The best National Trust places to visit on the South Coast

Family, Pet friendly, Vintage Holidays, Walking

Posted by Ed Roberts on 15th June 2020

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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.

National Trust South Coast

The South Coast of England is full of amazing beauty and hosts a superb choice of holiday destinations for you to choose from. Our guide to National Trust properties on the South Coast is comprised of some exceptional natural beauty spots and historical places of interest to visit with your family.

We have even picked a few brilliant places to check out with your dog. Many National Trust properties welcome our four-legged friends too, particularly wild places like the Seven Sisters, Tennyson Downs and Lantic Bay. Read on to get inspired.

On your next holiday to the south coast of England stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages. We have a wide range of exciting properties in coastal Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Sussex, Kent and the New Forest, close to National Trust properties. From luxury country houses to cosy romantic cottages for two, we have holiday accommodation to match your requirements; including family-friendly and pet-friendly properties. Browse our collection of South Coast cottages today.

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👪 Family-friendly places

🐕 Dog-friendly places

🏰 Places of historic interest 

The best family-friendly National Trust places to visit on the South Coast

Northern Commons, The New Forest, Hampshire

A wide-open, boundary-less landscape containing exposed plateaux, leading gently through a mauve haze of heather and woodland to miniature valleys, swollen with bouncy bogs and gravel streams. A place for ground-nesting birds, rare reptiles, a myriad of insects and diverse plant life.

Cross the cattle grid to a stunning landscape, shaped and sustained by traditional commoning practices since time immemorial, a tamed wilderness. Deeply ingrained and continued, the use of the New Forest by local people is a way of life, rather than a leisure pursuit. The commoners’ ponies, donkeys, cattle, pigs and sheep are the architects of the forest, exploiting rights that are centuries old. To this day the Verderers' Court, an ancient 13th-century assembly, meet to ensure forest law is upheld.

⭐ Don’t miss: The commoners' animals roaming freely

🌦 Best conditions: Sunny days

☕ Facilities: Parking

🏠 Stay nearby: Bench Cottage | Sleeps: 7 guests plus 1 dog  

Bateman's Estate

Bateman's is the former home of Rudyard Kipling. So literary fans can enjoy a tour of the house and some adventures on the estate. Set in the woodlands of the High Weald AONB in Sussex, this glorious 17th-century house, with its mullioned windows and oak beams, and its estate was the source of much inspiration for his famous books. The Nobel Prize-winning author (1907) wrote 'If' and 'Puck of Pook's Hill' at Bateman's.

After a tour of the house, explore the 300-acre estate, where you will encounter secluded visual wonders such as old trees, abandoned iron ore pits, hidden ponds and dusty trackways; you can also enjoy views over the valley down the River Dudwell. It's a great place for a family day out - filled with games, walks and quality time together.

Don’t miss: Take a tour of Kipling's old 'unfaked' rooms

🌦 Best conditions: All weathers

Facilities: Parking, shop, cafe, parking, WCs, tours

🏠 Stay nearby: Melpies | Sleeps: 7 guests plus 1 dog 

Slindon Estate, Sussex

The National Trust's Slindon Estate is 1,400 hectares of woodland, downland, farmland, and parkland. There are over 30 miles of paths that criss-cross the estate. During the spring, you can enjoy woodland flower displays and also a lambing event at Gaston Farm. The summer is a lovely time of year to come to Slindon - wander the shady woodland lanes to see colourful butterflies and rabbits gambol on downland turf at Bignor.

Towards the close of year, witness Slindon’s famous pumpkin display and the falling leaves in Park Wood, where you can see deer too. Keep your dogs on leads at Slindon as it is a nature reserve. Stop at the local pub on the estate called The Spur or pick up a light lunch for a picnic at the community shop, The Forge.

Don’t miss: The deer are majestic

🌦  Best conditions: Autumn for the leaves

Facilities: Parking, shop, pub (WCs in pub for customers)

🏠 Stay nearby: Little Oakwood | Sleeps:  2 guests plus 1 dog 

The best dog-friendly National Trust places to visit on the South Coast

Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, Sussex 

Close to Eastbourne in East Sussex, the iconic Seven Sisters is a string of colossal chalk cliffs that make up one of the longest stretches of unpopulated coast in the South East. Spectacular views across the English Channel await and it’s a great place for a family day out. Take a picnic along and spend some quality time together enjoying the sites. You can also go rock pooling on the beaches below the cliffs. 

There is a café at Birling Gap, which serves as one of the entry points to the Seven Sisters and the coastal walks across the back of the cliffs. With over 500 acres of rare chalk grassland, the area is rich with butterflies and wildflowers. Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters is a wonderful place for a walk on a bright day.

⭐ Don’t miss: The exceptional views from the top of the cliffs across the Channel

🌦 Best conditions: Dry and sunny days are best

☕ Facilities: Café, WCs, parking, no dog restrictions

🏠 Stay nearby: Little Olives | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog  

Tennyson Downs and The Needles, Isle of Wight

This spellbinding walk is named after a former poet laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and takes in the magnificent chalk cliff faces of the western island, the Tennyson Memorial Cross, and Scratchell Bay. Also, The Needles, home to a lighthouse which is still a testament to the engineering prowess. Nature lovers will be looking out for sightings of butterflies like Adonis blues, chalk hill blues, and dark green fritillaries. Orchid fans will already know there can be up to nine species found in this rich chalk grassland area of the island. Make sure you take in the Old and New Batteries built in the 1800s. 

