The ultimate summer survival guide

With six weeks of blissful freedom ahead, the summer holiday is a giant, fun-sized adventure for children of all ages. But for parents, filling the long days of summer can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. But don’t panic, our summer survival guide is here to help, providing wild and wonderful adventures on everyone’s doorstep.

Children big and small, visiting our places this summer, will be encouraged to release their inner ‘wild’ side by trying to complete 25 of the 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ during the six weeks of summer.

Simply sign up for free on our 50 things site at the start of the holidays and download the brand new ‘wild-time challenge pack’, crammed with a six week adventure planner, activity sheet and plenty of top tips to help boost kids’ outdoor experiences this summer.

Plus, if families log each adventure they complete online, not only will they collect exciting rewards along the way, but if you tick off 25, you will also receive a free National Trust family visit pass, and be in with a chance to win the top prize of directing and starring in your very own nature film*.

With hundreds of ideas for all the family to enjoy, inside and out, come rain or shine, here’s our list of the top places to enjoy over the summer holidays this year:

    London & South East

    A boy climbs over rocks during the Birling Gap Rockpool Ramble

    Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, East Sussex
    At one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast, Birling Gap offers exciting walks, fantastic views of the sea and beautiful beaches that are perfect for seaside picnics, rock pooling and letting kids discover dinosaur fossils and bones.
    Activities: Join the team at Birling for some family fun this summer and see just how many of the 50 things activities you can complete. There are lots of self-guided activities including hunting for fossils and bones, checking out crazy creatures in a rock pool, jumping over waves and flying kites along the beach.
    Events: Rockpool ramble, 17 August, 12.30pm-2.30pm and 15 September, 12.30pm-2.30pm
    Join the rangers in a hunt through the rockpools and see what you can discover. There will be rockpooling kits available but you can bring your own too. The perfect chance to tick off one of your ‘50 things’.
    Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £3 per child.
    Booking is essential for this event, please call 01323 423197

    Mottisfont, Hampshire
    Mottisfont is full of surprises that the whole family will love to discover. Explore the riverside walks, play pooh sticks, build dens in the natural play area and bring a picnic to share. Mottisfont is full of adventure for kids and a perfect place to complete lots of ’50 things’ activities.
    Events: The House at Pooh Corner, 13 July- 15 September, 10am-5pm
    This summer explore the wonderful world of a boy and his bear. The adventures of Christopher Robin and Pooh in the Hundred Acre wood are the perfect inspiration for all sorts of outdoor fun. Not only will there be an exhibition of 38 beautiful hand-painted Winnie the Pooh illustrations (13 July – 15 September), but your kids can also tick off many 50 things activities including playing pooh sticks, making a daisy chain (10 August), building a kite (17 August) and going on a wild bug hunt (24 July).
    Normal admission charges apply.
    Booking is not required, for more information, please call 01794 340757.

    South West

    Birdwatching 50 Things

    Castle Drogo, Dartmoor
    Let the kids explore the last castle to be built in England’ this summer. Wander around new rooms never before opened to the public, let off steam in the beautiful gardens and find a perfect spot for a summer picnic.
    Activities: There is plenty to do for children at Castle Drogo, both inside and out. Let them play in the postcard theatre, follow the letter trail around the castle, dress up in Edwardian costumes and go wild with a variety of downloadable activities. Below the Castle is the exciting Teign Valley, a great place to tick off some ‘50 things’ activities including climbing a tree, building a den, finding a geocache and tracking wild animals. You can even learn woodland skills or get creative with arts and crafts sessions.
    Events: Wild tribe, 4 August, 11am-3pm and 1 September 11am-3pm
    Join the Teign Valley wild tribe at Fingle Bridge Meadows and learn new outdoor skills from the Dartmoor rangers. Activities vary throughout the year but include fire lighting, animal tracking, den building, bush craft, river dipping, willow weaving and much more.
    This event is suitable for families with children between 5-18 years.
    Ticket charge, £2 per adult and £4 per child.
    Booking is advisable for this event, please call 01647 433356.

    Kingston Lacy, Dorset
    A lavish family home built to resemble an Italian Palace, visit Kingston Lacy and you can explore wonderfully decorated rooms, enjoy a summer picnic on the south lawn, take a stroll through the lush woodland or let the children run wild in the nearby play areas.
    Activities: With a huge garden, parkland and estate covering over 8,500 acres, Kingston Lacy is a great place for ticking off at least 30 of the ‘50 things’ activities. Children can fly kites, hold scary beasts and go bird watching, spotting buzzards, woodpeckers, kingfishers and herons along the way.
    Events: Children's summer holiday activities, 29-30 July, 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27 August and 2-3 September, 11am-3.30pm
    Join the team at Kingston every Monday and Tuesday from 29 July to 3 September and let the kids complete a whole host of ’50 things’ activities over the summer. On Mondays let them make some 'wild art' and create crafts in the woods and on Tuesdays they can learn how to build a den (30 July), plant and grow their own food (6 August), hunt for bugs (13 August), play pooh sticks (20 August) and go birdwatching (27 August).
    Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £3 per child for materials.
    Booking is not required, for more information please call 01202 883402.

