2014 Top places for October half-term fun

Autumn is here for you to enjoy with all its colour, conkers, orchards full of apples and hedgerow fruits just right for picking. So why not take a family walk this autumn, discover some special places on foot and take part in some of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ events this half term.

Here are our top half term events to tick off this autumn:


    Northern Ireland

    Ancient yew tree roots

    Crom, County Fermanagh
    Nocturnal Nature Tour, 23 - 24 October, 7pm – 10pm

    One of Ireland's most important nature conservation areas, Crom's ancient woodland and picturesque islands are home to many rare species. Take a tour in the jeep and discover what lurks among the trees and foliage of Crom estate after darkness falls.
    Price: Adult £10, Child £5, booking essential.

    Mount Stewart, County Down
    Festival of Light, 31 October, 6pm – 10pm
    The woodlands at Mount Stewart will come alive with lights and music for this magical event. Bring the whole family for an unforgettable fairy-tale experience featuring an illuminated lake walk and log fires in the tipis.
    Price: Adult £10, Child £7.50 (5-17 years), Family £30 (two adults and two children), booking essential.

    East of England

    A child

    Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire
    Barefoot Walk, 25 October, 10am – 3pm

    Lose the shoes and bring the family to experience a new way of walking at Wicken Fen. Do you have ticklish feet? Feel the grass between your toes as you walk around Britain’s oldest nature reserve. Follow the family barefoot walk trail and complete the activities and challenges along the way.
    The trail will take around 30 minutes.
    Price: £2.

    Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire
    Awesome Autumn Adventures, 25 October – 2 November, 10.30am – 5.30pm

    Come and see Anglesey Abbey change colour with a range of self-led awesome autumn activities. The gardens and wildlife area provide a great place to catch brightly coloured leaves as they fall off the trees. Enjoy a game of conkers, create beautiful wild art, build a den and find many more adventures hidden in the grounds.

    Hatfield Forest, Essex
    Deer Rut Walk for Families, 28 October, 4pm – 6pm

    Explore Hatfield Forest in the Essex countryside this autumn, once a favourite place for royalty to show off their hunting prowess. Join the ranger team for an evening journey into the secretive world of the fallow deer during their rutting season. Learn how to track and stalk in silence and remember to bring your camera for those majestic shots.
    Price: £10 (Ages 8 and over only, booking essential).

    Brancaster Estate, Norfolk
    50 things - Wild Wednesdays, 29 October, 10am – 12.30pm & 2pm – 4.30pm

    Join the team for a day of ‘50 things’ themed family fun on the shores of the Norfolk Coast. If you’re brave try out the bug hunting or holding a scary beast. Get mucky with making a mud pie and see if you can use your detective skills to track a wild animal. It’s time to grab your scrapbook and start ticking off those activities and adventures.
    Please meet at Brancaster Staithe Harbour (PE31 8BW), look out for flags and staff. Booking essential.

    Ickworth, Suffolk
    Out and about Wednesdays, 29 October, 11am – 3pm

    Its awesome autumn and Ickworth is a grand place to see the changing colours of autumn. Set your creativity free and make some wild art with nature’s bounty scattered around the estate. Dive into mountains of leaves then catch as many as you can falling from the trees at this time of year. Discover the magnificent horse chestnut trees and choose your winning conker to join the great conker competition. Have a great day out in the Suffolk countryside and complete numbers 10, 18 and 33 of your ‘50 Things’ challenge.


    Create wild art at Kingston Lacy

    Plas yn Rhiw, Gwynedd
    Autumn Adventures, 25 October, 11am – 3pm

    Come and have an autumn adventure at Plas yn Rhiw, a manor house that has views from the gardens across Cardigan Bay. Play Halloween games, explore the woodland and complete some of your '50 things' activities with creating wild art and building a home for a wild creature - there's plenty to do.

    Craflwyn and Beddgelert, Gwynedd
    Craflwyn night-time ramble, 29 October, 6pm – 9pm

    Join us for a night-time ramble in the woods in the heart of Snowdonia. Tick off some more of your ‘50 things’ and go for a nature walk at night, discover star-gazing and cook on an open fire.
    Booking advisable.

    South West

    Handful of conkers

    Glendurgan Garden, Cornwall
    Wild Art Week, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30 & 31 October, 1 & 2 November, 10.30am – 4.30pm

    Have fun creating some amazing wild art in the tropical Glendurgan Garden this autumn.
    Have a go at making a colourful crown of autumn leaves or maybe a pebble picture at Durgan beach, or even a magnificent masterpiece by the maze. If you fancy a natural puzzle, take a stroll around the cherry laurel maze and see if you can reach the middle first. On your way back stop off at the Giant’s Stride rope swing for some spinning adventures.

    The Courts Garden, Wiltshire
    50 Things to do before you're 11¾ - play conkers, 28 October, 2pm – 4pm

    Come along and collect the best conkers for the Courts Garden’s first ever Grand Conker Competition. Root through the leaves in the Arboretum to find the perfect conker and string it up ready for the contest with the help of the forest school team. Remember, it’s not always the biggest conker that wins. 50 things tip: put some conkers in a bucket of water; all those that sink to the bottom are winners, those that float are losers. Find an opponent of a similar size and slug it out until one of you has won the bout. Make a note of each win on a card and at the end of the day the conker with the most wins gets to take home the Conker Conquerors Cup.

