Plenty of summer activities to keep the children happy
Discover what's in a pond:
Coleton Fishacre at Kingswear is an ideal location for a spot of pond dipping – you'll find organised pond dipping sessions with the rangers and gardeners every other Wednesday in the summer holidays.
Cotehele's pond is also full of wonderful things like frogspawn and newts and don't worry if you haven't brought a net or a jam jar, staff at the Tudor mansion near Saltash have all the equipment you'll need to get to stuck in.
Every summer Knightshayes Court in Tiverton runs a whole load of pond-dipping activities in the parkland of the Victorian country house – other National Trust properties like Lanhydrock and Tregwainton also have ponds worth exploring, so why not grab a net and see what you can discover beneath the surface?
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Find crazy creatures in a rock pool:
Rock pools are home to an amazing array of marine life and the pools at Durgan beach – at the bottom of Glendurgan Garden in Mawnan Smith – is a great place to see what you can find once the tide has gone out.
A rock-pooling trip to Trenow Cove surely offers one of the most spectacular backdrops in Cornwall –while you explore the many pools revealed at low water you can also enjoy an unusual and spectacular view of St Michael's Mount.
Nansidwell beach on the North Helford coast is also a great Cornish rock-pooling location.
In South Devon, two of the National Trust's many beautiful beaches – Wembury and South Milton Sands – are renowned for their rock pools. Wembury is also a Marine Nature Reserve so is a perfect place to scour the beach for limpets and crabs and learn more about the variety of sea creatures which make their home in the pools.
Go on a nature walk at night:
At Parke near Bovey Tracey a number of events are being held as part of National Moth Night. Wandering the grounds and trapping moths is the perfect way to catch and admire a startling array of our lesser-known nocturnal invertebrates.
A walk from Polzeath to Port Quin in Cornwall might afford you a glimpse of the rare Greater Horseshoe bats who have made the disused clifftop mineshafts their home at Polzeath. The rangers run an event in August where – after a BBQ and talk about the bats – there is a walk up the cliff where the bats can be heard and seen emerging from their roost in abandoned mine workings. These are found on Pentire headland, which is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular stretches of the north Cornwall coast.
At Saltram House in Plymouth there are 10 of the 17 different bat species on site or feeding. Special night-time bat walks are regularly held, as well as a more family-friendly version – the twilight ramble.
Or why not tick off number 40 on your 50 Things… list with a nature walk at night at Cotehele. Cotehele's ranger will take you through the woods on August 21 at 8.30pm to experience the sounds, sights and smells of the night. There are bats here too, so keep your eyes peeled.
You can find out all about 50 Things To Do Before You're 11 ¾ at the National Trust's blog NTSouthWest.co.uk and you can download the Wild-time Challenge Pack. Details of all the trust's events in the region are online too – visit nationaltrust.org.uk/visit for details.