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50 ways to spend summer in Sussex

PUBLISHED: 10:37 18 June 2014 | UPDATED: 10:37 18 June 2014

Sheffield Park and Garden play trail. Photo - National Trust

Sheffield Park and Garden play trail. Photo - National Trust

National Trust

There’s lots to do at the coast or in the countryside with the National Trust

The National Trust’s initiative, 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾, returns this summer. National Trust houses, gardens, countryside and coastal areas across the county are encouraging kids to get up close to nature with adventurous tree climbing, delightful den building, amazing animal tracking and fantastic pond dipping. A list of all 50 suggested activities can be found online and National Trust staff will also be on hand to help families record their progress.

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Going on a beach hunt?

Lee Walther, ranger at Birling Gap in East Sussex, is looking forward to spending the summer helping families enjoy the great outdoors. “Our position on the Sussex coast gives us access to glorious stretches of pebbly beaches, perfect for some fossil and bone hunting, crab catching, kite flying and rock pooling. We love the spirit of the 50 things activities and really love helping the little ones enjoy their day out on the coast.”

Lee continues, “It’s so rewarding to introduce visitors to the different seaside creatures that live at Birling Gap, especially all the bugs and mini beasts. In fact, we are dedicating the whole of the May half term week to insects, with a programme of bug hunting walks, art and craft activities. We intend to leave no stone unturned and if we can combine rock pooling with tracking down fossils on the beach, then so much the better!”

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Trees and tracks

Further inland at Sheffield Park and Garden, Marketing Officer, Nina Elliot-Newman is also awaiting the start of the holidays with much anticipation. “Sheffield Park and Garden has long been a natural place to explore,” explains Nina. “We are very lucky to have a fantastic woodland play trail with many trees along the way for young visitors to explore and enjoy climbing. The play trail is also a great place to have fun building dens and making trails with sticks.

“We’re a top spot for catching falling leaves or running around in the rain, should we be unlucky enough to have some wetter summer days. Mums and dads looking for little garden helpers at home, might also like to bring the kids to our half term activity days that are based on learning how to plant and care for a potted seed. We hope everyone taking part will come back and tell us how tall they grow in their gardens at home.”

With so many different insects, birds and animals at Sheffield Park and Garden, animal tracking is also a must for little explorers. Then, there are birds to spot and mini-beasts to hunt for in the logs and hidden areas of the woodland floor. Rangers and wardens are on hand to help identify any unusual species. The half term potted seed activity takes place daily between 26 and 30 May, costs £2.50 and must be booked in advance by calling 01825 790231.

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Endless family fun

There are loads of other great places to try out 50 things activities too, under your own steam. Roll down a hill when you visit Uppark, which has a steep slope in the centre of the garden. The sand and shingle spit at East Head is teeming with bird life so grab some binoculars and get spotting. Or, if you fancy a bit of an adventure, hunt for hidden treasure on a geocaching trail at Nymans.

A late spring visit to a National Trust house, garden or countryside area brings with it almost endless possibilities for family fun in the fresh air and acts as a precursor to the long summer holidays, which are almost upon us!

Log on to www.50things.org.uk to discover your 2014 checklist of 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4. Don’t forget to visit individual property websites for more information, or call ahead before visiting, to see if there are any special events. Some places might not be suitable for certain activities, so it’s best to call and check in advance.

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The fun continues in West Sussex

Plant some summer seeds at Nymans

Plants take centre stage this month, with free guided woodland walks from 6 to 11 May. The walks showcase Nymans’ fabulous bluebells, whilst the pretty sights and scents in the rest of the garden will provide inspiration for art and craft sessions in the Potting Shed (3, 4 and 31 May).There’s vegetable fun too, on 10 and 11 May; kids can make their own paper pots and plant vegetable seeds to take home.

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Something bugging you at Petworth House and Park?

Petworth House and Park has always been a haven for inquisitive children and this year is no different. The Park offers a huge area to explore and some great trees to climb. Events over half term include building a bug hotel, pond-dipping, tree- climbing and den-building – more opportunities to tick off 50 things challenges (various dates in May – check website for details).

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Go batty for bats and birds on the Slindon Estate

Experience the elusive wildlife that lives in the woods and fields of the Gumber estate, such as bats, badgers and owls. Return to a cosy camp fire and hot drink! (22 May, book on 01243 814730). The beautiful West Sussex countryside provides the perfect backdrop for some great family walks; keep your eyes peeled for delicate wildflowers, bugs and beasties and see what spring flora and fauna you can see.

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