Thursday, 27 September 2012

Trust the NT for GF treats

When on holiday in Devon at the beginning of September, we paid our 'usual' trips to National Trust properties... we make use of our annual membership with many, often fleeting, visits to properties.  I like to marvel at the gardens, B enjoys the history and Sous Chef J just likes "the open airy-ness".  Of course, we also make use of "the facilities" which rarely disappoint.

This time, we even walked (yes, walked) all the way over Baggy Point to Croyde Bay with the incentive of a cuppa and cake at the marvellous Sandleigh Tea Room & Garden.  This is a NT cafe leased by some great people and they have oodles of gluten free goodies on offer.  We had lunch there one day - B chose gluten free pastie and J and I had savoury cream tea (a real find - cheese scone, chilli jam and cream cheese, pic above).  They also offered savoury tarts, the ubiquitous jacket potato and Honeybuns bars.

Knightshayes Court, near Tiverton, had a gluten free citrus cake on offer which went very nicely with our afternoon cuppa.  The walled garden there is amazing and the tea room is in a courtyard setting and was very busy.  Some lovely plants were on offer in the garden shop but I resisted the urge to purchase but, naturally, now I'm home, wish I'd succumbed.

On a wet morning coffee stop we visited Arlington Court where we had a choice of Mrs Crimbles pre-wrapped macaroons or home made gluten free chocolate brownies.  Then we went in search of the bats in the basement.  We watched the batcam, listened to the bats and then worked out, using the plan, where in the house the bats were living.  Once we'd done this we went to look at the outside of the house to see the spot where the bats have set up home.  Arlington Court has a carriage collection, woodland and lawns.  We've been many times in the past and always enjoy eating at the picnic tables as the local birds are very cheeky and like to forage for crumbs as much as they can... J is always a good candidate for dropping crumbs!

Once back home, we went on a day out to Cambridgeshire.  We called at Wicken Fen, where we chatted to a very lovely lady in the shop who encouraged us to take an Explorer Pack out on our meanderings around the boardwalk.  Here's J making the most of his favourite item within the pack... for a boy that is reluctant to touch new things, this was a real 'find'.  He loved it - it's called a magnifying sheet - and has asked for one for his birthday.

Another MOST AMAZING find was that, as part of their cycle hire operation, the National Trust have special needs trikes on offer at Wicken Fen.  It takes a bit of finding on the website, but we've seen them IN REAL LIFE.  There's an adult one and a child's one (which has backrest, side supports and safety belt).  Also there's a tagalong (although this is a standard one wheel bike so kids need to be able to balance to use this), a tandem and the usual kids and adult bikes.  Next time J thinks he *may* try the trike... so that's something for us to work towards.... perhaps in the spring?!

Finally, we headed over to Anglesey Abbey.   It was dahlia week and the car park was overflowing... but, as the property is so immense, there was still plenty of space and nowhere was too crowded for J to manage.  Also, eagle eyed lad that he is... he spotted this sign on the notice board which says Redwoods Restaurant "enjoy our delicious selection of gluten free cakes".  Well, we didn't need long to make our minds up that we would indeed have a cake... and very tasty and moist it was too.  J had a luxury hot chocolate to drink, with gluten free marshmallows, and it and the cake were gone in a flash - I was too slow to get a pic for this blog.

Last year I emailed the National Trust about their tea rooms and restaurants and the importance of reliability of availability of gluten free offerings.  Based on this unscientific test, we think things are looking pretty good these days.  Given that one of our first blog posts was about Annie's Lemon Cake recipe from Berrington Hall a NT property in North Herefordshire, we're delighted to find other properties are following in the lovely Annie's footsteps. 


  1. we went to exactly that teashop in devon in early sept as well! saying hello to people on this new blog ring - very exciting :)
    we also love wicken fen and are considering wild camping there next year [if weather a bit better!]
    helen from petits haricots

  2. Hi Helen.

    Great that you've been to the Sandleigh too... hope you liked it as much as we did! Wicken Fen is a lovely place and I bet it'd be fab to camp there.