If you’re wondering about what to do with the kids this half term break, there are many lovely spots in the UK that offer loads of activities for the little imps. With nature walks, charming cottages to stay in, the coastline – there’s a lot that families can explore together. Here are some suggestions that will make this break memorable.
Somerset has vast expanses of open, unspoilt spaces waiting to be explored. With beaches, caves, moors, levels and a National Park, Exmoor – it’s an endless process of discovery for the curious child. You can explore the Cheddar Gorge, the famous Roman Baths, build a sandcastle at Weston-super-Mare and Exmoor National Park is one vast playground.
Exmoor blossoms in autumn, with its colours of gold and mist-filled valleys. It is also the rutting season for the red deer and the combes often echo with the bellows of amorous stags. Atlantic salmon begin to return, leaping over any obstructionsin their drive to return to the spawning grounds they hatched from. Also, an excellent time for fungi foraging in the woodland.
Explore the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway, renowned for its polygonal columns of layered basalt, is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. The result of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, this is the focal point of a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Kids can spot sea birds like fulmar, petrel and razorbill off the coast around the Causeway. And you can tell them the fantastic legend of the Causeway – some say it was carved from the coast by the mighty giant, Finn McCool who left behind an ancient home full of folklore. Look out for clues of his existence – including The Giant’s Boot and Wishing Chair. There are four trails to explore with your kids including a new accessible cliff top walk for families. Bring out the picnic basket here!
With its honey-coloured cottages, ancient limestone villages, rolling wolds countryside, gardens, historic castles and stately homes. – the Cotswolds is the poster child for the British countryside. Kids will encounter the Cotswold Lion, which is actually a breed of sheep, can enjoy at picnic at Birdland – Park and Gardens with flamingos, penguins and cranes, and almost pet a rhino – rhinos roam in a wide ranging field surrounded by a ha ha, but when they’re in their pen they are so close you can scratch their backs. You can also visit the Blenheim Palace and go leaf-peeping in Westonbirt – The National Arboretum, near Tetbury.
Or take the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway, based at Toddington (between Broadway and Winchcombe) and operates a round trip of 13 miles to just beyond Gotherington a few miles from Cheltenham Racecourse. You will travel past the village of Didbrook and the site of Hayles Abbey onto Winchcombe and Gotherington. Plenty to keep them out of mischief!
Cornwall is famous for gorgeous gardens and iconic attractions such as St Michael’s Mount, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Minack Theatre, Land’s End, Tintagel Castle and the Eden Project. An exciting option for kids is to check out Carnglaze Caverns consists – three man-made caverns formed as part of a slate quarry in the Loveny Valley, near the village of St Neot, Liskeard. The lowest of the three caverns has a lake and you can wander around 6.5 acres of shaded woodland
Visit the Blue Reef Aquarium on Towan beach in Newquay, overlooking the Atlantic sea. An underwater tunnel allows visitors to enjoy a spectacular coral reef display housed within a 250,000 litre ocean tank – home to exotic tropical species like black tip reef sharks, Omiros the rescued loggerhead turtle, brightly-coloured reef fish and a huge Southern Stingray.
It’s never too early to teach them about conservation – visit the Lobster Hatchery in Padstow and see how science is helping to conserve the fishing tradition in Cornwall and beyond. From baby lobsters to giant lobsters and crabs, the Visitor Centre offers a window into the hatchery. They release around 10,000 baby lobsters a year off the coast of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The main attraction has to be seeing the young lobsters growing up ready to be released, there are resident giant lobster and Edible and Spider Crabs.
Walking in the Lake District
Lake District National Park is England’s largest with breathtaking lakes, soaring mountains – known locally as ‘fells’, picturesque valleys and even sandy coastline. Hire a rowing boat in Coniston Water, the lake is about half a mile down from the village. Above its western shore, the mountain of the Old Man of Coniston towers above the lake and the village.
Or walk the eight miles around Keswick’s local lake – Derwentwater. To its west rise the fells of Cat Bells. To the east is the fantastic viewpoint of Friar’s Crag, jutting into the lake. And its southern foot is the entrance to the beautiful Borrowdale valley.
The Northern Lakes, tucked away in the National Park’s north west are probably the most peaceful. Visit Crummock Water (between Loweswater and Buttermere), Loweswater (situated in a wooded valley in the Vale of Lorton) and the delightfully named Buttermere which lies at the foot of some spectacular fells, including Wainwright’s favourite Haystacks. It’s also one of the few lakes you can walk all the way round, taking in four miles. You’ll never run of things to do in the Lake District.
Take an autumn walk in the Welsh countryside
Wales is blessed with natural beauty, and autumn is a gorgeous time to explore the countryside with the kids. Try the Wye Valley Walk – this 136-mile walk starts at Chepstow Castle and passes through meadows, woodland, orchards, hills, mountains and moorland before it ends at Hafren Forest. An interactive map of the walk with accommodations and services is available at wyevalleywalk.org. It’s also the perfect time to go fungi foraging and find seal pups on the beach in Wales!