Summer family fun at the Needles Battery

Visitors exploring the fortifications at the Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight

There’s no need for little ones to get bored this summer holiday with our family activities at the Needles Battery. Every day of the week they can hunt high and low for hidden gunners, dress up as a soldier or find out what it was like to live during World War Two. Each Wednesday of the holiday there are special ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ too. Whether it’s wonderfully sunny or a little bit wet, the kids should be kept entertained.

Soldier trail

Hidden around the Needles Old Battery are the hidden gunners. Search high and low and in every nook and cranny to see if you can find Major Mindup and the rest of his soldiers. Then, when you’ve found them all, why not draw and name your own gunner? If you’re lucky, he may be chosen to be part of the trail next year. The free trail is great for those aged 5-12 years but the whole family can join in the hunt. You can pick up a trail sheet at Visitor Reception when you arrive.

It’s not just hidden gunners you can hunt for at the Battery. Pick up a free 'Major Snap's Photographic Challenge' trail at Visitor Reception and see if you can find the places featured in the photos. Some of them are super tiny or very high up, so you’ll need to have keen eyes to find them all. Those aged 5-12 might enjoy this most.

Have fun dressing up

Head to the Cartridge Store and you’ll find out just how dangerous life could be at the Battery. Gunpowder is so explosive the soldiers working with it had to wear special clothing. Why not become a soldier yourself by trying on the clothes they had to wear? If you put on the hat with the red spot, that means the ammunition was live and ready to fire. Little ones aged 5-10 years might enjoy this the most and it’s a great photo opportunity too. 

Dressing up in the cartridge store
Needles Old Battery children dressing up
Dressing up in the cartridge store

Experience life in World War Two

Out on the Parade Ground the Anderson Shelter brings to life what it was like to live through the bombing raids of World War Two. Scramble inside and imagine the bombs falling around you as you hide from the world outside. The shelter is great for little ones aged under 12 years but older siblings can join in too. 

Explore the Anderson Shelter
Visitors to the Needles Old Battery standing and sitting outside of the Anderson shelter
Explore the Anderson Shelter

Summer days out

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

Every Wednesday this summer holiday (24 July – 28 Aug) we’ve ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities to try at the Needles Old Battery. It’s often breezy at the Needles which makes it the perfect place to try making and flying a kite (£2 per kite kit), or you could watch the birds go flying by over the Needles Rocks. There are plenty of others to try too and they’re all just right for those aged 5-12 years.

Fill up growling tummies

If you’re in need of a pit stop and a quick refuel, our retro tea-room is just the right place. Step inside and you’re back in the 1940s. It serves freshly made soups, sandwiches, lunches, desserts, cakes and hot and cold drinks until 4.30pm each day. For little tummies there are kid’s lunch boxes and child portions are also available – just ask our friendly staff and they’ll be happy to help. There’s also water to help yourself to in small, child-friendly glasses and over in the shop you’ll find cooling ice creams for a treat on a warm, summer’s day.

From the tea-room, you can even take your food outside and enjoy lunch with a view from one of the many benches. Or bring your own picnic and sit on the grass for a bird’s-eye view of the Needles Rocks below.

Useful things to know

  • Baby changing is available in the accessible toilet which is located on the Parade Ground of the Old Battery.
  • Pushchairs welcome.
  • The nearest car park is at Alum Bay (not National Trust and chargeable; 20% off for National Trust Members) and there is a short, 15 minute, uphill walk on a tarmacked road to the Battery.
  • There are some steps and steep slopes and due to a spiral staircase, it isn’t possible to take a pushchair into the tunnel.
  • Breastfeeding welcome.
  • Highchairs are available in the tea-room.
  • Dogs on leads are welcome at the Battery and in the downstairs seating area of the tea-room, but we ask that only guide dogs venture upstairs in the tea-room. You'll find water bowls outside the shop and tea-room for your four-legged friend.

Whatever the weather….

The Needles Battery can be quite exposed and windy so it’s best to wear appropriate clothing. When the rain drops start to fall, the tea-room is a good place to escape to for warming drinks and yummy cake. On hot days, the dark, shady Cartridge Store and Shell Store can be nice and cool, and they’re just as good for hiding in on a wet day. There are also several other undercover spaces dotted around the Battery and one of the best is the hidden tunnel that takes you deep underground through the cliff. From here you can stay dry as you watch the rain fall on the Needles Rocks below. If you do forget any essential supplies for summer days, the shop has a selection of seasonal items for sale.