A Day Out in Newstead Abbey
Newstead Abbey is a beautiful getaway, just 40 minutes by car or 20 minutes by train from Nottingham City. Home of the romantic Lord Byron, I definitely recommend the house tour but if you didn't want to wander the grand halls and learn about Byron's strange ways, the surrounding gardens and abbey grounds are worth a day out.
The Practical Stuff
Unhelpfully Google Maps will tell you there is no public transport route to the Abbey from Beeston but I'm here to help:
You can either get the Pronto from Nottingham Victoria Bus Station and it drops you right outside the abbey gates (from where it is a 15 minute walk up to the abbey itself but once you're inside the grounds, the fun starts) or you can take the train from Beeston/Nottingham to Newstead, from where you can walk 10-15 minutes to the back gate of the abbey grounds.
If you're driving in, it is £6 for all day parking.
The forest itself is beautiful to walk through, with tall trees draping generously over the winding trail (comfortable enough for buggies and prams) and glimpses of countryside fields on either side, horses, donkeys and your usual friendly farm animals to say hello to, which is always lovely when you live in a town/city.
There are a few trails to explore, we followed the main track from the back gate to the abbey and then around the lovely gardens and play area. There is plenty of green space to laze about in, a cafe and toilets by the abbey.
There is a nice lake with your usual feathery creatures and then some peacocks to add in an air of grandeur. You can follow the path around the lake or wander down to the abbey itself. The house tour is £10 for adults and quite engaging. Always better to book in advance but you can also get tickets on the door.
Some beautiful ancient trees, a small aritifical waterfall which you can go behind (rather dank and musty and not particularly as magical as you'd think) and a little stream that looked quite good to splash around on a hot day for older toddlers and kids.
You can download a site map from here. Even though it was a sweltering summer day, I loved wandering the beautiful gardens and then being walked around everywhere by little Mr. Z who still refuses to toddle by himself outside the comfort of our house!
If your children are old enough to play by themselves then even better - lay out a picnic blanket under one of the many beautiful old trees and take a half nap or read 10 sentences of your book (which is probably about as far as you can get before someone needs you to do something ...!).
And there is an ice cream truck - just saying.
Good to Know
If you're looking for a pub with good food and lots of character, I highly recommend the Hutt, which is just across the main gates of the abbey. It is a huge space with indoor and outdoor seating, lovely food, great service and the best part - very affordable! I had a mushroom and ale pie, and a scrumptious apple crumble and custard and a lemonade all for £15.
And the pub is very child friendly - we were chilling there for near two hours and they even brought me warmed up milk for Z (it had been far too hot to travel with fresh milk in a bottle!).