Coastal adventure, Pembrokeshire
True to its coasteering roots, Preseli Venture rarely lets guests come away without taking a few refreshing dunks in Pembrokeshire’s aqua-marine water. Whether it’s sea kayaking, surfing, swimming or coasteering, Preseli’s half-term family activity camps offer over eight hours of water-based fun. Its base is a marshmallow-pink lodge, eco to its core and tucked into the green folds of National Trust land a mile from Abermawr’s often-deserted beach. Qualified instructors lead activities in collaboration with the National Trust, to ensure no landscapes or seascapes are damaged. Hearty, homemade food, a bar made from reclaimed timber, and open fireplaces await returning adventurers.
• Five-night holiday from £585 adult, £475 child, including all activities, food, accommodation and transfers from the nearest stations, preseliventure.co.uk
Stay in a posh hotel and explore Hereford and the Wye Valley
If you prefer to dip into activities from a more luxurious base, the Green Dragon hotel is a vibrant, restored coaching inn in Hereford with opulent apartments. Slap bang in the city centre but also close to the Wye Valley, it has a huge variety of activities on the doorstep. Eastnor Pottery gets families clay modelling at its vast workshop in the grounds of Eastnor Castle, and enthusiastic volunteers keep little ones engaged at Hereford Cathedral’s Mappa Mundi, a chart of the medieval world. There are also owl experiences at Wye Valley Falconry and axe-throwing at the new Viking Games centre close to the city. Outdoor activities include stomps along Offa’s Dyke, paddleboarding from SUP Yofi, and renting a canoe from Hereford Kayak Canoe to paddle down the Wye.
• Two nights room-only from £218 for a family of four, greendragonhotel.com
Hire a classic sail boat, Norfolk Broads
Although almost 90 years old and engineless, Lullaby still runs like new, thanks to the love and care of Hunter’s Yard, home to the Norfolk Heritage Fleet. Its traditional Percy Hunter sailing vessels are ideal for gliding through the Broads – in silence but for the sound of the wind in the sails. Experienced skippers offer a host of sailing courses, or families can hire a boat to live onboard for a few days with or without the help of a skipper. Lullaby has ample space for four, with two cabins, kitchenette, dining area and bathroom. The River Thurne and Potter Heigham Marshes national nature reserve are on the doorstep, so there’s no need to travel far to get that Norfolk Broads big-sky, glassy-water fix.
• Two-night rental from £525 or seven nights from £1,064 for up to four people, clickandboat.com
Glamping on a farm, Ceredigion
With three young children of their own, Jessie and Lyndon have spent years creating a back-to-nature family retreat at One Cat Farm. Cabins are snug and carefully designed (extra beds fold up during the day) with vast verandas, firepits, and hammocks. The farm is safe for kids to run wild, with rope swings, star maps and a rowing boat, plus pond-dipping and scavenger hunts to enjoy. The Pig Shed has games and art kit, for rainy days and there’s an outdoor wood-fired bath. Waterfalls, Aberaeron beach and the Llanerchaeron National Trust property are a hike or cycle away.
• Two nights in a cabin sleeping four is £226, onecatfarm.com
Eco holiday park, New Forest
Owned by sustainability-certified company Lovat Parks, Green Hill Farm lives up to its name, with solar-powered lighting, locally sourced produce and a mission to get more families enjoying the great outdoors. On the edge of the New Forest, the site is partly wooded, with three lakes, a wildlife centre and nature trails with viewing decks weaving through 70 acres of wildlife-rich grounds. Self-catering camping pods sleep four, with a basic kitchen and underfloor heating for chillier nights. Activities (some at extra cost, though no more than £10pp) include go-karting, mini-golf, trampolining, laser clay, archery, woodland art and car-free cycle trails.
• One-night for four in a camping pod from £50 lovatparks
Family bush camp, Surrey
Rather than kids being sent off to learn survival skills, this two-day camp out – in deepest, darkest Surrey – is for the whole family. Run by former army captain, mountaineer, desert crosser and children’s author Ian Brember, Big Hat Bush Camp aims to get everyone working as a team to enjoy the outdoors. The first task is to put up a shelter for the night using hammocks, tarps and whatever the woods provide, before learning matchless fire lighting, archery and woodcraft. Campfire cooking is a communal event, with homemade pizza and pancakes on the menu. Although not far from the M25, the dawn chorus is enough to make you feel aeons away.
• 24-hour session from £75pp, with 10% off for each additional child, under-4s free, bighatbushcamp.co.uk
Camping adventure, near Bath
With winter sun trips probably off the menu this year, it’s time to embrace the British outdoors – in all weathers. Bell tents at the Farm Camp come with woodburners: add fleeces to make the most of outdoor activities including bushcraft, art workshops and sheep herding (all £15pp). Off-site fun can range from paddleboarding to code breaking. For wet days, Bath is nearby, Longleat (30% off for guests) and Stonehenge a little further.
• Bell tent for four £390 for three nights, thefarmcamp.co.uk
Wainwright walks, Lake District
Alfred Wainwright didn’t travel to the Lake District until he was in his 20s, but made up for any lost time penning and drawing fellwalking guides well into later life. It could be argued that he was the original slow traveller – poring over the geology, land formations, lakes and peaks like no one had before him. Today, a family holiday led by the Field Studies Council (FSC) allows all ages to follow suit and better understand the woods, streams and fells of Cumbria. Guides teach navigation skills and natural history, with plenty of teashop stops along the way. The holiday base is FSC Blencathra, which has views across Keswick, Helvellyn, and Skiddaw, a bar, games room, and Soil Association-approved healthy grub.
• Four-day holiday for a family of four from £540, including full board, guiding and transport, field-studies-council.org
Cycling Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland
Budding historians and archaeologists will love this self-guided ride designed by one of the UK’s longest-running cycling holiday companies, Saddle Skedaddle. Cruising next to a 40-mile chunk of Hadrian’s Wall from Banks to Corbridge, the ride takes in sweeping views and quiet roads and also the chance to experience a live archaeological dig at Vindolanda. The trip includes transfers from the start and finish and luggage forwarding, two nights’ B&B and plenty of opportunities to refuel in pubs and tearooms. Bikes and kit, including electric bikes, trailers and bike seats can be hired, making this an excellent taster trip for the less experienced.
• Three-day trip from £315pp, skedaddle.com
Sailing and multi-activities, West Sussex
Since 1950, the Cobnor Activities Centre, a charitable trust, has helped young people enjoy the beauty of Chichester Harbour — where the South Downs sink into a melee of shifting streams, channels and estuaries. Close to Itchnor, the Bosham Channel and Hayling Island, the chalky downland provides perfect mountain-biking terrain. During school holidays, families can get in on the action by taking over the onsite bunkhouses, a convenient base for activities ranging from a five-day sailing course to canoeing, archery and aeroball. On less action-packed days, West Wittering’s sweeping sands are moments away, and there are plenty of local pubs, like the Bosham Inn, for hunkering down.
• Four nights self-catering for a family of up to five from £350, a week’s sailing course from £310 per child, cobnor.com