Entertaining grandchildren: 25 things to do this summer

This summer holiday fill your days with challenges and adventures.
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The National Trust is encouraging 200,000 children to show nature they care by getting them up off the sofa, jumping into the great outdoors and having lots of fun discovering the natural world.

Recent research has shown that more than half of today’s children (54 per cent) spend less than an hour outside each day compared to their parents who spent an average of 2 hours 34 minutes outside each day as children.

With an extra hour of sunlight on your side and hundreds of adventurous ideas for all the family to enjoy, including rolling down hills, bike rides and even snail racing, here’s the Trust’s top 25 activities and events to get you started on the ‘50 things’ list: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/families/50-things/


1. Climb a tree

Croome, Worcestershire

Tree Climbing, 22 August, 20 September, 27 October 10.30am – 4.30pm

Spend an hour with two highly-skilled instructors who will teach you how to use ropes, knots, carabineers and a harness to climb to the top of a tree and zip wire back down. While you’re up there take a look at the view from the top over the landscaped park. Afterwards let the children run wild, have fun and make their own adventures. There are lots of spaces to run around and miles of interesting walks and follies to discover with the whole family.

Activity led by the Great Big Tree Climbing Company.

Booking essential

Price: £15.50

Suitable for 6+ years

For more information, please call 01905 371006 or email [email protected]

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1dKenCB

2. Roll down a really big hill

Sissinghurst Castle, Kent

50 things Fridays: Adventure walk, 22 August, 1pm – 3pm

Tick off some items on your ’50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ list at Sissinghurst Castle this summer. Test your mettle with this fast paced adventure walk; there’ll be trails, barefoot walks and rolling down hills. To really pick up speed rolling down the hill, lie on the grass, make your body into the shape of a sausage and roll down the hill sideways. After your adventure why not stop off for an ice cream outside the shop and finish the day with a treat.

Booking essential

Price: £6

Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 01580 710700

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/Rx9PFi

3. Build a den

The Vyne, Hampshire

Build a den, 25 July, 15 August & 29 August, all 12pm – 1pm

Visit The Vyne this summer and see if you can build one of the biggest dens you’ve ever seen. The Vyne’s outdoors team are holding special woodland workshops where kids can pick up top tips on how to make a brilliant hideaway. Spend some time collecting together branches, twigs and leaves to make a cosy den to play in. After you’ve built your lair explore the woodlands and see if you can spot any woodpeckers, jays and rare waterfowl.

Price: Suggested donation £2

Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 01256 883858

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1i84qvO

4. Skim a stone

Fell Foot Park, Cumbria

All England Stone Skimming Championships, 16 August, 11am – 4pm

Situated at the very southern tip of Lake Windermere, Fell Foot Park is a great, family friendly location to play, explore and relax in. The stone skimming championships is an extravaganza of entertainment for the whole family in conjunction with South Cumbria Rivers Trust. Have a skim yourself to tick off one of your ‘50 things’ activities and see how many bounces you can make.
Competition entry fees and parking charges apply.

For more information, please call 015395 31273

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1hCwpTD

5. Run around in the rain

Ickworth, Suffolk

Out and about Wednesdays, 27 August, 11am – 3pm

Ickworth are hoping for rain … but even without it, there are plans to make a really big splash this summer. They’ll be games on the lawn and there’s lots of fun to be had on the obstacle course. See who can get round in the fastest time? Explore the play area, willow maze and wildlife area before having a lovely picnic overlooking the impressive Rotunda. Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 01284 735270

6. Fly a kite

Brancaster Estate, Norfolk

Wild Wednesdays, 30 July, 6, 20 & 27 August. All 10am – 12.30pm & 2pm – 4.30pm

Join the team on the Brancaster Estate for a day of ‘50 things’ themed family fun on the Norfolk Coast. There’s lots to do from kite flying to stone skimming, tracking a wild animal or making some coastal wild art. You can visit for as little or as long as you like and you can dip into activities throughout the day. So grab your scrapbook and start ticking off your ‘50 things’ and have some summer adventures.

Booking essential

For more information, please call 01263 740241

7. Go on a really long bike ride

Formby, Liverpool

Cycle to Another Place, 28 July, 10am – 1pm

Getting on your bike is one of the best and most speedy ways to explore the great outdoors. Follow the route using paths and roads through Formby and Hightown to the beach at Crosby and Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’. Participants will be able to return from either Hall road or cycle to the Marina in Waterloo and walk to Waterloo Station from where you can get the train back to Formby and make your way home.

Bring your own bike or bikes can be hired for the event.

Booking essential

Price: £5 (own bike), £6 (hire bike)

For more information, please call 01704 878591

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1ggunH6

8. Make a mud pie

Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire

Mud Glorious Mud, 4, 13, 22 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm & 2pm – 4pm

The perfect recipe for a mud pie is mud and more mud. This is your chance to get really dirty at Wicken Fen, an important wetland landscape with an abundance of wildlife and all important mud. Explore the finer qualities of mud, for throwing, painting, building and cooking (mud pies for the worms) and tick off number 13 on your ‘50 things’ list.

