The best National Trust places to visit in the North of England


Posted by Ed Roberts on 19th March 2020

The North of England is a treasure trove of visitor attractions, be they places of historical interest or natural beauty spots. The National Trust manages, owns and protects many sites across England and Wales, and we’ve compiled a helpful guide so you can choose some excellent places to take a day trip when you are holidaying in the north. Choose from stately homes and country estates like Dunham Massey or Cragside, places with strong literary ties like Hilltop, Beatrix Potter’s former Lake District home, and William Wordsworth’s Grasmere, or gorgeous gardens at Tatton Park and Biddulph Grange Garden. If you have a dog, take them for a hike up Roseberry Topping or up to Penshaw Monument, and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

We have some wonderful properties within driving distance of some great National Trust properties in the North of England. If you are hoping to enjoy a holiday in the north, we have self-catering accommodation in the North East and the North West, all across the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors, the Northumberland Coast, the Lake District, the Peak District, and Merseyside. Our properties are suitable for couples, large family groups, and many of them welcome pets too.  Read our guide to learn more.

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👪 Family-friendly places in the North of England

🐕 Dog-friendly places in the North of England

🏰 Historical places of importance in the North of England

The National Trust’s best family-friendly places to visit in the North of England 

Hill Top, Lake District

The Lake District has inspired and drawn in famous creatives for hundreds of years. Arguably one of the best-loved children’s writers of all time, Beatrix Potter made the Lake District her home, dreaming up her impossibly polite and zany menagerie of creatures like Peter Rabbit, Two Bad Mice (Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca), Jeremy Fisher, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland and so many more.

Credit: @wingthemidwayair

Beatrix Potter fans can visit her former home at Hill Top, a National Trust owned property close to Sawrey. She bought the house in 1905, and nowadays it’s a small museum, with an exhibition containing early editions of her books and illustrations. After you have explored the museum, you can enjoy the Beatrix Potter Trail too. Please note that a timed ticket entry system is in place, however, it is not possible to book entrance in advance.

⭐Don’t miss: The Beatrix Potter Gallery which is full of original artwork and artefacts for her life.

🌦 Best conditions: It’s an all-weather attraction, so ideal for rainy days. Tickets sell-out quickly during the holiday periods.

☕ Facilities: WCs, dogs on leads welcome in the gardens, close to pubs, small car park, gift shop, children’s garden trail (during summer holidays), assistance dogs welcome.  

🏠 Stay nearby: Bracken Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Credit: @ntdumhammassey

Dunham Massey is a National Trust-owned stately home and ancient deer park close to Chester and Manchester. Its lovely country park garden attracts families who love a good stroll and it’s a good place to enjoy nature too. 

Credit: @ntdumhammassey

A wander through the wild parklands and woods reveals peculiar follies and structures, along with gorgeous views of the house. Keep a keen eye out for Dunham’s resident herd of fallow deer; be sure to listen out for owls and woodpeckers too. Guided walks are available to go deer watching with the rangers, so check the National Trust website for dates. Unwind on one of the accessible circular walks before warming up with some lunch at the Stables Restaurant.

⭐ Don’t miss: The fallow deer are great to see.

🌦 Best conditions: Dunham is home to one of the UK’s finest winter gardens. Any time of year is great for garden lovers.

☕FacilitiesCafé/restaurant, gift shop, WCs, parking 

🏠 Stay nearby: Church View Cottage - Tarden | Sleeps: 4 guests

Formby Sands, Merseyside

Formby Sands is an alluring place; there aren’t too many places in the UK where pine woodlands stretch all the way down to the beach anymore. Before you reach the Irish Sea, you have to follow the boardwalks over the beautiful dunes over which you will see stunning views. Formby Sands makes for a great family day out as the beach here stretches for miles, yet it’s not a seaside resort with a pier and shops. There are no buildings within eyeshot of the dunes, giving you the feeling that you have come a long way from the local towns and cities. It’s a lovely rural spot on the coast.

Credit: @ntformby

Another reason to visit Formby Sands is for its unusual wild inhabitants. It’s here that you can see a rather friendly colony of red squirrels. They thrive here because of the size of their habitat and the constant attention that they receive from visitors to their woodlands. So, for a memorable and fun day out by the sea, head for Formby Sands, as once seen it’s hard to forget.

⭐Don’t miss: The red squirrels are awesome.

🌦 Best conditions: Mild and sunny days.

Facilities: Parking, WCs, dogs on leads along Squirrel Walk otherwise there are no restrictions for dogs, pushchair access to beach and woodlands 

🏠 Stay nearby: Windle Croft | Sleeps: 12 guests plus 2 dogs

Family-friendly cottages in the North of England

The National Trust’s best dog-friendly places to visit in the North of England

Roseberry Topping, Cleveland

This Cleveland hill resembles the Matterhorn in the Alps with its peculiar peak. At just 320 metres high, Roseberry Topping has a very distinct shape which was caused by a geological fault and a mining collapse in 1912. Ever since, the hill has become one of the most beloved landmarks in the Tees Valley area. 

Credit: @jameswilson88

Whilst lots of people come to Roseberry Topping with climbing on their mind, there are plenty of different places to go with your dog. Explore bluebell woods, heather moorland, the open expanses of Roseberry Common, and a long-abandoned quarry. The views across North Yorkshire and Cleveland are quite dynamic too.

⭐Don’t miss: A climb to the top will inspire some great photo opportunities.

🌦 Best conditions: Mild and sunny.

