As part of the National Trust's Great British Walk festival in 2013 they made a number of secret walks available. We tried the secret walk at Attingham Park in Shropshire.
The National Trust has created a list of top ten secret British walks. Our local Attingham Park was on the list, so we popped over to have a look...
Top 10 Great British Walks with the National Trust
To coincide with the annual Great British Walk festival, the National Trust has created a list of the top ten secret walks that you can only get to by foot.
The walks are available up and down the country. You can see the top ten list and download a PDF of each walk from the National Trust website here.
Secret walk at Attingham Park in Shropshire
One of the walks on the list is at Attingham Park in Shropshire. This is always a great place to take the kids if you're in the area.
So with the first signs of Autumn starting to show, the winds starting to blow, and a grey drizzle filled sky, we put on our hiking and wet weather gear and set off.
In addition to the new secret walk, we planned to take in the WW 2 walk, the deer park, and the woodland walk. We had our youngest with us on this walk (just turned 5), and so this was going to be some distance for him (Attingham Park has a large parkland with great walks).
When we visited Attingham Park there was a horse and carriage parade. Check the events pages on the National Trust website as you can find many events going on throughout the year.
Just down from the big house, where the horse and carriage parade was happening, is the River Tern. This runs right through the park and you cross it over two old bridges.
You can't pass the bridge without a game of Pooh sticks of course.
The secret walk goes through the Deer Park at Attingham.
There were lots of stags this time of year, and our little lad was spotting them through his little binoculars on his own little safari tour.
The Secret Walk is not too long and easy to do with children.
As you enter the last part of the walk you go through a gate just before a wooded area.
Don't let your kids run on ahead as just down the end of the path is the River Tern, which had a fast current when we visited.
The final destination of the secret walk is this bridge.
We have driven over this bridge thousands of times as the local road that runs by Attingham Park uses it to cross the river. However, you do not see how impressive the bridge is from the road. The normal view of the bridge is from Attingham House, but it is just a carefully placed item in the distance of Humphrey Repton's 18th Century landscape.
The National Trust had thoughtfully placed a picnic bench under the bridge.
So we sheltered from the rain showers and ate our lunch like trolls under the bridge.
For a road bridge that is still in use today and can only be seen from the distance, it has some surprising details.
At each side of the bridge, it looks like there are recesses for statues.
The face in the arch of the bridge is different on each side: as you walk out of the park the face looks sad, but when you walk back in the face looks happy.
For a house that looks so formal, it's nice to see this little detail.
The date on the bridge says 1780 by the way.
There's a great view of Attingham House from under the bridge.
This secret view used to be only for the family of the house and a few special friends. Not 'commoners' like us 😉
Keeping little walkers amused
The secret walk to the bridge and back isn't too far, but you may wish to go on further (there's a few more secrets at Attingham Park).
Little legs can get tired though.
A good thing with this time of year is that lots of things that have fallen from trees that they can find and collect. Add these little things into the walk and you'll be surprised at how far small children can walk without realising it. See these ideas for an Autumn Scavenger Hunt.
More Secret Walks: World War 2
After leaving the bridge you can either return to Attingham house, or take the path to the WW2 walk. This is well worth doing as it takes you through the back of the Deer Park, which never used to be open to the public.
During the war the estate became part of the war effort. Just outside the park was the airfield to RAF Atcham, which soon became home to the USAAF. This walk takes you through some remains of buildings and old roads that still remain on the park from the time of the war.
This was a fantastic walk through Attingham Park.
We saw plenty of deer, including one stag standing on his hind legs and using his antlers to knock acorns from a tree.
In the open parkland the air was filled with swallows. Some were gathered on an old tree, but most were swooping overhead and all around us, flying their aerobatics just inches from the ground.
We guess that they must be about to migrate, and perhaps getting a good meal in before setting off. The summer weather is just starting to leave us now.
We saw a lot of history and a lot of nature on this walk.
It was therefore fitting that towards the end of the walk we saw something that was both natural and historic.
This oak tree is at least 650 years old, and was a boundary marker for centuries before the parkland was landscaped back in 1797.
It's thanks to the National Trust that we still have places like Attingham Park where we can get out with our kids and explore our history and our landscapes.