Booking essential

Price: £4.75

For more information, please call 01353 720274

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1hU9CCm

9. Make a daisy chain

Basildon Park, Berkshire

50 things – Create some wild art, 31 July, 7, 14, 21 & 28 August, 10am – 5pm

Get creative with twigs, leaves and flowers you can find in grounds at Basildon Park. You can find lots of daisies around the garden and parkland. Pick a few and make a beautiful chain for the summer time. While you’re there follow the new wild wood walk up to the house. There’s lots to explore, including stepping stones a woodland tunnel and a bridge.

Price: £3

Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 0118 984 3040

10. Set up a snail race

Heigham Holmes, Norfolk

Heigham Holmes Open Day, 10 August, 11am – 4pm

Visit this wonderful nature reserve and remote island in the Norfolk Broads for a great day out. Only open once a year via a swing bridge at Martham Ferry you can come and learn about its special history, its importance for wildlife and the landscape of the Broads. This family event includes live pictures from the barn owl camera, face painting, pond dipping and the highly dramatic snail racing at 2.30pm.

Light refreshments available. There are no toilets or tearoom – bring a snack if you want to.

Access via floating swing bridge at Martham ferry.

For more information, please call 07885 581070

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1jrA9em

11. Create some wild art

Allan Bank and Grasmere, Cumbria

Wild Art Wednesdays, 30 July, 6, 13, 20 & 27 August, All 11am – 4pm

Set your creativity free and find lots of materials that vary in colour and texture from around the grounds once owned by William Wordsworth. Create some wild art using the natural materials found in the woodland. With ranger tips and activity sheets available you’re sure to create a masterpiece.

Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 015394 35143

12. Play pooh sticks

Morden Hall Park, London
Morden Hall Park is a green oasis in the city. It used to be a deer park and is one of the last remaining country estates in South London, lining the River Wandle. Surrounded by meadows, trees and the gentle sounds of birdsong and running water, the park offers a rare sense of discovery and is the perfect place to play pooh sticks. The park has several bridges where you can challenge your family to a race, so choose your stick wisely and take on the challenge.

For more information, please call 020 8545 6850

13. Jump over waves

Borrowdale, Cumbria

Derwent Water Regatta 2014, 9 & 10 August, 11am – 4pm

There’s nothing quite like messing about on the water so why not come and enjoy a raft of activities in the spirit of King Pocky’s Derwent Water Regatta. Spectators can watch the antics on the lake from Crow Park whilst enjoying a traditional summer fair with rides, side stalls, refreshments and competitions. There will also be the chance to tick off  some of your ‘50 things’  with jumping over waves, making mud pies, stone skimming or even canoeing down a river.

For more information, please call 01768 774649

14. Visit a farm

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire

Visiting a farm is one of the best places to get up close and personal with some new furry friends. Wimpole is a unique working estate, with an impressive mansion at its heart. At Home Farm, you can explore the traditional farmyard with the noisy modern piggery, cattle sheds and some rare bread animals. Have a go at becoming a young farmer when you visit and try your hand at grooming the donkeys, drive a mini tractor or see how you get on at milking!  There’s plenty to keep you occupied down on the farm.

Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 01223 206000

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/Rvyhrd

15. Go on a walk barefoot

Lyme Park, House and Garden, Cheshire

Bare foot walk, 29 August, 1pm – 3pm

Do you have ticklish feet? Feel the grass between your toes as you walk around Lyme Park and follow the trail before ticking off another activity from your ‘50 things’ list. Set out on your own adventure and build a den in crow wood, fly a kite near the cage or track the wild animals around the park.

Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 01663 762023

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1jrzWrv

16. Make a grass trumpet

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire

Summer Holiday ‘50 things’ challenge, 6, 13, 20 & 27 August, 11am – 3pm

Every Wednesday in August, Stackpole will be setting up camp at Middle Bay, near Stackpole Quay where friendly education officers will be available to help you complete as many of the ‘50 things’ challenges as possible. You’ll have the chance to go rock pooling, den building or make a daisy chain. Blow into a blade of grass and start up the band by making a grass trumpet. The following week you can try hunting for fossils and bones, catching a crab and our favourite – cooking on a camp fire.

Price: £2

For more information, please call 01646 661425

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1i85IXU

17. Hunt for fossils and bones

Fossil hunting in the South West

The Jurassic Coast is famous for its fossils and Charmouth beach, part of the Golden Cap estate; it is a great starting place. There are not many dinosaur bones around these days but you never know what other treasure you might find if you dig around. Remember, fossils can be found anywhere. They could be buried deep in the ground beneath where you’re standing at this very moment and some lucky people even find them in their own back gardens.

