Day Out – Nature Nippers & the National Trust for Scotland

At the weekend I held a huge earthworm and a centipede in my hand – not words I expected to say.  We’d bundled the babies into the car and driven to the picturesque House of Dun in the Angus countryside but we weren’t going to view a civilised stately home, oh no, we were going on an adventure – a mini beast hunt, or as Mr Toddler dramatically claimed ‘a bear hunt’.  He always goes OTT.

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The brave explorers gather to hear their mission…

We’d turned up for one of the National Trust for Scotland‘s renowned Nature Nippers events aimed at pre-school tots.  Our Ranger, Ross, gathered up his gang of intrepid hunters and we set off into the woods around House of Dun in search of beasties.  Along the trail Ross had hidden ‘insects’ for the tots to find and they went hurtling off in search of them.  With each insect discovered the Ranger gave an explanation about the animal in question.  I’m so ignorant about bugs that these chats, aimed at pre-schoolers, worked for me too – millipedes often don’t have eyes (who knew?), that wasp is actually a honey bee (they look so similar!), a ladybird is brightly coloured to discourage birds from eating its poisonous body (ok, I kind of knew that one).

Then the drama increased.  We went in search of REAL beasts.  The Ranger led his brave explorers to a pile of logs and we lifted them up in search of creatures.  It’s pretty startling what you can find if you actually look – the kids were holding snails and slugs with no anxiety, phobias or yuck syndrome.  They were fascinated.  I was proud as punch when I found a giant earthworm in the grass (competitive mum), Mr Husband found a centipede (competitive dad) and Mr Toddler and the other children were encouraged to  hold them – gold stars all round.

The Nature Nippers sessions are ideal for toddlers and pre-schoolers.  They last around an hour and each one is different so locals can attend all the events in the area if they wish – activities include building a nest like a bird, exploring the woods or trying to grow plants from seeds.

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These kids are a blur…

The Trust’s Head of Countryside, Arthur Martin said, ‘These events feed children’s curiosity, allowing them to explore nature for themselves and teach how living things grow and survive. It’s a great experience for under fives, designed especially for them and led by our experienced countryside rangers’.  Encouraging kids to get out in the fresh air, engaging with the land around them and having a hoot at the same time can only be a good thing.

The Nature Nippers events run at several NTS properties across Scotland:-

Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire – events till 4 October 2016

Culzean Castle & Country Park, Ayrshire – till 15 December 2016

Glencoe & Dalness, Highlands – till 1 December 2016

House of Dun & Montrose Nature Basin, Angus – till 15 October 2016

Inveresk Lodge Garden & Newhailes, Edinburgh & Lothian – till 1 December 2016

Malleny Garden, Edinburgh – till 3 June 2016

Whatever the weather kids will enjoy a Nature Nippers outing but when the sun shines it’s a pretty fab way to spend a morning.  Search for more info and ticket details here.

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Admiring House of Dun

Tots2Travel were guests of the National Trust for Scotland – Mr Toddler says Tankoo – he’s working on his enunciation.

THE LOWDOWN – we drove from Aberdeen to House of Dun, near Montrose.  Montrose is also served by trains by Scotrail and Virgin Trains East Coast.  The station is a ten minute taxi ride from House of Dun.

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31 Comments

  1. Reply

    Rashminotes

    May 26, 2016

    A great learning experience for the children too!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 29, 2016

      We all learnt something- my insect knowledge is quite low.

  2. Reply

    joylovestravel

    May 26, 2016

    I think I would have loved this as much as the little ones!! Sounds like a great day – and blue skies too!!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 29, 2016

      Never been so pleased to see a worm before!

  3. Reply

    Anabel Marsh

    May 30, 2016

    What an amazing bank holiday we’ve had! Blue skies and sun – unheard of. We got to Drumlanrig and Jupiter Artland, both very good. Not sure I’d have been so keen to hold a worm…..

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 30, 2016

      Worms aren’t compulsory but I wish the sunshine was!

      • Reply

        Anabel Marsh

        May 30, 2016

        Me too!

  4. Reply

    joannavictoria

    May 30, 2016

    This looks like such a great learning experience definitely would do something like this with my little one.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 30, 2016

      It was well thought out but also involving for adults.

  5. Reply

    Keely

    May 30, 2016

    Sounds like a brilliant adventure out. I remember doing something similar as a child at Primary school!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 30, 2016

      Those were the days!

  6. Reply

    Joanna

    May 30, 2016

    It’s great when the National Trust orgainises this kind of quests for children, so that they can learn about the different bugs in nature and don’t be afraid when they meet one.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 30, 2016

      The National Trust for Scotland also is running Nature Detectives for 7-11 year olds so lots going on.

  7. Reply

    Vai Chin @Rambling Through Parenthood

    May 30, 2016

    Looks like you had an amazing day. I always find nature trails really interesting. There is so much to learn even for grown ups.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 31, 2016

      I was desperately ignorant!

  8. Reply

    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi)

    May 30, 2016

    Aw, this looks like great fun! I’m not an outdoorsy person by nature so I love nature trails and things where someone else leads! x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 31, 2016

      It was a gentle stroll through the woods really and the sun was shining so suitable for all really.

  9. Reply

    Ana De Jesus

    May 30, 2016

    Looks like you all managed to find some exciting creatures, a bit of healthy competition is good for the soul. I loved nature trails as a kid!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 31, 2016

      Yip. Never been so pleased to find a worm.

  10. Reply

    Kara

    May 31, 2016

    Oh we are coming to Angus next year, looking forward to it even more now – the photos are beautiful

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      June 1, 2016

      I’d also recommend a place called Charleton Farm – absolutely amazing for kids.

  11. Reply

    Melanie Edjourian

    May 31, 2016

    That sounds great my girls love all sorts of mini beasts so they’d really love something like that.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      June 1, 2016

      Since we’ve been home Mr Toddler has been looking for snails in the garden so I’m pleased it’s all stayed with him. Happy exploring with your girls.

  12. Reply

    annamariavas9

    June 1, 2016

    what a great adventure and you seem to made new friends haha. The photos are beautiful. 🙂

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      June 2, 2016

      I ran into someone I went to school with 20 years ago – bizarre. Our kids played together. lovely.

  13. Reply

    Grant - Looking for the Postman

    June 1, 2016

    The National Trust for Scotland caters so well for children and family events. Their Easter and Christmas events at Pollok House in Glasgow are such fun and in a beautiful house!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      June 1, 2016

      Always something going on. We’re a bit ruined in Aberdeen/shire with 300 castles. Will put Pollok House on the list for the next time I’m in Glasgow – we just got back from a weekend there on Sunday.

      • Reply

        Grant - Looking for the Postman

        June 1, 2016

        300! Wow. That’s rather special. My grandfather had a hotel out in Braemar which had an amazing village and surroundings. A lovely part of the world.

  14. Reply

    Chloe Ciliberto

    June 4, 2016

    What a fascinating adventure. The National Trust are so brilliant for putting on things for children aren’t they? They never disappoint. x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      June 6, 2016

      It was definitely well though out and educational yet fun. You can’t ask for more.

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