Take a break from the usual overseas holiday this summer and inspire your family with all that England has to offer!
Planning the family holidays this year could present us all with some exciting challenges. The economic downturn not only makes the working week a little more worrisome but when you do have the chance to take a break, you feel like you still need to save money.
A recent survey suggested that more than half of us will stay in the UK this year and whilst this may not initially seem like the most appealing prospect, for families with children there is a world of adventure and hidden gems to be found on English soil – and a great deal of them are free of charge!
You don’t have to opt for the traditional seaside holiday either. Stay in your local areas of Yorkshire, Durham or Cumbria for example and discover a wealth of beautiful countryside and little known attractions.
There are literally hundreds of ways to be thrifty without compromising on fun! Whether you stay for a week or just for a day you can find exciting activities, whatever the weather and whatever the budget.
The brand new ‘Let’s Go with the Children’ Guide books cover 14 regional areas of England and offer endless ideas on places to go and things to do with the family this summer. Your biggest problem will be deciding where to go first!
Here are a few suggestions on how to nurture your child’s hidden passions or talents, whilst ensuring the whole family has hours of fun for less this summer, whatever the weather and whatever the budget!
Yorkshire, North East & North West - Free Places to Visit...
Hexham Park 01434 652121.
Small but perfectly formed Green Flag award winning park beside stunning Hexham Abbey with play and picnic areas, boarding and BMX facilities.
Newcastle Discovery Museum 0191 232 6789 www.twmuseums.org.uk.
Discover all about life in Newcastle and Tyneside, from maritime history and world changing science and technology through to fashion through the eras and military history. The museum is bursting with interactive displats; the perfect place to learn and have fun.
National Glass Centre, Sunderland 0191 515 5555 www.nationalglasscentre.com.
Take a fascinating tour, see glass artists at work and walk across the glass roof. Children’s workshops during school holidays. The National Glass Centre promotes the art, history and science of glass in a context that is relevant to place, through a programme of exhibitions, new commissions and education that is international in its scope and vision, and fosters meaningful debate and participation between artists, audiences and educators.
Hamsterley Forest 01388 488312 www.forestry.gov.uk/hamsterleyforest.
2000 hectares of mixed woodland lying between the Wear and Tees valleys on the edge of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.Hamsterley is a delightful oasis of broadleaved and coniferous woodland, sprawling along the sides of a sheltered valley. With way marked walks, cycle routes and horse riding trails, all levels of fitness and ability are catered for.
Consett to Sunderland Railway Path 0845 113 0065 www.sustrans.org.uk.
Part of the award winning C2C route, this popular traffic free cycle route is 21 miles long using former railway lines with lots of fascinating flora, fauna and public works of art along the way. There is plenty to visit along the route. Between Stanley and Beamish you pass the intriguingly named Hell Hole Wood, managed by the Woodland Trust and part of the Great North Community Forest.
Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, Middlesborough 01642 311211 www.captcook-ne.co.uk.
Experience life below the decks and find out about the world famous navigator through interactive displays. It is housed in a purpose-built building close to the granite urn marking the site of Cook’s birthplace cottage in Stewart Park, Marton, and Middlesbrough. The museum tells the story of one of the world’s greatest navigators and mariners through themed display galleries, temporary exhibitions, associated activities and events and a lively education programme.
Wynyard Woodland Park 01740 630011 www.wynyardwoodlandpark.org.uk.
Enjoying a beautiful woodland setting, this 180 acre park has many historical features. Facilities include a visitor centre, Planetarium, observatory, cycle ways, picnic spots, sculpture trail and play area. There is a railway carriage which acts as a classroom, a Virtual Visitor Centre Project and a new sculpture trail.
