Take time to rediscover the simple pleasures of summer
With holidays abroad off the cards for many this summer the National Trust is encouraging everyone to get back to basics and enjoy a summer filled with simple, sensory pleasures.
The unmistakable smell of freshly cut grass, the reassuring sight of blue and sunny skies, the first glimpse of the sea, the tickle of grass between your toes. Nothing comes close to summer at home. And it’s finally here. National Trust gardens and parkland are popping with colour, woodlands are alive with chirping birds, meadows are swaying in the breeze and lakes are glistening – ready for exploring.
What’s more, a number of National Trust places will be encouraging everyone to experience these simple, sensory pleasures with their summer activity programme ‘Get Set, Go’.
Thanks to funding from Sport England, visitors will be able to have a go at over 20 different activities such as ‘go barefoot’, ‘make a splash’, ‘work together’– to stretch those lockdown legs – to explore and get outdoors together – and to connect with nature.
A range of downloadable activities will also be available online, for everyone to enjoy – with simple ideas for making the most of summer in the garden, the local park or even (whisper it), for rainy days spent indoors.
The conservation charity is also inviting people to participate in a special six-week series of sensory #NTchallenge(s) across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to build on the established #NTchallenge on Instagram. Weekly challenges kick-off on the 23 July with themes including scents of summer, sounds of summer, taste of summer and more.
Here’s the National Trust’s pick of the best places to enjoy this summer:
Mount Stewart, County Down
Take a dive into forest bathing, hunt for hidden digital treasures with geocaching or try your hand at archery. Make a bee line for the Magic Ink Pot, a natural play area themed around magical journeys and mythical creatures; or see what strange and exotic animals you can find in the ark in the Italian Garden. Pick up your Get Set, Go pack from the courtyard outside Visitor Reception and chose your own adventure.
Pre-booking recommended: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mount-stewart
Castle Ward, County Down
Choose to go barefoot in the wildflower meadow, hit the target while buzzing along with the bees, Get Set Go in a potato sack race, catch your breath during a yoga pose, or find your way through the estate with a natural sensory trail.
Pre-booking not required, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-ward
The Argory, County Armagh
Challenge friends and family at Blackwater Bootcamp. How high can you jump? How much can you lift? Enjoy schoolyard skipping and tennis on the lawn; compose a nature tune in the giant arbour sound boot; try your hand at some Argory Art or help the next generation of cyclists learn to ride on the new free-to-hire balance bikes.
Explore the house at your own pace on a self-guided tour and take on the sporting challenge to see how many tennis balls you spot along the way. Book your self-guided tour ticket at Visitor Reception on arrival.
Pre-booking not required. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-argory
Castle Coole, Florence Court and Crom, County Fermanagh
Grab a Get Set, Go card at Castle Coole, Crom or Florence Court and create your own adventure as you explore the activities at each place. You can make a splash at Crom, add some bounce at Castle Coole, or follow the path at Florence Court, all whilst noticing nature at each of these special places.
For a quieter adventure, enjoy the wellness walk at Castle Coole or the sensory walk at Crom and enjoy the peace and tranquillity with your family.
Rowallane Garden, County Antrim
Download the Plant Hunter activity pack and embark on a journey through history as you meet some of the daring plant hunters that first discovered the plants and trees waiting to be found in the garden. Along the way, venture into Explore & Play, a natural playground filled with challenges based on the plant hunter’s passport. See if you can survive the swamp, find the tallest trees and get active in nature. Don’t forget to pick up a Get Set, Go card to inspire your summer adventure. 'Find your way' to explore new paths and discover different natural textures, or 'feel the beat' to tune in to the sounds and rhythms of nature.
Pre-booking recommended, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rowallane-garden
Photo credit: National Trust/Christopher Heaney