5 fun activities to try on your next UK family holiday – and where to try them
After a tough year, when we’ve seen far too much of our own four walls, the school summer holidays should be dedicated to having some much-needed family fun.
Trying a new activity as a brood will offer you all a sense of achievement and adventure, whether you’d like to spot wildlife and photograph it, get on your bikes and explore a new area or learn how to catch a wave.
To help you plan a fun-filled family holiday or day out closer to home, here we detail five great family activities in the UK, with suggestions on the best places to try them.
1. Hit the waves on a surfing holiday
Add some adventure to a day at the beach by learning how to surf. If you’ve never surfed before, it’s worth booking a lesson with an instructor who will be able to help you all master the technique and give you essential safety advice for the water. Equipment is usually included as part of a lesson too, so you can make sure the kids enjoy it before shelling out for boards and wetsuits.
There are family-friendly surfing spots all over the UK from picturesque Sennen Cove in surfers’ favourite Cornwall and Bamburgh Beach in Northumberland where you can surf with the backdrop of a Norman castle, to a unique man-made inland surf lagoon in North Wales at Adventure Parc Snowdonia.
If you’d like further ideas on the best places to surf with the kids in the UK, we’ve rounded up seven great spots here.
2. Spot wildlife and document your discoveries
Whether you’ve got a mini David Attenborough in training or would like an activity to encourage younger members of your brood to walk further, spotting wildlife is something kids old and young will get enthusiastic about. And, whether you’re aiming to discover birds, dolphins, seals or other fantastic creatures in the UK, why not challenge your kids to record what you’ve found?
You could create an I-Spy style sheet for younger travellers that they can use to tick off what they’ve found or let children take snaps with the family camera and print the best ones out as a holiday memory. And, if your child has a love for learning, they could create a fact file about what you’ve discovered.
Top spots in the UK to see wildlife galore include Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire to see seabirds including puffins and guillemots between March and October, Durlston Head in Dorset to spot bottlenose dolphins in late spring and autumn, grey seals on the Farne Islands in Northumberland and beavers on the River Otter in Devon.
3. Explore a new area on two wheels
Why not take your bikes on your next family holiday and enjoy being able to explore a larger area faster? If you’re beginners or have younger children, you’ll probably want to avoid roads and instead stick to quieter cycling routes. To help you plan a day out, Sustrans, custodians of the National Cycle Network and a charity aimed at making it easier to cycle, has a handy tool that lets you find your perfect route by filtering by location, route type and distance.
In the Peak District, as an example, you could all whizz down the 8.95-mile long Monsal Trail, on the former Midland Railway line – the kids will love cycling through four railway tunnels. Or try the 5.8-mile long Swansea Bike Path on the old Mumble tramway which follows the curve of Swansea Bay for knockout views. There are cafes and restaurants nearby too if little-ones need the promise of a treat to keep pedalling.
If you’re in London, Richmond Park’s Tamsin Trail is a good option too as it takes you around the park, with the option of loops from around three miles. And, if you haven’t brought your bikes with you, you can hire them from Parkcycle in the car park near Roehampton Gate in the summer, with free helmets included.
4. Find fantastic fossils
Dinosaur fans and mini historians alike will get swept up in the excitement of fossil hunting, so set out on your own adventure or book onto a fossil hunting walk. A hammer and chisel aren’t necessary for an amateur fossil hunt, the kids’ keen eyes and a little patience will be enough. (You don’t want to damage an ancient treasure by mistake.) And, do some research on the beach you’re going to before you get there as, while it’s probably OK to take a few small finds away, larger fossils should be left where they are. Instead, take some paper and pencil crayons and do some rubbings as a memento.
The Jurassic Coast is famous for its fossils and Lyme Regis and Charmouth are good spots to visit. Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre runs regular fossil hunting walks. The Isle of Wight is also an exciting spot for children as you may discover dinosaur remains – in 2009, as an example, a five-year-old girl called Daisy Morris discovered a new species of pterosaur there.
And, if you’re in Northumberland, keep your eyes peeled for tiny fossils called St Cuthbert’s Beads that can be found on Cocklawburn Beach and Holy Island.
5. Put your best foot forward on a family walk
Walking is a great activity for all of the family. Not only is it free but you can theme a walk around your family’s interests and it will give you all some quality, screen-free time as a brood. If little ones need encouragement to come on a family stroll, you could put together a scavenger hunt for them, go geocaching or follow a self-guided walk with clues to crack from Treasure Trails who have trails around the UK that cost around £9.99.
If you’re in Edinburgh, walking up Arthur’s Seat is a great hike with children – they can tell their friends that they walked up an extinct volcano. Or another spectacular walk with the kids is at Northern Ireland’s Unesco World Heritage Site, the magical Giant’s Causeway. There are a number of suggested trails, with the Green Trail being pushchair friendly.
Find more suggestions for family walks here.