Active family adventures in the UK

One of the few positive impacts of the 2020/21 pandemic was that many people in the UK discovered, or rediscovered, the pleasures of holidaying in their own countries. Many have started to question the point of loading the whole family onto expensive (and polluting) flights for the annual summer getaway, when there’s so much potential within a few hours by car or by train.
Creating family memories doesn’t depend on the amount of sunshine in the day, or getting as far away from home as possible. They come naturally from spending time together, having fun and being active. And that can happen just as easily up the road as it can in a Costa Brava beach resort.
Our UK family activity holidays explore the great British countryside, from the ghylls and fells of the Lake District to the marine wildlife of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides to the valleys, castles and wild coast of Pembrokeshire National Park in Wales. Activities led by expert instructors keep you on the go from morning ‘til evening, with everything right on your doorstep, while plans can easily be rearranged according to the vagaries of the weather.
Travel Team
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Family activity holidays in Wales

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park rivals South Devon for natural beauty, but with more of an outward bound-y feel to its family activity holidays. It’s home to an ecolodge rated five stars by Visit Wales that helps parents and kids get wild in the water.

“It’s all very rugged here,” says Sophie Hurst, from our partner Preseli Venture. “Other places, while still beautiful, are more built up. But the Pembrokeshire coast is protected, not only by the national park but also because it’s owned by the National Trust. Part of their remit is to provide access, so this area is perfect for sustainable recreation.”

Family activity holidays here are a great way to dip your toes (and then your whole bodies) into a range of adventurous water-based pursuits under the guidance of professional instructors. You can pack in the action with AM and PM sessions of sea kayaking, coasteering and surfing, or have a rest day to explore the lovely Abermarle Valley. There’s a safe-for-swimming beach a short walk through the bluebell woods from your lodge accommodation, and land out the back where the team will often fire up the barbecue at sunset.
Sophie emphasises the importance of organised fun here. “We all want to take the kids away, but we can’t necessarily provide the excitement they crave on their holidays. And this way, everyone can join in together in a non-stressful way. The entertainment is all here waiting for you. And it’s healthy!”
This is the kind of place where kids make friends on the morning of day one, and by the end of the week are swapping email addresses and planning to meet up again the following year. Delicious home-cooked meals are provided throughout, using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.
“Homemade soups for lunch always go down well after you’ve been in the sea,” affirms Sophie. “In the evening meals, the meat comes from the local butcher, and we get as much UK fruit and veg as we can from our supplier in Fishguard. You might have leek and tarragon pie with Pembrokeshire potatoes one night, and Welsh sausages the next. The bar is always brimful of Pembrokeshire beer and Welsh gin and whisky too. When the weather’s warm we eat in the courtyard, and when it’s cooler everyone comes together in the lounge area to socialise and cosy up around the wood-burning stove.”
As with any family activity holiday, you want the space to add in downtime when you want, and that’s perfectly possible on the Pembrokeshire Coast. There are castles to visit just inland, an Iron Age hill fort, the oldest working woollen mill in Wales a short walk away, and cromlech – Neolithic burial chambers – in the area. So kids can also bolster their history lessons while on holiday... perhaps something to keep as a surprise until you arrive.

Family activity holidays in the Lake District

In the Lake District, you’re in the safe hands of our partners Activities Abroad, who organise adventures around the beautiful Borrowdale Valley and Derwentwater. A stay here might involve a little rock climbing (indoor walls are used in wet weather) or a ravine scramble when water levels are right. Later, you might take to canoes for an afternoon paddling on the lake, and those with the nerve can tackle a via ferrata in Honister Slate Mine – similar to a high ropes course, except you’re using ladders and cables bolted into the rock.
“Parents tell us their highlights include watching their children take on a challenge that is completely out of their comfort zone and, with the support and supervision of the local guides, totally smashing it!” says Amy Hope, from Activities Abroad. More relaxed days might comprise archery lessons, learning how to assemble a raft, and orienteering on the fells.
Lake District family activity holidays usually run between April and October when you can expect decent weather, with a minimum age of eight for most activities. You’ll stay in a centre on the outskirts of Keswick with other families who will join you on each activity, so that friends are easily made. And as with all of these trips, minimal transport is needed each day, so you can quite easily come by train if you live in the UK.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Coasteering] [Topbox: Coasteering] [Devon: Red Zeppelin] [Wales: Coasteering] [Lake District: Activities]