Discover big seas and open skies this May half-term

National Trust provides a cornucopia of day treats for beach-loving grandchildren to enjoy over half-term.
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As the days get warmer and evenings become longer, May half term is the perfect time to head outdoors and experience some of nature’s wonders. The National Trust looks after 775 miles of British coastline filled with fun activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Discover dark night skies away from the lights of towns and cities, sleep under the stars at a family camping festival or wade into the waves to see the shoreline from a new perspective. Along the way you’ll find plenty of wildlife; from birds, bats and seals to uncovering fascinating rock pool creatures.

Every trip to a National Trust place helps the charity to look after special places for everyone, and if you want to find more ways to help, take on the BioBlitz challenge.

Have a coastal adventure this May half term by taking part in these events:

Open skies

Carnewas and bedruthan steps

Carnewas at Bedruthan, near Padstow, Cornwall

Sun and stars, Carnewas at Bedruthan, 23 May, 6.30pm – 10pm

Join the National Trust rangers and local Kernow Astronomers for some stargazing at this stunning cliff-top location awarded with dark skies status. At dusk see the heathland around you come alive with colour, forming a brilliant yellow and purple patchwork of gorse and heather as the sun, our nearest star, sets slowly into the sea – watch for sunspots and flares on its surface with a special solar telescope. Look for alien seas, mountains and craters on the moon and thousands of stars in different colours that will gradually appear as local astronomers with telescopes help you decode the Cornish sky.

Price: Free event
For more information, please call 01208 863046

Leigh Woods, Bristol

‘50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ family night walk and bat detecting, 28 May, 8.30pm – 10pm

Stay behind when everyone has gone home for the day and see the Clifton Suspension Bridge lit up from this diverse broadleaf woodland on the edge of the Avon Gorge. Watch bats come out to play as twilight sets in. Complete one of your ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ activities by heading out with the National Trust rangers on a nature walk to watch the trees transform as darkness falls. Spend the evening playing games in the woodlands and spot the masters of aerial acrobatics – bats.

Price: £3.50 (booking essential)
For more information, please call 0117 9731645

The Needles Old Battery and New Battery, Isle of Wight

Let’s go fly a kite, 26 – 29 May, 11am – 3pm

It’s always windy at the Needles Old Battery so why not take advantage of the weather and make a kite to fly high above the cliffs. This row of three, distinctive chalk stacks features in all the classic images of the island. As waves crash on the beach below, let your kite soar on a sea breeze over the iconic Needles Rocks and breathe in the salty sea air.

Price: £1.50
For more information, please call 01983754772

Hatchland’s Park, Surrey

Bat walk, Thursday 28 May, 8pm – 10pm

Head outside at dusk for a guided walk around Hatchland’s Park in search of the bat population. Try a bat detector so that you can hear and maybe even see some of the nine species that live there. Situated on the edge of the beautiful Surrey Hills and surrounded by charming villages, this peaceful, Georgian mansion is a stone’s throw from central London.

Price: Adult £5, Child £2.50 (booking essential)
For more information, please call 01483 222482

Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons, Gloucestershire

Kite festival, 24 May, 10am – 4pm

Bring the whole family and enjoy the fresh air at Minchinhampton Common Kite Festival. Celebrate this well-loved pastime with kite-making activities and flying tips from kite enthusiasts. Make a kite at a workshop on the day or bring along your own to fly and see all sorts of different sized kites flapping in the breeze. You’ll also be able to tick off another challenge in your ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ scrapbook.

Price: Free event
For more information, please call 01452 814 213

Best of the beaches

 Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters

Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, East Sussex

Rockpool explorer, 25 May, 9.30am – 11.30am

See what natural wonders you can spot at the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. Join the countryside Rangers to discover the crazy creatures living in the rock pools at Birling Gap, from crabs and other crustaceans to strawberry anemones, blennies and much more. Walk barefoot along the beach at low tide beneath towering chalk cliffs and see if you can find all the weird and wonderful creatures that live there. Keep an eye out for colourful starfish, tiny crabs, stuck-fast limpets or even some jellyfish.

