Whilst on holiday this summer we joined the National Trust, okay admittedly it was for the free parking as I didn’t have any change on me and the man was right there, but it was something I’d been looking into so it was a bit like fate brought us together!
Since then we haven’t visited any sites but I’m determined to get out £9 a months worth and after being at a planner meeting in the very busy Manchester city the first half of the weekend a day out with the baby bugs and nature was just what I needed!
Driving through the city centre the day before had my stress and anxiety levels through the roof so on Sunday I was in my “anxiety hangover” state which basically makes me feel as though I’ve chugged a couple of bottles of wine the night before and not quite had the time to sleep it off.
I didn’t want to drive (well be driven, Trevor was the master navigator and chief of the wheel for this trip) too far and had heard good things about Gibside.
The journey took less than 45 minutes and we arrived at about 11am on a slightly drizzly but not so cold morning. The car park was a fair size with plenty of disabled spots and an over flow carpark to the top. The carpark was maybe 2/3 full so not overly busy.
One of the first things I noticed was the accessibility, there are signs everywhere offering assistance and mobility busses run frequently offering less able bodied people the chance to visit the less accessible places. I never thought I would, in my mid 30s, be worried about mobility but with a husband who is due a hip replacement and struggles to walk even the shortest distance this was a godsend.
Dogs are allowed although we had left ours at home, we’ve only had him a year and he’s not very well dog socialised, thats something we’re working on with him!
Now anyone who has visited a National Trust site before probably knows to bring a flask and packed lunch, we didn’t and although the cafe was lovely it was very expensive with children’s juice bottles at £1.75 each 😱
The trails are easy to follow and we were issued with a map at the visitors centre where they scanned our cards, we only managed a short walk up to the stables and back but there was so much to see that it was plenty for us.
In the stables we found the discovery centre: an indoor room for kids to play with craft stations and a castle for role play. We learnt about the local wild life with active play and even had a go at milking a fake cow!
We will definitely make a return trip, probably several, in the coming months as this is our favourite time of the year to be out and about watching the landscape changing!