HALF-term in Surrey may be almost over but if you have children who go to schools in Sussex and Hampshire, the National Trust has plenty of places to visit for a fun family day out.
Of course, many National Trust properties and landscapes are open to everyone at the weekend, including those around Surrey.
It is the perfect opportunity for everyone to enjoy some time together exploring beautiful landscapes as they gradually reveal signs of spring colour and wildlife.
Try quiz-packed and creative outdoor trails, discover the night sky, and play with wax and watercolour.
You’ll be able to tick off a few of the Trust’s ‘50 things to do before you’re 113/4’ challenges too, from den-building to geocaching.
Some of the highlights this spring include:
Uppark House & Garden
Spring family trail, February 18-26, suggested donation £1. Families can hunt for signs of spring on this half-term trail that takes children around Uppark’s easy to navigate gardens. Inside, you’ll discover a magnificent dolls’ house, underground tunnels and servants quarters that will reveal more about life below stairs in this grand house.
Scribbles and Sketches, February 18-26, suggested donation £1. Discover your inner artist on this creative activity trail packed with things to make, draw and do, inspired by Mottisfont’s Rex Whistler exhibition. If you need a bit of inspiration yourself before you set off, nip into the house to see Rex’s glorious trompe l’oeil artwork – on permanent display in Mottisfont’s Whistler room.
Tag-a-Tile, every day from February 18, suggested donation £5. This former Tudor power house is undergoing a massive roof conservation project, and you can be a part of it. Over the centuries, kings, queens and courtiers have made their own mark on The Vyne, with emblems carved in wood, stone and lead. You can make your own mark on the new roof by “tagging” a handmade clay tile. Your illustrated tile will be put on the roof, for craftsmen to discover in centuries to come.
Winchester City Mill
Scavenger hunt, February 18-26. Put on your explorer’s hat to unearth answers, track down items and complete missions on our scavenger hunt around this fully restored working watermill. You’ll need to look high and low not to miss anything.
There are lots of other activities on offer every day - view the fast-flowing river Itchen as it roars beneath the mill, powering the huge waterwheel. There’s also a chance to watch the latest CCTV footage of the mill’s resident otters.
Baking demonstration, February 25, 11am-3pm The mill is well known for its fun baking demonstration days, and on February 25 you can watch the friendly baking volunteers make a variety of seasonal sweet and savoury treats
On Wednesdays and at weekends you can also watch millers turning grain into stoneground flour.
Take home recipe cards for a small donation and try some baking at home, using the mill’s own flour from the shop.
Closer to nature trail, February 18-26, suggested donation £1. The gardens at Hinton are full of nooks and crannies – perfect for outdoor adventures. This February half-term, try out the new nature-themed family trail; kids will learn lots of intriguing facts as they work their way round the challenge. For more details, visit www.nationaltrust. org.uk.
Enjoy the outdoors and have fun on a children’s trail themed on a colour wheel through the arboretum, for 50p per trail. If you have older children, challenge them to see who can take the best photo of the arboretum on your phone.
Look out for snowdrops, a symbol of hope and new beginnings, plus daffodils, winter cherry and interesting bark and lichen.
Find inspiration in these signs of spring, plus the reflections on the lake and the picturesque boathouse, whilst you enjoy a lovely winter walk with the family.
Petworth House and Park
Drop into the café at Petworth for some creative fun. Roll up your sleeves and grab an apron. Younger visitors can make fun crafts to take home using wax and watercolour techniques.
Wrap up warm and enjoy a bright February day at Hatchlands Park. Crunch down frosty paths on a woodland walk or head to our natural adventure area where running around is the ideal way to stay warm. We’ve got lots of excellent activities for the whole family. Explore inside a tree, build a den or run around in the rain.