Price: £3 (booking essential)
For more information, please call 01323 423197

Baggy Point, Croyde, North Devon

Coastal family trail, 23 – 31 May, 10am – 4pm

This is the perfect way to discover just one of the many rugged headlands along the North Devon Coast. Can you find all ten enchanting objects on the new family trail which will lead you along the dramatic paths of Baggy Point? You may even come across some of ‘Holey Points’ rich and diverse wildlife along the way. The trail takes approximately an hour to an hour and a half, and is self-led so you can set the pace; you could even stop for a picnic to enjoy the views.

Price: Free event (the trails start at our car park in Moor Lane, Croyde. EX33 1PA)
For more information, please call 01598 763402

Norfolk Coast, Norfolk

Norfolk coast ‘50 things to do before your 11 ¾’ adventure weekend, 23 May, 10am – 4pm

The National Trust has prepared a ‘50 things to do before your 11 ¾’ challenge that will take families on an adventure along the Norfolk Coast, over saltmarshes, dunes, shingle and grazing marsh. Tasks will range from hunting for bugs to catching a crab and finding geocaches. Activities are dotted along the coastline from Brancaster Beach to Blakeney National Nature Reserve with great opportunities to spot Blakeney Seals, Sea Holly and Oystercatchers, as well as practice new skills along the way.

Price: Free event (booking advisable) – starts at 10am on Blakeney Quay, NR25 7NE.
For more information, please call 01263 740241

Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland

Rock pool ramble, 25 May, 1pm – 3pm

Craggy rocks and rocky shoreline make this the perfect place to fish in rock pools. Join coastal rangers on the hunt for crabs, sea urchins, lobsters and other critters that hide amidst the seaweed on Northumberland’s peaceful coastline below the iconic castle. From a former fort to the holiday home of a wealthy Edwardian bachelor, this idyllic spot has intrigued and inspired for centuries.

Price: Free event (normal admission fee applies)
For more information, please call 01665 576874

Adventures in the waves

Stackpole Rocks

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire

Kayak and coasteering at Stackpole Quay, 24 – 29 May, 9am – 5pm

Paddle in a kayak to discover coastal caves and coves that can only be seen from the water and try the agile sport of coasteering. Join guided trips from Stackpole Quay and enjoy the spectacular Pembrokeshire Coastline from a unique angle on this action-packed day out on the water. Book ahead to avoid disappointment, or join in on the day at Stackpole Quay car park. Water sports experts will be on hand with advice and equipment.

Price: Adult £45, child £38, family £125 (2 adults and 2 children) booking essential
For more information, please call 01646 661425

Castle Ward, County Down

Strangford sea safari boat trips – seal pup special, 24 May – runs every hour

Take to the water for a tour of Strangford Lough with its abundance of nature and wildlife. From the boat see the SeaGen, Angus Rock Lighthouse and surface whirlpools, plus some of the many seals and their pups at Cloughey Rocks Nature Reserve. You might get to see a pod of porpoises or even a Basking Shark visiting from the Atlantic Ocean. Suitable for ages 3 years plus. Boats run every hour from Strangford Pier.

Price: Adult £20, Child £17 or Family Ticket £69 (2+2) booking essential
For more information, please contact Strangford Sea Safari on 028 4372 3933

Studland Beach, Dorset

Paddleboarding and pizza, 27 May, 11.30am – 12.30pm & 28 May, 12.30pm – 1.30pm

Have a go at stand up paddle boarding at Studland Beach, a glorious slice of natural coastline this May half term. Explore a four-mile stretch of golden, sandy beach famous for water sports against a backdrop of Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight in the distance. Work up an appetite on the waves and then stop for a pizza made in the wood fired pizza oven at Knoll Beach Café.

