Keeping younger members of the family entertained during the long summer holiday can be a nightmare but Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, near Ripon, reckon they’ve taken the hassle out of finding things to do, with enough fun to fill the whole day.
Trails, nature walks, activities and workshops are on offer – much better for your offspring than playing on their computer or spending endless hours texting their friends.
It’s all part of the National Trust’s wider campaign to get children outdoors and closer to nature. In fact the trust wants to get 200,000 kids playing outside this summer with their list of great challenges, the ultimate ’50 things to do before your 11 ¾’.
The sad truth is than in a recent survey nine out of 10 children could recognise a Dalek, a third more than were able to recognise one of Britain’s most common birds, the magpie.
So why not get your creative juices going – pack up the family and some sandwiches and enjoy a day out – starting this weekend with Wild Art Workshops, when you can create artworks using three difference creative techniques including direct leaf printing on to fabric, creating vibrant paints from natural pigments and make unique collages inspired by the shapes and textures of nature. The workshops run from 11am – noon and 1-2pm, today and tomorrow.
Later in the month you can get your best team together for a den building session, and let’s face it, there’s nothing children like better than building a den. There’s also everything you’ve ever wanted to know about bees with live demonstrations, or book a pond dipping session and find out what lurks in the ponds of the water garden.
The elegant Georgian water garden of Studley Royal is the perfect back-drop to a long summer day out… Head to the Banqueting House across the wildflower lawn and don your own Georgian get-up! This little house used to be a spot for the pleasure-seeking Georgians to stop off and picnic, why not follow suit and grab a picnic from our restaurant to head out for a leisurely lunch? Play garden games like quoits and croquet, and see if you can master the ‘game of graces’. Count hidden faces in the stylish interior of the Banqueting House then set off around the garden to see if you can find the grotto and explore the paths to the serpentine tunnel beneath Octagon Tower…
Take up the 50 things challenge and go geocaching! You can download an app to take on a digital treasure hunt to see if you can track the clues hidden on the estate. You’ll find hills to climb, and hills to roll down, trees to explore inside and paths to follow. Head down to Seven Bridges at the very edge of the estate and you’ll feel like you’re trekking through unknown territory… Every day of the summer holidays you can tackle a Time Wizards Trail - little Billy and Lizzy are time travelling twins, and have got stuck somewhere in time and need you to help them get back to 2014.
Start your journey at Porter’s Lodge where you can try on monks robes, walk round the huge model of the abbey as it would have been in its heyday. See the possessions the monks would have had including bowls and horn cups, feel the scratchy wool of the habits they used to wear and take a look at the children’s guidebook with all sorts of fun facts to go out and check for real!
There are loads of things that are way better in the rain (just as well, given our sometime changeable ‘summer’ climate!). Get your wellies on and go splashing about in puddles, hear the rush of drum falls full of water, take your umbrella down and feel the raindrops on your face, then dry off in the café with a hot chocolate! Take shelter in Swanley Grange to design your own time travelling machine, and see if you’d be a laybrother or a choir monk, or duck into the Mill to hear the water wheel thundering round and join a workshop to try your hand at making your own waterwheel.
Pick up a free 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾ scrapbook from Fountains Abbey and start ticking them off.
Fountains Abbey, Fountains, Ripon HG4 3DY
Telephone: 01765 608888; or visit.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey
Opening times: Water Garden10am – 6pm; Deer-park 7am – 9pm; Abbey 10am to 6pm
Den building session (Tue 12 & Tue 26 August).
Busy Bees (Sat 9, Sun 10, Sat 16 & Sun 17 August) with live demonstrations from the Harrogate & Ripon Beekeepers’
Pond dipping (Tue 5 & Tue 19 August)