Robin Hood’s Bay, Whitby www.robin-hoods-bay.co.uk Take a net and a bucket to hunt for fossils on the rocky shores between Robin Hood’s Bay and Boggle Hole. Children must be supervised. Whether you are on a day trip or a weekly holiday to Robin Hood’s Bay, in a family group, finishing the coast to coast or simply getting away from it all, there is much to indulge in and certainly something for everyone. In addition to simply soaking up the scenery and relaxing in the surroundings, let your taste buds be tickled and your creative side tempted!
Lotherton Hall Estate, Leeds 01132 813259 www.leeds.gov.uk.
Explore the stone circle within the Boundary Trail, wander through one of Europe’s largest walk-through aviaries, admire the red deer or simply run off steam in the delightful grounds. Enjoy a great day out at Lotherton Hall and Estate and explore the fine country home within extensive grounds, including a red deer park, bird garden, nature trails, café and extensive family play area.
Manor Heath Park Jungle Experience and Walled Garden 01422 365631.
The Jungle Experience at Manor Heath Park, Halifax is a tropical oasis packed with fish, quail, terrapin and butterflies as well as a collection of plants from all over the world, where visitors can enjoy the all year round tropical atmosphere. The walled garden has many traditional and modern designs of planting, and the well kept park has a children's play area, picnic tables, mature trees and well kept gardens. A must for all the family!
Cusworth Hall Museum and Park, Doncaster 01302 782342 www.doncaster.gov.uk.
Discover lots of traditional toys in the childhood room and enjoy a picnic in the grounds. Cusworth Hall, Museum and Park re-opened to the public in May 2007, after several years of extensive restoration work.The Hall and its surrounding parkland have been transformed, stunning ceiling paintings in the Italianate Chapel have been revealed and restored, after being hidden under layers of paint for 50 years.The Great Kitchen, Bake House, Still Room and Laundry are also sometimes open to the public, giving a glimpse of what life was like 'below stairs'.
Graves Park Animal Farm, Sheffield 01142 582452 www.gravesparksheffield.info.
Get close to cuddly baby animals, domestic and rare breeds. In the park take the bird and sculpture trail and check out the play area. The farm has three distinct sections, just off the Hemsworth Road Car Park is a farmyard which houses the collections small animals such as Specialist Chickens, Guinea Pigs and Rabbits, the area is tarmac and accessible for disabled people. The farmyard is also home to the main barn where there are often baby animals, including piglets and lambs which is particularly popular with families.
Old Penny Memories Museum, Bridlington 01262 608400.
Old Penny Memories is one of the biggest collection of antique slot machines in England. Visitors to the museum can actually play the slot machines with the exchange of their money into old pennies. Admission is free, so you only pay if you play. Those visitors who are just wanting to look around are welcome to. The collection of machines and memorabilia dates from Edwardian 1920s up to the swinging 60s. You can feel the atmosphere of the era with the seaside organ music playing.
Spurn Lightship, Hull www.hullcc.gov.uk.
See how the crew lived aboard the ship which guided others into Hull’s port. Built in 1927, the 'Spurn' served for almost 50 years as a navigational aid in the treacherous River Humber. Now enjoying a leisurely mooring in Hull's attractive marina, she and her knowledgeable 'crew' are prepared to receive and welcome boarders who wish to explore.
Low Barns Nature Reserve, Durham 01388 488728.
Discover acres of beautiful woods, lakes and meadows including a visitor centre and observatory. Low Barns Nature Reserve is a 50 hectare wetland site with areas of mixed woodland and grassland. The Reserve is situated on an ex-gravel extraction site, which has been managed by Durham Wildlife Trust since operations ended in 1964.Wetland features include three lakes, interconnecting streams, a number of mature ponds, and a wet pasture. The River Wear also flows through the reserve.
Bowlees Picnic Area, Teesdale 0191 383 3594 www.durham.gov.uk.
