Category Archives: Family

Snowdrop spotting

For that first glimpse of spring, there’s nowhere better than the places cared for by the National Trust, which have beautiful displays of snowdrops across the country. The delicate white flowers transform woodland and garden floors in early spring and are one of the first signs of life after the winter months

Pleasure Ground Wood Chirk

Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens for the National Trust said, “Beautiful drifts of white snowdrops are one of the great pleasures of visiting gardens at the end of winter.  But look closely and you’ll soon discover variation among the carpet of white flowers. At Anglesey Abbey there are over 300 different snowdrop varieties growing in the garden. 

“Snowdrops are promiscuous plants, they cross-fertilise easily, producing new varieties.  The differences are very subtle and it’s always a challenge to spot them but this is what makes snowdrops so fascinating to collectors.”

From stunning bulb meadows to the UK’s largest winter garden, here are the special National Trust places to enjoy a family day out surrounded by snowdrops:

South West

 

Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Snowdrops, 1 – 29 February, 10am – 4pm

Kingston Lacy welcomes a dazzling blanket of snowdrops each year. The garden wakes up to spring in January and February when thousands of flowers burst through the soil, transforming areas of the garden into a sea of white. Special snowdrop openings have long been a tradition at Kingston Lacy so visitors can wander through the displays and salute this first welcome sign of spring. Keep an eye out for the estate’s fine herd of Red Ruby Devon cattle and explore the Japanese Garden which is sure to look even better with a dusting of frost.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information please call 01202 883402

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy

Make a weekend of it: With pink walls and a thatched roof, 524 Pamphill Green Cottage is a delightful semi-detached cottage tucked away in a quiet part of the Kingston Lacy estate.

Newark Park, Gloucestershire                   

Snowdrops Season, 13 – 15, 17 – 22, 24 – 29 February, 11am – 4pm

At Newark Park there are snowdrop drifts throughout the garden and they mingle with aconites and cyclamen to give an impressive show. Grab your walking boots and a camera and head to Newark where the carpets of snowdrops provide dazzling photo opportunities. Afterwards, warm up with a hot drink and well-deserved slice of cake in front of the fire in the Tudor sitting room.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01453 842644

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/newark-park

 Kingston Lacey

Saltram, Devon

A walk amongst the snowdrops, 4 – 31 January, 10am – 4pm

Standing high above the River Plym with magnificent views across the estuary, Saltram’s 500 acres of rolling parkland and woodland provide the perfect setting for a stunning snowdrop display. As the snowdrops frame the pathways take a stroll and explore the tranquil garden, 18th-century orangery and magnificent lime avenue. Return in February to plant a snowdrop with the garden team.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information please call 01752 333500

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/saltram

London and South East

Mottisfont, Hampshire

Open daily, 10am – 5pm

Snowdrops thrive along the banks of the Font stream, where the warming effects of the water creates its own microclimate, teasing them into bloom a week or two before their companions in colder corners of the garden. Elsewhere, the open acres of the river garden are magically transformed by drifts of purest white.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For more information please call 01794 340757

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont

 

Nymans, West Sussex

Open daily, 10am – 4pm

This 20th-century garden is famed for its amazing collection of rare and important plants. At the start of spring, spot wonderful displays of snowdrops followed by camellias and magnolias underplanted with a host of daffodils and grape hyacinths. The bulb meadow in the walled garden is full of snowdrops and early narcissus and there are rare hellebores all around the garden. By Valentine’s Day, over 150 different types of plant are flowering at Nymans and the snowdrop drifts offer cool contrasts to fiery witch hazel oranges and the rich red stems of dogwoods.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For more information please call 01444 405250.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans

Make a weekend of it: For people who love being close to nature, a stay at Woodlands Cottage is a great way to discover Nymans. The perfect retreat, the pretty cottage is surrounded by beautiful lakes and woodland walks.

Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Open daily, 10am – 4pm (from 13 February onwards 10am – 6pm)

Snowdrops are so cherished at Stowe that they even have their own season. The beginning of the year is ‘Stowedrop’ time as the delicate peeping blooms develop into white drifts in the Elysian Fields, Sleeping Wood and Lamport Garden. Take a walk amongst the snowdrops in this magical landscape of myths, lakes and temples.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For information please call 01280 817156

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe

East of England

 

Anglesey Abbey, Gardens & Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire

Snowdrop Season: 25 January – 28 February

Anglesey’s garden has over 300 different varieties of snowdrop scattered across 114 acres. Meander through the paths and soak up the fabulous show that the garden offers during this time. But snowdrops won’t be all that you see: the Winter Garden packed with vibrant colours, textures and the heady scent of winter flowering shrubs can brighten-up the darkest of winter days.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For more information please call 01223810080

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/anglesey-abbey

 Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 18.00.52

Ickworth, Suffolk

Open daily, 9am – 5.30pm

Throughout Ickworth Park, along the oak walk and the trim trail, snowdrops are complemented by the golden glow of aconites. Geraldine’s and Erskine’s walks are woken from their winter sleep by Galanthus ‘S Arnott, a relatively large snowdrop with a strong honey scent providing a feast for the senses. Discover amazing views of the estate or warm up in the West Wing restaurant with delicious food and drink (Friday to Tuesday).

Price: Free event (garden admission charges apply)

For more information please call 01284 735270.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth

Make a weekend of it: Stay at the heart of the estate in one of Ickworth’s four cottages: there’s the quirky round house set in an enchanting woodland glade, two redbrick Victorian cottages in the parkland and the former head gardener’s cottage with its own walled garden.

 

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk

Snowdrop Walks, 30 January – 16 March, 11.30am and 2pm

Feast your eyes on the stunning sights of Oxburgh, a huge moated Hall surrounded by 70 acres of gardens and woodlands. Join the team for a guided walk, or wander independently around the woodlands and take in the stunning carpets of snowdrops, aconites and other spring flowers.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For more information please call 01366 328258

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall

 

Midlands

 

Attingham Park, Shropshire

Open daily, 8am – 5pm

Watch the woodland floor transform into a stunning carpet of snowdrops during Attingham’s snowdrop season. Take a stroll around this grand estate and discover over 200 years of history, acres of parkland and a beautiful walled garden. Keep an eye out for deer as you go.

Price: Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01743 708123

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park

Belton House, Lincolnshire

Open daily, 9.30am – 4pm

With delightful gardens and lakeside walks, Belton is a pleasure to explore all year round and never more so as the early signs of spring creep in. Don’t miss the delicate displays of snowdrops that melt away all your thoughts of winter.

Price: Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01476 566116

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house

 

Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire

Open daily, 9am – 4pm (from 13 February onwards 9am – 5pm)

Baddesley Clinton’s intimate gardens feel like a personal winter wonderland during the colder months. In January and February the snowdrops will be out in full bloom, both in the gardens and around the church. Enjoy a gentle stroll around the gardens and lake, and discover some of the estate’s late medieval and Tudor history along the way.

Price: Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01564 783294

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/baddesley-clinton

 

North West

 Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Open daily, 11am – 4pm
Throughout January and February, thousands of snowdrops will bloom in Britain’s largest winter garden at Dunham Massey. The garden contains almost 700 different plant species and a further 1,600 shrubs specifically bred for the seven-acre wonder. January heralds the first signs of spring, where clusters of over 100,000 double and single snowdrops and 20,000 narcissi begin to bloom amongst the trees.

Garden admission charges apply.

