10 Things Not to Miss with Kids on the Ickworth Estate
Our family-friendly country house hotel The Ickworth is unique in that it’s situated on more than 1,800 acres of National Trust parkland that our guests are free to explore, on foot or by bike (there are two cycling routes, and we loan out bikes for all ages). Geo-caching is also available for those with a GPS device to hand, with the hidden boxes made by Ickworth Park Primary schoolchildren.
Here are our top things to look out for in this lovely landscape created by its one-time aristocratic owners. Make sure to pick up a free map from the hotel reception before you venture forth.
• Deer – first introduced to Ickworth in 1706, and including fallow, muntjac and the occasional roe deer.
• Buzzards – a large bird of prey that has been coming back to Suffolk in greater numbers over the last few years and can often be spotted soaring over the park and woodlands.
• Bugs – occupying dead and decaying trees and fallen timber that are left in place as part of the estate management program.
• Bats – at least nine species, including the rare Barbestelle. The Ickworth’s West Wing and many other buildings on the estate, including the remains of the ice house and the restored St Mary’s Church, provide ideal hibernation and roosting sites.
• Butterflies – in the wildflower meadow with its orchids, adder’s-tongue fern, knapweed, agrimony, vetches and cowslip.
• The Tea Party Oak – named for its erstwhile popularity as a picnic spot. One of Suffolk’s finest ancient trees, it’s believed to be well over 700 years old.
• The Wildlife Area behind the car park, created with the help of volunteers to encourage wildlife from the estate into the area most popular with visitors, and including a mini-wildflower meadow, butterfly border, Wildlife Tower, woodpiles, compost clamps and ladybird towers.
• The Fairy Lake – dug in the 19th century as a boating lake with a boathouse, now another wildlife haven. Just south of it, the Round House was a shelter for shooting parties.
• The Walled Garden – a one-time kitchen garden with the remains of what is believed to have been a rare pineapple house, plus a beehive and three allotments worked by National Trust volunteers and children from the local primary school.
• The stumpery – a Victorian feature made from parts of dead trees including stumps, logs and bark, placed so as to resemble sculptures. Look closely and you might make out fanciful animal shapes.
The National Trust Ickworth runs 'Out & About Wednesdays' for kids during the school holidays.