Charming spot on the River Tees from where you can explore Gibson’s Cave, Summerhill Force and Low Force. There is a Visitor Centre run by Durham Wildlife Trust over the Bowlees Beck. One of the most attractive sections of the Pennine Way is only a 15-minute walk away. This section follows the River Tees midway between Middleton and Cauldron Snout. It can be reached by crossing the Tees on the Wynch Bridge, near Low Force.
Bowes Castle, Durham 0191 269 1200 www.bowes.org.uk/castle.
Explore the vast ruins of this open-access, three-storey, 12th century keep overlooking the River Greta. The present ruins of the castle are fifty-three feet in height, the remains being of the keep, surrounded on two sides by the remains of an original inner moat. There are few remains of the original bailey wall but it is possible to climb up part of the inside of the keep itself.
Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon 01388 777999 www.locomotion.uk.com.
Open-air museum with vehicles and interactive displays to explain the life of Timothy Hackworth and the development of railways. There’s a fun packed programme of special events throughout the year. For a fabulous day out, try their exclusive package culminating in driving a steam engine. There is an Easter Fair for all the family and events through school holidays.
Brimham Rocks, Harrogate 01423 780688 www.brimhamrocks.co.uk.
Take sturdy shoes to explore these spectacular rock formations including the Dancing Bear and Druid’s Writing Desk. Tracker packs available for over 5s. The curious rock formations at Brimham in Nidderdale are scattered over some 50 acres on Brimham Moor and provide a great variety of weird and wonderful shapes. Many of the gritty monstrosities suggest all manner of things, including elephants, hippos, bears, mushrooms and some are said to have associations with druids, Mother Shipton and even the Devil himself.
Whinlatter Forest Park 017687 78469 www.forestry.gov.uk.
Explore the mountain forest on foot or two wheels, orienteering, playground and picnic area. From April to August annually watch the Bassenthwaite Ospreys through the live nest camera or visit the Lake District Osprey Project and see the ospreys from the outdoor viewpoint or visit the exhibition and live video camera at Whinlatter.
Talkin Tarn Country Park, Cumbria 01697 73129 www.visitcumbria.com.
Stroll around this delightful glacial tarn, hire a boat in summer or enjoy the Boathouse Tearoom all year round. The tarn is glacial in origin, being formed about 10000 years ago, and is fed by underground streams. You can sail, windsurf, canoe or hire one of the wooden rowing boats. Fishing is available at the Tarn. There is a small camping and caravan site, and a permanent orienteering course is laid out around the park. The shop hires mountain bikes and there are suggested routes taking you through beautiful countryside. There is a 1.3 mile path round the tarn which is suitable for wheelchairs. The Boathouse Tea Room has superb views of the tarn, and a blazing log fire.
Aira Force Waterfall, Cumbria 01768 482067 www.visitcumbria.com.
A magnificent beauty spot, Aira Force and the Ullswater Valley are home to a large variety of wildlife, including Wordsworth's famous daffodils. Probably the most famous of the Lake District waterfalls, the main force falls 70 feet from below a stone footbridge. Aira Force provides a glimpse of a landscaped Victorian park with dramatic waterfalls, arboretum and rocks scenery.
Low Sizergh Barn, Lake District 015395 60426 www.lowsizerghbarn.co.uk.
There is a farm shop, tea room, craft gallery and farm trail on this organic dairy farm near the Lake District national park. The farm shop is filled with one of the best selections of local and speciality foods in Cumbria, with farm products -- our own organic Kendal cheese, organic eggs and ice cream made from our milk -- taking pride of place. Watch the milking from the gallery between 1.15-3.15pm.
Lancaster Canal Trust 01524 735504 www.lctrust.co.uk.
Run by enthusiasts, experience their narrow boat "Waterwitch" for a trip along the pretty northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal.
Abbott Lodge Jersey Ice Cream, Penrith 01931 712720 www.abbottlodgejerseyicecream.co.uk.
Meet the Jersey cows at this working farm, try the ice cream and work up an appetite in the indoor and outdoor playgrounds. The farm offers a tea room, function room for educational visits and you can watch the calves at their computerised feeding station. Sampling the ice cream is a must!
