On a recent rip to Devon with my son and his family we spent a day at Arlington Court. It is situated near Barnstaple and is a really nice family day out. Well worth a visit.
In actual fact they have two National Trust self catering, dog friendly cottages that you can hire on the estate. Woolley Lodge sleeps 3 people and Mortuary Cottage (not the most inviting name I’m afraid!) sleeps two. If you are staying in this area it might be worth looking at these (they do offer free entry to Arlington Court during your stay but it is probably cheaper to go for a day trip!)
So we arrived about mid-morning and did, later on, regret we hadn’t made an effort to get there earlier. There is a lot to see at Arlington Court and although we saw nearly everything we didn’t have enough time to wander around some of the walks. There are 20 miles of footpaths around the 2,700 acre estate and even if we had arrived at opening time we wouldn’t have been able to do it all. However it would have been nice to walk a section of The Old Lake Walk (1.75 miles) or Deer Park Walk (3 miles) or even up the steep climb of Centenary Walk. So my advise is to go early and make the most of this lovely National Trust site.
What we did see was the beautiful house. This is the home of the Chichester Family and they collected many eclectic treasures over the generations. There is a wonderful grand staircase in the hall and all the rooms have so many different ornaments and paintings that it is not a house to be rushed through. There is a treasure hunt for children which asks them to find certain things in each room. There is also, in one room, a dressing up box that, in our case, produced more joy for the adults than my 12 year old grandson!
The children are well catered for in the grounds as well. There is a play trail map and two play areas, Monkey Puzzle Mania and The Wilderness. My grandson was also given a “50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4” Challenge sheet. The 12 year old grandson was a little dismayed that there were some things he had still not done!
Another part of the Estate is The National Trust Carriage Museum. It explains different types of carriages and what they were used for. Some were very grand, others looked like large prams but none of them looked terribly comfortable for long journeys. The Speaker’s State Coach is on loan from London at the moment and is very impressive.
One thing that did impress the 12 year old was the Bat Cam Room at the back of the house where you can spy on the resident colony of Lesser Horseshoe Bats. I know my grandson felt this was the highlight of the trip.
There are lakes and gardens and a conservatory and there is an Old Kitchen Tea Room if you get peckish.
Everywhere you go you are offered help from the usual army of well informed enthusiastic National Trust volunteers. They can tell you more about the family and the house than you can read in the brochures or on the information cards.
A lovely day out – just go early if you can!