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50 Things to do before you're 11¾: the National Trust's campaign for kids

PUBLISHED: 13:12 02 May 2013 | UPDATED: 13:13 02 May 2013

Child in a den built on the Natural Play trail at Box Hill, Surrey.

Child in a den built on the Natural Play trail at Box Hill, Surrey.

©National Trust Images/John Millar

Back by popular demand is the National Trust's campaign for kids: 50 Things to do before you're 11¾. This year, there are 15 new tasks to complete as Emma Brien highlights

Kicking off this May; National Trust houses, gardens, countryside and coastal areas across the country are laying on events and helping visitors complete as many activities from the list as they can. Participants can sign up online to find locations, record activities and earn special rewards for completing all 50 things on the list.

If doing all 50 is a bit too daunting, why not start with the National Trust’s Top Ten activities for 2013? We’ve saved you some time by suggesting some Surrey locations to complete the Top Ten: If doing all 50 is a bit too daunting, why not start with the National Trust’s Top Ten activities for 2013? We’ve saved you some time by suggesting some Surrey locations to complete the Top Ten.

Please check the property website for more information or call ahead before visiting to check whether there are special events happening, or whether you can do the activity whenever you wish, under your own steam.

1. Climb a tree at Hatchlands Park

Climbing trees provides fantastic fun. Keep three limbs on the tree at all times and choose a tree with big, strong branches that you can reach from the ground.

In Surrey, locations along the River Wey Navigations and in the Surrey Hills are covered in suitably strong trees. Or visit Claremont Landscape Garden and the wider estate of Hatchlands Park to seek out more trees to scale.

2. Build a den at Claremont Landscape Garden

Who doesn’t like making their own dens in the woods with branches, mud and leaves? All kinds of secret meetings could be held in these little dwellings.

Good, flat places in Surrey for den building include Claremont Landscape Garden and places in the Surrey Hills. Use materials already lying around and never break off sticks or leaves from living trees and plants.

3. Go on a really long bike ride at Morden Hall Park

There’s nothing like the feel of the wind in your hair as you whizz down a pathway on your bike. So grab your bike, helmet and some lunch and head over to Morden Hall Park or Holmwood Common in the Surrey Hills.

4. Go on a walk barefoot at Polesden Lacey

Feeling the grass tickle your soles as you walk along, and squelching your toes into a patch of mud is great, innocent fun.

Get barefoot in the Surrey Hills, but always watch out for prickly or sharp things underfoot. Or enjoy the manicured lawns at Polesden Lacey or Clandon Park and walk barefoot across the grass.

5. Hunt for fossils and bones in neighbouring Sussex

Many fossils turn up on the coastline, so head over to Sussex to see what you can find - a good place to start is Birling Gap as a result of the chalk cliffs’ continuous erosion there.

Bring a bucket and spade to collect your finds. Watch out for tides and adverse weather conditions.

6. Hold a scary beast in the Surrey Hills

You can hunt for mini-beasts anywhere. All you need to bring is a magnifying glass and some patience. Good places to look include under rocks and in the bark of fallen trees.

National Trust places that are good for spotting mini beasts include Hatchlands Park, with its woodland and the wildlife-rich Surrey Hills.

7. Track wild animals at Winkworth Arboretum

Looking for animal footprints works best when the ground is soft and wet. Books and online resources can help identify tracks. Different animals move in different ways, with badgers keeping to set pathways and foxes wandering about a bit more.

Go animal tracking at Winkworth Arboretum. Or explore the woods at Polesden Lacey. Don’t forget to wear sturdy trainers or boots and keep your eyes peeled.

8. Discover what’s in a pond at Dapdune Wharf

Pond dipping is a fascinating way to while away a few hours. You can find all kinds of wildlife, from frogs to pond skaters. Scoop some water into a tub and use a fine net to see what’s about. Look carefully. Some of the inhabitants will be very small.

Surrey has plenty of interesting ponds to explore. Start with a trip to Morden Hall Park to see what lurks beneath the surface. Or take a trip to the River Wey Navigations to discover more watery wildlife.

9. Go bird watching at Claremont Landscape Garden

From robins to rooks, the UK’s bird life is as varied as it is fascinating. Take your binoculars and see what you can spot circling overhead or perched in the bushes. Keep quiet and still and you will soon be rewarded.

Claremont Landscape Garden, Hatchlands Park, Morden Hall Park, and Polesden Lacey are all good locations for bird spotting.

10. Cook on a campfire at our specially organised events

Setting a (safe) campfire and cooking your own food on it really brings you back to nature, with a fun activity followed by a satisfying meal. Never light a campfire unless you have specific permission to do so, or are attending a specially organised event. The National Trust has organised campfire cooking events at places across Surrey. Check online for details.

Log on to www.50things.org.uk to start your own 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4.

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