Alderley Edge, Cheshire 01625 584412 www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
Dramatic wooded hill rising out of the Cheshire plain. Legend says that kind Arthur lies sleeping underground. Explore mysterious trails and seek the wizards well. Alderley Edge is designated an SSSI for its geological interest. It has a long history of copper mining, going back to Bronze Age and Roman times. The mines are open twice a year, organised by the Derbyshire Caving Club. There are views across Cheshire and the Peak District and numerous paths through the oak and beech woodlands, including a link to Hare Hill.
Cheshire Workshops, Buwardsley 01829 770401 www.visitchester.com.
Discover candle making and watch working craftsmen. Lots of activities for children at weekends and school holidays including candle dipping, badge making, card making and pottery painting. Open 10-5pm Delamere Forest Park, Cheshire 01606 882167 Take a picnic and explore this extensive forest. Visitor centre and ranger-led activities throughout the year, with extra events during school holidays. Good network of cycle paths.
Delamere Forest Park is Cheshire's largest area of woodland and is a place for families to let off steam, escape the crowds and find peace in the heart of the forest.
Ainsdale on Sea Beach & Discovery Centre, Southport 0151 9342967.
Explore this extensive, clean beach and the maze-like sand dunes. Hire a free bicycle from the centre or take part in extreme kite activities.. Ainsdale-on-Sea is an ideal starting point for exploring Sefton's Natural Coast. A mile from the village of Ainsdale, it is Southport's main bathing beach with Lifeguards on duty during the summer season.The beach is one of the most popular on the coast and achieves the Seaside Award annually.
Wirral Country Park, Cheshire 0151 327 5145.
From the restored Hadlow Station, walk or cycle along 12 miles of footpaths, with shorter pathways into other areas. Fantastic bird watching, with great views over the Dee Estuary to North Wales. Visitor centre and guided walks. Wirral Country Park is a place of contrasts. Badgers and Foxes hunt the quieter parts, birds nest in the dense hedges or feed on the berries in winter, and you may see up to 10 kinds of butterfly in summer. Head for the 60 feet high, boulder-clay cliffs and look out over the Dee Estuary and you'll smell the tang of mud and salt, feel the sea breeze and get a sense of space quite unlike the enclosed, inland Wirral Way.
Greater Manchester Police Museum 0161 856 3287 www.gmp.police.uk.
Step back into unruly Victorian Manchester, see the wooden pillows in the Victorian cells, plus uniforms and equipment. Learn about forgery and forensic science.
Three Owls Bird Sanctuary & Reserve 01706 642162 www.threeowls.co.uk.
Relying heavily on donations, this sanctuary takes wild distressed birds, rehabilitates them and returns them to the wild. Between 300 and 1600 birds can be seen depending on the season.
Stockport Hat Works 0845 833 0975 www.hatworks.org.uk If you have ever wondered how hats were made, then this is the place for you. View the history of hat making from its origins through to mechanisation in the mills with working machines in action.
National Football Museum, Preston 01772 908442.
Investigate all aspects of the beautiful game including displays and Hall of Fame, Match of the Day Interactive and the Goalstriker Experience. Discover the best football museum in the world. Exciting moments, unforgettable memories, world famous objects, legendary players, 'hands-on' fun for all the family ... best of all it's FREE Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site 01434 332002 www.hadrians-wall.org.
This famous frontier was built by the order of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Along its length are many museums, forts and temples. Follow the national trail, an 84 mile trail from coast to coast with links to 40 short walks. Steeped in history there are 14 major Roman sites, forts and museums and countless milecastles and turrets to explore, as well as many great non-Roman places on offer. Explore the stunning landscape of the World Heritage Site on foot, or cycle, at your own ease ‘Let’s Go with the Children’ Guide Books are published by Boomerang Family Ltd.
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