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1e4lqkk

18. Go star gazing

Headley Heath, near Boxhill, Surrey

Box Hill is the perfect place to discover a family walk and explore the beautiful Surrey Hills. Forming part of the North Downs, Box Hill has breath-taking views across the surrounding countryside and is a popular spot with local astronomy groups, who consider Headley Heath to be one of the best places in Surrey for stargazing.

For more information, please call 01306 885502

19. Hold a scary beast

Chirk Castle, Wrexham

Bug Bonanza, 30 July, 6, 13, 20 & 27 August, 11am – 3pm

Chirk Castle is the ideal place to visit, whether you’re looking for an action packed adventure or a relaxing day out. Enjoy the remoteness, beauty and tranquillity of the estate whilst hunting for bugs. If you find a creepy crawly it might be scary but be brave and see if you can get up close to learn more.

Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 01691 777701

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1ixl3UH

20. Hunt for bugs

Whitepark Bay, County Antrim

Go Wild with the Wardens, 25 July, 8 & 22 August, 10am – 12pm

Join the rangers for a morning of fun and adventure on a beautiful stretch of golden sand on the North Antrim coast. Have a go at completing some of your ‘50 things’ with building a den, hunting for bugs and much more. What’s the creepiest crawly you can find on this stretch of golden sand?

Meet at the car park in Whitepark Bay.

For more information, please visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/white-park-bay/

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1ggvoA8

21. Catch a falling leaf

Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

Wild Wednesday – Astonishing Sticks, 3 September, 11am – 3pm

Visit Cliveden and find out about the amazing activities that can be done with sticks. This witch and wizard themed event will also have craft activities available for kids to get stuck into. Don’t forget to visit the Storybook Play Den and let your imagination run wild as you play amongst wooden carvings of favourite storybook characters whilst the 500 metres of winding paths in the Cliveden Maze make it a challenge for all ages to find the centre. While you’re there tick off number 33 of your ‘50 things’ and try to catch a falling leaf. It’s harder than you think especially in the summer months.

All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Price: £2

Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 01628605069

22. Track wild animals

Crom, County Fermanagh

Bat Detectives, 28 August, 8pm – 10pm

One of Ireland’s most important nature conservation areas, Crom’s ancient woodland and picturesque islands are home to many rare species. All of the bat species found in Northern Ireland can be found here. Visit for an evening of tracking bats and learning more first-hand about these fascinating nocturnal creatures.

Booking essential

Price: Adult £8, Child £4, Family £20

For more information, please call 028 6773 8118

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1qmwfJp

23. Discover what’s in a pond

Bodnant Garden, Conwy

Pond dipping, 29 July, 5, 12, 19 & 26 August, 12pm – 3pm

What will you find in the pond? Murky pond water is full of life, especially in a garden full of plants collected from all over the world. Scoop some out into a tub and see what you can find. Come along and dip into the hidden world beneath the surface and discover something new. Explore and discover the gardens, walk barefoot on the lawns and play pooh sticks in the river.

Normal admission fee applies

For more information, please call 01492 650460

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1e4lccY

24. Go bird watching

Saltram, Devon

50 things activity day, 2 August, 12pm – 3pm

Visit Saltram, a magnificent Georgian mansion for outdoor fun in the park and gardens to tick off loads of your ‘50 things’ activities. Free guided activities will be held in the Park such as pond dipping and wild art. Go bird spotting and remember to keep as quiet as a mouse so you can hear their song. The Garden Team will be showing how to ‘plant it, grow it, eat it’ with planters you can take away and there will also be a wide range of self-led activities including den-building, tree climbing, crafts and much more.

Normal garden admission fee applies

For more information, please call 01752 333500

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1ki53o9

25. Cook on a campfire

Ambleside and Windermere, Cumbria

Woodland explorer week, 26 – 29 August, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Visit St Catherine’s wood for an exciting four day woodland experience for 8 -14 year olds. This jam packed break will include an inspiring mix of bushcraft, greenwood carving, fire lighting, natural arts and crafts, woodland games, shelter building, storytelling and adventure. There’s no kitchen in the great outdoors but there’s no reason to miss dinner. You’ll have the chance to try lighting a fire with a bow drill, barefoot walking, cooking food on a fire and discovering plants and new wildlife. It’s the perfect place to tick off some of your ‘50 things’ activities and to deepen your connection with nature in a stunning Lakeland setting. Children will be guaranteed to leave with a smile on their face and a smell of wood smoke in their hair.

Booking essential

Price: £225 (The course fee includes the overnight camp on the Thursday night (optional for the child and parent/guardian.)

Run by experienced tutors from Woodmatters in Partnership with the National Trust.

For more information, please call 015394 88409 or email [email protected]

Watch our YouTube video here: http://bit.ly/1dHM0VX

Last modified: June 10, 2021

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