The Tennyson Trail is 7 miles long and takes in each of the grassland’s wonderful features, both manmade and natural. The sea and cliff views on this trail are exceptional and you absolutely will not regret seeking one of the Isle of Wight’s most beautiful country walks out for yourself.

Don’t miss: Views of The Needles

🌦  Best conditions: Mild days

Facilities: Parking

🏠 Stay nearby: The Wendy House | Sleeps: 2 guests plus 2 dogs 

East Head, Sussex

East Head is a lovely stretch of beach in West Sussex, close to West Wittering. Protected and managed by the National Trust because of its balance of rare habitats, it’s a beautiful place for a sunny sojourn. The sand dunes are bewitching, and the beach is a great place to walk, play and sunbathe. 

East Head is a dynamic place full of maritime plants like marram grass, sea holly and sea bindweed. It’s a superb escape from the world, where you can look for seals and observe the yachts as they sail past. Enjoy walks to the saltmarshes and up the coast to maximise your visit to this charming National Trust beauty spot on the south coast of England. 

⭐ Don’t miss: The gorgeous sand dunes make for a very pretty backdrop

🌦 Best conditions: Warm days

☕ Facilities: WCs, parking, dogs on leads in the dunes (look out for adders), strictly no BBQs

🏠 Stay nearby: Goodwood House | Sleeps: 8 guests plus 1 dog 

The best historical National Trust places to visit on the South Coast

Fan Deep Shelter and the White Cliffs of Dover, Kent

The White Cliffs of Dover are a national emblem, instantly recognisable, and a walk along the trails above the English Channel offer a great day out. On clear days you can see the coast of North France across the sea. There is a coastal path that runs in the direction of South Foreland Lighthouse through chalk grasslands. Nature lovers will be looking out for pyramidal orchids and chalkhill blue butterflies. 

Visit the former World War II coastal defences of Fan Bay Deep Shelter; tours can be booked by the intrepid to tour the warren of tunnels deep inside the cliffs, some of them up to 70 feet below ground. The 30-minute tours can be booked on a first-come-first-served basis and it’s really worth a visit if you love investigating strange abandoned places. 

⭐ Don’t miss: Fan Bay Deep Shelter

🌦 Best conditions: Sunny days although the shelter is inside

☕ Facilities: Visitor centre, café, shop, parking, WCs

🏠 Stay nearby: Blackbird Cottage – Ottinge | Sleeps: 4 guests

Lamb House, Sussex

Lamb House is a National Trust property with strong literary connections. The author Henry James lived here and it was in his garden shed that he penned such classics as The Wings of a Dove, Washington Square, The Aspern Papers and The Turn of the Screw. The property's walled garden also attracts visitors, it's one of the largest in the centre of the old town in Rye. The grounds were designed by a friend of the author, Alfred Parsons, and is still maintained to the same standards today. It's a lovely place to walk and enjoy the planted beds and borders full of seasonal and perennial flowers. 

The lesser-known author, EF Benson, also lived at Lamb House too and you can learn about his writing career as well during your tour of the property. The gardens make for a lovely place to sit and relax. There's a lawn and a pond to enjoy too. Rye is a sweet little town on top of a hill above miles of low lands, with lots of quaint cafes and places to eat tucked away into its narrow streets. After a trip around the town, head out to Rye Harbour for a fresh walk down to the sea.

⭐ Don’t miss: Pay tribute to Henry James' body of work with a trip to the nearby bookshop

🌦 Best conditions: It's an all-weather attraction

☕ Facilities: WCs

🏠 Stay nearby: 12a West Street | Sleeps: 2 guests

Bembridge Windmill, Isle of Wight

This National Trust property is an interesting prospect for a family day out. Bembridge Windmill is the National Trust's only Grade I-listed building of its kind and for those who wish to see how flour was milled, this is the place. You can book a tour and climb the four levels to learn about the process; it's a fascinating experience for everybody who has wanted to see the inside of a windmill. The windmill was operational until 1913, so many of its machinery is still in situ.

Bembridge is on the east coast of the island and has a great beach and a distinctive lifeboat station and pier. Wander along the coast and stop in to relax at one of the cafes or restaurants in Bembridge. Maybe combine your visit to the windmill with a visit to Bembridge Fort which is close by.

Don’t miss: A photo opportunity with the windmill's magnificent sails in the background

🌦  Best conditions: Any weather 

Facilities: Kiosk, WCs, parking, tours

🏠 Stay nearby: Larkspur House | Sleeps: 9 guests plus 1 dog

Stay with us on the South Coast of England

We have some lovely self-catering holiday cottages all along the South Coast of England, close to many National Trust properties and areas of beauty to inspire your visit. Where will you stay on your holiday to the South Coast?

Map of the best National Trust properties on the South Coast of England

Find out where our favourite National Trust sites are located along the South Coast with our map below.