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National Trust News: National Trust Bank Holiday Pit Stops

"For those who find service stations a drag, the National Trust has hundreds of places up and down the UK that offer that perfect pit-stop to stretch legs, fuel up on local, seasonal food and enjoy some of the best views around,'' says Sally Airey.

"For August bank holiday, National Trust places welcome weary travellers who are planning long-haul journeys – with many located right next to motorways and main routes.

With over 300 historic houses and beautiful gardens as well as stretches of stunning coast and countryside across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a National Trust place is never more than 40 minutes away.

For those going that little bit further and hitting the highways this August bank holiday, why not take the scenic route and stop off at one of the National Trust’s extraordinary places along the way – a summer refreshment pit-stop that is a world away from traffic jams and service stations.

Re-fuel on delicious meals and light snacks, home-made using fresh, home-grown produce and local ingredients; stretch aching legs in gardens and parks in full bloom and breathe in the fresh, summer air to make the rest of the journey more enjoyable.

Here are just some of the beautiful National Trust places near major travel routes:

Acorn Bank Garden and Watermill, Cumbria

Just 10 minutes from the M6 motorway, Acorn Bank’s tea-room is situated in wonderful gardens. Treats from the menu include dishes made with culinary herbs from the garden and fruit from the orchards used in delicious puddings and cakes. Wander along the Crowdundle Beck to the partially restored watermill, spot some wildlife then enjoy the views across the Eden Valley to the Lake District.

Close to M6

Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire

Stretch legs in the beautiful 46 hectare garden, with its working water mill, wildlife discovery area and one of the finest collections of historic garden statues in the country. The house contains paintings, furniture and silver in the unique collection of the last occupant, plus one of the National Trust's largest collections of rare clocks – 37 in total. Try delicious, home-cooked food, made with fresh, local ingredients in the tranquil setting of Redwoods restaurant.

Close to M11

Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire

Break up the journey between Warwick and Birmingham at this 15th-century manor with tall chimneys, timber beams and wisteria. Cross its calm moat by the small stone bridge to step inside Elizabethan rooms and find the secret hideaways where priests hid 400 years ago. Then enjoy the fresh air around the nature trail, lakeside walks and medieval fishponds. There is also a refreshing 1 ¾ mile walk through the fields surrounding Baddesley, with glimpses back to the house and church. Try the home-made bread, straight from the oven, and savour seasonal food made with ingredients from the kitchen garden.

Close to the M40 and M42

Charlecote Park, Warwickshire

Close to Stratford upon Avon, the motorway will be a distant memory on arrival through the Tudor gatehouse. Spot the mellow stonework and high chimneys and then head indoors to see grand family portraits. In Shakespeare country, hear how the young William Shakespeare poached deer in these very grounds and picnic or stroll beside the River Avon in the ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped gardens. There’s also a range of hot meals and light snacks on offer in the restaurant, which uses home-grown produce.

Close to the M40

Chartwell, Kent

Escape the bedlam of the M25 with a trip to Chartwell. Bought by Sir Winston Churchill for its magnificent views over the Weald of Kent to Sussex, this was his home from 1924 until the end of his life. The rooms and gardens remain much as they were when he lived here, with personal mementoes strongly evoking his career and wide-ranging interests. Enjoy fresh produce from the kitchen garden, served in the large restaurant. On busy days, the kiosk serves light bites, drinks and snacks.

Close to M25

Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

Home of the ‘fabulous Astors’, the magnificent retreat next to the River Thames is surrounded by spectacular gardens. Crack the brand new maze, recreated from a recently discovered map that showed an old maze that once stood in the grounds. Or, enjoy zigzagging through the geometric beds and hedges of the 5 acre Grade 1 listed Parterre - it was inspired by Louis XIV’s great garden at Versailles. Take pleasure in home-cooked lunches and snacks at The Orangery restaurant and the kiosk in the car park sells light refreshments too.

Close to M40

Croome, Worcestershire

Discover the beauty and space of Croome – the ideal place to relax and unwind over the bank holiday weekend – and just off the M5. The serene landscape and lakeside are full of paths that stretch for miles, leading through to the 18th century pleasure grounds and RAF-themed play areas. The real talking point for the August bank holiday is the Hare Krishna festival, offering a massive weekend (Saturday 27 – Sunday 28) of free food, fun, culture, celebration and dance. Visit www.croomeharekrishna.co.uk.

Close to M5

Cragside, Northumberland

Discover one of the largest rock gardens in Europe, a vast woodland garden, as well as lakeside walks, an adventure play area and labyrinth. If travelling north of the border, make this a last stop before Scotland. The Stables tea room serves locally sourced food and drink and, for those with a sweet tooth, the cream teas, home bakes and ice-cream are not to be missed.

Off A697

Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire

The lavish collections inside this beautiful country house set in extensive parkland reflect the fashion in the 17th-century for all things Dutch. Victorian domestic quarters will give you a unique insight into life below stairs. Situated between Bath and Bristol, it’s unbelievable to think that’s it’s just off the M4. Quench thirst in the tea garden with the snack kiosk, or for local venison, perry pears and seasonal produce, head to the restaurant.

