HALF TERM 2017 – Outdoor fun for families
Want to get the kids off their devices and into the fresh air? Here’s my pick of the best local heritage properties, gardens and grounds.
National Trust options
At Stowe Landscape Gardens (above) near Buckingham, there’s a fun take on their kids’ trails with different choices for kids to make: will they pick the naughty path, the path of goodies or choose to be a hero? There are children’s trails to follow through the grounds of Basildon Park and at Cliveden, both of whom are running a half-term Wild Week packed with muddy, wet and crafty fun stuff. Bring your wellies.
Hughenden Manor, near High Wycombe, which was not only home to Disraeli but also to a secret WWII operation, is running a Top Secret Hillside Trail and you can have a go at making your own secret Map to take home. Waddesdon Manor has acres of walks, kids’ playgrounds and formal gardens but they’re also doing fabulous Hygge Winter Walk experiences at the moment, transforming the Coach House into a cosy, Scandanavian den where you can drink hot chocolate and snuggle under sheepskins.
Let off Steam at Wonder Woods, Stonor Park
Wonder Woods is a brilliant big play park for kids up to age 15, with all the wobbling, swinging, jumping and sliding they could ever want. Throw in a few scary tunnels, a 50 metre zip wire and a nearby cafe for parents and, yep, that’s everybody happy. stonor.com
Bottle Feed Kid Goats at Odds Farm Park
Cutesy baby goats to bottle feed this week at Odds Farm near High Wycombe. The guys at Oddsare laying on their ‘Crazy Entertainers,’ demos and craft activities and if the weather’s iffy, kids can let off steam in the huuuuge indoor play barns on the astraslides and ropes. oddsfarm.co.uk
Take Part in the South West Puddle Jumping Championship
I’m so up for this! Wet or dry, this is a great excuse to get your children outside and enjoy some good, old-fashioned puddle jumping. It’s at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre all week and there’s a competitive edge to all the fun – daily winners and prizes for the biggest splash, enthusiasm and jumping style. wwt.org.uk
Bugs, Birdboxes and Bird-Themed Trails at Beale Park
Half-term trails, prize draws and hands-on activities. Check for what’s happening each day. bealepark.org.uk
A manageable size for an amble, even with littlies – Waterperry is just 8 acres of landscaped ornamental gardens, and there’s plenty to distract kids aside from the beautiful gardens with a great plant shop, gift shop, museum and teashop. Some half-term ‘I-Spy’ activities for families this week, make it a smart, laid-back option if the weather’s good. waterperrygardens.co.uk
No special activities for half term – just a chance to let off some steam in the 130 acres with some of the oldest redwoods in the UK. botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk
Stories, Crafts, Cooking & Welly Walks at Cogges Manor House
Cogges has packed a huge amount into three mornings this half term. From Tues 14, there’s going to be Gingerbread Man storytelling and biscuit making in the kitchen. On Weds, there’s a guided walk for families and then Thursday celebrates, children’s book, A Squash and a Squeeze with stories, art and puppet-making. cogges.org.uk
Explore the Grounds at Blenheim Palace
2,000 acres of stunning parkland designed by ‘Capability’ Brown, a maze and a huge kids’ adventure playground.
Great for dog-owners too – your four-legged friends are welcome in the Park if they’re kept on leads. and there are even a couple of dog-friendly walks available. blenheimpalace.com
Oxford Botanic Gardens, Oxford
Worth a trip any day, but through half term there are trails and backpacks on hand for kids to go exploring. On Weds 15 Feb, there’s also a big Fairtrade Family Friendly Event taking place so there’ll be lots of extra with activities and crafts suitable for children of all ages including Fairtrade chocolate making. botanicgarden.ox.ac.uk
‘Love Your Pets’ week at Green Dragon Eco Farm
The team at the Green Dragon Eco Farm nr Quainton has put together plenty of activities to keep kids engaged – from Q&A sessions and pet care workshops to pet-themed arts and craft activities. Plenty of time for them to go crazy on that whopper of an outdoor trampoline too. greendragonecofarm.co.uk