    East of England

    Taking a closer look at wildlife

    Sheringham Park, Norfolk
    Explore this breathtaking park and woodland garden this summer where the whole family can discover miles of stunning coastal views, a beautiful array of flowers, and a variety of paths where secret places and wonderful wildlife can be found.
    Activities: There is always something exciting happening at Sheringham Park. Whether it’s checking out the coastal views or venturing to The Bower, children’s activities are on offer all summer. From bug hunting in the wildflower meadow, creating wild art, pond dipping or taking a walk at night, there are over 30 of the ‘50 things’ activities to be completed in the park.
    Events: Pond dipping, 14-15 August, 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-4pm, Bug hunt, 16 August, 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-4pm
    Rockpool ranger, 22 August, 2.30pm-4.30pm and 23 August, 3.15-5.15pm
    Drop into Sheringham this summer and complete some more ‘50 things’ activities. Have a dip in the Bower pond and see the amazing variety of life that live in the freshwater, see what creepy crawlies lurks in the leaf litter on a bug hunt or go rockpooling on the beach and see what incredible creatures you can find.
    Normal admission charges apply for pond dipping and the bug hunt.
    No admission charge for rockpooling but a ticket charge of £2 per adult and £4 per child.
    Booking is not required for pond dipping or the bug hunt, for more information please call 01263 820550.
    Booking is essential for rockpooling, please call 0844 249 1895.

    Wimpole Estate, Cambridge
    This estate and historic hall, surrounded by beautiful gardens, woodland and parkland as well as a traditional working farmyard, has something for everyone to enjoy. Let the children meet the farm animals, take a wild walk in the park, find out what’s growing in the walled garden, or see what they can discover inside the hall.
    Activities: The kids can really get stuck in down on the farm at Wimpole by trying out milking, donkey grooming and even driving mini tractors. There’s also plenty more to do on the rest of the estate including costumes to try on inside the hall and geocaching in the grounds. Wimpole is also a great place for the kids to tick off lots of other ‘50 things’ activities including bird watching, long bike rides, kite flying and pond dipping.
    Events: Wild about bats, 30-31 August, 7.30pm-10.30pm
    Let the kids see if they can discover some of the many bat species found at Wimpole on this guided night walk into the park, tracking these wild animals as they fly around the estate and completing one of the ‘50 things’ activities in the process.
    Ticket charge, £6 per adult and £4 per child.
    Booking is essential, please call 0844 249 1895.


    Family Kite Flying

    Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
    Whether it is cycling, orienteering or a gentle stroll in this spacious park, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun with all the family at Clumber, followed by a relaxing picnic by the lake.
    Activities: As well as exploring Clumber on two wheels, the kids can also ‘hang out’ on the climbing forest in the play park or visit the discovery centre to find out about wildlife and even try holding a scary minibeast.
    Events: 50 things Monday and Fridays, 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26 and 30 August, 1pm-3pm
    Visit Clumber over the summer holidays and see just how many of the ’50 things’ activities your children can complete. On Mondays join the team on a minibeast hunt and see if you are brave enough to hold a scary animal. On Fridays learn how to make a grass trumpet, balance on a log and much more.
    Den building with the rangers, 7, 14, 21, 28 August, 10.30am-12.30pm
    Why not join one of the rangers at Clumber Park and lets the kids have a go at building a den in one of the woodlands? A great activity for all the family to get involved with and to test out your building skills.
    Normal admission charges apply for each event.
    Booking is not required for either event, for more information please call 01909 544917.

    Croome, West Midlands
    Step inside Croome Park this summer and let the whole family discover a house filled with exciting stories to tell. Experience the 1940’s visitor centre, a secret war time airbase, wander through the wonderful landscape or stroll to the lakeside for a picnic where statues and temples are also waiting to be explored.
    Activities: Take a walk on the wild side and visit Croome where there’s plenty of space for children to run free and enjoy nature’s natural playground. Don’t forget to roll down one of the really big hills and tick it off your ‘50 things’ list.
    Events: Wild activity day, 2 and 16, August, 12pm-4pm
    Join the team at Croome and let your kids learn how to build their own den in the natural play area. There will also be an opportunity to go pond dipping in the river and to have a go at creating your very own piece of wild art. Equipment and materials will be provided.
    Kite flying day, 11 August, 11am-3pm
    Complete another of the ’50 things’ activities by bringing a kite to Croome or make your own.
    Normal admission charges apply for each event, ticket charge £3 per child for wild activity days (includes free trail) and £2 per kite for the kite flying day.
    Booking is not required for either event, for more information please call 01905 370005.

