50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ at Hatchlands Park

Get your kids closer to nature with ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’. There’s plenty of outdoor activities to do all year round, so get out in the fresh air and build a den, make your world spin by rolling down a hill or tickle the taste buds with a picnic in the wild.

Many could be done at home or in your garden, but here are a few that you can enjoy as part of your visit to Hatchlands Park. Here, you'll discover loads of open parkland and woodland, full of all the natural ingredients you need for excellent outdoor adventures.

Oak tree in woodland

Number 1: Get to know a tree

Some trees have spaces big enough to get inside, others can be climbed, many have colourful leaves to catch. You can find ancient trees to study in the woodland and, halfway along the driveway at Hatchlands, you'll find a huge hollow trunk to explore.

The viewpoint at Hatchlands Park

Number 2: Roll down a really big hill

Rolling down a really big hill is perhaps the best way ever invented to get to the bottom, it's also the most fun. Head out towards Little Wix wood to find a big grassy hillside ripe for rolling down. You might want to plan your route carefully as our cows sometimes roll around here too.

Children den building

Number 4: Build a den

Build a den out of sticks, cover it with leaves, and you've got a pirate hideout or a meeting place for spies. Take a trip to our natural adventure area. Nearby, there’s a big wood pile with branches, bark, leaves and everything else you'll need to create that hidden den.

Child on welly walk

Number 6: Go welly wandering

You can still have fun on a rainy day! When it's pouring, what could be better than chucking on your wellies and waterproofs and zooming through puddles, soaking up all the watery fun? Our parkland paths have lots of dips where the water gathers, ready to be jumped in.

A young girl at the 2014 Dunstable Kite Festival, on the Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire.

Number 7: Fly a kite

When there's a bit of wind in the air it's the perfect time to enjoy one of the purest pleasures in life. So, if you haven't flown a kite before, what are you waiting for? Find an open patch of parkland, away from the big trees, and watch your kite sail on the breeze.

Sheepwash Pond at Hatchlands Park, Surrey

Number 8: Spot a fish

Spotting fish is one of the best ways to spend time when you're exploring water in the countryside. As you might imagine, there’s no point looking for fish up a tree. Instead, visit Sheepwash pond in a quiet corner of our park. You'll need to be patient and quiet while you wait.

A family picnic at Hatchlands Park

Number 9: Eat a picnic in the wild

Why go home for lunch when you can eat in the wild? Pack a picnic when you visit Hatchlands and tuck into your sandwiches surrounded by nature. Head to the top of Wix Hill for views of the Surrey landscape, down to Sheepwash Pond to sit by the water or just throw a rug down in the parkland grass.

Conkers on the ground

Number 10: Play conkers

We have lots of huge horse chestnut trees ready to provide you with battle ready 76’ers. First of all you should find the right conker, next, thread it with string and thirdly, bring a playing partner to pit your wits against. You’re all set to play this classic autumnal game.

Children playing with sticks in the sunshine

Number 12: Have fun with sticks

There are so many ways that you can have fun with sticks, we can’t begin to mention them all here. Build a den, play the drums, make a wand, lay a trail, create a home for wildlife; the list is endless. Check out the woodland areas at Hatchlands for all your stick-based needs.

Make a mud pie

Number 13: Make a mud creation

Mud glorious mud - who can resist it? In wet weather, Hatchlands has lots of it just waiting to be turned into gooey creations. Squish it with your fingers, create a work of art, or turn it into a seed bomb. Don’t forget about our cows - it's vital you don't get the wrong kind of mud in your mud pie.

Visitors enjoying the snow

Number 15: Go on a wintry adventure

Lots of outside activities are just as fun in the winter, some even more so. Make sure you wrap up in your warmest clothes and maybe take a hot drink with you. Crunch along Hatchlands’ frosty, leaf-lined paths and see if you can spot icicles hanging from the buildings you pass.

A girl makes a daisy chain in spring

Number 16: Wear a wild crown

Start with a bit of string or a piece of ribbon, add bendy twigs, colourful leaves, find a discarded feather, weave in a few flowers (daisy chains work perfectly) – with a little imagination you’ll discover that there is endless material in nature to make your own wild crown with.

Step into a wood and you'll be surrounded by fungi

Number 22: Find some funky fungi

Mushrooms from the supermarket are a type of fungi but there are many others. Maybe you’ll find a Purple Jellydisc, Snaketongue Truffleclub or a Scurfy Twiglet. Some are enormous, others tiny, some are camouflaged, a few are brightly coloured. Look in shady, damp places to become a fun guy.

Man and two children playing a grass trumpet

Number 25: Join nature's band

At Hatchlands, if you listen carefully, you'll hear nature's music all around you. Birds singing, trees rustling, the sheep and cows having a chat. The more you listen, the more you'll hear. Try using things that you find in the parkland to create your own music - how about those sticks from number 12 or maybe even a grass trumpet?

Hunting for bugs

Number 31: Make friends with a bug

Because of the dead wood we leave when trees fall, Hatchlands is an amazing place to hunt for bugs. There are hundreds of species for you to find, including some that are really rare. Check under logs or stones, in the dead wood piles or holes in trees that are still standing. Be gentle, and avoid wasps, snakes and crocodiles.

Clouds over the sea off Pennard, Gower, Wales.

Number 33: Go cloud watching

On a warm day, find a comfy patch of grass, lie back and watch the clouds go by. With a little imagination you can create whole worlds and the tall tales that might take place there, from the shapes you see in the clouds.

Brightly coloured goldfinch

Number 44: Watch a bird

Hatchlands has lots of different species of birds for you to spot from common garden birds, wildfowl with webbed feet or big birds of prey circling overhead. Birds are easily scared - you'll need to be as quiet as you can so that they stick around.

Children photograph nature at Sutton Hoo

Number 50: Take a friend

It’s great to investigate nature by yourself but you can double the fun when you share your wildlife adventures with a friend. Do you know someone who loves to look under logs and peer into ponds? Head to Hatchlands for a wild day out together.

Visitors in silhouette at sunset at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk

Download the full '50 things' activity guide 

As well as the activities that you can have fun doing at Hatchlands, there are loads more that you can do at other places. If you want to download a PDF of the whole '50 things to do before you’re 11¾' list before you start, then here it is. You can do as many as you like or as few as you like and, when you find one you really love, you can do it over and over again - forever.

Child climbing a tree at Crom, County Fermanagh

Doing '50 things' safely 

We want our little explorers to be confident in the wild and the last thing we’d want is for your adventures to end in tears. We’ve come up with some top tips and links to useful websites to help you complete all of the '50 things' activities safely with your friends and family.