Tag Archives: family travel

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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)

Camp it up!

This weekend we bought a tent! Yup, me, ex travel-editor of Glamour, miss luxe hotel, boutique boltholer and five-star spa-goer, I am going camping.
Not even glamping, but real, genuine camping in my own tent, that I’ll have to pitch before I can sleep in it. So it’s not quite Bear Grills’ The Island, but it’s about as close to survival as my holidays have ever got – with added midges and mosquitoes thrown in.

The original plan was a camper van stay on the Isle of Wight but we left it a bit late and by the time we factored in the cost of the van and the ferry it wasn’t going to be cheap or comfortable or reliable (I speak as a former VW owner!).

So that’s how I found myself on the car park of Decathlon Surrey Quays at the weekend, weighing up the size and spec of varying shapes and size of tents.

The only trouble is, now we’ve spent as much on sleeping bags, mattresses, foot pumps, mallets, night lights, torches and other camping paraphernalia and the weather forecast for the week is thunder and hale! Thank you GB.

Our next decision is where to go…

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

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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

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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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    Grab your Barbour jacket, pull on your Hunter boots and get outdoors for a bracing winter walk – and you can reward yourself with amazing grub and a gorgeous room for the night at the end of it There's nothing more exhilarating on a frosty, clear winter's day than a…
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10 of the best welly weekends

Grab your Barbour jacket, pull on your Hunter boots and get outdoors for a bracing winter walk – and you can reward yourself with amazing grub and a gorgeous room for the night at the end of it

There’s nothing more exhilarating on a frosty, clear winter’s day than a country walk over fields and hills, and given you can burn up to 400 calories an hour on a good hike, it’s little wonder the likes of Jessica Biel, Matthew Mcconaughey and Reece Witherspoon are fans. Aside from the amazing views, fresh air and vitamin D, our favourite walks include a welcoming inn at the end, with a roaring fire and delicious dinner. So pack your wellies, kids and dog, and make a weekend of it, as we’ve found the best places to enjoy a rural, rambling escape.

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The Milk House, Sissinghurst

This rustic-chic pub and restaurant with rooms is brilliantly located just across the fields from Sissinghurst Castle in Kent (it’s a pleasing 30-minute ramble away). Welly boots and dogs are practically uniform at this timber-framed building. All exposed beams and open fireplaces, there’s a lounge-y bar with comfy leather sofas and a more formal 9though still relaxed) dining room with a menu that sources 80 per cent of its produce from within a 20-mile radius. The four bedrooms are a tribute to Farrow and Ball and the local theme continue with a range of bath products from Kent, too.

Doubles from £90, www.themilkhouse.co.uk

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Woolley Grange, Wiltshire

This homely small manor hotel welcomes families and dogs – if you haven’t brought your boots, you can borrow one of the many pairs lined up in the entrance hall. And if you haven’t brought your dog, you can even borrow the resident King Charles Spaniel puppy Rex and take him for a stroll around the grounds or over the fields down (or down the lane if you’re pushing a buggy) to Bradford on Avon, or head even further a-field to Ilford Manor which is surrounded by hanging woodlands and then walk back along the river.
Rooms at Woolley are eclectic and homely, combining antique furniture with modern design, while the relaxed lounges are the perfect place to warm up with a hot chocolate after a long walk.

Doubles from £120, www.woolleygrangehotel.co.uk

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The Lord Crewe Arms, County Durham

With properly hearty, country food – think shins, hocks, and shanks of meat – Simon Hick’s modern British menu is as robust and humble as this 12th-century former Abbots Priory. Delightfully understated, but in a very stylish way, this pub with 12 bedrooms is warm and welcoming – grab an armchair in the enormous inglenook and settle in with the weekend papers and a pint of Lord Crewe Brew before heading out to the hills. The pub sits at one of the highest points on the North Pennine Hills and is surrounded by heather-clad walks, but fishing and shooting are also available if you really want to give your Barbour a workout.

Doubles from £105, www.lordcrewearmsblanchland.co.uk

 

Askham Hall, Cumbria

Askham Hall makes a very glamorous home from home – owner Charlie Lowther and his wife Juno have renovated and transformed his family home, a Grade I-listed manor house, complete with a medieval tower, to create a 13-room hip-yet-unpretentious hotel with history. The rooms are relaxed yet grand; a winning cocktail of antique beds, dinner-plate showers and jaw-dropping Lake District views. Sitting in the middle OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAof the 70,000-acre Lowther Estate, you’re literally surrounded by walks, from challenging fell climbs to a gentler walk across the estate to the George and Dragon pub in Clifton where most of the food is sourced from the estate itself, or a potter around the Hall’s romatic gardens and woodland and into Askham village.