Price: £16 (suitable for ages 12 – 18) booking essential
For more information, please call 01929 450500

Lydford Gorge, Devon

Mini raft making and sailing, 28 May, 1pm – 4pm

Craft a little paper raft and watch it set sail down the river Lyd. This challenge is part of the National Trust’s ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ with some half term fun for kids of all ages. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the gorge, including bluebells and wild garlic that make a heady scent and patchwork quilt of green, white and blue in May.

Price: £2 (booking essential – 15 places available)

Tredegar House from lake

Tredegar House, Monmouthshire

Pirate day, 25 May, 11am – 4pm

Ahoy, calling all swashbucklers! Come along in your best buccaneer costume for a full day of fun and sea shanties at this historic house on the edge of Newport. Captain Henry Morgan has returned home from the Caribbean for a batch of new recruits to set sail on his next adventurous voyage. Find out your new identity at the pirate naming station and spend the day testing out your sea legs with themed activities, games and surprises. Will it be the pirate’s life for you? Set in 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland, this delightful red brick house provides an ideal setting for a fantastic day out.

Price: Free event (normal admission fee applies)
For more information, please call 01633 815880

Sleep under the stars

Gibside, Tyne & Wear

Family camping festival, 23 – 25 May, 9am – 4pm

Give the kids a taste of the wild with two nights and three days of family fun camped out under the stars. Discover winding paths, views across Derwent Valley, refreshing open spaces and explore elegant buildings and ruins. Gibside is also a haven for wildlife with red kites often circling in the skies above. This half term head out on a bat-spotting walk with the countryside rangers and build a den from natural, foraged materials. In the evening enjoy storytelling and live music around the campfire.

Price: £70 (per pitch) booking essential
For more information, please call 01207 541820

Wray Castle, Cumbria

Fires and marshmallows, 26 & 28 May, 10am – 4pm

Make a campfire in the grounds of this Mock-Gothic castle with turrets and towers sitting on the shores of Lake Windermere. Help the rangers make and light the fire using natural materials. Being in the great outdoors isn’t all hard work; after you have got the fire roaring away enjoy toasting your success with some tasty marshmallows.

Price: Free event (normal admission fee applies)
For more information, please call 015394 33250

If you want to help care for the British coastline, join the Bioblitz project at locations across the country this summer.

St Helen’s Duver, Isle of Wight

Bioblitz 28 May, 10am – 4pm

Turn detective this half term and help the National Trust and the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty track down coastal wildlife around St Helens Duver. Search sandy beaches, rock pools, sand dunes and coastal woods for birds, plants and insects like beewolfs and harmless wasp spiders. All discoveries will be recorded for the local wildlife record centre to help understand how wildlife along the coast is changing and how best to protect it. Lend a hand and there will be a handful of fun ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ activities.

Price: Free event
For more information, please call (01983) 741020

Durham Coast, County Durham

Coastal Bioblitz, 23 May, 9am – 10pm

Nature loving families can drop in to lend a hand in a marathon wildlife investigation around Hawthorn Dene. Pick up wildlife spotting tips and tracking skills from the countryside rangers. Explore diverse habits on the Durham coast including rock pools, rivers, grassland and woodland in the search for skylarks, Grey partridges, Dingy Skippers and much more.

Price Free event (surveys will take place around Hawthorn Dene)
For more information, please call 07469 891337

Red Deer on Dunwich heath

Dunwich Heath: Coastal Centre and Beach, Suffolk

Coast 2015 Bioblitz, 27- 28 May, from 12pm

Race against time over 24 hours to discover and record as many species as possible in this Bioblitz. Come and work with a team of experts to help find, identify and record wildlife on the precious landscape of Dunwich Heath. This rare heath is home to species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark and ant-lions. After you’ve had a look for wildlife, join the countryside rangers for some outdoor children’s activities.

Price: Free event (meet at Heath barn)
For more information, please call 01728 648501

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 11:15 am Around The UK