10 of the best Half Term day trips
Fancy breaking free of the Northants border with the midgets? Go forth with our pick of best nearby day trips for you and yours.
I don’t know if the Muddy offspring are slightly odd, it’s difficult to be objective here, but they are a bit obsessed with Shakespeare and I totally blame Horrible Histories, so they straight up loved visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s not just one for the kids though, the (hint hint) grandparents will love it too, and they’ll feel like they’ve been doing something educational and be very proud of themselves for taking the little darlings out for the day while you work like a slave/eat chocolates/have a manicure (delete as necessary). Story time, attic tours and virtual reality tours are all on the agenda for half term week.
Get your Game of Thrones on, Warwick Castle is always a massive hit with the smaller Muddy crew-members and will give you a jam-packed day of entertainment (and even an overnight stay if you’re brave enough). There are impressive daily archery shows through half term week at the Medieval Festival of Archery, as well as falconry displays and acres of grounds to explore, not to mention the historic castle itself with it’s spooky tower, creepy dungeon and spectacular ramparts.
This pretty historic farmhouse and grounds turned museum is a lovely family day out and you will get thoroughly swept up in the nostalgia. There’s a recreated Victorian school house, a WWII bomb shelter, a cast iron cooking range where kids get to make toast on the open fire and eat it slathered with butter and – possibly everyone’s favourite bit of the museum – the telephone room, with seemingly every model of phone ever produced and some even set up so you can call from one to another. You will find the original Concrete Cows here, plus a traditional Romany caravan to play in, and motor enthusiasts will love the Sinclair C5 on display. The tea room is also fantastic, with homemade lunches and cakes to keep your little dynamos sugar-fuelled all day long.
Not far from Leicester, the National Space Centre is a spectacular day out that will have kids and their grown-ups buzzing with enthusiasm. This interactive experience includes the UK’s biggest planetarium (so immersive it made me slightly dizzy) and a 42m high rocket tower with lifts to take you all the way to the top. Half term week plays host to Mission Mars, a special celebration of all things Martian in anticipation of the pioneering Mars missions planned for summer 2020. Hot tip: daily entry is limited and will sell out during half term week, so book online in advance. You’ll also get an annual pass as part of your ticket so, if you’re too spaced out to see everything in one day, you can always do a return trip.
Grumpy Muddy can sometimes get very discombobulated by overcrowded attractions during the school holidays. Can I get an Amen? So if the big name wildlife parks have you running for the tiger enclosure, then calm yourself. The Cotswold Wildlife Park, just outside Burford, is an absolute gem, we’ve been several times with the family pooch in tow and have never found it crowded, even during peak season. With giraffes, lions, rhinos, penguins, reptiles and amphibians to marvel at as well as a petting area for the more domestic species and loads more amazing animals, your little terrors will barely have time for the enormous adventure playground. Check before traveling during wet weather conditions, the car park has been known to get very waterlogged.
It’s that time of year when all the cute baby animals start popping out all over the place. At the Cotswold Farm Park near Stow-on-the-Wold you can bottle feed the newborn lambs and kids, cradle the baby chicks and bunny rabbits and take a Land Rover safari across the picturesque farmland. Based on the family farm owned by Countryfile’s Adam Henson, the emphasis here is very much on the preservation of rare breeds, so a fantastic learning experience for budding ecologists.
National Trust cards at the ready, where would we be without those golden tickets? Not got one yet? Believe us, it’s worth it’s weight in flapjack and lattes. We’ve got four NTs for you within easy reach of our hallowed borders so stick your wellies in the car boot and let’s go. The fairytale Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury in Bucks, is possibly on the grandest scale, with loads to do for a full day of adventures. There’s a huge adventure playground, abundant snowdrop walks, half term orienteering and a family cookery school, as well as the vast manor house to explore.
The expansive grounds and terraced gardens at Upton House, near Banbury in Oxfordshire will give your wild ones loads of space to let off steam. Snowdrops and daffodils are popping up everywhere in the woodland area, with loads of nature-inspired obstacles for your tots to scramble over. An interactive art installation in the Squash Court Gallery and craft activities, including origami in the Old Kitchen, will keep their little brains ticking over too. Don’t leave without nabbing a bargain from the second hand bookshop.
No half term is complete for the Muddy gang without a visit to Stowe, with miles and miles of pushchair-friendly walking routes, panoramic views in every direction, and Jane Auste-esque follies dotted about everywhere, Stowe is the place to come in order to get the kids and dogs well and truly shattered by bedtime. This week there is a Nature Ninjas trail to keep the Mudlets entertained.
There are acres of parkland to explore at Charlecote (some of them a bit soggy), with fallow deer to spot, swans on the river, squirrels digging up their nuts and even the odd kingfisher if your kids manage to stay quiet for long enough (ours don’t). The Victorian kitchen is one of the best bits of Charlecote, though, as there is often something spicy being cooked up on the range, and guides in historical garb to give you the lowdown on how things were done back in the day. What are you waiting for?