We love the National Trust. We became members a couple of years ago after realising just how many of their properties and sites are local to us, and how many are perfect for visiting as a family. We really are very lucky to have so many so close to us but we also love visiting their sites further afield when we go away too.
Allan Bank at Grasmere is one we hadn’t been to until recently. I think I probably let the fact it doesn’t have a car park put me off – Grasmere can get super busy with visitors so getting there early enough for a space is vital, and I’ve just never been quite organised enough to get there with the three children. However, we had a day where all of us were free recently and so we decided to load up the trusty FunBus and go for it. (We parked at the Broadgate Meadow car park which I think gives the easiest access to Allan Bank, but it is reachable from any Grasmere car park.)
I am so glad we did. What a place! Allan Bank used to be a family home and the National Trust aim to keep it feeling that way. With a log fire, an invitation to eat your packed lunch wherever you like and a room to make hot drinks (for a donation), it all feels very informal and welcoming. The entrance hall obviously used to be very grand – now it is all stripped back and very clearly a work in progress. The aim for the future is to do the place up but maintain the sense of a bustling family home where visitors can relax and feel at ease.
The staff immediately showed us where everything was and then left us alone to use the house as we wished, so then it was time to explore! First stop (obviously) was the playroom….
What a little treasure trove! The room is full of retro toys, including rocking horses, dressing up clothes, pirate ships and dolls houses, amongst a LOT of other things. A comfy sofa meant I could at least pretend to sit down for a minute before being dragged into playing the next game, and there was so much to play with we stayed in here for ages.
Next up was the art room…
Oh, my goodness. WHAT a view. How lovely is this room? It is set up with an art table for little ones in front of the window which is just gorgeous. Paints are set out which the children can use as they like, along with colouring pencils and chalks. They then have frames dotted around the room to pop your masterpiece in when its done to let it dry. There is also a larger table set further back for adults and older children who want to release their inner artist!
For us, it was then lunchtime. We decided to head upstairs and find a room with a view and again, we weren’t disappointed. We were lucky enough to be the only ones in the room so we made ourselves at home on the comfy chairs…and the coffee table!
Although there a few more rooms in the house, we decided we needed some fresh air and headed outside. There is a lawn at the side of the house which would be perfect for picnics in summer, and two trails to follow to explore the gardens and woods. We decided to take the longer trail, which is about 800m, so definitely doable for the little legs in our family…
We found a bothy, with chairs outside to soak up the amazing views (no time to stop for us though, it was too cold!)
And then it was hometime for us. What a brilliant day! We will definitely be back, I can’t wait to see Allan Bank in the spring and summer, when we will be visiting with a picnic ready to enjoy the gardens even more. Definitely highly recommended.