Stoneywell National Trust, Leicester

Stoneywell is a stunning National Trust property situated in Leicester. It is a beautiful cottage surrounded by stunning gardens.

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The path to the cottage

We’ve been twice now this year – mainly because our first visit was limited due to the super high winds closing some of the grounds (it was a very wise decision that day!!) – so we returned to check out the gardens.

This property is very special, in that you can’t just decide to turn up. To limit visitors coming through the property at any one time, you have to book in a time slot online, giving an hour guidance on when you’re coming.

We’ve always been early for the time slots but have still been given entry when we get there – it just helps make the experience enjoyable for everyone as a manageable number of visitors will be on-site at each time. It has also meant that the gardens are so quiet, so we’ve had a lovely visit on both occasions.

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Between the stables and cottage

The Satnav postcode takes you to the house itself, but that’s not where the parking is, so when you get to the last turning, follow the NT signs left instead of right, and you’ll get to the car park.

In the carpark, you’ll be met by a shuttle bus driver, who will take you up to the house. It’s only a few minutes away, but the driver is so friendly – and Lily has loved the little minibus ride each time. There’s also a little shelter if the weather isn’t great, but we’ve been lucky both times that the minibus has been there.

When you come off the minibus, you are always greeted by a lovely volunteer, who shows you to the converted stables, where you you’re your National Trust membership card for free entrance or pay if you need to. She also gives you a timeslot if you want to look round the cottage, or for a gardens tour if you wish.

I didn’t think at 3 years old that Lily would be interested in the tour, so took the little map and went on our way towards the gardens to explore ourselves. On our first visit, there was a huge sea of daffodils awaiting us, and then on the 2nd visit we were surrounded by beautiful bluebells – it was really pretty – then as we turned our way around the corner towards the cottage itself, we could see all the beautiful colours of the gardens ahead of us.

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The cottage itself

There is some beautiful woodland to explore, which Lily loved as she kept telling me about her forest school and what she did there – but it was lovely to see what animals, birds and insects we could find (she doesn’t like insects if they’re on her slide, but she is intrigued by them when we use it as an activity to find them, haha!!) There’s also a 50 Things to Do Before You’re 11 3/4 downloadable from the National Trust website, that is a great way to discover the woods.

We were lucky as they were blanketed in bluebells when we visited, and they are so much fun to explore.

Up, behind the cottage we discovered a lovely little lawn area with some wooden games, and that was Lily instantly sold! She loved knocking over the wooden skittles, as well a wooden noughts and crosses board.

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Skittles on the lawn

Once I had dragged her away from the games, we took the lovely path through the other side of this ‘secret garden’ (as she called it!), and saw all the beautiful colours across the gardens, and the countryside views.

There is a little tearoom situated behind the stables back at the entrance, situated in the old Laundry Room, which is really lovely. It is only small, but with the limited numbers of visitors, it isn’t overly busy. They have a selection of homemade cakes and pastries, as well as fresh teas and coffees (not things like cappuccinos, only individual filter coffees), and some light lunch options. For children, they have cartons of juice or small juice bottles. I loved the view out the back window across the bluebells.

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The lawn area – perfect to play in

There’s also a tiny gift shop in there too with some standard National Trust items, such as sweets, little toys and cookery books. The toilets are situated at the other side of the stables, right by the entrance where you come in.

At the end of your visit, you just pick up the minibus back to the carpark.

We really recommend this for a morning or afternoon visit with little ones. We went both times on weekdays and were the only ones with a young kid there. It was so peaceful and the volunteers were so lovely to us, from the minibus driver, to the lady who waits at the entrance.

The gardens are stunning, the coffee is good and the people are lovely – what more could you want from a little visit to a hidden gem of a National Trust property?

Tips for visiting

  • Remember to book your space in advance to visit as it’s not possible to just turn up on the day
  • Don’t follow the satnav when you get closer – follow the brown National Trust signs to reach the car park
  • If you have young children, wear them in a sling if you can as it’s not easy ground for a pushchair to make the most of the walk

Visit the website here…

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Exploring the grounds
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Noughts and crosses
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The path to the cottage
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