Top 10 National Trust places for a Swallows and Amazons adventure

Swallows and Amazons

Splashing through waves, crashing along muddy trails and climbing trees - there’s nothing quite like playing outdoors. We’ve picked some of our favourite National Trust places for adventure. They are perfect for family wild time, and great for ticking off some of the 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾.

1. Explore Ransome’s ‘imaginary’ lake and the Steam Yacht Gondola, Cumbria

Coniston Gondola © Tiree Dawson Coniston Gondola © Tiree Dawson

It’s arguably the ‘real’ Captain Flint’s houseboat, so puff your way around Coniston Water looking out for the places which inspired Arthur Ransome to write his world famous story. Spot the secret harbour at Wild Cat Island on a full lake cruise and the Swallows and Amazons boathouses, amidst the backdrop of the mountain which inspired ‘Kanchenjunga’.

2. Jump over waves at Compton Bay, Isle of Wight

Compton Bay National Trust Images John Millar Compton Bay © National Trust/John Millar

Compton Bay is a great spot: not too crowded, but with beautiful views towards Dorset and plenty of firm sand for building sandcastles. What’s more, the tide doesn’t go out too far so it’s a great place for little ones to try swimming in the sea. Afterwards you can try and follow in the steps of dinosaurs by hunting for their prehistoric foot-casts in the sandstone rocks.

3. Climb a tree at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Anglesey Abbey Anglesey Abbey © National Trust

Head into the woods in the grounds of Anglesey Abbey and you'll soon spot the Lime Tree Lookout. This giant two-storey treehouse offers great views through the trees. Find the story telling circle and tell your friends a tale. You can also relax in a hammock, build a den or create a piece of wild art.

4. Track wild animals on Brownsea Island, Dorset

Brownsea Island, Dorset Brownsea Island © National Trust/John Miller

Brownsea Island is made for adventure. With its links to the Scout movement, thriving natural habitats - including woodland, heathland and a lagoon, create a unique haven for wildlife. Look for the rare red squirrel, Sika Deer and a wide variety of birds, including kingfishers and oystercatchers. And at a mile long and just under a mile wide, a walk around the island is easy to do in a day.

5. Crashing waterfalls at the Malham Tarn Estate, North Yorkshire

Malham Tarn Estate Malham Tarn © National Trust/Paul Harris

The waterfall at Janet’s Foss, hidden in a leafy glade is a magical place to visit, only a short walk from Malham village. Somewhat uneven and rocky towards the end, this walk provides that little bit of excitement to tempt the kids. The secret cave, behind this waterfall is said to be home to Janet, Queen of the Fairies, so keep your eyes peeled.

6. Scrambling over rocks at Longshaw, Derbyshire

Longshaw, Derbyshire Longshaw © National Trust/Robert Morris

Longshaw and the Eastern moors are home to some of the most famous crags and boulders in the country. Whether you try scrambling on the boulders around Longshaw (please take care), or sign up to one of our family climbing sessions led by professional guides (see our website for details), Longshaw’s a great place to try climbing.


7. Barefoot walking at Godolphin, Cornwall

Godolphin House, Cornwall Godolphin © National Trust/Chris Lacey

At Godolphin, an ancient and atmospheric estate near Helston on the Lizard peninsula you can experience the National Trust’s first ever dedicated barefoot trail. Here your feet can feel everything from smooth slate, to tickly fir cones, the balancing log and soft sand. In fact there are over twenty textures to explore. All you have to do is follow the foot print signs.

8. Tree climbing and zip wiring at Wray Castle, Cumbria

Wray Castle, Cumbria Wray Castle, Cumbria © John Reaney

Take the boat across Lake Windermere to this amazing lakeshore castle, then spend a day running wild in its grounds. National Trust rangers will take you high tree climbing, zip wiring, mini-raft building and barefoot walking. If there’s time to spare, take a trip to our very own, brand-new secret treehouse (tree-castle in fact) in the woods. 

9. Catch a crab at Embleton Bay, Northumberland

Embleton Bay, Northumberland Embleton © National Trust/Matthew Antrobus

With the backdrop of ruined Dunstanburgh Castle, this fine sandy beach is one of the most spectacular in England. At low tide hunt for starfish, sea anemones and crabs in the rock pools - with the right bait and piece of string it’s easier than you think. 

10. Take to the water at Fell Foot, Cumbria

Fell Foot, Cumbria Fell Foot © National Trust/Steven Barber

If you want to take to the water, you can hire one of our four-seater rowing boats and spend a relaxing hour or two exploring Lake Windermere and the River Leven. Take in the beauty of the lake and enjoy uninterrupted views of the surrounding fells. Boats can be hired from Boathouse Café.


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