It’s September, schools are back, routine is resumed but there’s no let-up for parents. It’s time to start planning October half term. After a long, lazy summer, the first six weeks of the autumn term is a slog. Have a half-term break to head for that excites both the children and the grown-ups.
Bath: Skyline Walk with geocaching
Here’s a novel way to see this elegant, Georgian city: the Bath Skyline is a six-mile circular walk around its elevated outskirts. The path is well-marked through woodlands and meadows punctuated by stiles which need to be negotiated and whimsical follies to wonder at. If the weather permits, take a picnic, and in autumn you can pick blackberries for pudding.
The National Trust hasn’t forgotten those short on stamina or with little legs. The buggy-friendly Family Discovery Trail is a two-mile stretch around Claverton Down where children can search for elves and fairies via magical mini doors, hunt for geocaches, and lark about in the woodland play area.
Stay six miles away at Lucknam Park.
Cotswolds: brand new aqua obstacle course
Open until Sunday 29th October, Wibit AquaVenture is a new inflatable obstacle course on the North Lake at Cotswold Country Park and Beach, near Cirencester. The enormous and extensive blue, green and yellow blow-up includes slides and monkey bars. Yes, unless you’re made of steel you’ll absolutely want a wetsuit; these are available to hire for £5.
You can also get the kids kayaking on this lake. Or how about stand-up paddle boarding? There are single, double and family boards, plus instruction available for first-timers.
Stay 15 miles away at Calcot Manor.
Dartmoor: miniature pigs and pumpkins
Pennywell Farm in Buckfastleigh is a winner with kids: miniature pigs, tractor and pony rides, barns full of farm animals, plus plenty of indoor and outdoor play space. Children are encouraged to cuddle the irresistible micro piglets, and to watch the porkier ones racing.
October half-term is extra special at Pennywell: the farm will be decked with spooky Halloween decorations and there’ll be pumpkins to carve and take home.
Stay 17 miles away at Bovey Castle.
London: dazzling Cuban choreography
Billed by Time Out as a ‘lovably loopy Cuban dance extravaganza’, Vamos Cuba, set in the dizzying disarray of Havana airport, is fast-paced and full of fun. Children’s eyes will be out on storks as the intense colour and ebullience of Cuban life spreads like wildfire across the stage.
Showing at London’s Peacock Theatre (nearest tube Holborn) from 24 October – 11 November, this spectacle from acclaimed Cuban choreographer Nilda Guerra cleverly mixes traditional and modern dancing including salsa, rumba and cha-cha-cha.
Stay three miles away at The Arch.
Scotland: loch-side innovation at play
On the shores of Loch Ryan, near Stranraer in the Scottish lowlands, Agnew Park offers a novel day out for all ages. Having received an extreme makeover last year, to the tune of over £850,000, it now comprises an inventive adventure play island, an interactive and educational play area, a miniature railway to take you on a full tour of the park, a boating lake with pedalos, skiffs and canoes to hire, and a mini car-racing circuit.
Whilst children may be oblivious, it’s not all about the action. The location is uplifting in itself. There are a number of walkways through beautiful gardens and the design of Agnew Park – drawing on its seaside location and marine heritage – is inspiring.
Stay 15 miles away at Glenapp Castle.
Article written by Mischa Mack