For more information, please call 0161 941 1025

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey

Yorkshire and North East

 

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Yorkshire

Open 10am – 5pm
Set in 323 hectares of beautiful countryside, this World Heritage Site offers an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate Britain’s heritage and natural beauty. Early spring is the perfect time to explore the picturesque Abbey ruins and amble through the beautiful Georgian water garden, surrounded by white carpets of snowdrops. This is a stunning sight that dates back to the 19th-century, when Earl de Grey planted snowdrops to spell out his name along the backs of the river Skell.
Normal admission charges apply.

For more information please call 01765 608888

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey

Make a weekend of it: Turn a visit to this magnificent site into a long weekend in a unique cottage. With eleven holiday cottages on offer, including apartments in the luxurious Fountains Hall and five cottages converted from a group of 18th-century farm buildings, there’s something for everyone.

Wallington, Northumberland

Open daily 10am – 6pm

As well as the common variety, Wallington’s snowdrop display includes a few specials. The less common varieties include the Northumbrian G. ‘Sandersii’ group which has sulphur yellow markings instead of green, and the pretty G. ‘Flore Pleno’ with double flowers. Don’t forget to visit the winter garden where purple Iris will brighten up any winter day.

Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01670 773600

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington

 

Wales

 

Chirk Castle, Wrexham

Open 30 January onwards, 10am – 4pm
Chase away those winter blues with a bracing walk around the beautiful gardens and woodland at Chirk. Glimpses of snowdrops can be found throughout the garden, scattered between clipped yews, shrub and rock gardens, as well as drifting along the woodland floor.

Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01691 777701

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chirk-castle

 

 

Northern Ireland

 

The Argory, Co. Armagh

Snowdrop walks, 6 – 7, 13 – 14, 20 – 21, 27 – 28 February, 12pm – 5pm

This spectacular riverside estate has a stunning display of snowdrops and other beautiful spring bulbs throughout February. Snowdrop self-guided walks run every Saturday and Sunday in the month, where the scenic walk shows off the garden as the frost thaws, with a stunning backdrop of sweeping vistas. There are also delicate snowdrop plants available to buy in the shop and children can enjoy the adventure playground.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 028 8778 4753

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/argory

 Snowdrop walk at The Argory Bernie Brown

Springhill, County Londonderry

Snowdrop walks, 6 – 7, 13 – 14, 20 – 21, 27 – 28 February, 12pm – 5pm

Explore the grounds of this beautiful 17th-century family home where blooms of snowdrops welcome in the springtime. Short walks around the estate are perfect for a leisurely stroll, and kids will be kept busy by the Natural Play Trail. Afterwards, enjoy some hot soup or a delicious tea and scone in the Servants’ Hall tea-room and take home your very own snowdrop plant, lovingly cultivated at Springhill.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information please call 028 8674 8210

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/springhill

To plan a family day out with the National Trust visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

To book a holiday cottage visit: www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk

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Travel: Down on the farm

Taking your little ones on a farm holiday is a great way to teach them about the changing seasons, first-hand, to get a healthy dose of fresh air, and to get them so giddy with excitement about meeting and caring the animals that they won’t even realise they’re learning about where food comes from and how nature works.

So dig out your wellies and waxed jacket and join the Joules set for delicious taste of the Great British countryside.

the-dandelion-hideaway

The Dandelion Hideaway

Where is it: Nestled on the edge of the National Forest in Leicestershire, The Dandelion Hideaway has six canvas cottages dotted around the 250-acre farm and its woodland, arable and grassland.

What to do: Owners (and farmers) John and Sharon make friendly hosts and are keen to involve guests in farm life, from a guided walking tour of the farm with John to helping look after the hens and collecting the eggs, milking the goats and grooming the mini Shetland ponies. There’s also a farm shop and a brand new indoor children’s den play area. Budding Ray Mears-types might enjoy the new bushcraft skills courses, too.

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When it’s bedtime: This may be “glamping” but you get all the creature comforts you could hope for, including proper beds, en-suite bathrooms with roll-top baths, a living area with a sofa, and a farmhouse kitchen complete with a dining table and a wood-burning stove. If you want isolation then opt for Bluebells Nest, a treehouse which sits by the wood and is perfect for two plus a baby (for larger families the adjoining Bluebells tent sleeps five more), while all of the other cottages sleep six – which will suit families with a growing brood. Older children will love the ‘secret’ third bedroom, housed in a wooden cabin within the tent.

Worth knowing: Pre-order one of Sharon’s farmhouse suppers that will be bubbling on the stove when you arrive, and the mini-tractors for toddlers are definitely worth pre-booking, too.

Canvas cottages sleep up to six, from £700 a week, www.coolrentalguide.com.

Pig bath

The Pig near Bath

Where is it: It sounds incongruous, a luxurious hotel based on a working farm, but The Pig is all about its surroundings. Set on a 500-acre farm, this Georgian house in deepest, rural Somerset is still within easy reach of Bath – a ten-minute drive away. The food in the hotel comes from the vast kitchen garden and fruit orchards, or is foraged from the land, while every egg comes from the farms hens.

Pig Bath

What to do: You may be on a farm, but there’s no roughing it here. Take a much-deserved hour of me-time in the Potting Shed Spa, which uses fab organic Bamford products; feast on the incredible food in the greenhouse restaurant, where almost all of the menu has been grown or reared on the farm or within 25 miles of the hotel; or don a pair of wellies and get muddy on the land. You can visit the pet pigs (rather than the bacon pigs out on the farm) and the chickens and quails, wander round the plot, greenhouse, smokehouse and orchards that feed the hotel, walk the nature trail around the farm, or head into the 20 acres of woodland and deer park in search of spring bluebells or summer wildflowers.

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When it’s bedtime: There are 29 delightfully shabby-chic (but absolutely NOT chintzy) bedrooms, with railway sleeper floorboards, sumptuous four-poster beds painted in Farrow & Ball tones, woodland inspired fabrics and huge roll-top baths.

ImageGen-1

Worth knowing: If you’re really adventurous, you can go out with the hotel’s forager in search of mushrooms, wild garlic and other hedgerow bounty that makes it onto the daily menu. Each room comes with a free Nespresso machine and fridge larder stocked with complimentary goodies (it’s also handy for stashing baby purees!).

Double rooms from £139 a night, 0845 077 9494, www.thepighotel.com.

 makesureweusethis_regularguestswhosentinphoto

Nettlecombe Farm

Where is it: Relive your childhood holiday memories at Nettlecombe Farm on the Isle of Wight, where life feels reassuringly nostalgic. The 150-acre farm is just ten minutes from the beach at Ventnor and houses nine self-catering properties in cottages and converted milking parlours and stables.

iwcp_nettlecombefarm058

What to do: With donkeys, alpacas, goats, reindeer, Buff Orpington hens and a goose called Gordon and a peacock named Percy, Nettlecombe is not your average farm. Children are actively encouraged to meet and pet the animals and can even feed the lambs and piglets in spring. The idyllic setting, in rolling countryside, comes with three fishing lakes, a grassy play area with wooden play equipment including a tractor and Wendy house, as well as dedicated toddlers’ play area. The farm has also ensured that its facilities and accommodation are all accessible for disabled children so that everyone can enjoy the country life.

When it’s bedtime: The simple, stylish accommodation ranges from the converted blacksmith’s forge that sleeps three to farmhouses sleeping four or five and cottages that sleep as many as ten.

nettlecombe-farm-lake

Worth knowing: You can arrange a supermarket delivery for when you arrive so that you needn’t spend your holiday schlepping round the shops, while the laundry room will be a godsend. There’s a library – but whether you’ll find time for reading is another matter!

