Looking for something to do this Easter, then why not take the kids to Dyffryn Gardens and have a go at the Plant Hunters trail?
We went there this week when it was gloriously sunny and the kids loved it. I often find it difficult to find something to suit all three kids, but Dyffryn Gardens did the trick. The boys (aged 9 and 6) really enjoyed the exploration part of the trail and my youngest (22 months) loved the sensory elements like the ribbons and just running about like a loon.
The trail is included as part of the normal admission costs and is running until the end of April.
The first thing we did when we arrived was to go into the play area which has a small slide and tunnel activity station, which is ideal for younger ones. There is also a small obstacle course that surrounds it which kept the older ones amused for a bit.
You can access the play area and coffee shop without paying for admission into the gardens. I often come here in the week when the boys are in school as my little girl enjoys it so much and its often quiet.
We then went into the main gardens which are stunning, with the onset of spring we were rewarded with our first sighting of bluebells and magnolia and the daffodils were still aplenty.
We found a bench in front of the great manor house and had a picnic while enjoying the far reaching views of the gardens. We didn’t go into the Manor House on this occasion, but from our previous visit I can say it is very child friendly.
Once refuelled, we set off to start the Plant Finders Trail. There was a tent located just off to the side of the house where you can get a map. There are also some helpful arrows painted on to logs which set you off in the right direction.
I was impressed with the props inside the tent, making it look like a real explorers hideaway.
So, off on our mission, with map in hand, we found the hidden entrance which was guarded with snakes!
The hidden entrance was a great sensory area for little ones, mine loved running in and out under the ribbons and listening to them blow about in the wind and making lots of noise with the bamboo and wind chimes.
Following the trail, we then came to another tent which was set up with plenty of plants and a magnifying glass to use look through at the different types of leaves.
It also set the challenge of looking for different trees and identifying what was different about them which was a nice activity to do. We also had to find where would be the best place for somewhere to hide, which we decided was the reeds area. The other thing we were asked to do was to take a ribbon for the trail marker tree. The kids ran on to the next area with their ribbons in hand blowing in the wind.
As we walked on, we next came to a table and benches and some mini volcanos where we had to be brave and put our hand in to retrieve a seed (otherwise known as a pingpong ball). We could decorate the balls with stickers and save for later.
When we reached the ancient trail tree, it was already amass with ribbons and we tied ours on to join the rest. It was such a beautiful sight and I imagine by the end of the month it will be even more spectacular.
I thought this was the end of the trail, but there was more to come. We weaved our way across the little bridges with some interesting facts dotted about all about explorers.
Then we came to the victory staging post where we were awarded with some sunflower seeds to take home as a thank you for taking part. This is also where we could deposit our seed and play some outdoor games including jenga and noughts and crosses.
As with the 12 days of Christmas Trail we did in December, the trail was a great hit. There are some parts which could do with more clear instructions, as like many others participating, we had to go back for our ribbons as we had first hung them in the wrong place and we had almost given up on knowing what to do with the ping pong balls before we found their resting place.
But saying that, we still really enjoyed it. It provides some entertainment for the kids and makes them use their imaginations, while you get to explore the beautiful gardens, so it’s a win win.
You can easily spend all day there, there is so much to explore. I would definitely recommend it, and if you can’t make it there this Easter, keep a look out as they often have kiddies events planned throughout the year.
If you do have a chance to go, I’d love to hear from you, let me know what you thought.
Additional information: Dyffryn Gardens is situated just off the A48 at St. Nicholas in the Vale. It is buggy friendly, although there are some steps to manoeuvre, it has a small playground suitable for little ones, a coffee shop and has toilets and baby changing stations. Dogs on leads are also welcome.
Admission charges – £19.50 for a family ticket. The PlantFinders Trail was at no additional cost.