There is a huge amount on offer at Trentham and my visit with a friend and our five kids barely scratched the surface! There are award-winning gardens with a Barefoot Walk, a shopping village, a Monkey Forest and Aerial Extreme high rope adventure, all within the estate. I’d been desperate to try out the children on the Barefoot Walk so we decided that our trip would simply consist of entry to the gardens together with a lunch. As it turned out, that filled the day perfectly.
You’ll find the entrance at the centre of the shopping village and once through the turnstile the vast, verdant landscape of the estate stretches out. At its heart is the mile-long Capability Brown designed lake. You can take a two-mile circular lakeside walk (for little girls there’s a pretty Fairy trail to follow!) and in the spring and summer there are boat rides or you can go on the miniature train that runs alongside the water’s edge (£2). Adjacent, you’ll find the stunning Italian Gardens – their patterned formality combined with lots of paths to run amongst intrigued the kids well enough for us to enjoy the planting.
The Italian Garden Tearoom is a modern, curved glass-fronted building with lots of indoor and outdoor seating and lovely views. Whilst we waited for the food, we were able to sit outside with coffees – the older kids enjoyed playing on the adventure playground which is right next door, complete with assault course, zip wire and young drivers’ zone.
After lunch we embarked on the Barefoot Walk; for the uninitiated, you take off your shoes and socks, roll up your trousers and walk along a 1km trail of woodlands and meadows. It’s suitable for all ages and the underfoot textures include bark, logs, hay, grass and pebbles, but by far everyone’s favourite is the mud. Watching the anticipation on our boys’ faces as they prepared to step down into the large mud bath was brilliant – the brown gloop instantly went up to the knees of some little leggies and they giggled and squealed as they squelched through. Even though the day was chilly, nothing dampened the kids’ spirits as they charged through the walk once and then ran back to the start, begging to do it again. Foot showers are available at the end, but it may be advisable to have a spare set of trousers stored away!Summer: Daily 9am-6pm. Winter: Daily 10am-3pm. The Barefoot Walk will re-open 31 March 2014. Summer: Adult £9.25, Child £7.75, Family £32. Winter: Adult £7, Child £5.25, Family £23. Check the website for offers. The Trentham Estate, Stone Road, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 8JG Tel: 01782 646646 trentham.co.uk