    Yorkshire & North East

    A man points out features on the walls of a cave

    Upper Wharfedale, North Yorkshire
    Combined with river and valley-side woodland, Upper Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales is a perfect place for the family to visit, relax and explore the great outdoors.
    Activities: With breathtaking landscapes, cycle paths and beautiful flowering meadows, there’s an adventure waiting for both parents and kids, including lots of chances to complete some ’50 things’ activities. From den building and exploring caves, to geocaching and horse riding; there is always something to keep the kids entertained throughout the year.
    Events: Above and below: caving and gill scrambling in Langstrothdale, 1 and 20 August, 10am-3.30pm
    Let the older children explore the mysterious gills and secret caves of the Dales with a qualified guide at Upper Wharfedale. No experience is needed but be prepared to get wet and have lots of fun. Suitable for 12 years and above.
    Please note you will need a packed lunch. It is also advisable to bring a spare set of clothes and trainers or walking boots to use whilst exploring.
    Ticket charge, £30 per adult and £15 per child.
    Booking is essential for this event, for more information please call 01729 830416.

    Wallington, Northumberland
    Discover Wallington, much-loved home to generations of the unconventional Trevelyan family. The family loved being outdoors and close to nature making it a perfect place to bring the whole family and go wild outside this summer. The impressive, yet friendly house is surrounded by beautiful lawns, lakes, woodland, parkland and farmland, all just waiting to be explored.
    Activities: The kids can explore the 'wild' west wood, look out for red squirrels, peer into the ice house, let off steam in the adventure playground or stretch their legs on a walk down to the river. There are also plenty of opportunities to complete lots of ’50 things’ activities including snail racing, making grass trumpets, kite flying and climbing the best tree in the country, the ‘climbing tree’. If you need even more inspiration you can also pop into the ’50 things’ station to find out what the top five activities for that day are and share your pictures on the ’50 things’ fun board.
    Events:Homes under the hammer, 1 August, 11am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3pm, family fire making, 15 August, 11am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3pm, Make a bat box, 22 August, 11am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3pm
    Visit Wallington over the summer and let the kids complete a whole host of ‘50 things’ activities with help from the countryside team and rangers. You will be able to learn how to make a camp fire and toast some delicious marshmallows, and also how to make a home for some friendly creepy crawlies and the wonderful bats that live outside. Perfect for a fun filled family day out.
    Normal admission charges apply.
    Ticket charge, £5 per bat box made. There will also be a small charge for the family fire making and homes under the hammer events.
    Booking is not required for any event, for more information please call 01670 773600.

    North West

    A child blowing a grass trumpet at Dudmaston

    Lyme Park, Cheshire
    On the edge of the Peak District, Lyme Park is known for its remoteness and colourful history. The garden has lots of secret places for the family to explore this summer, including a ravine garden, medieval deer park and wonderful lake.
    Activities: When it’s sunny, a wild outdoor adventure is always just around the next pond, tree or hill at Lyme Park. Why not go on a walk barefoot across the lawn, discover the magical moorland around Lyme with its fantastic views, fly kites on Cage Hill, go wild in Crow Wood playscape, or have a go at Pooh Sticks in the stream. If it’s raining, Lyme is still a perfect place for the kids to be this summer: dress up and take part in our Edwardian theatricals, play with toys in the Edwardian nursery, write a letter in the Morning Room to anywhere in the world and we’ll post it or sit in the library and read a book – just as the Leigh family of Lyme did when they lived in this wonderful house.
    Den building, 29 July and 30 August, 1pm-3pm
    Enjoy an afternoon of fun and mud with the whole family this summer as you learn how to build dens in the woods at Lyme Park. Stone skimming and grass trumpets, 2 August, 1pm-3pm
    Ever wanted to skim stones better than your dad? Join in the fun at the mill pond and complete some more of your ‘50 things’ list.
    Barefoot walk, 19 August, 1pm-3pm
    Do you dare to do the bare foot walk? Squidge the mud between your toes and see who can walk the furthest with no shoes on. Be prepared to get mucky.
    Normal admission charges apply for each event.
    Booking is not required for any event, for more information please call 01663 762023.