Various cottages that sleep from three (from £300 a week) up to ten (from £545 a week), 01983 730783, www.nettlecombefarm.co.uk.

dolphinholme-house-farm-north-west-england-lancashire-medium

Dolphinholme House Farm

Where is it: From your posh tent, beside the River Wyre – take a dip in it if you fancy a paddle or swim – you’ll feel at one with the fantastic natural playground surrounding you. The dairy farm, which is home to these glam tents, sits on the edge of the forest of Bowland in Lancashire, and is just fifteen minutes from the coast, should you fancy a picnic on the beach.

dolphinholme-house-farm-north-west-england-lancashire-large

What to do: The farm is home to hens (and children are encouraged to collect the eggs from the coop each day), dogs, cats, ducks and rabbits, as well as goats – it is primarily a dairy farm. You can help to milk, feed and care for the animals, then head to the Farm Larder to pick up some bread and cheese made using the milk ready for a picnic lunch. The all-weather play barn has a sandpit, swing and giant slide, but if the weather’s on your side, then go and build a den in the farm’s woodland.

web-farm_life_06

When it’s bedtime: As a Feather Down Farm Days site, you are guaranteed a top-notch tent that’s fully equipped with real beds and a wood-burning stove, and a working, flushable loo – which you’ll be thankful of when your little one needs to go ”right now” at 5am!

Worth knowing: Choose the “with frills” package and you’ll get your own private hot tub and shower, right outside your tent. And if you pre-book the premier service you’ll be greeted with your stove lit, candles aglow, beds made up, jacket potatoes in the oven and hot drinks in your tent on arrival – and relax…

Tents sleep six and cost from £245 for a four-night stay (01420 80804, www.featherdown.co.uk).

 

kinikini farm

Our favourite city farms – and they’re all FREE!

Heeley City Farm, Sheffield

This small-but-perfectly-formed farm sits on just four acres and is home to sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes and tarantulas. There’s a playground and fab café too, with farm-grown veg on the menu.

0114-258 0482, heeleyfarm.org.uk

 

Mudchute Farm, London

While Mudchute Farm is big – at 32 acres one of the largest in Europe – you won’t forget you’re in the capital thanks to the backdrop of Canary Wharf and the City. The River Café-trained chefs in the café are another reminder. Thankfully the horses, llamas, sheep, pigs, giant rabbits and hens will help you to forget all that for a while, at least.

020-7515 5901, mudchute.org

 

Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh

It’s said that babies love looking at owls because their faces look quite human. So it’s worth betting that your tots will probably enjoy this farm, which has an owl, small pets and farm animals, as well as a play area, café, gardens and farm shop.

0131-337 4202, gorgiecityfarm.org.uk

 

Swansea Community Farm, Wales

Hidden away behind the old Walker’s crisp factory, you’d be forgiven for not realising that this farm existed. But it’s well worth seeking out: there are all sorts of farm animals alongside rare Welsh sheep and pigs.

01792 578384, swanseacommunityfarm.org.uk

 

Bath City Farm, Somerset

In the heart of this Georgian city, you’ll find Aberdeen Angus cows, Tamworth pigs and Orpington chickens to name just a few. Several footpaths cross it and visitors are welcome to climb in over one of the many stiles or through a kissing gate rather than being directed through a single entrance.

01225 481269, bathcityfarm.org.uk

 

Stonebridge City Farm, Nottingham

Urban, edgy Nottingham is the last place you’d expect to find a farm. This one may be small, but its got lambs and rabbits galore, as well as a café, shop, sensory garden and play area.

0115 9505113, stonebridgecityfarm.com

 

 

 

Great farms for day trips:

Big Sheep Little Cow, North Yorkshire

With a pig called Flossie and a tortoise named Flash, this compact farm has a vast range of animals that you’ll get to meet, hold, groom and feed as you take an exciting guided tour around the farmyard. It’s ideal for little ones as it’s not too big and the animals are friendly, too (even our 11-month old enjoyed stroking the anmals). The indoor soft play area is worth the entrance fee alone – the whizzy slide with its ball pool-landing is not to be missed!

Entry £6.95 (under 1s free), Bedale, 01677 422125, www.farmattraction.co.uk

 

Home Farm, The Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire

Specialising in rare breed sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and horses (as well as some noisy ducks and geese), this traditional farm is neatly arranged for little legs and has some fun extras including mini tractors, a straw bale maze and a milking machine. There are daily animal feedings and children can help to groom the donkeys, too.

Adult £7.90, child £5.20 (under 5s free) or half price for National Trust members, Royston, 01223 206000, www.nationaltrust.org.uk

 

Godstone Farm, Surrey

Nestled in a the folds of the Surrey and north Kent weald, this picturesque outdoor farm is ideal for sunny days thanks to its huge outdoor play area. The animals are spread out around a winding path down the gentle hill to the farmyard where you’ll find a “touch” barn of animals that children can pet and also hold (think rabbits, guinea pigs and hens). You can join in with feeding the pigs and ducks, take a hay-wagon ride, or head to the enormous play barn that will tire out even the most energetic of toddlers,

Entry £6.25 (under 1s free, 1-2 years £2.25), Godstone, 01883 742546, www.godstonefarm.co.uk

 

Pennywell Farm, Devon

The award-winning Pennywell Farm is not cheap but the entry includes half-hourly events and displays, a tractor and trailer ride, a train ride, and even a go-kart ride. The farms most famous residents are the micro pigs, which are just too cure for words, but you’ll find all the usual farm animals and smaller petting animals, too.

Adult £12.95, child £9.95 (under 3s free), Buckfastleigh, 01364 642023, www.pennywellfarm.co.uk

ALISON TYLER

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Just beachy – 11 brilliant seaside escapes

It’s that time of year when nothing beats an ice cream, a paddle in the sea and a relaxing rest on a British beach, just watching the hazy horizon and breathing in the briny air.

Birling Gap, photo by John Miller, National Trust Images
Birling Gap, photo by John Miller, National Trust Images

I was at Birling Gap on Saturday with my kids throwing pebbles into the water and digging in the (tiny patch of) sand – the sun shone and a sea breeze rippled through the grassy cliffs above.

It’s a National Trust beach and so is wonderfully managed and clean – here are some of my other NT faves for a family adventure…

Kynace Cove, Cornwall, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Kynace Cove, Cornwall, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Lizard Point and Kynance Cove, Cornwall
When you think of Cornwall, you think of beaches and what better place to spend time as a family than this dramatic and historic stretch of the Cornish coast. Lizard Point, the most southerly part of the British mainland, is a great place to admire some spectacular views and to take a treasured family photograph. Kynance Cove is a hidden gem of the Cornish coast and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This beach is a must for all sun-lovers and sea-paddlers where you can experience incredible scenery, white sand and clear turquoise waters. At low tide you can descend the steps down to the sand and picnic on the shore. Facilities on the beach include the renowned green toilets and a fantastic café which serves food between Easter and November. The Lizard’s other top beaches include: Poldhu Cove, Gunwalloe Cove and Mullion Cove.

Best Beach Activities:
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Jump over waves
· Go on a barefoot walk
· Catch a crab

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lizard

 

Studland Beach, photo by David Levenson, National Trust Images
Studland Beach, photo by David Levenson, National Trust Images

Studland Beach, Dorset
Studland’s scenic four mile stretch of golden sand has something for everyone to enjoy. In the summer the beach comes truly alive, with many taking to the seas in the boats available to hire. This safe and friendly beach is perfect for picnics and for building sandcastles, and the heathland that lies behind it has a treasure trove of wildlife for kids to explore. With gently shelving bathing waters and views of Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight, the beach is an ideal place for water sports and to watch the world go by. If you fancy making a day of it why not hire a National Trust beach hut and tick off some of those ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities with the kids. Be sure to bring buckets and spades with you for a blissful day on the sands.

