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Take the kids to … Powderham Castle, Kenton, south Devon

In a nutshell
A 600-year-old castle set in a historic deer park overlooking the river Exe in south Devon. There are hour-long tours of the lavish interior, highlighting glossy wood-pannelled rooms, secret doors and the Victorian kitchen but, for families, it’s all about the outdoor attractions. The walled garden has a wooden fort, mini zip line and petting farm with ponies, donkeys, pigs, all manner of fowl and tortoises plodding about. There are woodland trails and activity sheets for children to complete. The deer park safari is a pleasant trip but costs an extra £2.50.

Fun fact
A cannonball from the English civil war was found in a recently felled tree.

Best thing(s) about it
The picturesque setting, friendly staff and, in the school holidays, the Pocketwatch theatre group puts on great interactive performances in the grounds (included in the entry price). Coming up this summer are Fairytale, Wonderland and Robin Hood shows. The lack of crowds is another plus – I’ve been three times during half-term holidays and I’ve never seen a queue.

Powderham Castle

What about lunch?
There are plenty of lovely spots for a picnic so bring your own. The cafe does good cream teas (£4.50) and cake, and a hut sells local Salcombe ice-creams at £1.80 a scoop.

Exit through the gift shop?
Tucked away, so no need to drag tired, over-excited children past temptation.

Getting there
Parking is free. Or arrive on two wheels. It’s six miles by bike from Exeter, along the Exe estuary trail (

Value for money?
Yes, you could easily spend a whole day here. Adult £11.30, child £9, family (2+2) £37; free return within seven days.

Opening times
March to October, 11am-5.30pm. Closed Saturdays (

Verdict: 8/10

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