Sometimes it really is the simple things that kids enjoy the most, like running through the trees in woodlands or splashing about in puddles. And sometimes the best days out are quite unexpected, like our day out at Grimsthorpe Castle.
I’ve been to Grimsthorpe Castle once, last autumn when it had a couple of open weekends before Christmas. Only the grounds and gardens were open, and Little Miss and I had a good time stomping through the autumn leaves. But I was keen to visit again and explore the adventure playground, having heard so many good things about it.
What’s at Grimsthorpe Castle?
Right from our arrival, Little Miss was in her element. We went to the adventure playground first, which is as good as everyone says it is. It’s set in the woodland, which gives it a relaxing feeling (well, as relaxed as a playground can be!). There’s a zip wire, climbing frames, swings, slides, towers and wobbly bridges. Little Miss and her friend had a good play on everything, but were intrigued by the woodland. In the end we left the playground and went to play hide and seek in the woods!
After exhausting everyone, we decided to head up to the castle to have a look around the gardens. Little Miss surprised me by her interest in the garden and flowers. Her new favourite word is ‘boring’, so I thought she would find the gardens boring. But on the contrary, she loved them. We were all sniffing the flowers, as some were fragrant and others not. Then we had to point out our favourite flower, which kept changing as we walked through different parts of the garden.
There’s a large herbaceous border along the side of the castle which was about two weeks away from looking at its summer best when we visited, but still did look very impressive. The girls had fun running around the rose garden which is laid out with a border of low box hedging – a maze they called it! Personally, I was interested to see the kitchen garden as we have our own tomatoes, potatoes, courgettes and salad leaves at home. I always like to dream about what I would do if I had more space (and time!).
As well as the formal gardens by the castle, there is also a large parkland area with a cycling/walking track around by the lake. You’ve always been able to bring your own bikes to Grimsthorpe, but now you can also hire bikes starting at £7.50 for two hours for an adult’s bike. We decided that next time we would bring a picnic and hire bikes for a couple of hours.
We ended our visit by having a running race in front of the castle. When I asked Little Miss what she enjoyed most she said the gardens. I thought it would’ve been the playground, but as I said, sometimes it is the simple things that children enjoy the most.
Over the summer holidays children have the chance to learn outdoor skills such as shelter building, outdoor cooking and tracking at forest school at Grimsthorpe. The classes run for a morning in the woods and will also include outdoor crafts, games and a treasure hunt. Classes run 9am – 1.30pm on 28, 30 July and 6, 11, 13, 18 and 20 August and cost £13 per child (10% for siblings). See Children’s Woodland Adventures for more information.
And on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 August, the Grimsthorpe Festival returns with music, dancing, craft workshops, children’s activities, circus acts, wood carving, a classic car show and a lot more. See more information on the Grimsthorpe Festival website.
All the important bits
Grimsthorpe Castle is on the A151 between Colsterworth and Bourne. Use PE10 0LZ for sat nav.
There is a large car park. You pay your entrance fee at a kiosk on the way into the car park.
Tickets and prices
Tickets for just the gardens and parkland are £5.50 (adult), £4.50 (concession) and £2 (child 5-16 years). Tickets for the castle and gardens are £10.50 (adult), £9.50 (concession) and £4 (child 5-16 years). See Grimsthorpe Castle website for opening times.
Eating and drinking
Grimsthorpe Castle is a great place for a picnic. There are picnic tables in the playground and courtyard by the visitor information centre and tearooms, or spread out a rug in the grounds somewhere. The Coach House Tearoom serves light lunches, snacks and drinks and the Stables Shop sells those all-important ice creams! The Coach House Tearoom has highchairs and a microwave for heating baby food.
There are toilets by the Stables Shop in the courtyard with baby changing and also toilets near the castle. Just note there are no toilets by the adventure playground.
DISCLAIMER: I have been given a Hidden England pass to visit Grimsthorpe Castle. All words and opinions are my own.