    Sizergh, Cumbria
    At the gateway to the Lake District, Sizergh Castle sits in wonderful gardens and a beautiful estate. The house has many tales to tell, while the garden includes a pond, lake, and the National Trust’s largest limestone rock garden.
    Activities: There is plenty to do for the whole family at Sizergh. Walks across the estate give fantastic views of Morecambe Bay and the distant Lakeland fells. Outside, the kids can enjoy some orienteering or geocaching, a game of croquet, or allow their imaginations to run wild in the woodland by creating some wonderful wooden dens.
    Events: 50 things, 26 July, 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 August, 11am-4pm
    There will be plenty of opportunities for the kids to complete as many ’50 things’ activities over the summer at some of these ranger led events at Sizergh. Why not pick up a geocache trail and see just how many you can find?
    Normal admission charges apply.
    Booking is not required, for more information please call 015395 60951.


    A child

    Stackpole, Pembrokeshire
    A former grand estate stretching down to some of the most beautiful coastline in the world, Stackpole makes for an exciting place to bring the children this summer. Cliffs, sand dunes and tiny coves pop up along eight miles of coastline and the woodlands offer thriving habitats for otters, water birds and dragonflies, all waiting to be discovered.
    Activities: Stackpole has two fabulous beaches, Barafundle and Broadhaven South, which offer safe family bathing and a great area for the kids to complete some ’50 things’ activities including rockpooling, swimming and jumping in the waves. Stackpole Quay is also perfect to go bird watching, go snorkelling or launch a kayak or canoe.
    Events: August wild camp, 9-11 August 3pm-10am
    Join the team at Stackpole for a full on woodland adventure. Bush craft workshops, wild campfire food and woodland activities will all be part of your great outdoor experience as you spend two nights at Stackpole.
    Ticket charge, £15 per person.
    Booking is essential for this event, for more information please call 01646 661425.

    Strumble Head to Cardigan, Pembrokeshire
    One of the most rugged and remote stretches of Pembrokeshire Coast, Strumble Head to Cardigan is the perfect place to abandon the car and go on a beautiful coastal walk with the family, from the peak of Garn Fawr near Strumble Head to the cliffs of Pen yr Afr in the north.
    Activities: Whilst on this coastal walk, there are plenty of opportunities for the kids to complete as many of the ‘50 things’ list as they can. They can try their hand at making a daisy chain, playing a grass trumpet, learning to ride a horse and even lie down and gaze up at the stars at night.
    Events: The best place to go for a barefoot walk, the team at Strumble Head have designed a special walk for you to try that will leave you and the kids never wanting to put your shoes back on again. Heading off the coast at Pen Anglas towards the beacon, the whole family will be able to feel the soft peat and grit between their toes and get truly in touch with nature and the outdoors.
    Booking is not required, for more information please call 01437 720385.

    Northern Ireland

    Get on your bike and explore Killerton

    Castle Ward, Co Down
    Castle Ward will take you on a journey of discovery. Here is a house that will excite all of the family with its two distinctly different styles, one classical and one Gothic. With walking trails, an exotic garden, a picturesque farmyard and wonderful views over Strangford Lough, Castle Ward is a perfect place to unlock your imagination and for the kids to go wild.
    Activities: There are plenty of ways to get the kids active and explore the outdoors at Castle Ward. This includes the new multi-purpose trail network where you can cycle, walk or even horse ride around the stunning landscape. As well as exploring the grounds, children can also visit the barn to enjoy farm themed activities, run wild in the adventure and woodland playground and also learn all about the Victorian era in the Victorian pastime centre.
    Events: Come to Castle Ward this summer and discover all the wonderful things that you can do everyday before you turn 11 ¾. Try your hand at some of the ‘50 things’ activities including horse riding, picking blackberries, or going on long bikes rides. Why not see just how many you can tick off your list?

    Florence Court, Co Fermanagh
    Florence Court is much loved for many reasons. The beautiful park, gardens and surrounding forest - nestled below the stunning Cuilcagh Mountains - offer fantastic opportunities for all the family to enjoy.
    Activities: Children can investigate the Rock Hound room which has a range of activities based around the 3rd Earl of Enniskillen’s fossil collection. They can also go on a children’s house tour, see how many red squirrels there are, take a bike tour around the parkland or discover more about nature with an adventure tracker pack. There are also plenty of opportunities to continue your ‘50 things’ adventure by picking up a pond dipping kit and wellies to discover all the creepy crawlies in a pond, as well as ticking off lots of other ‘things’ from your list.
    Events: Summer family fun, 4 August, 12pm-5pm
    Come along to Florence Court this summer for a fun filled afternoon with something for all the family to enjoy. Join in with lots of family activities throughout the day and try out some ‘50 things’ activities as well.
    Normal admission charges apply
    Booking is not needed for this event, for more information please call 028 6634 9004.

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