Best Beach Activities:
· Skim a stone
· Catch a fish with a net
· Hunt for fossils and bones
· Go swimming in the sea

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/studland-beach/

 

Woolacombe dog John Millar
Woolacombe Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Woolacombe JOhn Millar
Walkers above Woolacombe Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Woolacombe beach, Devon
This beautiful three mile stretch of coastline has plenty of things to see and do for all. Rolling hills provide a wonderful backdrop to a beach where many come to swim and surf on sunny days. In the summer holidays you’ll find National Trust beach rangers on hand to show little ones how to go on rock pool safaris and build the best sandcastles for miles around. Baggy Point and Morte Point – also known as the ‘stegosaurus back’ – are both perfect for rock scrambling. If it’s a walk that you prefer, the South West coastal path will take you on a journey around the enticing coves and distinctive slate cliffs that the area is so well known for.

Best Beach Activities:
· Create some wild art
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Catch a crab
· Jump over waves or go swimming in the sea

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/woolacombe-mortehoe-ilfracombe/

 

Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk
Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, the peaceful, colourful heath-land of the Dunwich Heath Nature Reserve, with its shingle and sand beach, is rich with wildlife and ideal for birdwatchers, nature lovers, walkers, and families looking for a great day out. Head to the shingle beach for a walk along the shoreline where you can witness the constantly changing coastline. Late summer sees a patchwork of purple and yellow heather come into full bloom, making it an unmissable experience. The beach is rich in wildlife with Dartford warblers, nightjars, and woodlark ready to spot. There are plenty of activities to get involved with as well, especially for families wanting to keep the kids entertained, including geocache trails, scavenger hunts and flying kites in the summer sunshine.

Best Beach Activities:
· Skim a stone
· Jump over waves
· Go stargazing
· Fly a kite

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunwich-heath-and-beach/

 

Sandy flats at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Sandy flats at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Brancaster and Blakeney, North Norfolk Coast
With four miles of golden sand, Brancaster beach is the perfect place for a family day out. Famous for its mussels, the fishing village of Brancaster Staithe lies on the shores of the beautiful north Norfolk coast. The Staithe offers a great place to start exploring the coast, and you can launch a boat and sail in the sheltered waters of Scolt Head Island.

Brancaster harbour, National Trust Images
Brancaster harbour, National Trust Images

If you continue a little further along the coast you can enjoy miles of golden sand for long or short walks, find great places for building sandcastles and designated areas for power kiting sports. There are so many things to see and explore at Blakeney; crabbing is a must for all ages or you can take time out and relax with a view at Blakeney Point.

Seal at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Seal at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

The area is home to a colony of common and grey seals that can be seen most of the year from any of the seal boat trips that leave from Morston Quay.

Best Beach Activities:
· Catch a crab
· Make a mud pie
· Canoe down a river
· Skim a stone

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brancaster-estate/
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney/

The beach at Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters Coast, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
The beach at Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters Coast, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Birling Gap, East Sussex
Birling Gap is part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. One minute you can be walking on ancient downland, the next you could be rock pooling below towering cliffs of chalk. Spectacular, unspoilt views of the sea can be seen for miles and the beach below is ideal for seaside picnics and exploring the craggy rocks. The whole family can hunt for fossils on the beach and this is a great time of year to uncover hidden treasures. With a south-west-facing beach, Birling Gap is also one of the best spots to surf in the South East. If you’re feeling a bit peckish after a day on the sands, head to the relaxed clifftop cafe where there’s delicious lunches, outdoor seating and uninterrupted sea views.

Best Beach Activities:
· Hunt for fossils and bones
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Fly a kite
· Skim a stone

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birling-gap-and-the-seven-sisters/

Isle of Wight, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Isle of Wight, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Isle of Wight, Hampshire
Welcome to the 50 Things Island just a 30 minute ferry ride away from the mainland, where you can tick off lots of adventures in the great outdoors. Compton Bay is a spectacular spot along the Isle of Wight coastline showcasing some of the best beach side scenery around. It has a firm sandy beach – perfect for sandcastle building, and the tide doesn’t go out too far so it’s great for swimming. It isn’t too crowded either, and there are excellent views towards the Needles and Dorset beyond. This family friendly beach also has a section open for dog walkers all year round, making it a great trip out for a walk, whilst also offering a brilliant space for surfing and swimming. The bay is one of the best places on 50 Things Island to follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs. Look carefully and you can find many dinosaur footcasts on the sandy beach. Nodes Point near St Helens Duver is an excellent place for exploring the hidden wildlife in rock pools and if you look carefully see what you can discover in the pools once the tide’s gone out.

Best Beach Activities:
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Fly a kite
· Jump over waves
· Go swimming in the sea

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/isleofwight

Stackpole Head, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Stackpole Head, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire
Stackpole has two fabulous beaches, Barafundle and Broadhaven South. This summer, get up close and personal with the Pembrokeshire coast with an adrenaline-fuelled session. Barafundle is regularly voted among the top beaches in the world and is a great place to go rock pooling, paddling and building sandcastles. This golden horseshoe backed by gorse-flecked dunes and woodland is accessible only via steep steps in the limestone cliffs on either side and is a great place for a swim. Freshwater West, six miles west of the estate, is a great surf beach and Stackpole Quay is the perfect place to launch your kayak or to try some coasteering along the rocky coastline.

Best Beach Activities:
· Camp out in the wild
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Catch a crab
· Go on a barefoot walk

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stackpole/

 

Flying a kite at Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Flying a kite at Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Rhossili and South Gower Coast, Swansea
With some of the most splendid views on the Welsh coast, you won’t want to miss this magnificent three mile long beach. If you stand at Rhossili Down, you can see not only the peninsula, but the coast of west Wales and the north Devon coast visible on the horizon. With its breathtaking clifftops, and wonderful bay, it’s a perfect place to spend summer days with all your friends and family.

People walking above Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
People walking above Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

To stretch the legs, you can take the level walk from the National Trust shop and Visitor Centre along the cliff top to the Old Coastguard Lookout where they would have kept watch for ships in trouble on the high seas. This beautiful site is perfect for all kinds of activities, from walks and swimming to surfing and kite-flying.

Best Beach Activities:
· Jumping over waves
· Catch a fish with a net
· Go swimming in the sea
· Try rock climbing

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rhossili-and-south-gower-coast/

 

 

Rockpooling, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Rockpooling, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Embleton and Newton Links, Northumberland Coast
Embleton Bay is a magnificent stretch of sand and dunes between Low Newton and the majestic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, perfect for an easy wander with the family. The fourteenth-century ruins dominate the horizon, but you will also find a whole variety of wildflowers living amongst the dunes. With the backdrop of the Castle, this fine sandy beach is one of the most spectacular in England. It’s popular for paddling, building sandcastles and has some great surf conditions as well. Low Newton by the sea has a natural rock harbour and golden beach sheltered from the tides by an offshore reef – it’s an excellent place for marine wildlife and spotting birds.

Best Beach Activities:
· Go bird watching
· Fly a kite
· Catch a fish with a net
· Jump over waves

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/embleton-and-newton-links/

 

Formby Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Formby Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Formby, Liverpool
The sweeping sands of Formby beach entice people from miles around to come and enjoy a bracing day out. With plenty of space for everyone, families can run and play to their hearts content. Spectacular sky-scapes can be glimpsed at sunset and if you stand on top of the sand dunes the beach stretches as far as the eye can see. The glorious sandy beaches of Formby are perfect for family picnics, coastal walks, wave jumping, kite flying or just lazy days at the beach. A closer look reveals thickets of pine woodland which are home to cherished local celebrities, the red squirrels. Check out the signage to find out about the surprising history of the beach from prehistoric footprints to asparagus farming. A coffee cart and ice cream van are onsite most days so why not enjoy a tasty treat with the sand between your toes.

