Saltram is a Georgian Mansion with extensive grounds and gardens set beside the River Plym on the outskirts of Plymouth. The house itself is impressive with fantastic period furnishings and beautifully decorated rooms, but the grounds are the star of the show. Right beside the car park is an extraordinary multi-trunk tree which my children loved to clamber all over. They were then way-laid for a while by a small play park and a pretty duck pond before we headed up to the house itself. All over the grounds were various outdoor games. There were so many of them that at no point did we have to wait for a turn and my children skipped happily from one activity to another. They spent longest at the archery and received excellent tuition by the volunteers on hand. They also tried cricket, tennis, bowls, badminton and croquet, which is fast becoming a National Trust classic.
Although the house is free to National Trust members, they operate a ticket system so that visitors get their own time slot. I love this system as it means that the house is never crowded. It also means that the volunteers are never overwhelmed by numbers so they can give everyone individual attention. The volunteers were fantastic with my children and talked them clearly through the teddy bear trail laid out throughout the house. I’m not always a fan of children’s trails as they can seem like tick-box exercises and sometimes seem to curb, rather than inspire, children’s natural curiosity but I loved this particular trail. The mission was to find teddy bears seated beside various coloured teapots and then to collect an item from each teapot to help build a teddy bear’s picnic. I particularly liked it because it had a proper end result and they could keep their small items to make their own tea-party.
After leaving the house we made our way to the Chapel Gallery and tea-rooms. Even though it was a hot day I was nearly tempted to sit inside because it was such a lovely calming space, with huge architectural plants and arched windows. In the end though we sat outside and I’m glad we did because the children took themselves off to explore the grounds. The garden's main flower borders run beside the chapel gallery and boast an impressive collection of roses, shrubs and herbaceous plants. There are also some remarkable trees, although none as impressive as the extraordinary multi-trunk beauty beside the car park.
We went to Saltram on a sunny day and spent many hours in the grounds and gardens and genuinely felt miles away from civilisation. Although it’s near to main roads and the bustling city of Plymouth it is landscaped in such a way as to seem entirely isolated. On the map it shows a walk down to a small beach beside the estuary but in the end we ran out of time to try it, so I’ll have to go back another day and try this out as well.