Top 6 Reasons to Visit Attingham Park (2023)
A place for everyone, managed by the National Trust
The National Trust is a conservation charity which looks after places gifted to them. Memberships and admission fees raise money for the care of these places to be enjoyed by everyone. These places vary from beaches to mountain tops, gardens to historic houses and everything in between.
If you become a member, most places are accessible for free, and you can visit as many places as you like, as many times as you like, throughout the open season.
For a single adult in 2023, membership costs £84 per year (£7 per month). This covers free entry to over 500 locations and includes all-day parking where the trust operates the car park (again, that's most of them).
So why should you go to Attingham Park?
To answer that question - read on.
Beautiful places to walk.
There's a whole host of mapped and signposted walks at Attingham. Shorter walks include the Snowdrop Walk, Bluebell Walk, Mile Walk and Woodland Walk.
If, like me, walking is part of taking care of your health, you'll find all the walks are mostly level or have shallow inclines. The grounds include a Deer Park, woodlands, meadows, and a Kitchen Garden.
Past the Kitchen Garden and the Orchard is the Field of Play
This vast field includes the usual swings expected in a children's play area but also includes tunnels, a hay bale fort, tree trunks to climb over and play equipment to use for family games. It's a great space for the kids to use up all their energy or to enjoy a picnic. Be warned, though; they may not want to leave.
I would have included some pictures here, but there were children around. You can get some idea of the space on their website here.
If you also have a furry family member, dogs are welcome too, and the grounds are popular with dog walkers.
Spacious Cafe with Indoor and Outdoor seating
The cafe is run as a charitable concern, and all the profits go into maintaining and improving Attingham.
It's housed in the Old Stables and serves excellent food, with some dishes containing ingredients sourced from the Kitchen Garden. I tried a Rhubarb and Rosemary Scone washed down with a Latte. The rhubarb and rosemary both came from the gardens, and it was delicious. My grandson had a farm-made ice cream which was scrumptious and made with double cream.
You can choose to sit inside in a series of three different rooms or sit in the courtyard in the plentiful seating areas. The courtyard also contains some attractive planting, displays and a plant sales area outside the National Trust shop.
Wildlife and Nature
A big part of the work of the National Trust involves the conservation of not only historical buildings but also the natural environment. At Attingham, this can be seen where the grounds are allowed to grow as nature intended. There are magnificent areas of English bluebells in the woods in spring, and rarer plants can be seen at the watery margins as you head out towards the woodland walk.
Wildlife is encouraged to venture into visible areas with feeding stations, and bird and bat boxes can be seen around the estate. Bees are encouraged to visit the Kitchen Garden with the provision of pollinator-friendly plants and shelter in the form of a bee hotel.
This one is home to Red Mason and Leafcutter bees that I observed at the time. I'm sure other species also used the space. I saw a good variety of pollinators, including two different bumble bees, miner bees, furrow bees and a range of hoverflies.
In its heyday, the house at Attingham would have provided work for a large part of the local community. The walled kitchen garden would have provided food for the family, guests and staff. The range of foodstuffs produced was wide and often exotic. The giant greenhouses kept tender plants warm and could provide a suitable climate for delicate fruit. Today they house mostly grapevines and tender plants needing shelter till the last of the frosts have passed.
The walls of the garden are clothed with fruit trees such as Peach, Pear, and Greengage. They provide excellent shelter for the fruit and the rest of the plants in the garden.
The garden is also home to a variety of flowering plants that change with the seasons. Here cordoned apple trees are underplanted with a variety of bulbs. Narcissi and tulips will give way to lilies, knifofia, and alums.
Just outside the kitchen garden is the Orchard, housing a range of apple trees many years old and of a mix of traditional varieties. You are encouraged to stop for a while and enjoy a picnic in the apple-scented shade.
At the far end of the orchard, the grass grows longer between areas set aside for various forms of exercise or contemplation. You are led to this area by a series of wonderful sculptures. I find them intriguing and evocative, like quiet spirits, at one with their surroundings, reflective and serene.
There is also a house to view at Attingham, but I haven't been inside myself. I've always found my visits filled with the outdoor space on offer. Maybe I'll take a look one day and write another post - or maybe you could visit and let me know what it's like.