Best Beach Activities:
· Jump over waves
· Fly a kite
· Create some wild art
· Find a Geocache

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/

ALISON TYLER

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    What better way to enjoy the first days of spring than on an Easter trail at a National Trust property - best of all, little ones get a Cadbury's egg at the end Over the past two years we've done several of the National Trust Easter trails - it's a lovely way…
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The fun of the fair

Just a little update, and a thank you really, to all my fabulous friends and supporters who came to the Blackheath Village Montessori summer fair on Saturday. I wish I’d taken more photos!

The weather gods were kind, and the sun shone on a really successful and enjoyable day, where we raised as much money as we could for Lewisham Food Bank.

I was in charge of cakes and coffees (because I’d secretly quite like to run a cafe!) and it was BUSY! But we took a record amount, so thank you to everyone who donated cakes, coffee, cups, and to all those who came and bought one, or two, or even six!

The one with the tents

Yes folks, we did it. Last week, we went camping en famille – after the rain and thunder had passed on Tuesday, that is.

At midday on Wednesday, with the car packed and an hour to till we were due to set off, we still didn’t know where we were heading to, other than a vague notion that Dorset might be nice.

A quick Google later and we were heading to Tom’s Field on the Isle of Purbeck. Except that we never actually got there. We’d been in the car for around two hours when we reached the New Forest and decided we might just stop there since it was 1. already tea time, 2. we hadn’t heard back from Tom’s Field, and 3. we already had that sinking feeling that the next day we would be heading to Peppa Pig World on the edge of the forest.

The children LOVED the wild ponies, bunnies, and cows in the National Park, which kept them both occupied while we put up the tent at Ocknell campsite – much windier in “real” conditions than the practice go in the garden had been.

Then we immediately chickened out of a camp fire supper in favour of Prezzo in Lyndhurst – well, it was already getting a bit chilly by 6.30 AND we were a bit knackered from the driving/tent-building.

Henry slept soundly in his travel cot and Floss loved her own bedroom cabin… and us? It was FREEZING. I don’t understand how the kids weren’t affected as I lay awake wearing ALL of the clothes I’d packed for the long weekend at once, with a scarf wrapped around my head and a picnic blanket over my sleeping bag. And in those cold, early hours of the morning, just before the dawn chorus kicked in, my paranoid mind was convinced that the toddler might get hyperthermia.

As the sun came up and the birds got louder, I finally got some sleep thanks to the temperature creeping up. But Gav was up before 7 and sat on a tree trunk outside reading and drinking tea that he’d made on the gas stove until the rest of us emerged nearer 9am.

Bleary-eyed and looking a bit bedraggled, we headed to Peppa Pig World – all in all, apart from the coldness and lack of a decent shower, our first night camping had been a success.

And it got better…

MORE TO FOLLOW (I’ll also add pics)

Easter egg hunting with the National Trust 

What better way to enjoy the first days of spring than on an Easter trail at a National Trust property – best of all, little ones get a Cadbury’s egg at the end

Over the past two years we’ve done several of the National Trust Easter trails – it’s a lovely way to enjoy a walk and keep the children interested, plus it gives them something to do in order to get their chocolate treat, which I quite like. Here are just a few of the events happening this Easter at the National Trust…

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Sheringham Park, Norfolk

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 10am – 4.15pm*

Wander through Sheringham Park this Easter and discover a woodland garden with miles of stunning coastal views. Follow the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail amongst the early flowering rhododendrons and camellias and look for signs of spring. Once you’ve eggsplored the park and solved all the clues you can collect your yummy Cadbury chocolate Egghead prize.

Price: £2.30

For more information, please call 01263 820550

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheringham-park/

 

Studland Beach, Dorset

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 10.30am – 3.30pm

Celebrate Easter at Studland with a Cadbury Easter Egg Trail along the beach and through the nature reserve. Studland village was the inspiration for Toytown in Enid Blyton’s Noddy books, while the sandy beach, heathland and dunes are home to many fantastic creatures, including rare reptiles, deer and seabirds. This year the Easter bunny has also paid a visit, so why not follow the bunny footprints and solve the clues to find your Cadbury chocolate Egghead prize? Have fun with all the family this Easter on the sheltered, sandy and safe four miles of unspoilt beaches which are ideal for making sandcastles and enjoying some watersports.

Price: £2.50

For more information, please call 01929 450500

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/studland-beach/

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Enchanting forests and wild woodlands

 

Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 10am – 4pm

Ancient woods, rolling hills and wiggly footpaths make Ashridge Estate the perfect place for exploring this Easter. Follow the clues on the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail and see if you can answer the questions to earn yourself a yummy Cadbury chocolate Egghead reward. Exercise your eggsplorer skills and don’t forget to look out for lots of exciting wildlife along the way.

Price: £3

For more information, please call 01442 851227

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ashridge-estate/

Gibside, Tyne & Wear

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 11am – 3pm*

Gibside is so close to Tyneside but a million miles from city life, and this Easter there’s plenty planned for all the family.  A real wildlife haven, the estate is home to some very rare animals, including red kites and red squirrels. Who knows, you might even spot these incredible creatures and their friends whilst exploring on the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail. With big open gardens and parklands to explore, you might also find some Cadbury chocolate Eggheads at the end of the trail.

Price: £2.50 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01207 541820

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gibside

 

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Hidden historic houses

 

Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 10.30am – 4pm*

From Iron Age forts, to colourful heathland, water meadows and even a Roman road, there’s a lot to see on the Kingston Lacy estate. With acres of beautiful gardens and parkland to explore including a kitchen garden with resident pigs, you can have a great family day out. See if you can solve the riddles and clues on the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail and claim your very own Cadbury chocolate Egghead. Don’t forget to pop by the restaurant to try out the home-made cake and prize-winning scones to feed the little eggsplorers at the end of the day.

Price: £2.50 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01202 883402

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy/

 

Attingham Park
Attingham Park

Attingham Park, Shropshire          

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 10am – 4pm

Set alongside the rivers Severn and Tern and surrounded by stunning views of the Shropshire Hills, Attingham’s Easter egg trail takes families on an exciting adventure through the grounds. The Deer Park, walled garden and acres of wooded parks around Attingham House are home to loads of exciting wildlife. Come and meet them all this weekend on a wild and wonderful Cadbury Easter Egg Trail with eggscellent family activities and solve the clues to win your Cadbury chocolate Egghead prize.

Price: £2.50 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01743 708162 

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park/

 

Nymans
Nymans

Glorious gardens to explore

 

Mount Stewart, County Down

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 12pm – 4pm

As one of the Trust’s the most inspiring and unusual gardens, there’s a surprise around every corner at Mount Stewart. This Easter, the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail takes families on a huntthrough the beautiful woodland areas and Lake Walk. Find out more about Edith, Lady Londonderry who created the garden and discover more about her passion for the outdoors as you journey through the different worlds she designed. Along the way uncover the secrets of Mount Stewart Gardens before collecting your yummy Cadbury chocolate Egghead prize.

Price: £1 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 028 4278 8387

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mount-stewart/

Nymans, West Sussex

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 10.30am – 3.30pm*

There’s no better way to explore this romantic house, garden and ruins, with beautiful woodland set in High Weald than taking part in the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail. Discover hidden corners and secret paths of the beautiful spring garden; just don’t forget to claim your Cadbury chocolate Egghead at the end of the trail.