    Newark Park, Gloucestershire
    Cath Hodsman Incredible Insect Day (11-16 year olds) 28 October, 2pm – 5pm

    Cath Hodsman is a wildlife artist and will be running this special half day experience workshop celebrating bugs. Study the insects under your microscope and then have a go at drawing them under her expert tuition. Passionate young insect lovers are invited to this special workshop to look at some bugs up close in the Ozleworth valley.
    Price: £20 (for 11 -16 year olds, booking essential).

    Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire
    Geocaching - give it a go, 28 October, 2pm – 4pm

    Try a geocaching treasure hunt among the woods and fields on King Barrow Ridge this half term. If you’ve never tried geocaching before, you're missing out on all the fun and ticking off number 49 on your ‘50 things’ list. Try your hand at treasure hunting and we'll lend you a GPS device for the afternoon. Geocaching is about finding 'caches' that have been hidden by other 'geocachers' - some, like ours, include small toys and trinkets. Bring something with you to swap for something in the cache.
    Price: £4, booking essential.

    Tyntesfield, Bristol
    50 Things activity - Hold a scary beast with our bug specialist, 29 October, 11am – 12pm & 1pm – 2pm

    Tick off number 30 on your '50 things’ list at this Victorian Gothic Revival house just outside of Bristol. A local bug specialist will be visiting Tyntesfield with a variety of his creepy crawlies for you to see. Learn about what they eat, where they live and even try holding one if you dare.
    Price: £3, booking essential.

    Leigh Woods, Bristol
    50 things' Find your way with a Map and Compass, 30 October, 10am – 2pm

    Explore the woodland above the famous Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge this autumn. Drop into Leigh Woods and have a go at navigating your way round using your explorer skills. Run or walk on this outdoor adventure as you challenge your family to complete the trail in record time using your map reading and decision making skills.
    Suitable for all ages and levels.
    Price: £2

    North West

    Have fun skimming stones at Durgan Beach

    Borrowdale, Cumbria
    Derwent Water Family Adventure Trail, 25 October - 2 November, 11.30am – 3.30pm

    Escape with the family from the hustle and bustle of Keswick's busy town centre and discover within easy walking distance the shores of Derwent Water, with spectacular views of the surrounding fells. Change the pace of life as you follow the trail through the woods and beside the lake and try skimming a stone or climbing a tree along the way. Why not build a den or try creating your own wild art and try to tick off as many of the ’50 things’ activities as you can in one day.
    Price: £1.50 per trail map.

    Buttermere, Ennerdale and Whitehaven Coast, Cumbria
    Buttermere Family Adventure Trail, 25 October - 2 November, 11.30am – 3.30pm

    Escape with the family from the hustle and bustle of modern life and discover dramatic fells, farms, woodland and three lakes to explore. Have a change of pace as you follow the trail towards Buttermere lakeshore where you can skim a stone or make a splash as you jump over the waves. There are lots of ’50 things’ activities you can try out here, why not build a den in the woods or climb a tree with your friends. Who can find the best twig for a game of pooh sticks in one of the becks? Challenge your family to a race, so choose your stick wisely and take on the challenge.
    Price: £1.50 per trail map.

    Dunham Massey, Cheshire
    Family Rut Walks, 27 & 30 October, 11am – 12pm, 1pm – 2pm & 2.30pm – 3.30pm
    Whether it's kicking up leaves, collecting acorns or having fun at the log pile, autumn is an ideal time for families to explore the great outdoors at Dunham Massey. Discover the autumn rituals of Dunham's deer revealed on a family guided walk during the rutting season.


    Tree climbing event

    Eyam Hall and Craft Centre, Derbyshire
    Plant it, grow it, eat it, 25 – 26 October, 11am – 3pm

    Roll up your sleeves as bring out your inner gardener as you get ready for another ‘50 things’ challenge at Eyam Hall nestled in the Peak District. Join the gardeners to harvest the apples and start to prepare the ground for more crops with number 41 on the list: Plant it, grow it and eat it. Lend a hand and plant your own seeds ready to harvest early next year and see how tall they can grow.
    Price: £3 (includes garden and craft activities).

    Croome, Worcestershire
    Tree Climbing, 27 October, 10.30am – 4.30pm

    If there’s one ‘50 thing’ you should do this autumn, it’s climbing a tree and taking in the colourful landscape around you at the top. Spend an hour with two with highly-skilled instructors who will teach you how to use ropes, knots, carabineers and harness to climb to the top of the tree and zip wire back down again.
    Run by the Great Big Tree Climbing Company.
    Price: £15.50 (for ages 4 and over, booking essential)

    The Weir, Herefordshire
    Build a bug hotel, 30 October, 2pm – 4pm

    Even bugs need to get away from it all once in a while so why not come along and build a bug hotel at this riverside garden. Bring the family along and join the gardener to learn more about creepy crawlies that make their home in the grounds. Once you’ve built your masterpiece take it home and put in your own garden and see who comes to stay.
    Price: £3, booking essential.

