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Take it outside: six new family adventures in England

From floating aqua parks to Peppa Pig-inspired experiences, there’s a host of new adventures to discover across England.

Published 7 Jun 2020, 08:00 BST
The BeWILDerwood forest attraction offers a wealth of adventurous activities for families of all ages.

The BeWILDerwood forest attraction offers a wealth of adventurous activities for families of all ages.

Photograph by Andrew Kahumbu

1. Discover birdlife in Gloucestershire

As part of a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, 12 new visitor attractions are opening in stages at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust on the Severn Estuary, including The Estuary Tower Hide, a fully accessible hide, which opened at the end of 2019. A new open-air Living Wetland Theatre and Waterscapes Aviary will open from Easter 2020, followed by the fully wheelchair-accessible Severn Estuary Walkway and Mission Impossible; the latter looks at the survival success story of the world’s rarest goose.

2. Climb trees in Yorkshire

Set within the grand surrounds of Castle Howard near York, Skelf Island is a new treetop adventure, just across the Great Lake in the castle grounds. There’s no age restriction on the activity, just the need to be brave. Steely youngsters can expect ingenious treetop nest structures connected by rope bridges, slides, nets and climbing equipment that guarantee a thrilling adventure through the canopy.

3. Cause for celebration in Sussex

This spring saw the opening of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve’s new Discovery Centre in East Sussex, which features an exciting and innovative programme of activities, education, training and conservation projects to mark its 50th birthday. The 1,110-acre reserve is one of the most biodiverse places in Britain, with 4,200 plant and animal species recorded, and more than 200 rare or endangered bird and mammal species. It’s also home to historic buildings such as Henry VIII’s Camber Castle.

4. Go wild in Cheshire

England’s second BeWILDerwood was set to open in May on a 70-acre site in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle, Cheshire, but is now scheduled to open at the start of 2021. The £5m forest attraction is based on the original theme park in Norfolk, itself the brainchild of Tom Blofeld, author of A Boggle at BeWILDerwood, and features sustainable wooden play structures, aerial ropewalks, climbing walls, balancing logs and muddled mazes for all the family to run, whiz, clamber or wobble on. Plus, there are loads of activities too: from face-painting to arts and crafts and storytelling.

5. Make a splash on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight’s first outdoor floating aqua park was set to open at Tapnell Farm this May, measuring a sizeable 50 metres by 80 metres, but the opening has been postponed until further notice. The park has an inflatable course with more than 20 obstacles joined together to create a series of fun challenges designed to suit varying standards of ability. A section of the lake will also be kept obstacle-free for some more classic aquatic pursuits, such as kayaking, paddleboarding and free swimming.

...and 25 more, inspired by Peppa Pig

Check out the new list of must-have experiences for preschoolers and their families inspired by Peppa Pig, part of a new team-up with VisitEngland. The aim is to help young families plan their next adventure, with a children’s activity sheet available to download focused on themes such as The Seaside and The Great Outdoors. These include activities such as going on a steam train, rockpooling and building a sandcastle.   

Published in the May/June 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller 

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