Finding UK adventures and having a go at different challenges when you have young children is not just achievable, it’s great fun and a good bonding experience too.
Here at The Smaller Explorer, we have a BIG family travel bucket list. Some places are listed because of the one-of-a-kind wow factor. Some places would be an eye opener and hugely educational. Some are pure childish escapism. I’ve listed some tour operators that do similar trips, but there’s no reason why you can’t plan and organise it all yourself. In no particular order, because how could you choose?!
The March hare is hopping mad right about now, as it’s breeding season. You might be lucky enough to see them boxing too. This is actually the females fending off unwanted male advances.
Hares are larger and rangier than rabbits, and can be found in open fields or flat grassland in early mornings or at dusk. They are super fast, so you may need some binocular practice beforehand.
Frogs and toads come out of hibernation in spring to lay frogspawn, so March is a good month to spot them (with April being the best time to hunt for tadpoles).
Greenwich Ecology Peninsula Park hold an annual frogs day every March (20th March in 2018), where families can get up close to frogspawn, have a go at pond dipping, see some newts and get all crafty making amphibian-related pictures and paintings.
Don’t foget to tick off a #50things if you see frogspawn, as it is on the National Trust’s list of 50 things kids should do before they are 11 3/4. The National Trust also list many places where you may be able to see frogspawn.
One of our favourite birds, the comical puffin arrives back at breeding colonies from March, until mid August. Puffins are actually teeny tiny at under 30cm long, but they are super hardy seabirds.
Most puffins breed on islands –
1 Hermaness and Sumburgh Head, Shetland
2 Lunga, off Isle of Mull
3 Fowlsheugh RSPB, Aberdeenshire
4 Isle of May and Craigleith Island, Fife
5 Farne Islands, Northumberland
6 Bempton Cliffs RSPB, Yorkshire
7 South Stack Cliffs RSPB, Anglesey
8 Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire
9 Rathlin Island, County Antrim
10 Great Saltee, County Wexford
Going on a boat trip to see pint-sized puffins is an adventure in itself, though Bullers of Buchan north of Aberdeen and Bempton cliffs in Yorkshire are two mainland places where you may see them too.
Our book review of Amazing Family Adventures by Jen and Sim Benson.
On 3rd March, it’s World Wildlife Day, held to celebrate the world’s plants and animals. This year the theme is ‘big cats- predators under threat. Unless you are lucky enough to live in Africa or Asia, you’ll only see them at safari parks. Much as we’d rather just see big cats in the wild, the parks listed below are all fantastic ambassadors for conservation, and many also have successful breeding programmes. We think anything that gets younger explorers interested in wildlife conservation is a good thing.
If you don’t want to go to a themed place to see wildlife, we’ve also rounded up some of the best places to see UK wildlife in their natural habitat too.
Poor, old February. Often thought of as the month of despair. However, there are a surprising number of treats to look out for and enjoy even in these dark, dreary days of winter. Scratch beneath the surface and there is life everywhere. Days are lengthening and there is a smell of spring and new beginnings in the air, so dig out the wellies and thermals and go on a new walk. Find a cracking pub at the end. Happy days.
Our round up of all the things to do on a rainy day for children. We’ve focused on West Kent and East Surrey, but the ideas can be applied to wherever you live in the world.
Highlights of Kew Gardens for kids
Kew Gardens holds the largest collection of plants on earth. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and cherished by millions who visit. It contains 132 hectares of astounding beauty throughout the year alongside detailed insight into the rich history of plant life. Kew Gardens is an absolute joy for families to visit. Even if you are not interested in nature, it’s a fabulous day away from urban London to get some green into you and your family’s lungs.
Set in an industrial site on the edge of Walthamstow, this unique shop/cafe/museum/art gallery is where all the cool folk from East London gather. God’s Own Junkyard is the late Chris Bracey’s collection and creation of hundreds of neon and lit signs from over 35 years.
Painshill Park is an pretty 18th century landscaped garden and lake based near Oxshott and Cobham in Surrey.