This Father’s Day, it’s time to treat dad to a day out he will really love, be that a family walk in the countryside, enjoying a hearty meal, or re-living his childhood by creating a den with the kids - one of our ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ challenges.
Whether he enjoys real ales, captivating gardens, history hunting through our houses, geocaching or simply getting closer to nature, the National Trust has everything you need to help dad and the rest of the family have a great day out.
Here is a flavour of some of the Father’s Day fun West Sussex has to offer:
Uppark, South Harting
GU31 5QR, Tel: 01730 825415
This beautiful house and garden, set above the South Downs, is the perfect dad ‘getaway’ from it all. There’s lots of room for outdoor games, or you can head into the house to find out more about 19th-century playboy Sir Henry Fetherstonhaugh whose entourage included his teenage mistress Emma Hart, later to become Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson’s lover. Harry scandalised society in his 70s by marrying his 21 year old dairy maid.
Creep along the original underground servants’ tunnels, through which staff scurried, now home to roosting bats. Find out how the contrasting worlds of ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ life at Uppark came to be reflected in HG Wells’s classic Gothic horror novel, The Time Machine.
After a bit of culture dads can round the day off with a spot of homemade cake on the lawn as they soak up the panoramic views. Bliss.
RH17 6EB, Tel: 01444 405250
This amazing garden is full of plants from all over the world, brought back to Sussex by adventurous plant hunters. There’s plenty of exploring to be done; take the self-guided trail into the ancient woods, down medieval tracks to mysterious Mesolithic sandstones, past beautiful cascades built by WWI soldiers, and into the reputedly haunted realm of a local highwayman. Test dads’ tree climbing skills (No.1. on the ‘50 things to do’ checklist), or encourage them to show off their den building techniques (No.4 on the list).
In the midst of the gardens you’ll find an idyllic wildflower meadow (the Pinetum) – the perfect place to flick out a picnic rug and have a snooze, or play some games. Talking of games, there’s croquet to enjoy on the lawns, with the ruined Gothic remains of the house behind. Top up energy levels with some freshly prepared food in the café, and selection of delicious local beers.
Petworth House and Park
Petworth, GU28 0AE, Tel: 01798 342207
This vast 17th-century mansion has some equally huge artwork in it. Get up close to the Trust’s finest collection of pictures, including Turner and Van Dyck, some incredible life-side sculptures, a vast staircase, and intricate wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons – some of the best you will ever see. There are magnificent views across the parkland from all over the house.
With 700 acres to explore, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to picnic locations. Snap up some delicious home-made treats from the tea room, or stride out on Petworth’s Ancient Tree Walk and hug a few stately giants on the way. Keep your eyes open for the fallow deer herd – they’ve been here since Henry VIII visited 500 years ago.
You’ll find lots of ‘50 things to do’ challenges here, from kite flying and tree climbing to rolling down a big hill – careful dads!
For further information on events at National Trust properties, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast. For further information on ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’, visit nationaltrust.org.uk/50things.
Report and picture contributed by the National Trust.