Price: £2.50 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01444 405250

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans

 

Wray Castle
Wray Castle

Characterful castles

 

Chirk Castle, Wrexham

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 11am – 4pm*

Step back in time and discover 700 years of mystery and intrigue whilst following the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail at Chirk Castle. Crammed with surprises along the way, the trail will lead families down into the dungeons and everyone will need to have their wits about them to avoid being put in the stocks before claiming their Cadbury chocolate Egghead prize.

Price: £2.50 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01691 777701

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chirk-castle

 

Wray Castle
Wray Castle

Wray Castle, Cumbria

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 10.30am – 4pm

This Easter make a splash and visit Wray Castle nestled on the shores of Lake Windermere and discover turrets and towers fit for a knight in shining armour. Have fun exploring this quirky building, solving clues along the way in order to claim your Cadbury chocolate Egghead prize. Or for the really adventurous, head out into grounds and track down the clues hidden around the estate.

Price: £2 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01539 433250

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle/

Wimpole Hall
Wimpole Hall

A little out of the ordinary

 

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 10:30am – 4.15pm*

Wimpolena, the Wimpole goose, heard that there were some Cadbury chocolate Eggheads to discover around Wimpole Home Farm. She was in such a hurry to find them that she lost some of her feathers in the gardens. Help her find her feathers to spell out the magic word, and she might let you have some of the Cadbury chocolate Eggheads she’s looking after.

Price: £2 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01223 206000

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole 

 

Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Village, Wiltshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 5 – 6 April, 10.30am – 4pm

Lacock Abbey, with its cloisters and woodland grounds is an ideal place to explore and at this year’s Cadbury Easter Egg Trail you can explore the stars too. Famous resident Fox Talbot, who is best known as the inventor of the photographic negative, loved gazing at the planets. You will be following in his footsteps as you hunt for egg shaped planets and discover fascinating facts about other worlds before collecting your Cadbury chocolate Egghead prize.

Price: £1.50 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01249 730459

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lacock/

Fountains Abbey
Fountains Abbey

Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April 2015, 11am – 5pm

Run around a garden full of exotic plants collected from around the world, hunting high and low, under rocks and in trees for the hidden eggs. This year’s Cadbury Easter Egg Trail will take you on a global journey from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, a Victorian vision of China and a re-creation of a Himalayan glen. Discover them all and you can find the Easter bunny who will be waiting with your delicious Cadbury chocolate Egghead as a prize.

Price: £2 (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01782 375 533

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/biddulph-grange-garden/

 

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, North Yorkshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails, 3 – 6 April, 11am – 4pm

Families will have to work together and leave no stone unturned in the search for giant eggs at this Yorkshire World Heritage Site. Hunting for giant eggs around the magnificent ruins, getting your face painted then eating a chocolatey Cadbury Egghead prize is all in a day’s work for a busy Eggsplorer on this exciting adventure.

Price: £2, with a shorter route for little legs this year (normal admission fee applies)

For more information, please call 01765 608888

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey/

 

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Family-friendly festivals

Want to go to a festival but worried you can’t now that you have little ones? Don’t worry, try these out for size. Have kids, will party

Wilderness

What: Set in the rolling Cotswolds, on an 800-year-old deer park, this is possibly Britain’s poshest festival with food from St John, Polpo, Ottolenghi and Mark Hix, and its own spa.

Who’s playing? The line-up has yet to be announced but last year included Rodriguez, Empire of the Sun, Noah and the Whale, Martha Wainwright, Tom Odell, The Bees.

What to wear: Boden dresses with Joules wellies.

Family fun: The House of Fairytales, award-winning children’s Unicorn Theatre and The Oxford Museum of Natural History are all on hand to excite your children, while Boutique Babysitting might give you a chance to catch the main stage action unencumbered by babies.

Stay: Boutique camping options include tipis, huts, yurts, and even a bus – all come with hot showers, luxury toilets, baby-changing facilities and a chill-out area – there are even “barrow boys” who will greet you and take your luggage.

When is it? 6-9 August. Adult weekend family camping £143.50, under 10s £5. Cornbury Park, Charlbury, www.wildernessfestival.com

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End of the Road

What: At the End of the Road festival, in Wiltshire, set against the backdrop of Larmer Tree Gardens, with stages resembling front rooms, complete with standard lamps and pictures on the chintzily-papered walls. Expect thoroughly British food from Pieminister and music quizzes, too.

Who’s playing? Sigur Ros, Belle and Sebastian, Eels and Dinosaur Jr played last year, while there’s also comedy and film.

What to wear: Cath Kidston, Hunter boots and Barbour jackets.

Family fun: A dedicated children’s area offers performances, workshops and activities for little people.

Stay: Choose between the family campsite or the suitably middle-class accommodation at Toby of Fairlove Yurts.

When it is? 28-30 August. Adult weekend camping £160, under 2s free. Larmer Tree Gardens, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, www.endoftheroadfestival.com

 

BoomTown Fair

What: Hosting limitless winding streets and eccentric venues to explore, BoomTown Fair is a fully working city created by an ever expanding network of musicians, artists and creative. The four-day festival celebrates ska, reggae, dub, swing, punk and more.

Who’s playing? Altern8, Chas n Dave, Dub FX, Lady Saw (full live band), Ms Dynamite and the Dreadnoughts.

What to wear: DMs and denim.

Family fun: KidzTown now takes up a whole zone of the “city” and in 2014 will have its own dedicated main stage. There are arts and crafts workshops to entertain little ones, too.

What mums say: ‘I think the children’s area was absolutely brilliant and I know that from real experience cause my son had the best time ever and never wanted to leave it.’ Anne-Marie Williams, mum to Laurie, 6.

Stay: Camping is included in your ticket price and you can choose a ‘neighbourhood’ to camp in, from Chinatown and El Barrio Loco to Kidztown or Mayfair Avenue depending on your mood. If you’d rather “glamp” you can upgrade to the Boomtique Village for £30, which gets you access to luxury showers, wood-fired saunas and hot tubs, a chill-out lounger and a beauty station (like you’ll really have time for hair-straighteners??). You can even opt to stay in a tipi or luxury yurt.

When is it? 6-9 August. Adult weekend camping £150, 6 and under free. Matterly Estate, Nr Winchester. www.boomtownfair.co.uk

latitude_festival_2014781_api_thumb

Camp Bestival

What: Bestival’s family-friendly little sister bill’s itself as the greatest family show on earth at a castle campsite by the sea. While other festivals offer a “family area” this is a family festival with live acts, DJs, comedy and theatre.

Who’s playing? Basement Jaxx, James, Johnny Marr, Laura Mvula, The Wedding Present.

What to wear: Bright, beachy clothes.

Family fun: From circus and theatre workshops, to bouncy castles and soft play tents, a Dance Space tent, fairground rides and sandpits, children will be in heaven here. There’s a separate Toddler’s Area and a Breastival Mother and Baby Chill Out zone – we approve.

Stay: All the campsites are family-friendly, but you can also choose the boutique Tangerine Fields experience which offers pre-pitched tents or gypsy caravans, with proper loos and hot showers (www.tangerinefields.co.uk).

When is it? 30 July-2 August. Weekend camping from £180, under 11s free. Lulworth Castle, Dorset, www.campbestival.net

 

Latitude

What: Latitude’s Best Family Festival Award (at the UK Festival Awards) is testament to its diverse and inclusive atmosphere. Arranged around the banks of a lake, the laidback and impressively organised Latitude is one of the most idyllic and civilized summer festivals around.

Who’s playing: Damon Albarn, Two Door Cinema Club, Royksopp,

What to wear: Boho vintage cotton.