Facilities: Parking, signposted pathways 

🏠 Stay nearby: Roseberry View | Sleeps: 8 guests plus 3 dogs 

Penshaw Monument, Tyne and Wear

This is a great destination for dog lovers, close to Sunderland, it’s found atop of Penshaw Hill. Officially called the Earl of Durham's Monument, it's widely known as the Penshaw Monument. 70 feet high, the monument is a replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens and can be seen for miles around. Penshaw Monument is thought to be Wearside's most iconic landmark, even appearing on the logo for Sunderland FC.

Take your dog for a walk around the local trail on Penshaw Hill called Lambton Worm, it’s just over 2.5 miles and the views of the surrounding countryside are impressive. The walk takes you along the banks of the River Wear and through the quaint Ayton’s Wood and Pensham Woods.

⭐Don’t miss: Sunset at the monument is astonishing. Bring a camera.

🌦 Best conditions: Sunny.

Facilities: Parking

🏠 🏠 Stay nearby: Eaststone Cottage | Sleeps: 3 guests plus 1 dog 

Tatton Park, Cheshire

Credit: @mattturner1971

Dogs on leads are very welcome at this lovely National Trust property, Tatton Park.   Explore this 400-year-old country estate that centres around its neo-classical mansion, 50 acres of landscaped gardens, one thousand acres of deer park, a rare breed farm, and more. The early 19th-century mansion embodies the theme of Victorian grandeur that extends into the garden with its glasshouses, formal gardens, Italian and Japanese gardens.

Credit: @bengarretphotography

The Stables restaurant and the Gardener’s Cottage are onsite to cater for nibbles and some very cool lunch options. Take a visit to Tatton Dale Farm, where the clock has stood still since the 1930s, it’s a real journey back in time. Take your kids to see the traditional breeds in residence. There’s also a great children’s adventure play area, woodland play trail, and den building zone.

⭐Don’t miss: The deer park is wonderful.

🌦 Best conditions: Mild

Facilities: Restaurant / café, parking, WCs, gift shops, dogs on leads are allowed in the grounds, wheelchair, and pushchair access  

🏠 Stay nearby: The Cheese Makers Cottage | Sleeps: 2 guests plus 2 dogs 

National Trust places of historical interest in the North of England

Allan Bank, Lake District

Credit: @rw fraser

Allan Bank was once the home of the founder of the National Trust, Canon Rawnsley. Discover secret hideaways, such as the Victorian viewing tunnel, create an air of mystery. Also, the poet and author William Wordsworth composed his most famous works in and around Grasmere. 

The welcoming village of Grasmere is nestled between two picturesque lakes against a dramatic backdrop of Lake District fells. You can also discover one of the world’s largest jigsaw shops in the village too! Look out for the Allan Bank colony of lesser-spotted red squirrels. Grasmere is a great place to come and learn about William Wordsworth and discovering the places he lived and worked. 

⭐Don’t miss: The host of golden daffodils.

🌦 Best conditions: All weathers

Facilities: Limited blue badge parking, WCs, disabled access variable, dogs on leads in Allan Bank’s grounds.

🏠 Stay nearby: Riverbank | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog 

Cragside, Northumberland

Credit: @ntcragside

This distinctive National Trust property in the North East of England is a delight for fans of architecture. This heritage building was once home to the Victorian era inventor, landscape gardener, and scientist, Lord Armstrong. Cragside was also the first stately home in the world to have been powered by hydroelectricity and it’s full of interesting artefacts and obsolete gadgets to illustrate quite how far modern technology has come since Victorian times.

Credit: @ntcragside

The gardens are fantastic, home to one of Europe’s largest rock gardens, a formal garden, and an eye-catching iron bridge. For children, there is an adventure playground and a spider’s web of pathways and rhododendron tunnels throughout the gardens to run around. 

⭐Don’t miss: The exhibition of weird and wonderful Victorian era tech.

🌦 Best conditions: Autumn to appreciate the different colours of the trees in the gardens.

Facilities: Café, parking, WCs, assistance dogs only allowed in the house, but dogs on leads welcome in the grounds, tours. 

🏠 Stay nearby: Bridge View Retreat | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

Biddulph Grange Garden, near Peak District National Park

Credit: @ntbiddulphgrange

 Biddulph Grange Garden offers fantastic prospects for a rewarding day out and home to a terrific Victorian garden designed by James Bateman to showcase his collection of exotic and rare plants from all around the world. The gardens were inspired by Bateman’s excursions to Italy, China, Egypt, and the Himalayas. Enjoy long walks along the impressive Dahlia Walk and marvel at the UK’s oldest known surviving larch.

Credit: @ntbiddulphgrange

First opened in 1862, visit the on-site Geological Gallery, full of wonderful artefacts and specimens, it’s well worth a visit. Elsewhere in the gardens, you will find the ornate, Cheshire Cottage with its black timber beam, embellished exterior, and Wellingtonia Avenue, a wide grassy avenue that marches across the gardens. 

⭐Don’t miss: The Geological Gallery is fascinating.

🌦 Best conditions: Sunny days

Facilities: Shop, café, plant centre, WCs, parking, disabled access, tours, assistance dogs only

🏠Stay nearby: The Garden Loft | Sleeps: 2 guests plus 2 dogs

for history lovers

Stay with us in the North of England

We have some lovely self-catering holiday cottages throughout the north of England, close to many National Trust properties and areas of beauty to inspire your visit. Where will you stay on your holiday in the North West or North East of England?

North of England cottages

Map of selected National Trust properties in the North of England

Photo credits: All photos except where credited were sourced from Shutterstock

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.