As the guardians of some of Wales’ best-loved castles , houses and gardens, National Trust properties make for perfect days out across the land, offering a really eclectic mix of places to wander. Find out more about the National Trust in Wales.
Powis Castle and Garden
Powis Castle and Garden offers Italian and French-style orangeries and aviaries, dotted with statues and enhanced during centuries of family use. The Clive Museum is full of Indian treasures, and the castle itself has an amazing vantage point thanks to its position on top of a rock. Originally built for princes, it's fit for wannabe kings and queens today.
The celebrated 26-acre garden at Powis Castle is a joy to behold. Clipped yews, tender plants and rare specimens are everywhere, laid out in classic French and Italian styles. The terraces are the place to find an orangery, and the castle itself was originally built as a medieval fortress.
Plas Newydd House & Gardens is situated on Anglesey on the shores of the Menai Strait. It's famous for its association with the artist Rex Whistler, whose work is exhibited here. There is also a military museum and a collection of hydrangeas that are irresistibly colourful during the autumn months.
Plas Newydd also boasts a spring garden, Australasian arboretum, shrubs, wildflowers, massed hydrangeas and explosions of colour. There are terrific views across the water to Snowdonia, and it’s one the UK’s last strongholds of the native red squirrel – the estate has a population of around 100 of these delightful creatures.
Penrhyn Castle, between Snowdonia and the Menai Strait, was built by Thomas Hopper as the home of the Pennants, a wealthy sugar-trading family during the early 19th century. An enormous neo-Norman castle surrounded by vast expanses of parkland, this is the place to find railway and dolls' museums, Victorian kitchens, beds of queens and all manner of other decadent surprises.
Dinefwr Park accommodates deer and a famed herd of white cattle in its medieval grounds, viewable from a tearoom and a wooded boardwalk. The parklands there were shaped during the 18th century, and are accompanied by Newton House, a mid-17th century site with a Victorian façade and a fountain garden.
Elaborate Chinese wallpaper from the 19th century is just one of the eye-catching attractions at Erddig. The house has over 1,000 acres of land and the impressive outbuildings range from a bakehouse and stables to a sawmill and smithy. Treat yourself to a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, or saunter through the walled gardens.
The large walled garden at the captivating Erddig house and estate has been restored to its original formal design of the 18th century, complete with trained fruit trees. There are also impressive water features, a Victorian parterre, yew walk and a National Collection of ivies.
Tredegar House offers a journey back to the days of Charles II 300 years ago, with unparalleled state rooms within a 90-acre park. The earliest parts of the Newport complex date back to the start of the 16th century, and the servants’ quarters entice you to imagine what life might have been like working in a glamorous house all that time ago.
Ancient trees, beautiful lakes and three exquisite mansion gardens – orchard, cedar and orangery - surround Tredegar House. This 17th century architectural wonder of Newport has 90 acres (36ha) of grounds and parkland to lose yourself in. The Morgan family – who would become Lords Tredegar – owned this country house for more than 500 years.
Owners the Myddelton family still live at Chirk Castle, in Wrexham, 400 years after their ancestors moved in. Portraits, tapestries and furniture rival a shrub garden, terrace, lime tree avenue, tower and dungeon here, with the parks making space for ancient trees and elaborate gates.
Mature trees and elaborate gates seem to be everywhere at Chirk, originally crafted by local smiths the Davies brothers almost 300 years ago. A formal garden is home to clipped yews, roses and climbers on the wall of the castle. A shrub garden, a classical pavilion and a lime tree avenue also feature.
Llanerchaeron is an elegant, almost understated, Georgian mansion beside the River Aeron in Ceredigion. Llanerchaeron was built in 1790 by John Nash, who included Buckingham Palace and Brighton Pavilion on his impressive CV. The house now functions as a working organic farm, with Welsh black cattle, rare Welsh pigs and Llanwenog sheep, with the estate’s meat/veg/fruit are available in the shop.
The captivating Edwardian gardens at Dyffryn in the Vale of Glamorgan, are part of a Grade I-listed landmark dotted with beautiful garden rooms, revolving seasonal displays of wonderful plants and an arboretum with an international cast of trees. You’ve more than 55 acres (22ha) to admire here, as well as an imaginative year-round events programme.
This grand country manor in Llandudno now runs as a high-end hotel, so access to its magnificent gardens are normally reserved for hotel guests, or those taking afternoon tea. But you can book a tour around the terraces and walled gardens of Bodysgallen Hall with the head gardener, followed by lunch in the 17th century baronial hall.
Plas yn Rhiw
When the Keating sisters bought Plas yn Rhiw in the 1930s, the garden was so besieged by brambles that they had to climb in through a window. They set about creating a magical garden in the Llŷn Peninsula, situated on a hillside overlooking Porth Neigwl (Hells Mouth); the National Trust has continued their work, restoring the gardens, planting hundreds of fruit trees, and extending the estate into woodland.
A botanical dream, Bodnant houses seeds and cuttings assembled on intrepid expeditions more than a century ago, accompanied by lawns, ponds, terraces, valleys and streams within one incredible 80-acre (32ha) garden. Enormous arch flowers, growing almost 200 feet (60m), are among the spectacular seasonal flourishes here, not to mention the 200-year-old trees – all set against the backdrop of Snowdonia.
Colby Woodland Gardens
It’s hard to believe now, but in the 1700s Colby was part of the Pembrokeshire coal belt. Now its informal gardens count rhododendrons, bluebells, butterflies and ducks among its natives. Meadows, a summerhouse and a beach are all nearby, as well as a walled garden and a waterfall walk. It’s a great place for kids, too, with rope swings, stepping stones and geocaching on offer.