Family fun: A dedicated kids’ area, with childrens activities that range from face-painting to pond-dipping to pizza-making and theatre workshops, they will never get bored.

Stay: Choose between the family camping area – think kids yoga and pop-up beaches – or pay to stay at Yurtel, a luxury canvas hotel with a bar, brunch included, and a pop-up spa (www.yurtel.co.uk).

When is it? 16-19 July. Weekend ticket with family camping £182.50, Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk, www.latitudefestival.com

latitude_festival_201474_api

Green Man

What: In the beautiful Black Mountains of Wales this small festival has been going for more than a decade and has built up a reputation as a family-friendly, independent destination that has a knack for picking future Brit and Ivor Novello award-winners before they make it big.

Who’s playing: Beirut, Neutral Milk Hotel, First Aid Kit, Daughter, Lanterns of the Lake, Anna Calvi.

What to wear: Opt for clever, low-key cool – think Toast or a classic Breton stripe top.

Family fun: As well as music, there’s comedy, poetry and literature, an area just for under 12s called Little Folk and another for teens. Mums will be appreciative of the spa and therapies, while dads will approve of the local cider, ale and quality food.

Stay: Hot showers and luxury camping areas come as standard at the award-winning intimate festival. Or make a week-long holiday out of it with a Settler’s Pass ticket (£199) which covers the festival entry and your camping for seven nights in the wild beauty of the Brecon Beacons National Park where you can go horse riding, caving, fishing, canoeing or stargazing in one of only five official “dark sky reserves” in the world.

When is it? 13-16 August. Adult weekend camping £159, children £5, infants free. Glanusk Estate, Crickhowell, Wales, www.greenman.net

 

The Eden Festival

What: Scotland’s boutique festival has nine stages, a kids arena, circus tent, drive-in cinema, caberet, comedy and workshops, all with a new-age-y, chilled-out vibe.

Who’s playing: Calvin Harris, Dub Mafia, Beans on Toast.

What to wear: There’s a hippyish feel, so plait your hair and dig out your love beads.

Family fun: The Shellycoat kids tent is where you’ll find environmentally-friendly arts and crafts (is there any other kind?), performances, forest skills workshops and a play area – all for free. There’s also kids yoga, treasure hunts and an end-if-festival kids parade.

Stay: There’s a family camping area if you want to bring your own tent, or if you’d prefer to let someone else do that hard work for you, hire a bell tent with full standing headroom and a bed made up through Yippee Yurts – they even provide luggage portering and a barbeque.

When is it? 12-14 June. Adult weekend camping £85, under 12s free. Raehills Meadows, Dumbries and Galloway. www.edenfestival.co.uk

 

ALISON TYLER

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Family holiday? Top travel trends 2015

Want to know where to book for the year ahead? Read this ultimate family travel guide to where, and what, is going to be hot in 2015, from country weekends and mini breaks to holiday rentals and multi-generation escapes

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THE SMALL-INCLUSIVE
Once all-inclusives meant ginormous resorts with bad buffets and dated entertainment, but in recent years the all-inclusive has been given a make-over. Think glammer, better quality and independent.
“New parents are increasingly keen for us to recommend the kind of small, stylish, independent accommodation they holidayed in before having children but with the added benefits of three meals a day and drinks included without succumbing to a typical package holiday hotel,” explains Sian Williams, founder of Baby Friendly Boltholes.

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Country Kids Chestnut House

 

lla Pia, Tuscany
This 17-room house has the relaxed vibe of a home, but none of the cooking – Brit owners Kevin and Morag take care of all that for you and there’s a fully-stocked fridge, bar and coffee machine for any snacks in between that you can help yourself to. Seven nights from £1,070 in a family room which sleeps two adults, two children and has room for a cot.

Villa PIa
Villa PIa

Country Kids Chestnut House, Languedoc-Rousillion
You want the wild beauty of the French countryside, and the privacy and freedom of an apartment, but you also want a free drop-in crèche on tap, included activities like sailing, vineyard tours or tennis, a couple of nights babysitting, suppers, a pool with a bar, and a deli so you needn’t go out to buy delicious local food. That’s just the start of the options that are all part of the price at this luxurious small family retreat. Sleeps five plus room for a cot. From £3,500 per week.

Chestnut House
Chestnut House

 

Mas de Thau, South of France
This converted French winery opened last summer as a self-catering country estate. Your first supper and daily breakfasts are included along with a bumper welcome pack and a communal meal each Sunday.

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But unlike other self-catering holidays, this one comes with a daily maid service, two night’s free babysitting, a wine-tasting evening, kids club and crèche and a petting farm, a complimentary massage for parents and a blissful pool. Sleeps four plus room for a cot. From £1,200 a week.

www.babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk

 

 

TREE HOUSES
The latest way to get back to nature – hug a tree, quite literally. Now you can play, stay and eat in amongst the tree canopy.

Alnwick Treehouse, Northumberland
This wooden turreted restaurant is reached by a wobbly bridge and trees can actually be seen growing out of the dining room floor. In the evening, it’s lit with candles for a magical, Faraway Tree experience that you’ll never forget. www.alnwickgarden.com

Center Parcs Longleat and Sherwood
The new two-storey, four-bedroom treehouses at Longleat and Sherwood Forest are a real Swiss Family Robinson affair, with wooden bridges and gangways connecting the different wooden cabins and a deck with an outdoor hot tub, sauna and games room. Brilliant for groups or large families. www.centerparcs.co.uk

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Forest Holidays Treehouses
Available in Deerpark in Cornwall, Keldy in Yorkshire, Thorpe Forest in Norfolk and in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, kids will love staying in these treehouse hideaways. Some have wooden walkway entrances, others come with outdoor hot tubs, and all have wood-burning stoves and bathrooms. Sleeps up to ten. www.forestholidays.co.uk

Cleveley Mere, Lancashire
W.O.W ­– leave any notion of a DIY wooden shack at the door, or should that be rope bridge. This futuristic tree-top retreat is seriously luxurious and even has its own harbour and boat, as well as bikes, pedaloes and canoes that can be borrowed. Sleeps four. From £129 a night, www.cleveleymere.com

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BeWILDerwood, Norfolk
This award-winning forest adventure park is home to treehouses, jungle bridges, swings, slides, walkways and even mazes all set in and around the trees. There’s also storytelling, nature walks, boat trips and a tree-based café to keep the whole family occupied. www.bewilderwood.co.uk

 

THE MULTI-GENERATION GAME aka The 3G holiday
Take the kids, the grandparents, the auntie and uncle, the nanny, even the dog – in the last year, one in six travellers in Britain has been on a 3G holiday, that’s three generations on one trip.
And the trend is growing, as more of us choose to travel with friends or family, either to share the cost of larger accommodation, or to help share the burden of childcare.
More than one in ten 3G-ers said that the main motivation for taking their parents or other relatives on holiday was to relieve to load of caring for their children.
“We took went away with our brother and sister-in-law, their kids and our parents last year,” says Nicola 40. “It was lovely for the grandparents to spend time with all of the grandchildren while they still can, and they got to try things that they wouldn’t have done on their own. It also made our villa much better value for money, overall – we were able to stay in a much nicer place for not much more per person than if we’d travelled separately.”
Want to try it? Serviced villas are a great way to take more than one generation away, or resorts that offer entertainment for both young and old. Make sure you look for somewhere with plenty of variety.

