Family adventures at Hardcastle Crags

A family playing and making a den out of sticks and leaves at Hardcastle Crags

The woodland at Hardcastle Crags is a huge, natural play area for our younger visitors. From jumping over logs, to den building and exploring the woodland on a family walk, there's lots to discover on a visit.

Wonderful walks 

With over 15 miles of footpaths to explore, there are lots of walks to enjoy on a visit to Hardcastle Crags. Whether you're looking for a walk around Gibson Mill or would like to explore the wider sides of the valley, there are plenty of view points and picnic spots just waiting to be discovered. 

For little legs, the walk from Midgehole carpark to Gibson Mill is a great route to start your visit to Hardcastle Crags. Whether you follow the track, or wander through the trees along the water, there's plenty of space for younger ones to run about and enjoy the woodland. When you reach Gibson Mill, there's the Weaving Shed Cafe to enjoy - serving up snacks, drinks and ice cream to reward you after your stroll. 

If you're looking to stretch your legs a bit further, there are several trails to follow that take you further into the valley. You'll find streams to paddle in, logs to jump over and plenty of sticks for den building. Take a look at our walking page to find your next walking route

50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾  

Have you heard of the National Trust's 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4? 50 nature themed activities for the whole family to enjoy. There's bugs to befriend, puddles to splash in and ponds to investigate so why not challenge yourself to see how many you can tick off on a visit to Hardcastle Crags? Here are a few ideas to help get you started: 

  • No. 31: Make friends with a bug. See how many you can find in the woodland and make some new friends on your visit. 
  • No. 21: Have fun with sticks. Gather up sticks of all sizes and make a trail through the trees.
  • No. 1: Get to know a tree. There's plenty to choose from at Hardcastle Crags. From tall trees to new trees, take a look at the different varieties growing in the woodland.  
  • No. 30. Go on a scavenger hunt: Follow the footpaths through the trees and look for treasures on the woodland floor. 
  • No. 25. Join nature's band. What sounds can you hear from within the trees? Listen for wildlife and sing along with the birds. 
  • No. 45. Find your way with a map: Download our map to help you find your way on a walk. 
Create a wild art masterpiece
Some wild art created by sticks and leaves
Create a wild art masterpiece

Even if the sun isn't shining, you can grab your boots and go on a welly wander, getting muddy as you splash through puddles.

Build the best den ever in the Den Building Area

You're never too old to create a secret woodland hideaway. Just beyond the mill, there's a grassy area which has plenty of space for building dens. Pile sticks against a tree, cover it in leaves and watch the world go by.

Gather up some sticks to make a den in the woodland
A child building a den in the woodland at Hardcastle Crags
Gather up some sticks to make a den in the woodland

Get to know our wildlife 

There's lots of wildlife to discover on a visit, perfect for families wanting to discover nature on a visit to Hardcastle Crags. 

Look into the millpond and see what you can find lurking in the water, or gliding across the surface. Can you identify the creatures you can see? 

The woodland is home to all sorts of fantastic creepy crawlies, too. Peak under stones and look within the fallen leaves to see what creatures you can find but be careful – these little creatures need looking after.

Make friends with a bug on your walk in the woodland
A young boy looking for bugs on a tree at Hardcastle Crags
Make friends with a bug on your walk in the woodland