park. But if you’re successful, you will be rewarded with epic views across Aylesbury Vale, a blast of fresh air and a simple wooden obstacle course in the woods near the entrance.
Again, this is open space, so tickets are not required but you will need a lucky park. Once out in the woodlands, you can enjoy all the different fauna and flora this ancient Iron Age hill fort possesses. There are easy walks too.
Close by are these two NT-owned villages, and while usual Trust activities aren’t in operation, there are a wealth of walks to do in and around. But bring your Thermos flask and victuals as not a lot is open.
The garden and estate walks are open at this Muddy favourite, as is the tearoom for takeaways. Hurrah! Don’t forget to pre-book and prepare your little ones for the fact that the maze, donkey wheel and children’s play area are currently no-go.
Yes, there’s not much of a castle left but that’s nothing a bit of imagination won’t fix. Tog everyone up, slop some hot chocolate in the Thermos and make like you’re fighting off the enraged natives. William the Conqueror would be proud.
Ooh, it’s a bit spooky here but it’s also a very impressive ruin in which to play hide and seek and various other (hopefully) exhausting games. Parking isn’t the easiest and social distancing is expected but apart from that, the only thing that’s stopping you is the (lack of) daylight.
Again, this is free entry and there are no restrictions apart from the government guidelines. It’s an impressive site but the real jewel in the crown (the 3rd-century mosaic) is not available for viewing. It’s a 15-minute walk from the car park to the site, which may be all the exercise your little ones need.
Are they a monarch and his courtiers petrified by a witch? Or just some stones in a circle? Who knows? Who cares? It’s something to do, right? You can access them directly via Rollright Road or make them a feature of a longer walk as they’re linked to a network of public rights of way. Remember a £1 donation for general upkeep.
March your minis up to the top of this ridgeway and pat yourself on the back for giving yourself an easy bedtime. Strenuous walk, loads of fresh air, massive open, windy skies and a storyline containing dragons. Well done mama: you’ve earned your wine tonight.