Coastline, Corsica, Mallorca and Ibiza
For all the freedom of a villa combined with the luxury of a serviced hotel, this is the perfect solution. Have a chef cook for you, book a private nanny for your stay, use the concierge service to arrange excursions, restaurant bookings and have food delivered to your villa, and expect a maid service, too. But the real bonus is a communal living area where the whole family can mingle and a private pool at every property. www.coastline.co.uk

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Daios Cove, Crete
Older travellers will appreciate the resort-like feel here (you needn’t leave, there’s so much to do), the smart-but-not-trendy vibe, and the infinity pool and spa. There’s a daily programme of activities for young and old, as well as a crèche, kids club, and teen club. You’ll love the private bay and white-sand beach – and the family villas with private pools are a great choice for bigger parties.

www.daioscovecrete.com or book with www.sovereign.com who often have family discounts.

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Belmond La Residencia, Deia, Mallorca
The old-school glamour of this breath-taking resort will wow the grandparents as much as you – though they may be more impressed by the mature gardens and the exceptional views than the fabulous, art-filled manor house hotel and spa. Chill out in the spa, or over a yoga or tai chi session, borrow a mountain bike and head down to the beach, or put the children into the kids club, which offers art and cookery classes, while you read a book by the pool or visit the restaurant, which is the best on the island. Book with Tots Too to take advantage of their private nanny service, Nanny Too, which is available at this hotel. www.belmond.com or www.totstoo.com

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NEW OPENING

Sensatori Resort Aphrodite Hills, Cyprus
Thomson’s luxury all-inclusive resorts are expanding this year, with new hotels in Fethive, Turkey, and Cyrpus. We love the modern rooms and stylish spas, with fantastic entertainment and activities for kids, no matter what they are into. And Cyprus has kitten-soft sandy beaches that make us want to go back every year. The climate is especially good for a spring or autumn break with babies. www.thomson.co.uk

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WHAT THE EXPERTS PREDICT

Emma Barnett, Tots Too:
We are seeing the return to traditional family resorts. Despite the appeal of experiential and authentic family experiences, which there is certainly demand for, we have really noticed in recent months that the traditional, full-service family destinations continue to be hot property, and if anything are soaring. Parents tell us that the peace-of-mind and ease of a family resort, like Forte Village in Sardinia or La Residencia in Majorca, make them a fail-safe bet.
At the other end of the spectrum, we’re also seeing families being prepared to travel further than ever. The Maldives, Mauritius, Antigua and Barbados are some of our biggest sellers – that’s even surprised us!

Nadine Mellor, I-Escape With Kids:
Living like a local is a growing trend – people don’t want to feel like tourists anymore, they want to be immersed in the culture and experience of their holiday. So we are seeing more families booking apartments rather than hotels and wanting lots of information about the destination, or perhaps a concierge service, to make themselves feel at home.
We’re also seeing an increase in foodie breaks, where parents want to take the kids somewhere that they can eat well when out sightseeing during lunchtimes, bring good-quality grub back to the rental property, or dine in the hotel’s restaurant in the evenings with a babysitter or baby monitor. Places like Chateau les Merles in the Perigord region of France or Masseria Prosperi in Puglia, Italy, are proving really popular.

 

HOT DESTINATIONS

GREECE GOES GLAM – The Peloponnese
Blessed with as much sun as LA, but a whole lot closer to home, it’s time to put Greece back on your radar.

Costa Navarino
Costa Navarino

The Peloponnese has seen a raft of chic opening in the last few years, from the ultra-exclusive design den Amanzoe (perfect for a pre-baby glam getaway) to the family-friendly, eco-luxe Costa Navarino and the established grand-dame The Poseidonion in Spetses. Add a new hotel and spa from the club group Nikki Beach in Porto Heli into the mix and it’s no wonder this is where stylish Athenians go to catch some sea breeze. www.visitgreece.gr

Beach-club-Amanzoe
The beach club at Amanzoe

 

CROATIA’S DALMATION COAST
If Croatia isn’t already on your wanderlust wish-list, here’s the lowdown: pretty beach towns dot the coastline, pine-covered islands are in easy day-tripping distance; the cosmopolitan UNESCO-listed port town of Split is on your doorstep – and it’s all just two-and-a-half hours from the UK. I-Escape With Kids (www.iescape.com/kids) has it in their sights as a hip destination for families this year; try staying in Hvar or at the Palmizana, a cluster of villas nestled in lush botanical gardens on the Dalmation Island of Sveti Klement, just a short hop from Hvar.

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Hvar island

Closer to the action, the new Radisson Blu Resort in Split overlooks the Adriatic sea and has apartment accommodation for families.
www.croatia.hr

IBIZA GROWS UP (but not old)
The sun, the turquoise sea and the blissed-out summer beats… How much fun was Ibiza back in the day? But having a baby doesn’t put this Balearic bolthole out of bounds. The original Ibiza hotel, the Hacienda Na Xamena, that first opened its doors in hippie days of 1971, has been through a major revamp and reopened last summer with a luxurious spa, yacht (for jaunts out to sea), and three pools, but the boho vibe is very much alive and well. Perched on a cliff, 180 metres above the sea, and surrounded by a national park, the views are spectacular.

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Hacienda Hotel

Meanwhile Thomson is opening its luxury all-inclusive Sensatori brand on the White Isle this year, with a beachfront setting in Cala Tarida on the west coast. For some thrilling sunset views, head to the rooftop bar – but what makes this work for families is the nursery for babies and free Playhouse club for children over three, there are even supervised evening sessions so that you can have a meal or, dare we say it, hit a club! Family rooms sleep five, while entertainment and a fab spa complete the very stylish package.
Could it be time to dig out your white bikini?
www.ibiza.travel

Sensatori Ibiza
Sensatori Ibiza

 

 

BRISTOL GOES GREEN
Locals have always known that this is one of Britain’s coolest cities, and now a new accolade will have visitors heading west. Crowned European Green Capital 2015, the easily walkable, or cycleable, city has an independent vibe and a thriving arts and music scene, as well as magnificent views from the Clifton suspension bridge – could this be the UK’s answer to San Francisco? Take a Banksy tour for an alternative view of the sights, and check into the new Bristol Hotel (from £99 a night, www.doylecollection.com/bristol), which sits next door to the Arnolfini contemporary arts centre. Tots will love the aquarium, and the SS Great Britain on Spike Island where you’ll also find another modern art venue – the Spike Island Artspace.
www.visitbristol.co.uk

The Bristol hotel has family rooms on the waterfront
The Bristol hotel has family rooms on the waterfront

 

PORTUGAL: THE ALGARVE and BEYOND
With its beautiful beaches, short flight time and gorgeous climate, Portugal is a perennial favourite for families as it is also good value. But new choices are springing up beyond the traditional Algarve package holiday.
Martinhal at Sagres offers the best of barefoot beach luxury and is a villa resort with an eco spa, cool kids club (book ahead!) and a stunning beach, set in a protected natural park.

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Head further north to Sintra and Cascais on the Estoril Coast as a chic, less crowded alternative that’s a short hop from Lisbon. Housed in a converted 14th-century monastery Penha Longa is an outstandingly tranquil and beautiful place to shake of the stress of modern life. Children are treated like royalty, or VIKs as the hotel calls them.

Penha Longa, a converted monastry that is now owned by Ritz Carlton
Penha Longa, a converted monastry that is now owned by Ritz Carlton

And the new Conrad Algarve at Quinto do Lago brings Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck to Portugal – but if that’s too fancy, there’s also a poolside BBQ bar. Add a great kids club, Aromatherapy Associates spa and the nearby marina with bustling boutiques (you will buy something!), and it’s a recipe for a top holiday.
www.visitportugal.com

Conrad Algarve
Conrad Algarve

 

ALISON TYLER

This article appeared in the January 2015 issue of Gurgle magazine.