Friday, 8 September 2017

A Brilliant Birthday at National Trust Blickling Estate, Norfolk

Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out

A couple of weeks back it was my birthday and of course that means I got to choose where we were going whilst on holiday in Norfolk. As soon as I knew where we would be staying I checked out the National Trust website to see what was close and came across Blickling, a massive estate nestled in the Norfolk countryside.

I have to laugh as every time I mention visiting a National Trust site to my three kids (aged 10, 10 and 13) they all groan and say ‘oh no, not National Trust’ and it's as if it has become a tradition. No-one will admit they want to go and then they all have a great time.

The Blickling estate is massive with nearly 950 acres of historic park and woodland, there are many trails that you can take around the grounds to take in many of the prominent features. The new multi-use path is suitable for pushchairs, adapted wheelchairs, cycles and of course walkers too. Dogs are welcome in this part of the grounds, although be aware of the free grazing livestock.

Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out


Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out

Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out

We focused our visit on the Hall and the more formal gardens close by. The hall is in great condition and there are lots of open rooms that you can view. It was quite amazing to think that we were walking through rooms that used to house the likes to Harold Godwinson (later King Harold II of England) and Anne Boleyn’s family.

We had a lot of fun with the kids in the kitchens and servants quarters as we pointed out articles used in days gone by and got them to guess the use. It was amazing to see how knowledgeable they were, I expect much of this knowledge gained from previous NT visits. The girls also enjoyed dressing up in period dress and there was a whole room dedicated to it, which we saw lots of families use. 

Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out

The Long Gallery was a highlight of our house tour, not so much because it is the biggest book collection that the NT house, nor that the books were all being catalogued and checked whilst we were there but because we got to meet Caroline and chat to her. I often think that the volunteers who serve with the NT are their biggest assets and Caroline was certainly an outstanding example. She approached us as we came in the room and struck up a conversation telling us about the books and also pointed us back to the room before to see the fake carpet. Very cleverly the NT are now photographing rare and delicate carpets and making flat copies out of a plastic kind of material and until you touch it, you'd never know. It was very deceptive.

Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out

I really enjoyed the stroll around the Walled Garden, which is one of the newer conservation projects the NT have introduced. They took a disused field and now it is planted in a similar way to how it would have been in 1930’s with beautiful flowers, fruit and vegetables.

Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out

There was a number of places to get refreshments at Blickling, including a pub with a big garden, which is the first time I've ever seen people enjoying a beer or a glass of wine in an NT setting. We settled for a cuppa and cake. A cappuccino costs £2.40, a large shortbread biscuit £1.95 and a slice of courgette, lemon and thyme cake was £3.25 and pretty usual! As always the cafes were quite busy but we were able to get a seat and there was water to help yourself to, which I always appreciate. We spotted three cafes in total across the site and found they were happy to refill out water bottles, which is good.

Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out

Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out
Posing in the style of The Muppet Show!

The kids loved the big gift shop and there were some unusual gifts as well as the more normal jams, scarves and books. Talking of books, there was the most enormous second hand book shop I've ever seen at an NT site and the boys in our family spent quite some time in there, with JJ and I coming away with a couple of books each. There was also a great garden store and open on some days is a more specialist stamp shop.

Practical Information
  • Parking is £5 for the day if you are not an NT member (make sure you have £5 one pound coins with you)
  • Entry cost is £13.55 for an adult, £6.75 for a child and £33.95 for a family ticket and I think that's fair as you can easily spend a full day there
  • Opening hours are wide for the parkland, with dawn to dusk but the formal gardens and cafes are 10-5.30pm in summer and the house is 12-5pm with last entry an hour before closing. You are worth checking the website as hours can adjust with the seasons
  • Cycles are available to hire on Saturdays from 10am-4pm for a £5 charge
  • Dogs are welcomed on leads in certain areas but please observe the rules
  • Address: Blickling, Aylesham, Norfolk, NR11 6NF
Why not pin this post for later?

Blickling Hall is a fabulous National Trust day out for all the family

I'm linking this post up with Fiona at Coombe Mill for #CountryKids.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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