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Family days out for October half-term and beyond
The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre has devised six cycling routes which allow visitors to explore the countryside on quiet lanes, stopping at attractions. Leaflets detail the routes, which range from 14–30 miles. One of the easier options is a 16-mile loop taking in the 24-metre high Flounders’ Folly, Wenlock
Colin Glen Forest Park is a wooded valley at the foot of Northern Ireland’s Belfast Hills, which has outdoor activities from mountain biking to bubble football, and the SKYTrek Aerial Adventure Centre, with high and low ropes, climbing wall, power-fan descender and 90-metre ziplines. For halfterm, it will be targeting younger visitors with its Ghouls & Gruffalo’s Welly Walk. Children can listen to a reading of Julia Donaldson’s book, before wandering through the forest on a guided walk, looking out for ghosts. They can then pick their own pumpkin and carve it into a lantern back at the visitor centre.
Stretching between Coniston Water and Windermere, Grizedale Forest is a great day out at any time of year, but in autumn the fiery colours of the larch, oak, elder and beech trees make a stunning backdrop to the famous sculpture trail. Forty artworks across the forest are linked by a
The Holkham estate on the north Norfolk coast is famous for its fallow deer. Autumn is rutting season, and on certain dates in October a deer safari by tractor-trailer gets visitors up close to the herd. There are also bikes to hire to explore the 3,000-acre park’s cycle trails, and a woodland adventure play area with a treehouse, rope series of cycle and walking routes, ranging in difficulty from the pushchair-friendly Millwood trail to the challenging North Face mountain bike trail. Whichever you choose, keep an eye out for wildlife such as red deer, red kites and barn owls.
born last year that is a possibility), head south to the new North Sea Observatory (lincolnshire.gov.uk/nso), which opened at Chapel Point, just north of Skegness, this summer. Admission is free to this striking, glass-fronted building, which makes an excellent base for wildlife spotting, birdwatching, bracing beach walks and warming hot chocolates.
Half-term events at the National Botanic Garden of Wales at Llanarthne include a Harry Potter-themed week (27 Oct-4 Nov) when children can make wands and learn how to cast spells, and its popular Apple Weekend (20-21 October), with tastings, quizzes and applebobbing. The new British Bird of Prey Centre offers encounters with hawks, kites and a golden eagle, and the glasshouse is a retreat from inclement weather.
abilities, with Explorer routes (1-3km) offering a gentle option, and Adventurer routes (6-9km) for more experienced runners. The trails are traffic-free, and open to runners and walkers. Upcoming runs are at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden in North Yorkshire on 16 October, and Blickling Estate, Norfolk, on 27 October.