Summer Activities at Hardcastle Crags

Stepping Stones Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire

There's plenty to explore at Hardcastle Crags this summer. From woodland trails to den building, we want to inspire you to get closer to nature.

Our magical woodlands are the perfect place for exploring. And there's so much more to do than just go for a walk. Take a look at these ideas to keep young explorers busy.

1. Build a den.

Grab your friends, grab some sticks and make yourself your own woodland hideaway. Cover it in leaves to make a perfect hiding spot for pirates.

Den building
Den building
Den building

2. Eat a picnic in the wild.  

Pack your favourite sandwiches and cakes, find a spot with a great view and take time to enjoy lunch outside. You can pick up extra supplies at our Weaving Shed Cafe too.

3. Go on a nature walk at dawn. 

Enjoy the magical sound of the dawn chorus. Watch carefully for tree creepers - small birds that climb up tree trunks. Stay as quiet as a mouse and see if you can spot our Roe Deer.

Look for roe deer in the woodland at Hardcastle Crags
Look for roe deer in the woodland at Hardcastle Crags
Look for roe deer in the woodland at Hardcastle Crags

4. Spot a fish.

Take a net and see what you can find in our river or our mill pond. You'll need to be patient though and remember to put the fish back in the water quickly so he can swim home.

A family pond dipping in the mill pond in front at Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire.
A family enjoying pond dipping in the mill pond in front at Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags
A family pond dipping in the mill pond in front at Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire.

5. Make friends with a bug.

Ladybirds, woodlice, spiders, caterpillars  - Hardcastle Crags is full of exciting creepy crawlies. Keep your eyes peeled for the Hairy Wood Ant - these creatures are often busy moving sticks and leaves to make their nests.

6. Go on a scavanger hunt.

Create a list of treasures to find on your next visit to Hardcastle Crags. Who can find the biggest leaf? Who can spot a bee first? Remember to leave anything behind that nature might miss.

7. Create some wild art.

Can you make a face out of twigs and leaves? Maybe you can use some pebbles in the stream to draw a fish? Or use a stick to trace out a picture in the mud. Get creative.

The woodland floor has plenty of natural materials for wild art
Fallen leaves and flowers arranged into an image of a face
The woodland floor has plenty of natural materials for wild art

8. Join nature's band.

Listen out for the sounds of birds singing and streams bubbling. Find some leaves to rustle, some twigs to crack. Can you drum on a tree stump? Make a song and get an adult to record it for you.

9. Play pooh sticks.

Chose your best racing stick and play pooh sticks at the bridge by the mill. Are short sticks or long sticks faster? Can you see the ducks on the water?

Visitors on the bridge next to Gibsons Mill

10. Go paddling.

Roll up your trousers and dip your toes in the water near our mill. Be careful of the slippery rocks. Wiggle your toes - what does the river bed feel like? Head further down stream to find a perfect spot to cool off.

Want some more ideas? Download our 50 things activity booklet.