Close to M4

Gibside, Tyne & Wear

This stunning 18th-century landscape park and nature reserve offer a taste of the country on the edge of the city. Gibside is a Georgian 'grand design' on a spectacular scale; the vision of coal baron George Bowes, the Palladian chapel is an architectural masterpiece, the stable block is a vibrant learning and discovery centre, and the once grand hall is now a dramatic shell. Discover fine Derwent Valley views, winding paths and refreshing open spaces to stretch tired legs while exploring elegant buildings and ruins. Escape along the avenue for miles of tranquil walks and picnic spots or enjoy family adventures at our woodland playscape and challenge trail. The tea-rooms and local farm shop are not to be missed.

Just off A1

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Between Nottingham and Sheffield, a powerful Elizabethan lady- Bess of Hardwick- still shows off her wealth at this spectacular hall with huge windows and towers. The all new fascinating exhibition displays Bess’s letters. Outside explore a fragrant herb garden, orchards and lawns or take a circular walk through the parkland to really stretch tired legs. Get a snack, drink or ice-cream at the kiosk or try meat reared on the estate in the restaurant.

Close to M1

Hatfield Forest

A haven from a trip on the M11, the ancient trees are like magnificent living sculptures, peaceful giants worn and fragile from centuries of seasons and use. Whether it is somewhere for the children to let off steam or to relax on a walk where you can quietly reflect, the forest is special, spacious place to unwind. Enjoy seasonal, local food from the Forest café and, for those en route to a camping trip, the shops sells sustainable woodland products, including firewood.

Close to M11

Killerton, Devon

Six miles from Exeter, this relaxed 18th-century estate makes an ideal place to stop for a few hours. See the famous collection of costumes in the ‘Dressing up, dressing down’ exhibition or wander the sweeping grounds. Magnolias and rhododendrons, rare trees, woodland walks and a summer house known as the “Bear’s Hut” are just some of the highlights to be found outside. New for 2011 is the Killerton Kitchen restaurant with lots of fun talking points, including a recycled yoghurt pot counter top, quirky teapot lights and wallpaper depicting a montage of Acland family photographs. Award-winning Killerton cider, chutney, flour or honey can be bought here too.

Close to M5

Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Going to or from Cornwall, this is a real treat. One of the most fascinating and complete late 19th-century houses in England, Lanhydrock is full of period atmosphere. There is also an adventure playground, with wobbly bridge, scramble nets and animal sculptures, to keep the kids entertained – right next to the picnic area. Go Cornish in the restaurant and have an Oggie pasty and cream tea.

Off A38 and A30

Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire

En route to the Lake District, Manchester or Liverpool, this stop-off is not to be missed. The manor house has all the Tudor ingredients; patterned beams, cobbled courtyard and long gallery. If it looks uneven from the outside, the slopping floors and walls inside are a real joy and slightly at odds with the well-ordered knot garden. The short estate walk with a discovery trail is just the refreshment weary travellers need. Delicious, home-cooked local food is served in the Brewhouse restaurant and the puddings, cakes and scones are a real treat.

Close to M6

Llanerchaeron, Ceredigion

A perfect stop-off point while visiting the Welsh coast, John Nash designed this eye-catching Regency villa in the 1790s. Discover everyday life of a rustic eighteenth century Welsh estate and watch milking, lambing, shearing and hay-making the farm. Then, buy seasonal vegetables, fruit and herbs from the walled garden. Pop into the laundry, brewery and salting house too and enjoy light meals and cakes in the cafe, or bring a picnic. Round off the visit in the beautiful Aeron Valley.

2½ miles east of Aberaeron off A482

Mount Stewart House, Garden and Temple of the Winds, Co. Down

Just 15 miles south of Belfast visit this Neo-classical house, famed for its George Stubbs painting, and walk through the beautiful grounds. Make time to take an engaging tour of the opulent house to reveal its fascinating heritage and historic, world-famous artefacts and artwork. Outside, find statues and fountains in the delightful parterres - a formal garden with patterns that are best seen from above - and take a moment to gaze across the peaceful lake overlooked by the Temple of Winds, with magnificent views of Stangford Lough. Enjoy a meal in the award-winning Bay restaurant or try the unique Mount Stewart ice-cream.

15 miles south east of Belfast

Polesden Lacey, Surrey

An Edwardian country estate designed to be the perfect setting for a millionairess hostess to entice royalty, politicians and the best of Edwardian society for entertaining weekends in the country. The house, with its notably stunning interiors and collection, delightful gardens and superb views across the rolling Surrey hills is waiting to be explored. Wander through the beautiful walled garden, before strolling through the extensive grounds and landscape walks. Savour home-cooked seasonal menus in the restaurant or enjoy homemade cakes in the coffee shop.

Close to M25

Stourhead, Wiltshire

With a shop and an award-winning restaurant next to the car park, Stourhead really can be a pit stop location. It’s worth taking the time to visit the jewel in the Stourhead crown though - the world-famous 18th-century landscape garden. A magnificent lake shimmers with reflections of classical temples, mystical grottoes and rare and exotic trees. Let the children burn off excess energy as they become nature detectives with a tracker pack.

Close to A303

Tntesfield, North Somerset

With its scaffolding off, Tyntesfield’s restored, Victorian glory is unveiled for 2011. The house, chapel, gardens and woodland make for an inspiring break filled with fresh air and discovery. The Home Farm visitor centre, with a restaurant, ship, exhibition space and family play area are free to visit every day. The restaurant uses local produce, including some ingredients grown on the estate, to create fresh and tasty dishes.

Just off M5

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