Fun things to do with a humble stick

It’s arguably the best toy known to man. No, we’re not talking about the latest gadget. We’re talking about sticks. With a little bit of imagination sticks can fly, whiz down a river or become the walls of a secret den.

Try out some of our favourite stick-related activities, as recommended by those who know best - kids. Make sure you tick them off your list of 50 things as you go along.

    Make a mud pie

    A child with muddy hands

    There are three essential ingredients for a mud pie. Number one: a lot of mud. Number two: a handful of leaves or stones. Number three: a big mixing spoon (stick). Watch our video to find out how to create your very own glorious mud pie. Just make sure you keep your eyes peeled for any wiggly worms that might have made it into the mixture.

    Top tip: ‘A mud pie might look delicious, but don’t eat it, it’s really yuck. I like to decorate mine with leaves and twigs.’ – Mia McDade, aged eight

    The great thing about mud is that you can find it anywhere. But just in case you’re short of ideas, here are a few particularly good muddy spots:

    * Crow Wood, Lyme Park, Cheshire
    * Gibside, Tyne and Wear
    * Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire
    * Hatchlands, Surrey
    * Knole, Kent
    * Stourhead, Wiltshire
    * Mount Stewart Garden, County Down

    Play pooh sticks

    Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh playing Pooh Sticks on a bridge

    Pooh sticks is a simple, but thrilling sport, first invented by the famous bear of the same name. You will need two or more players, each armed with a stick of their choosing. Stand on a bridge over moving water. On the count of three everyone must throw their pooh stick into the water below. The stick that floats underneath the bridge fastest wins.

    Top tip: Try to get a place on the bridge above the fastest flowing water. This way you’ll have an advantage over the other players.

    * Eyebridge, Kingston Lacy, Dorset
    * White Bridge, Morden Hill Park, Greater London
    * Mottisfont, Hampshire
    * Dunham Massey, Greater Manchester
    * Carding Mill Valley and the Shropshire Hills, Shropshire
    * Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire
    * Shaw’s Bridge, Minnowburn, County Antrim

    Cook on a camp fire

    A roaring campfire at Gumber bothy & camping field

    ‘Cooking on a campfire is an essential survival skill everyone should learn and is a cool thing to end a wild adventure in the woods with.’
    - Recommended by Matthew, aged 11

    We couldn’t agree more. Cooking on a campfire can be great fun. Our Kid’s Councillor, Kit, is quite the expert and shows you how to cook outdoors, with sticks as fuel, in his video.

    Top tip: you can cook anything from toasted marshmallows, to fried bacon and eggs, but please make sure you follow these safety guidelines.

    * We run events throughout the year where you can learn to cook on a camp fire.

    Make a kite

    Colourful kite on Bembridge Down

    ‘I took my kite to Lyme Park as part of their kite festival in April – the best place is up by the Cage as you can get some wind and the ground is flat so you run along it pulling the kite behind you!’
    - Mia McDade, aged eight

    Make your own kite and see it soar across the skies. You don’t need many sticks for this, but you will need a few other things. Find out how to make a bumble bee kite with our free guide.

    Top tip: just add paint for a beautifully decorated flying machine.

    Take your kite for a spin in these windy spots:

    * Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire
    * Cage Hill, Lyme Park, Cheshire
    * White Horse Hill, Oxfordshire
    * Bembridge and Culver Downs, Isle of Wight
    * Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry
    * Minchinhampton and Rodborough Common, Gloucestershire
    * Powis Castle, Powys

    Dam a stream

    A stream in Horner Combe

    Turn a stream into a pond, with your very own dam. Collect twigs, branches, stones and rocks to stop the flow of the water. You can also make a dam on the beach, if there is water running into the sea. Godrevy beach in Cornwall is perfect for this. Can you plug one of the little streams that runs from the red river out to the sea? There’s plenty of seaweed and sand about for you to use.

    Top tip: what goes up must come down – have fun smashing down the dam once you’ve made it, but don’t go in too deep.

    * Summerhouse glade, Prior Park, Somerset
    * Carding Mill Valley and the Shropshire Hills, Shropshire
    * Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire
    * Alderley Edge, Cheshire
    * Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire
    * Studland Beach, Dorset
    * Cragside, Northumberland

    Build a den

    Harry`s Den, by Hannah Sutton

    Mia, our Kids’ Councillor, made a very impressive den using big logs, sticks and leaves. See how she did it in her video. Mud is also a great building material so don’t be afraid to slap it on your den’s walls. Choose a dry flat spot for solid foundations.

    Top tip: it could help to lean sticks against a tree, like a wig-wam. This is what Harry S did to make the den in the picture. Thanks to his mum, Hannah, for sharing the photo.

    * Lyme Park, Cheshire
    * Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
    * Penrhyn Castle, Penobscot County
    * Scotney Castle, Kent
    * Tyntesfield, Bristol
    * Nostell Priory and Parkland, Yorkshire
    * Godolphin, Cornwall

    Make a trail

    A photograph of a child making a stick trail at Dudmaston

    Gather up lots of sticks so that you can lay them on the ground in the shape of arrows. This makes it nice and clear for your friends and family to follow. Make the trail really fun by going over logs and around trees.

    Top tip: Turn it into a treasure hunt by bringing something to hide at the end.

    You can create a trail anywhere, but a forest might be a good starting place for gathering fallen twigs and sticks.

    * Woodland Walk, Waddeson Manor, Buckinghamshire
    * Wallington, Northumberland
    * Sheffield Park and Garden, Sussex
    * Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren, Hatchlands Park, Surrey
    * Allan Bank and Grasmere, Cumbria
    * Badbury Woods, The Buscot and Coleshill Estates, Oxfordshire
    * Powis Castle, Powys