Summer is the perfect time to invest in an annual membership to the National Trust. The sun is shining, flowers are in bloom, and there are hundreds of properties and places up and down the UK just waiting to be explored! Every trip to a National Trust place is a delight for all ages, with well-maintained pathways, signposted walks and more than a few cafes filled with delicious treats. Here are five of our top picks to visit this summer:

Glendurgan Gardens

We first visited these beautiful gardens back in 2019, on a road trip around Cornwall. We were blown away by the wildflower meadows, exotic flower specimens and the impressive cherry laurel maze! The gardens are bursting with colour at this time of year, and there are some shaded huts and paths that shelter you from the sunshine – our favourite spot was a seat cleverly crafted from an upturned boat. Once you’ve explored all the pathways in the gardens, and perhaps had a turn on the Giant’s Stride rope swing, you can take the weight off your feet under the shade of a parasol while enjoying a slice of cake and a cuppa at the Tea House. Alternatively do as we did – head along the coast path to enjoy sitting on the small pebble beach on the banks of the Helford River – the perfect place to relax in the summer sunshine!


We’ve visited this West Sussex property at various times of the year, but it is no more stunning than during the summer months. During this time, the bright sunlight casts dramatic shadows on the partially-ruined house, the ivy bed on the main lawn is bursting with colour, and the fragrance from the rose garden is a heavenly accompaniment to a gentle stroll through the grounds. The Horsebox sells cold drinks and ice creams, perfect for picnicking on the main lawn in the shade of the trees. In the summer, Nymans stays open later – until 8.30pm – to make the most of the longer days. There are takeaway drinks and snacks available, and in July there is live music. The best part is there’s half price admission from 4.30pm for non-members, so it’s the best time to see Nymans for yourself and bring a few friends to soak up the evening sun.

Castle Drogo

After a few glimpses of this 20th century Castle protruding from the tree line while walking in Dartmoor, we finally got to visit this year and it was very much worth the wait! The dramatic architecture is carved into the landscape, overlooking the Teign Gorge, making for spectacular views from the Castle. Inside, you’ll find respite from the heat of summer as the walls are thick and the windows small, making for a cool and relaxing tour around this innovative family home. Once you’ve explored the Castle, you’re spoilt for choice as to which garden to visit first – the sunken rose garden, the tranquil chapel garden, the formal terraces or rhododendron path. The latter provides the most shade as the rhododendron shrubs tower above you, and you’ll gain a different view of the Castle from below. There are a few shaded spots under intricately intertwined trellises in the formal garden, and benches for taking a rest while enjoying the peace of the pristine gardens. The perfectly manicured lawns are a great place to pause for a picnic, with the smell of the spectacular wisteria floating on the breeze. Once you’ve seen all the sights, head down across the wider estate to the Teign Gorge to cool off with a paddle in the babbling river!


This stunning property in Northumberland is described as ‘Britain’s original smart home’! All the lights at Cragside are powered by hydro-electricity and the house itself is full of innovative gadgets – even if you’re not sheltering from the heat of the day, you can easily spend a couple of hours taking in all the sights inside. Cragside is very dog-friendly too! If you manage to visit on a day when the heat isn’t too much for your four-legged friends, out on the 1,000 acre estate there are 40 miles of pathways where dogs are welcome to explore! There is a beautifully shaded walk through the towering trees in the pinetum, some of which are the tallest of their kind in the country! The rock garden provides shade as well as a picturesque view of the house above, with the Grade II listed iron bridge in the foreground, while the formal garden has more than a few benches to sit and admire the views over the Coquet Valley below. Cragside is an expansive estate so if you’re looking to enjoy the scenery, but don’t fancy walking in the heat of summer, you can take the Carriage Drive. This is a 9.5km (6 mile) way-marked driving route around the grounds, so you can take in the amazing estate without leaving your car! For those that don’t mind a good summer walk, taking the route to the Powerhouse and Pump House will give you more of an insight into how the power of water is harnessed to provide power to Cragside.


If you’re heading to the Lake District this summer, there’s a lot to discover on the 1,600 acre estate at Sizergh near Kendal. The house is bursting with items collected by 26 generations of the Strickland family – you’ll easily be able to spend an hour examining the wide array of trinkets on display! The house is beautiful, but our favourite part of visiting Sizergh is definitely the gardens. On our first visit here we spent some time wandering through the kitchen garden, and made friends with a resident cat as we sat on one of the benches! The Dutch garden is the quietest part of the grounds at Sizergh – it’s the ideal place for a moment away from the summer crowds. The unusual triangle-shaped topiary are a sight to see, and a good place for playing hide and seek! There is also a wild play area running through Chapel Wood for little ones to run off some steam in the shade. During the summer months, trained pears and grapes run up the fruit wall, and you can listen to the hum of the honeybees at work in their hive. Sizergh’s 50m-long herbaceous border is full of colour in the summer, and during this time the meadow grass is left to grow tall and wild for a picturesque wander along the carefully-mown paths. For a fantastic way to end your visit at Sizergh, head to the cafe where they serve seasonal produce grown in the estate gardens!

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