Ultimate Guide To All National Trust Places To Visit In Dorset

Child Enjoying National Trust Dorset
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Dorset is a beautiful county, with a wide variety of National Trust attractions that we think are must-see.

If you're wanting a day out with the kids or to meet a relative for a social distance walk in Dorset, you should really consider visiting one of these beauty-spots.

The county has everything from an island, ancient coasts and hidden gems - to a castle, cottages and an Italian inspired palace. There's something for every member of the family to enjoy, and you may be able to cover a couple of them in a day.

While most attractions from the National Trust in Dorset are shut, they have announced on their website that they're reopening the places you love, gradually, safely and in step with government advice - starting with their coast and countryside car parks. Their houses, gardens and parklands remain closed for now, in line with the rules, and updates on these attractions can be found on their website. However, we know that once lockdown sanctions lift further, these outdoor attractions will be popular with families across the south wanting to make the most of the summer. So, read on to plan your trip to one of these Dorset National Trust properties this summer.

Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy is a lavish historic home re-imagined as a Venetian Palace in the rural Dorset countryside. There's plenty to see, from rich, beautifully detailed carvings, to intimate souvenirs and even strange curiosities such as an 'I owe you' note from a king. It's an art lover's dream, while also providing a good day out for the whole family, as you can enjoy a summer picnic on the south lawn or let the children run wild in the nearby play areas.

Where? Wimborne Minster, Dorset, BH21 4EA

Closest train station? Poole, 8.5 miles away

Why visit? They are currently doing refurbishments on the property, which they are appealing to the public for help with. This could be a great project to get older kids involved with.

Amenities and important information: Dogs are welcome on a short lead due to livestock grazing. There is a baby changing room on site.

Kingston Lacy
Image © National Trust

Clouds Hill

This was once the rural home retreat of T. E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) - in the form of a tiny isolated cottage in the heart of Dorset. Lawrence's furnishings have stayed as he left them, for the most part, so see what your kids think of his interior design. There is low lighting and rules to follow to preserve the ancient cottage.

Where? King George V Road, Bovington, near Wareham, BH20 7NQ

Closest train station? Wool, 3.5 miles away

Why visit? It is an authentic and unique place that young kids would find fascinating, as the house has been preserved to feel like a real-life museum.

Amenities and important information: The cottage is accessed from the car park via a flat 90-yard footpath. Light levels in the cottage are low, which may not suit some visitors. There are refreshments available for donation only.

Clouds Hill
Image © James Dobson

Pepperbox Hill

Pepperbox Hill is an ancient chalk ridge landmark with far-reaching views and rich in natural history and heritage. Pepperbox Hill is one of the rare places in the UK that includes an early brick folly example. Believed to have been built by Giles Eyre of Brickworth House, the use is under debate. The surrounding grounds are supporting several rare or uncommon species including orchids, juniper and rare butterflies.

Where? Pepperbox Hill, SP5 3QL

Closest train station? West Dean, 5 miles away

Why visit? It's a great educational trip out for young children interested in wildlife, as there are information points dotted around - detailing the vast array of wildlife you can see there.

Amenities and important information: Plenty of space to enjoy a picnic if you bring your own rug and take away rubbish. Dogs and bikes are also welcome but are asked to be kept under control as cattle graze the site. The ground is somewhat level along the brow of the hill, meaning it is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

Pepperbox Hill
Image © Emma Weston

Corfe Castle

One of the most popular and famous of Dorset's attractions is this thousand-year-old royal castle shaped by warfare; not just Dorset's, but one of Britain's most iconic and evocative survivors of the English Civil War. A favourite haunt for adults and children to visit, with incredibly beautiful views across Purbeck, and a fascinating history to discover.

Where? The Square, Corfe Castle, Wareham, BH20 5EZ

Closest train station? Wareham, 4.5 miles away

Why visit? There are lots of activities that can be set up for young visitors such as so that they can genuinely feel history come to life while appreciating the wildlife that has set up home here. Can you find the 'murder holes' and arrow slits?

Amenities and important information: Suitable for school groups. Dogs are welcome on a short lead. There are many information points available. Picnics are welcomed. There is a campsite, a shop with locally made gifts and a tearoom.

Corfe Castle
Image © National Trust

Win Green

This National Trust area is a prominent landmark with incredible views. It is the highest point in the Cranborne Chase, meaning it provides panoramic views from the Isle of Wight and Purbeck Hills to Blackmore Vale and Salisbury Plain. Win Green is surrounding by beautiful beech trees growing in a circle - with a distinctive ridge around the edge, and this stunning sight can be seen for miles.

Where? Donhead Hollow, Near Ludwell, SP7 0ES

Closest train station? Gillingham Station, 9 miles away

Why visit? The trust recommends this area for kite flying, as the ridge can get quite windy. Otherwise, it is just a great place to explore on foot or by mountain bike if you're not afraid to cycle uphill!

Amenities and important information: The site is wheelchair accessible, and their car parks are currently open.

Win Green
Image © National Trust

Hardy Monument

A monument to Vice-Admiral Hardy, it stands on an exposed hill above the village of Portesham in Dorset. Built in 1844 in memory of the Battle of Trafalgar, it was taken over by the National Trust in 1938. It was restored in 2011, so should still be around for hundreds of years to come, as well as for your visit.

Where? Black Down, Portesham, Dorset, DT2 9HY

Closest train station? Dorchester, 6.5 miles away

Why visit? A great place to walk to with more stunning views over the county, this monument would attract older kids who would appreciate the complex history behind the space.

Amenities and important information: Minimal amenities due to the remote and preserved nature of the site. There are no toilets, changing rooms, wheelchair or pushchair access routes.

Hardy Monument
Image © National Trust

Cerne Giant

An ancient naked figure sculpted into the chalk hillside above Cerne Abbas, standing at 180ft tall, Britain's largest chalk hill figure. The history of the Cerne Giant is muddied, but appears to be from the Iron Age, and is still used for May Day celebrations today.

Where? Cerne Abbas, Dorset, DT2 7AL

Closest train station? Maiden Newton, 6 miles away

Why visit? There is lots of nature to see along the way, and once you reach the giant, it really is an amazingly unique sight to behold.

Amenities and important information: Dogs are welcome on leads, there are information points, and free parking too (also parking for coaches). It is described as a gentle stroll along footpaths, so would be suitable for pushchairs.

Cerne Giant
Image © Ray Gaffney
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Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents. 

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.  

Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

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