Top-secret places for curious children
Don’t go telling everyone, but our places hold more than a few secrets. There are doors disguised as bookcases, puzzling mazes cut into vast rhododendron forests and waterfalls hiding secret caves.
We dare any child, or grown-up for that matter, to resist exploring these mysterious places where all is not quite as it seems. As an especially inquisitive youngster once said: 'curiouser and curiouser'.
Dark burrows, winding tunnels through trees and shafts that seem to go to the centre of the earth – are you brave enough to enter these places of little light? Some tunnels are scarier than others, but all are well worth a visit.
Doors are curious things. They have been known to lead to private rooms, hidden gardens and even other worlds. Can you find the door disguised as a bookcase? Sometimes they don’t lead to anything much at all, but it’s always great fun trying to spot them when they’re dressed like a chameleon.
Now here’s a challenge. How quickly can you make your way to the centre of these labyrinths? Race your family, race the clock – just make sure you remember the way back out. Some of these puzzles are made from laurel bushes, one is inside a rhododendron forest and another even features gates, bridges and a tower.
Some of these caves are so well hidden that you have to walk through waterfalls to get to them. Others only appear at low tide and one cave in Yorkshire is said to be home to the queen of the fairies. Whichever cave you decide to visit there are many adventures to be had en route.
What could be more exciting than discovering a secret garden - a mini world to play in and explore? Hunt down the walled garden, stumble upon a little Wendy house and be one of the first to walk amongst flowers that have been shut away for decades.
These hiding places were created to conceal priests during a time when Catholics were persecuted. Under Queen Elizabeth I, priests were often imprisoned, tortured and even killed. Priest holes were specially disguised within a house to baffle search-parties. Wriggle into a hideout and stay as quiet and still as possible to imagine what it must have been like for these men.
Geocaching is a treasure hunt for the digital generation. At many of our places you can hire a GPS to track down the caches. At others you’ll need to bring along your own smartphone. Geocaching is one of our 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾.