After all the indulgence and slumberness of Christmas we were in desperate need of burning off some energy. As we were looking for something to do in the fresh air we headed out to the Christmas Tree Trail at Dyffryn Gardens. This trail replaces the much loved 12 Days of Christmas Trail at Dyffryn Gardens that we had visited over the last couple of years.
What to Expect at The Christmas Tree Trail at Dyffryn Gardens
With our map in hand, we sought out 12 Christmas Trees stationed across the park. There were just three trees inside, and so it is largely an outdoor activity. Therefore it’s best to save for a nice enough day. You get to see most of the park when completing the trail as the trees are well spread out. This ensures that you and the kids get a good walk out of it too.
Each of the 12 trees are based on a different theme and give you an insight into the history of the Park. It’s not long that you discover that they are not real trees on the trail. Instead they are alternative Christmas trees made from various materials each with a unique theme. The first for example, was a boat and not really a tree at all.
Each of the trees have a tag on them with an interesting fact all about Dyffryn Gardens. I also liked that a few of the trees had some element of activity associated with them for the kids to take part in. For example they had to write their wish on the wishing tree, guess how many books were on the book tree and even had a go at playing ‘O Christmas Tree’ on the xylophone.
After the 11th tree be sure to take a slight detour to the log pile play area. Which is a park full of log piles and climbing obstacles. Ours love it there.
The 12 Christmas Trees on the Trail
I have listed each of the trees below, so you have more of an idea of what it is like. But if you are thinking of going, and want to have the surprise factor, then look away now!
1. Plain Sailing
In the theme of a sailing boat, this tree told of how with the shipping of coal across the world, steam powered boats replaced sailing boats in the transportation of exports.
2. Fantastic Feathers
Did you know that a parrot once lived at Dyffryn and was sold along with the rest of the possessions of the house in its eventual sale? Me either!
3. Flower Power
This tree is adorned with buds all grown within Dyffryn Gardens. How many types of the flowers on the tree can you name?
4. Conservation and Cause
The damage in this room and in many of the upstairs rooms in the main house stems from a failed attempt to turn it into a Hotel in the 1930s. The house itself still requires much work and funding from the park is used to repair what they can with conservation projects ongoing.
5. Make Your Christmas Wish
The children (and adults too) are able to write their wish on a tag and hang it on the tree. Unfortunately there were none left when we visited, but hopefully they will be replenished.
6. Take a Leaf out of Our Book
The second hand book store at Dyffryn Gardens provides much needed funds for the National Trust Property. Did you know you could drop off your books at the main reception? We estimated how many books adorned the tree and wrote our answer on the blackboard.
7. From Tiny Seeds
When it comes to finding this one, be sure to look up as we almost missed it. Here the children were encouraged to seek out the seeds from amongst the jars of beans and pulses.
8. Grow Your Own
This tree was made out of willow and showcased the vegetables grown in the Dyffryn allotment. We ticked on the black board which vegetables we liked and which were yuck.
9. Autumn Colour
The beautiful colours of autumn. Dyffryn has such an array of plants there is always something in bloom or budding. To be fair it was pretty stunning even in the height of winter.
The coal industry brought a lasting legacy for Dyffryn as it then expanded into the railway schemes throughout South Wales.
11. Global Trade
The Cory’s coal business spanned the globe and by 1908 they had 118 coal depots around the world.
12. Branch Out
Just like the log pile play area, this tree has been made from trees from the 22 acre arboretum. There is currently a 5 year project underway to restore the arboretum to its former glory.
Our Verdict of the Christmas Tree Trail at Dyffryn Gardens:
According to the kids it was their favourite of all the trails they have done at Dyffryn, although I’m not sure whether that was more to do with the fact that it was the last one they had done. Nothing like a short memory span!
For me, it didn’t quite live up to the Christmas feel of their 12 days of Christmas Trail. However, saying that, it was no doubt time for a change, and we did all really enjoy it. I also found it much more informative and learnt more about Dyffryn Gardens than I had on many a previous visit.
I also felt that it appealed to children of all ages which is always a big hit with us due to the age range of our three. The informative aspect was great educationally for my eldest two, whilst the youngest just enjoyed the thrill of finding the trees.
I would definitely recommend it for a fun afternoon out.
The Christmas Tree Trail at Dyffryn Gardens is on until 6th January and is included in the normal admission charges. Entry is free for National Trust members. You just need to remember to pick up your map at the shop.
Dogs: We took our dog on the trail. But please note that dogs are not allowed in the inside areas including the cafes. There is dog friendly seating outside.
Buggy Friendly: The trail had some steps, but it is mainly accessible for buggies.
Facilities: There is a cafe at the main entrance and one close to the Main House. At certain times there is also a shack serving drinks at the rear of the park near the woodpile play area. Toilets are located near each of the refreshment places.
For more information visit: www.nationaltrust.org.co.uk
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