The great outdoors: Fresh air fun for families
It’s no secret - the lure of iPads means kids are exploring the natural world less and less. In fact, a childhood report by the Natural Trust found that more children can identify a Dalek than a magpie. But Britain has acres of space - parks, forests, beaches and rivers - all ripe for discovering. Grab your outdoor gear and set your compass for wherever-your-feet-take-you: we’ve pulled together some wild and wonderful adventures, for even the littlest of feet.
1. Picnics in the park
Tupperware at the ready - pack sandwiches, Scotch eggs and strawberries for an alfresco feast. Once you’re out there, make daisy chains, play pooh sticks, fly a kite, skim stones, climb a tree... there’s plenty you can do in parks big and small. If you’re heading to one of the UK’s 15 national parks, bookmark this list of the best family-friendly adventures around the country’s finest. From Northumberland to New Forest, there’s pony hire, solar-powered boats, ugly bug balls, bogstacle courses and even bushcraft sessions for brilliantly unique days out.
2. Real life treasure hunts
Both city and countryside dwellers can join in on the world’s largest game of hi-tech hide-and-seek, Geocaching. Using GPS, you and the kids can don your adventurer’s hats and track down your first ‘cache’. The game is simple - someone hides treasure (such as cheap toys, trinkets, or key rings) in a small container like a lunchbox. You find it, then replace it with new treasure or sign to show you were there. Hollow tree trunks and curling forest branches are perfect hiding spots but you can find caches in parks, along river walks and even in city centres.
3. Wildlife watching
Practice being ‘as quiet as a mouse’ by taking the little ones bird-watching at the park, seaside, farm, or even the city. Whether they stay quiet when you get home is an entirely different matter. For longer breaks in the wild, stay in some of the UK’s most beautiful forests. Forest Holidays are luxurious bases for mini-David Attenboroughs in the making. Fun, informative expeditions in search of deer, badgers, bats, foxes and rabbits can be combined with cycling or canoeing and, of course, end-of-the-day hot tubs. What’s more, they’re a Benenden Health Rewards partner, so be sure to check out the latest exclusive members’ discount before you book.
4. Make waves
The beauty of the seaside is its simplicity. Beaches are basically giant sandpits with free rocks, shells and crazy creatures, with waves more exciting than any pool. Get stuck in - turning over slimy seaweed in rock pools can bring out sea squirts and sponges, starfish and shrimps. The National Trust’s rockpooling guide for families shows you how to navigate pools like a pro. Once you’re done, head to the shore and have fun jumping over the waves, letting the sand sink between your toes.
5. Laughter and lanterns
No one will forget a camping trip with the family in years to come. Investing in a good tent and camping equipment can provide a whole summer of outdoor adventures. Once you’re suitably pitched, give everyone some marshmallows to toast on the campfire, tell stories and go stargazing. The Guardian has pulled together some of the coolest new camping sites around the UK, from ancient forests to the grounds of stately homes.