There is no escape, winter is on its way! But that doesn’t mean you need to hibernate. The winter months are a great opportunity to get out and about and enjoy some great places without the crowds.
Here are my top 10 UK places for you and your kids to beat the winter blues…
1. Coventry Transport Museum, Warwickshire
For rainy, miserable days – go out, but stay in by visiting this great museum for free. Coventry is the birthplace of the British cycle and motor industry and the museum takes you through 150 years of history of transport. You and your children, regardless of age, will love going from generation to generation of cars, cycles, motorbikes, and more. http://www.transport-museum.com/
2. Family Cycle Trail, Forest of Dean
Get out and about in the Forest. The family cycle trail is a circular route in the heart of the Forest of Dean. The 11 miles the route runs is suitable for children of all ages. You can join the route at Coleford, Lydbrook or Cinderford and expect to take 2 hours without stops.
3. Conkers Woodland Adventure, National Forest
A nature reserve, an adventure playground and a science museum all rolled into one indoor/outdoor forest-themed great day out, is one way I have heard being described. Fun and education is what Conkers is all about, with its Enchanted Forest play area and exhibits to stimulate young minds. A family of 4 can get in for £28, or book online for an extra 10% off. www.visitconkers.com/
4. Holkham Bay, Norfolk
Blow the cobwebs away on a crisp sunny day on the first of our 3 trips to the beach this winter. Holkham Bay in Norfolk is a real gem, walk on 4 miles of sand and explore the dunes, pine woods, lagoons and saltmarsh that fringe the bay. The beach can be accessed by parking at Burnham Overy.
5. Bluebell Railway, Sussex
Make your way to Sheffield Park Station for the Bluebell line that meanders through unspoilt countryside. The old-fashioned carriages will your kids thinking they are on their way to Hogwarts. Return tickets are £37 for the whole family. www.bluebell-railway.com
6. Woolacombe Sands, Devon
This is one of the best beaches in the UK, only rivalled in my opinion with the beach at St Ives, with nearly 3 miles of beautiful sand this is paradise for kids and adults alike. Woolacombe is rightly-so a hub of activity during the summer, during winter it is an opportunity to explore the area, play beach cricket and even dip your toes into the sea!
Autumn is well and truly here and whilst camping may not be to everyone’s taste this time of year, there are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the changing of the seasons. This weekend we ventured out to Salcey Forest .
Here are my top 10 tried and tested family walks for Autumn in the UK :
1. Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire
My personal favourite! The six-mile circular trail follows the edge of the Salcey forest, a medieval hunting forest known for its ancient oaks and beeches. A series of trailside art sculptures have been installed and a short cut that takes walkers to the Treetop Walk, a skywalk that elevates to 70ft in the air and gives views across the forest and surrounding Northamptonshire countryside. They are also in the middle of creating a super Tree Ninja Adventure playground for kids and adults alike.
2. Kings Wood, Cornwall
Near St Austell is a richly varied spread of oak, beech, ash, birch and spruce on the slopes of the Pentewan valley – popular with walkers and riders. A primary path runs through the middle of the wood, with less formal paths branching off either towards the valley top, for views over the area, or down to the wet woodlands – wear your wellies along the banks of the St Austell river!
3. Sea Palling, Norfolk
A family-friendly walk that takes walkers along the beach from Sea Palling along to Winterton on Sea. It is not a circular walk, so not ideal in that respect, however, if you have young children it is worth following the beach south towards the Great Barn at Waxham and turn back. Those that want to carry on will get a real opportunity to really let the wind blow the cobwebs and enjoy spectacular views across the North Sea.
4. Derwent Valley Walk, Derbyshire
Starting from Fairholmes, this 11-mile circular walk follows a marked route round the famous ‘Dambuster’ reservoirs. The walk is set in heather moorland peppered with beech, rowan, silver birch, spruce and oak trees, which amongst other factors attract a large array of birds, including ravens, crossbills and ospreys.
5. Pepper Wood, West Midlands
There’s an excellent network of walks, ranging from 20 minutes up to 2 hours with young children. Pepper Wood, is the remant of the ancient Forest of Feckenham, and lies close to Wyre Forest near Bromsgrove. The 150 acre site offers a woodland setting in the midst of great oaks, birch and lime. Alders line the valley floor.
6. Pass of Killiecrankie, Perthshire, Scotland
Perthshire is believed to be the area where you will find some of Scotland’s finest woodlands. The Pass of Killiecrankie walk, a four mile walk set in oak woodland along the River Garry, is possible one of the finest. The riverside trail, which starts at the visitor centre leads to the shores of Loch Faskally. You can end your walk at Pitlochry, or continue along the circular Bealach walk, which brings you back to Killiecrankie. The birch, rowan, aspen and ash trees that adorn the walk will certainly give you a taste of autumn.
7. Ullswater, Lake District
This is one for the families with children aged 11 and upwards, it is easier than the walk at Scafell Pike, but still offers a challenge. Starting at church near Howton, this 10-mile circular walk takes you along the shores of Ullswater for part of the way and up in woodland sorrounding the 657m, Place Fell peak. Follow paths and narrow roads to Martindale, then bear right towards Patterdale, before heading towards the shores of Ullswater and following the twisting path to Sandwick and then back to Martindale.
8. Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire
Another family-friendly nature reserve near Nottingham was opened in the 1960′s by Sir David Attenborough. The walk is nearly 4 miles long, has wide paths and can even accommodate pushchairs. It takes visitors from pond to pond for nearly two hours and is perfect for bird watching in Autumn and Winter, including, according to the visitor centre, two fish-eating birds, the goosander and the merganser.
9. Ystwyth Valley, near Aberystwyth
This walk is set in the grounds of Hafod Uchtryd and occupies 500 acres of the Ystwyth valley. There are many huge beeches, red oaks and larches (the only ‘conifer’ to change colour) that line the walks. My favourite is the short(ish) Gentleman’s walk, which climbs to offer great views over the valley. Much work has been carried out in recent years to restore the many of original walks, which date back to the 18th century. Start your walk at the Church car park.
10. Dove Crag walk, Northumberland
Another 4-mile circular walk at Holystone that will take you through stunning Autumn scenery. The walk is set in the Northumberland National Park and follows a path through oak woodland before climbing to moorland. Here you will find oak, birchwoods and larches. Also look out for birds of prey and red squirrels.