    London and the South East

    Tree climbing

    Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey
    The Great Big Tree Climbing Days, 26 October & 2 November, 10.30am – 3.30pm

    Autumn colour is Winkworth’s chief glory and what better way to see the changing colours of the season than from the top of a tree. Experience the exhilaration of recreational tree climbing; a chance for everyone to get up high in the trees at Winkworth with rope, harness and zip wires.
    Price: £15.50 per sessio, booking essential.

    Polesden Lacey, Surrey
    Big Tree Climbing, 27 October, 10.30am – 4.30pm

    Climb in the canopy of the big tree in Preserve Copse with the supervision of highly skilled and friendly instructors and get a bird's eye view of Polesden Lacey and beyond, and if you're brave enough take the zip wire back down again. If you fancy stretching your legs and getting your feet firmly back on the ground there are acres of the estate to explore and perfect spots to sit back, relax and enjoy the views.
    1 hour sessions limited to 7 children per session. Suitable for children from age 6 years and over (no height restriction) Full tuition, safety equipment and harness will be provided.
    Price: £15.50 per hour session (free entry to grounds for participant, plus one accompanying adult if child is under the age of 16), booking essential.

    Standen, West Sussex
    Spooky Woodland Art , 29 October, 11am – 2pm

    If you’re feeling brave, explore the woodland and wider estate at Standen and create some spooky woodland art for Halloween. Get creative in the outdoors with local artist Bleau Hudson, and tick off number 18 on the ‘50 things’ list. Bleau will show you how to create some eerie wild art inspired by trees and woodlands around you. If you can, collect some art materials beforehand and bring them with you - cones, twigs, leaves, bark, leaf litter and other woodland materials will all come in handy when creating your masterpiece.
    Price: £3.

    New Forest Northern Commons, Hampshire
    Forest play, 28 October, 10.30am – 1pm

    This beautiful sprawling wilderness offers opportunity for both retreat and adventure this autumn. Join some of the rangers in the New Forest for a day of lighting campfires, building dens and woodland craft. Foxbury, near East Wellow, is a safe enclosure with space to play and learn and the basecamp is the ideal place for wild play, with rustic seating and a readymade fire pit perfect for marshmallow toasting and hot drinks. The rangers will show you the best ways to build and light a fire, help build dens, plus there’ll be woodland craft activities.
    Price: Adult £2.50, Child £5, booking essential.

    Yorkshire and the North East

    Mother and two children looking out of the bird hide using binoculars

    Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire
    Bug Box Making, 28 – 30 October, 10am, 11am, 1pm & 2pm
    Discover breath-taking views across the magnificent 12th-century abbey ruins and the beautifully landscaped Georgian water garden this autumn. As winter approaches we’re not the only ones wrapping up warm in preparation for the chill. Our creepy crawly friends are also looking for somewhere to bed down and you can help them out by making them a brand new home. Roll up your sleeves and come and make a wooden bug box for your garden.
    Price: £5, booking essential.

    Hudswell Woods, Richmond, North Yorkshire
    Nature Detectives at Hudswell Woods, 29 October, 1pm – 4pm

    Enjoy walking through beautiful ancient woodland on the banks of the River Swale this half term. Over five miles of footpaths provide plenty of opportunities to explore this picturesque site and to discover the natural world around you. Learn to identify trees, hunt for mini-beasts and go bird watching amongst the autumn trees.
    Price: Adult £5, Child £3.50, booking essential.

    Cragside, Tyne and Wear
    Gardens of Imagination, 29 October, 11am – 3pm

    Visit Cragside for a taste of the country on the edge of the city this autumn. Be inspired by Lord Armstrong’s innovative gardens to create your own miniature garden with the materials provided. Afterwards explore the woodland playscape, Strawberry Castle adventure play area and wildlife hide.
    Price: £2.

    Nostell Priory and Parkland, West Yorkshire
    Conkers Bonkers, 30 October, 11am – 3pm

    Only a stone’s throw from Wakefield lies Nostell Priory, built on the site of a medieval priory it offers landscaped parkland and gardens. Visit this half term for self-guided, guided and themed walks. Stroll around the estate or speak to one of the rangers to find out exactly where the best trees are to find a winning conker. Remember, it’s not always the biggest conker that wins. 50 things tip: put some conkers in a bucket of water; all those that sink to the bottom are winners, those that float are losers.

    Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire
    Family Outdoor Day, 1 November, 10am – 4pm

    If you want to scale new heights this autumn, join Harrogate Climbing Centre for a day of weaseling, climbing and abseiling. This amazing collection of weird and wonderful rock formations makes a great day out for families, climbers and those wanting to enjoy the simple pleasures of fresh air and magnificent views over Nidderdale.
    Children must be accompanied by an adult (max 2 per adult).
    No previous experience required.
    Price: £35, booking essential
    For more information, please call Harrogate Climbing Centre on 01423 815024.