Going to the Highlands for your hols? You won’t have too much trouble convincing the kids to visit the magical Fairy Glen waterfalls. This short 2km walk managed by the RSPB can get muddy in places, so make sure you bring wellies or walking shoes. However, a bit of mud is a small price to pay for a wildlife-packed forest walk ending in two majestic falls, with plenty to spot along the way, including buzzards, herons, hidden fairy houses and a wishing tree.
We might have all felt stuck this past few months, but a trip on the Ravenglass and Eskdale steam train should blow the cobwebs away! Thomas the Tank Engine-mad toddlers will love this journey on Britain’s oldest narrow-gauge railway, in a train that the locals affectionately call ‘Ratty’. It’s got all the exciting bells and whistles you’d expect and you can enjoy a picturesque journey ending at Dalegarth, where there’s a café, shop and woodland walks. Make sure you book your tickets online before 9am on the day of travel and bring your mask (however, visitors under 11 don’t need to wear them.)
If you’re exploring in the North West, Poole’s Cavern is a day out that (literally) rocks. Your mini geologists can get a guided tour of the vast and spooky limestone caves, learn the difference between stalactites and stalagmites and shout as loud as they can to hear their voices echo. Book online before your visit and make sure you wrap up warm – it gets chilly down there. There are also woodland walks, picnic areas and a café and toilet facilities with safety measures in place.
The grounds at Burnby Hall are stunning, with secret gardens, an aviary and a log cabin made from the hollowed-out trunk of a giant redwood that fell in the San Francisco earthquake – and which was transported all the way to Hull by boat – in 1906. Kids have plenty of space to run around while you walk through the grounds, but the real draw is the lily pad-covered lake that’s teeming with fish. Fish food is on sale and kids will love feeding the huge carp that swim up to scoff everything in sight – they’re quite a spectacle.
If you’re looking for a truly unique family day out in the North East, Northumberlandia should be on your radar. This is a 46-acre park in the Blagdon Estate, and at its heart is an ambitious landform sculpture by Charles Jencks, made of 1.5 million tons of rock in the shape of a reclining woman, called the Lady of The North. It might sound a bit out there, but kids will love tracing the winding paths through the grassy landscape. And their reward for getting to the top is a (safe!) viewing point that looks right down into the restored Shotton Surface Mine below.
If you’re a family with plenty of get up and go, the New Forest has lots of activities on offer, from kayaking and canoeing to woodland adventures where you can learn bushcraft and archery – you can even have a picnic lunch and roast some marshmallows. And if lockdown has frayed your nerves, what better way to let off steam than to get the camouflage on and take part in a nice family game of laser tag in the forest?
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