Erddig, near Wexham, Clwyd (01978 355314). A National Trust property with landscaped gardens, an orchard - and the National Collection of Ivy. A tour through the outbuildings and servants rooms gives an intriguing insight into life below stairs. The gardens are open 10am-6pm, the Hall from 12 noon-5pm Sat-Wed. A family ticket is pounds 8.50.
Croxteth Hall and Country Park, Merseyside (0151 2285311), has woodlands, gardens, and an adventure playground - open 11am-5pm, daily. Thursday 15 August is a good day to visit as children can join a pond dip to search out the park's small amphibians. The search sets out at 2.30pm, pounds 1.50 for accompanying adults, 75p children but tickets are selling fast...
Hawkstone Park (01939 200611), near Shrewsbury in Shropshire, has a collection of follies dotted around acres of parkland. Children can clamber up 152 steps of a towering monument, tuck themselves away in a hermitage, and play in a gingerbread hall. The park is open daily from 10am until 6pm (last admission 4pm) and a family ticket is pounds 12.00, or pounds 4.50 adults and pounds 2.50 children.
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