Five mums recommend:
Great places to take the kids this summer holiday
As the summer holidays have begun, I asked five mums for their favourite places to take the kids.
- Izzy’s favourite (mum to 7 year old and 5 year old and one lively dog!) Box Woods, Quarry Hill, Box
These are great woods for walking in at any time of the year, beautiful colours in the autumn and bluebells in the spring. You can potter round on pretty well trodden paths for half an hour or plan a longer route to take in the woods and surrounding footpaths for a couple of hours. Perched high above Box and looking down the Bybrook Valley there are also some great views from the edge of the Woods . It is a hilly area so do come prepared for some steep climbs but they’re worth it. With old Bath Stone quarries literally under your feet, you can get up close to the old (now closed up) quarry entrances and because of this quarrying history, there are some quite dramatic raveens to clamber up and down and explore. Brunel’s Box Tunnel is just a bit further down the hill so it really does feel that there have been some amazing historical events seen by these woods. Parking is available in a couple of lay-bys alongside the woods or park in Box itself at the carpark at the Market Place. Warning though, Quarry Hill is staggeringly steep to get up to the woods!
Find it: From Box village, drive up Quarry Hill and Box Woods are on your right hand side. There is a small lay-by about half way up the Hill.
2. Katie’s favourite (mum to 5 year old and 2 year old) : Dyrham Park, Dyrham
“Great views and the kids are able to run and run.” Although Dyrham Park is technically into Bath and North East Somerset, we sneaked it in as it proved popular with several mums who said it was one of their favourites. It really does have the most spectacular views with the most amazing valley that leads you down the house itself. It is actually a 15 minute walk from the car park to the house itself so if you need it, a free shuttle bus is laid on — especially handy for tired legs when walking back to the car park. It is owned by the National Trust and is a 17th Century mansion with 270 acres of parkland with ancient trees and herd of fallow deer. As of this year, you can’t just go into the parkland and get a cheaper ticket, you must buy one ticket which gives you access to everything. So, this may be somewhere to consider for a particular occasion when you’ve got friends and family visiting as you could easily spend most of the day here. A family ticket is £29.80 (without Gift Aid) There are of course all the facilities you would expect — toilets, tearoom, gift shop, plenty of parking (£4 for the day) but free if you are an NT member with valid car sticker. Lots of kids activities are organised at Dyrham, there are two play areas and a family trail but so check the website for what’s on.
Find It: Dyrham Park, at Dyrham, off the A46 between Bath and the M4
The National Trust's Dyrham Park, near Bristol and Bath, is a spectacular late 17th-century mansion, garden and deer…www.nationaltrust.org.uk
3.) Catherine’s favourite (Mum of 4 ranging from 7–18 years old) Lacock village and Lacock Park, near Chippenham
A couple of mums recommended Lacock and also Lacock Park which has a well equipped play area in the village. Lacock is of course the picture postcard village near Chippenham. Home to impressive Lacock Abbey, famous for its appearance in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. If you visit the Abbey it will certainly be quite a day out, especially for Harry Potter fans and there are loads of activities planned for families at the Abbey, this summer for example, you can do a “Grand Tour” family trail, or step inside the camera obscura shed to take a peak at the world upside down! But exploring the village and visiting the play area is pretty intriguing too. With its old village lock up (for those folks in the olden days awaiting trial), tithe barn, super historical houses and cute shops, the village is interesting for all ages. There is a pretty ford up near the church to paddle in when it gets hot or take a walk to the meadows to have a picnic by the river.
The Lacock Park play area on the playing fields is next door to the pay and display National Trust car park. An enclosed area, it has play equipment for toddlers and older kids including climbing walls, wobbly bridges, “spinning hats”, swings, slides, to name a few. If you’ve bought your own lunch, there are picnic benches and toilets in the Red Lion pub car park.
So, depending on your budget and the length of time you want to spend at Lacock, you can either have a pretty low cost trip out visiting the free bits of the village or if your budget can stretch a bit further, you could also add in a trip to Lacock Abbey too, a family ticket is £31.70 (without Gift Aid)
Find it: Follow signs to Lacock from the A350 near Chippenham
The National Trust's Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Village, Wiltshire, is the perfect place to spend a whole day.www.nationaltrust.org.uk
4. Gemma’s favourite (mum to 4 year old and 7 year old): Corsham Court Parkland and the Pound at Corsham
Corsham Court parkland was covered funnily enough in last weeks blog about favourite parks. Gemma mentioned it as it does always have the cutest lambs in the springtime to go and coo over. Year upon year they never fail to look sweet! I’ll not touch on it too much but completely agree that it is wonderful countryside landscape that you can visit for absolutely free !
Gemma also recommended Pound Arts in Corsham for their high quality but low cost holiday craft activities for kids. The Pound is a vibrant arts centre in the heart of Corsham. With an enormous array of arts, cultural and musical events happening all year round the holiday times are no exception. Every Wednesday in August the Pound run Crafty Wednesday Drop In Sessions for a very reasonable £1.50. The Pound also has plenty going on for kids of all ages throughout the summer, rock guitar course, theatre writing and musical theatre courses for older ones. With a cute cafe to get good coffee and cake in, there’s always a free interesting exhibition in the foyer to look at and with free car parking (but it is small !) there is a lot to entertain the kids here so do check out the Pound’s website for more details.
Find it: The Pound, Pound Pill, Corsham SN13 9HX
5. Kaz’s favourite (mum of 3, 7 -15 years): Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon has so much to offer for kids — biking, walking, canoeing, swimming. If you’ve got keen bikers in your family there are some beautiful canal-side rides with Bath in one direction and towards Devizes in the other. There are also two good playgrounds within the centrally located Barton Farm County Park which has the wonderfully enormous Tithe Barn situated in it.
Other things your family might enjoy is to watch the canal boats navigating the locks, go on a boat trip on the canal, go swimming at the indoor pool, have a paddle in the river, go canoeing, or have your lunch on a canal boat bobbing up and down on the water. Don’t forget you could just feed the ducks at the McKeever bridge (named after local kayaking 2012 gold Olympic medal winner Ed McEever) or check out the towns golden postbox named after him too. So much to see and do!
This rather lovely town with its picturesque Bath stone houses, the clear Avon River running under its historic bridge and the lovely views to the Westbury White Horse from the top of the town has always been a favourite. It’s got great independent shops and a very family friendly community. It is popular, so parking can sometimes be tricky, especially at weekends, but the long stay car park by the train station is probably your best bet (toilets here too). From this car park, you can easily follow a buggy friendly path and you are right on the river and play area for the younger ones. The second play area, closer to the canal, is geared more to older kids with its zip wire and high climbing frame. If you get peckish, we like the family run Lock Inn (surprise surprise up by the Locks) where you can sit in a bright little canal boat to sip your drink or enjoy some pub grub. Or to burn off that energy take a longer stroll ( about a mile) along the canal to the Avoncliffe Aqueduct — a really impressive structure where the canal crosses the river and railway line (the Cross Guns pub is there too !)
Find it: http://www.bradfordonavon.co.uk/