re-sized tree climbing

Some ideas to get out ‘n about this summer in England

Ok so I can hear you all screaming and yelling and saying ‘that’s not extreme’ – you know something – you are absolutely right. But here at we recognise the need for all of us to turn off the telly and get out and about – you don’t have to risk breaking a limb – and so I am indebted to Ed Douglas of the who has put this list of 10 places to go for something to do in the big outdoors. I risk being reprimanded by my partner but hey that’s a risk worth taking cos getting outside is a start, it can inspire kids, open their minds – let let smell the land and the sea, let them ask the questions – so no regrets and thanks again Ed.

1: iTry, Snowdonia

North Wales has a mind-spinning range of activities on offer, from high-ropes courses, to rock climbing, to canoeing or just exploring the region’s stunning landscape and wildlife. But if you don’t want to sign the whole family up to an expensive course they may not like, a sparkling new initiative called iTry matches you up with taster sessions to suit your interests, budget and level of commitment. You tell them what you want, they put you in touch with the expertise you need.

· Call 0844 9022970 9am to 5pm, or Runs until August 31.

2: Tree climbing, Cornwall

Mighty Oak runs courses where kids can rediscover the old-school joys of tree climbing, but on really big trees secured by the latest safety equipment. Until you’ve hung around the tree-tops and seen the world from a nesting bird’s perspective, you really haven’t lived. Mighty Oak will even let you sleep overnight on high, roosting in a four-cornered hammock, rocked to sleep by the breeze. Oh, and you’re tied to a safety rope, so don’t panic.

· Guided climbing session and one night’s camping costs £140 per person. 07890 698651,

Tree climbing in Cornwall

Learning the ropes … tree climbing in Cornwall

3: Bushcraft, Wiltshire

What with soaring oil and food prices, it might be worth the whole family picking up some survival skills. Alas, junior courses with the woodlore guru Ray Mears have long since sold out. Book soon for 2009. In the meantime, check out the Wilderness Gathering, a three-day event where you can see everything from spoon carving to survival fishing techniques. Top bushcraft instructors include John Rhyder from Woodcraft School, Ray Mears’s former head instructor.

· Tickets £7.50 per day, £4.50 for Under 16s. Weekend pass with camping and introductory courses, £70 for adults, £30 for Under16s. 0845 8387062,

4: Lundy Island, Devon

A lump of granite poking 400ft out of the Atlantic where it meets the Bristol Channel, Lundy is perfect for trad pastimes like fossicking in rock pools and bird-watching, and is home to England’s only statutory marine reserve. There are guided walks and snorkelling safaris, and if you’re feeling adventurous, rock climbing and diving. Accommodation ranges from a 13th-century castle to a lighthouse, all beautifully restored and furnished by the Landmark Trust.

· Family tickets on the MS Oldenburg from Bideford are £70 return for two adults and two children. +44 (0)1271 863636,

5: Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

With the British Museum taking a look at Hadrian’s legacy, you can introduce your children to his furthest outpost and get the little darlings to patrol it. There is a path running along the length of Hadrian’s Wall, but the section between Steel Rigg to Housesteads is widely regarded as the finest with a visit to Housesteads Castle en route.

· Shepherds Walks is a small local guiding company run by Jon Monks with a growing reputation for offering guided and self-guided walks throughout Northumberland. The five-hour, seven-mile circular route from Steel Rigg costs £8 per person.

6: L-plate adventures, Cairngorms National Park

Glenmore Lodge is Scotland’s national outdoor training centre, but if that all sounds a little too grown-up and committed, in July and August the Lodge is offering taster sessions for 12 to 16-year-olds. Each session is half a day, and you can try mountain biking, orienteering, kayaking and rock climbing, or spend the whole day in the spectacular Cairngorm mountains, learning about navigation and what to take on the hill.

· Each half session is £12, or do two in one day for £20. Bring your own sandwiches. +44 (0)1479 861256,

7: Otter watching, Peak District

An otter Photograph: Bryn Colton/Assignments Photographers/Corbis Watching an otter can cheer the gloomiest heart, even one deprived of its Gameboy. The Chestnut Centre has a range of different otter species, as well as caring for orphaned otters that are eventually released back into the wild – and if that doesn’t make your heart melt nothing will. Set in 50 acres in the Peak District near Chapel-en-le-Frith, other attractions include 16 species of owls, plus a wide range of indigenous species. But you’ll have to leave your dog at home.

· Family tickets £20, open from 10.30am, last entrance at 4pm. +44 (0)1298 814099,

8: Coasteering, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

If you want to take exploring the coastline to its ultimate conclusion, consider booking the family onto a “coasteering” course with TYF Adventure. Essentially, you put on a wetsuit and a helmet, and then spend a few hours scrambling and swimming around Pembrokeshire’s spectacular coastline with a guide to show you what’s safe and what’s not. If you’re up for it, you can jump off some unnervingly high cliffs, too. Accommodation is available in the TYF Eco Hotel, now certified organic.
Get there without a car, and they’ll give you a free drink.

· Take old trainers, other gear provided. Half-day sessions £40 for under 16s. Minimum age eight. B&B from £35 per person per night. +44 (0)1437 721611,

9: Swallows and Amazons, Lake District

Fans of Arthur Ransome’s magical adventures travel from all over the world to explore the lakes and fells where many of the stories are set. Although Ransome disguised exact locations, they are recognisable. The writer Roger Wardle pieced together the clues in his guidebook In Search of Swallows and Amazons: Arthur Ransome’s Lakeland (Sigma, £8.95). Hire a canoe, go for a swim, or stay at one of the pubs or farms that feature in the series, like Bank Ground Farm, in Coniston, also featured in the film.

· B&B £45 per person, younger children pay a nominal charge, +44 (0)15394 41264,

10: Surf’s up, Gower, Wales

Learning to surf at the Gower, Swansea Photograph: Peter Price A Frame photography It’s not just about Mandarin and piano lessons. What kids really need to make it in the modern world are advanced surfing skills. The Welsh Surfing Federation has a not-for-profit surf school at Llangennith on the Gower, with the right kit for novices, and two two-hour lessons each day, as the surf allows. And if you’ve never explored the Gower itself before, it’s the perfect spot for a family camping holiday.

· Introductory half-day session £25, subsequent lessons are £20, all gear included, +44 (0)1792 386426,

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