As we did so many amazing trips when we were in Devon thanks to Devon’s Top Attractions, I wanted to share them all with you, so over the next few days expect plenty of posts about the places we went, what we loved, what we didn’t and most importantly what toddler L thought of them, so in this article I’ll tell you about our first day trip, a lovely National Trust property, Knightshayes.
We went to Knightshayes on our first day in Devon, we had split up our journey from Norfolk to Devon by staying in Winchester the night before and handily Knightshayes was practically on the way to our accommodation at Sandaway Beach Holiday Park.
Only a couple of hours from Winchester we made the lovely sunny drive to Knightshayes and the little one had a well deserved nap, you drive right through the estate village to make your way up to the property and that in itself is beautiful. The roads are narrow and steep, which was great fun and really peaked L’s interest.
We got a lovely greeting when we arrived and L was so excited there was no chance to browse the little garden centre, or, unusually the gift shop. At the courtyard entrance area you will find the cafe, gift shops, toilets and the little garden centre. The whole area was very pretty and we were already impressed.
There is a lot to of walking to be done at Knightshayes, quite frankly we only scratched the surface. There is the walled kitchen garden, behind that a short woodland walk. Then there is the house and formal gardens, which are extensive. Plus all the parkland which we didn’t even attempt but we saw plenty of people walking dogs and riding their bikes, making the most of the stunning views.
We started by heading straight to the walled garden, only a short walk from the main courtyard you really shouldn’t miss it. The gardens are amazing and a lot of work has gone into restoring them. In the centre is a large pond filled with tadpoles, obviously very exciting and if you walk through to the far corner of the garden you can exit to the small children’s play area and lovely woodland walk.
The play area was a little grown up for L, he’s a slide and swing boy still, but the short circular walk through the wood is really nice and L enjoyed the long grass around the play area a lot too.
It became quite clear after this little explore that we needed lunch, so we popped back up to the courtyard and had a spot of lunch. It was lovely food as you would expect and much needed after our long drive. L enjoyed the fact a small bird was hopping around after food, so tried to feed it chocolate ice cream!
We then headed to the main house, this part of our day out had been filling me with dread. L is a great little boy but there is not much he can’t destroy, so a property full of antiquities is of course a worry. The staff were marvellous though, pointing out that they had hidden snails in each room for him to find, making sure we knew our way around and very kindly saying that he could touch things and get involved with the history of the building they just wanted to see it being enjoyed. This was a nice sentiment but we would never in a million years take them up on it.
Our tour of the house was somewhat faster than husb and I would have liked, even with the snails it was a lot to ask of a two year old. He did enjoy the stairs, a lot, but when he realised there weren’t any more to climb he decided he was done. A member of staff overheard our panicked ‘we just need to get him out’ discussion and pointed us to the nearest exit, through another lovely cafe in the conservatory.
Despite it only being a quick glance round the house it had really impressed me and I was left with a lot of questions and thoughts about what I had seen and hadn’t had time to ask about whilst inside, so I grabbed a guide book as we left. The house has a marvellous history and was somewhat neglected due to the stunning gardens. if you do visit Knightshayes, I really would recommend you leave a good hour to explore the house, it’s truly marvellous.
Next on our agenda were the formal gardens, they are magical! They are formal and whimsical, with jaw dropping views. There are lots of little areas to explore, each one different from the other. There are hidden sculptures, we found a unicorn and a badger. The topiary is amazing I couldn’t help but smile at the fox and hounds.
The formal gardens flow smoothly into less formal areas that we could have just walked around for hours. With trees to run around and hide behind, little pathways to follow and large open spaces to bolt around, we had a lot of fun.
As adults we loved the house and the sense of history. I also loved the sense of magic to the gardens. We enjoyed getting to do something quite grown up, not your normal toddler day out, with a toddler and that little things had been thought of to keep him amused. We were actually sad to leave as there was so much more we wanted to see. If we lived nearby we would be visiting Knightshayes all the time and I bet you would find something new at each and every visit.
L loved Knightshayes as well, watching tadpoles, exploring the woods, stomping up the grand staircase in the house and getting to ride on mummy and daddy’s shoulders when his little legs got tired. He also loved being treated to a tractor toy from the gift shop when we left. It was only fair, mummy wanted sherbet lemons.
Disclosure – our entry to Knightshayes was complimentary in return for our honest review