Doubles from £150, www.askhamhall.co.uk.

 

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The Wild Rabbit, Kingham

Since opening last summer this immaculate pub with rooms, owned by Lady Bamford (the brains behind nearby Daylesford Organic), has recently won Michelin Pub of the Year. Behind its alluring honey-hued Cotswold stone walls and sage green paint, the handcrafted interior has antique furniture, stripped walls and open fires – while the menu stocks artisan ales and wine from small vineyards. Expect thoroughly stylish, and seasonal, food such as pot roast partridge or cacao nib crusted venison with girolles, celeriac and figs. While this may be the poshest pub in Britain, it is also surrounded by fields and farms – dogs are most welcome (they even provide dog beds for free). There are walking maps to borrow and you can hoof it over the fields north to Daylesford Organic to visit the spa, farm shop and restaurant there. Chipping Norton, Burford and Stow on the Wold are all close by.

Doubles from £135, www.thewildrabbit.co.uk

Bar area and dining room, Bel and the Dragon, Churt, Surrey BelDragon_churt3

Bel and the Dragon Churt, Surrey

Less than an hour from London, but a welly’s throw from the National Trust-owned Devil’s Punch Bowl – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offering incredible views, this fabulously-restored country inn has 14 bedrooms, a restaurant and bar – complete with a cosy lounge with an open fireplace and an inviting sofa. The new pizza oven and chalk-topped tables are proving a huge hit with families, while the josper grill (for the juiciest steaks) and wine served by the magnum – you just drink what you can – keep grown-ups more than satisfied.

Doubles from £95, www.belandthedragon-churt.co.uk

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Ockendon Manor, Sussex

Surrounded by the South Downs National Park, this Elizabethan Manor House welcomes guests with a roaring log fire and a cosy, wood-panelled bar. Set in nine acres, and with the South Downs Way, Wakehurst Place and Sheffield Park all on the doorstep, you’ll be spoilt for choice for walks. And at the hotel, you can spoil yourself in the state-of-the-art spa and at the Michelin-starred restaurant.

Doubles from £179, www.hshotels.co.uk/ockenden-manor-hotel-and-spa

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The Gunton Arms, Norfolk

You can’t get much more rural than a 1,000-acre deer park, which is where you’ll find this eccentric-yet-unpretentious pub and B&B owned by an art dealer and interior designer. The buzzy restaurant and bar, headed up by chef Simon Tattersall, who worked with Mark Hix, attracts north Norfolk’s finest, from muddy booted walkers and farmers to artists and landowners alike, who come to watch Tattersall cook over a vast 16th-century open fireplace. As you’d expect from a deer park close to Cromer – venison, crab and seafood abound. Just the thing after a misty country walk.

Doubles from £95, www.theguntonarms.co.uk

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The Grove, Pembrokeshire

Between the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and the Preseli Hills, the boutique Grove hotel, and its award-winning restaurant makes a chic retreat after a wild winter walk. Nab one of the fire-side seats in the lounge a snuggle up with a spicy glass of red wine and a great book. Book the Winter Warmer package and the hotel will pack you off in the morning with a walker’s hamper containing a flask of traditional Welsh cawl and tasty bites to keep you warm and toasty on your walk. Then head back to a roaring log fire, a soothing bath with a box of Wickedly Welsh chocolates and a full body massage courtesy of The Grove’s In Room Spa before delicious candlelit meal beside the fire in our award-winning restaurant (£200 per person per night).

Doubles from £165, www.thegrove-narberth.co.uk

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The Gurnard’s Head, Cornwall

There can be few more rugged or wild corners of Britain than the Zennor peninsula in Cornwall, and after a bracing walk, through cow fields, out to the tip of Zennor Point, you’ll be more than ready for a pint of real ale by the fire in the bar. This is pub-grub at its best and most local, from the ham hock terrine to the venison stew, even the soda bread with locally-churned butter is lip-smackingly good. Rooms are cosy but charming, with brilliant beds – you’ll feel so at home that you won’t want to leave. Dogs are welcome and wellies are practically obligatory round these parts.

Doubles from £110 – or book the fantastically good value Winter Escape: £130 a couple for dinner, bed and breakfast, Sunday to Thursday. www.gurnardshead.co.uk

ALISON TYLER

This article appeared in Metro on 26 January

 

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