From paddle-boarding to llama trekking, treat yourself to an exciting and unusual UK summer holiday

THE sun is shining, schools are still out and we finally have the go-ahead to enjoy our green and pleasant land.

While holidays to Spain might not be on the cards for now, there is nothing to stop you turning your holiday aspirations on their head and enjoying a totally different adventure right here.

Travel Editor Lisa Minot comes up with suggestions for exciting and unusual adventures for families and couples across the country, from getting lost in marvellous mazes to fairy-hunting in deep forests.

Get lost in a Hornbeam Maze

More than 2,500 hornbeam trees laid out in the shape of a giant oak tree are the perfect place for kids to escape at Nowton Park on the edge of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Wander your way through more than two miles of hedging towards the centre, marked by a fastigiate oak with upright branches that prove a handy place to meet up with family should you lose your bearings in the foliage.

The park has 200 acres of landscaped gardens, home to trees from around the globe include a paperbark maple from China and Kentucky coffee trees from North America.

There’s a large children’s play area as well as football pitches and space for picnics. Free entry.


Abseil down the Spinnaker Tower

Adrenalin junkies will love the chance to embark on the 328ft descent down the side of Portsmouth’s landmark, the Emirates Spinnaker Tower.

From the top, there’s unmissable views across the harbour, the Solent and the Isle of Wight.

Set yourself a personal challenge or fundraise for a charity close to your heart.

Available dates include August 22 and 23 and September 5 and 20, 2020. £100pp.


Llama trekking picnic

Join the friendly llamas from The Merry Harriers pub in Surrey on a gorgeous sunset stroll.

Your furry pals will carry picnic hampers and guide you along the stunning local trails of the Greensand Way, a long-distance path winding its way through the Surrey Hills.

After strolling along woodland paths, you’ll have time to enjoy a picnic from the pub, complete with sandwiches, crudites and dip, sausage roll and scotch egg as well as salads and mini desserts.

You can even splash out on some champagne to sip as you watch the sun set.

There’s also daytime treks available. From £55.20 per adult and £27.60 per child (aged 8-13).


Sunset paddle-boarding

The New Forest Paddle Sport Company offers sunset trips by paddle board with a picnic to the sheltered area of Keyhaven on the southern tip of the New Forest.

Instructors carry the picnic, leaving you to enjoy a paddle and the views.


And for more water-based fun, Moose Canoe Hire offers canoes, kayaks and paddleboards for families to enjoy the River Thames at Bisham Abbey, Berkshire, giving families and couples the chance to navigate the locks upstream to Henley-on-Thames.

Canadian canoes for four are from £58 per day, new sit-on-top kayaks from £45 per day.

See or call 01491 520002.

Seal spotting and scuba diving

The Farne Islands, just off the Northumberland coastline, are surrounded by wrecks and reefs perfect for scuba diving.

But there’s also an added attraction — the chance to swim with the seals.

There are thousands of grey seals in the area and they are happy to interact with divers and snorkellers.

Don’t be surprised if you find your fins being tugged by one of these playful residents!

The Fifth Point Diving Centre is a PADI 5 Star centre in Blyth, the perfect starting point for exploring the islands.


Wander through wild-flower meadows

Step into summer at The Lost Gardens of Heligan in St Austell, Cornwall, and lose yourself in a wildflower sea full of buzzing bees and butterflies.

This year, Heligan has planted 15 acres of wildflower meadow teeming with cornflowers, corn chamomile, poppies and corn marigolds with paths mown through them so you can swim in a sea of blooms.

Families can pick up a booklet at the ticket office to help explain the meadows and their importance.

Pre-book tickets in advance at — £16 for adults and £8 for kids.

Fairy hunting in the forest

Fairy hunters can head to Brockhole, on the shores of Windermere in the Lake District, to explore the brand-new Woodland Faerie Trail — a maze of 50 little fairy doorways hidden amidst ferns and moss-covered rocks in the Enchanted Wood.

Brockhole was once owned by Thomas and Edith Gaddum, Victorian former mill owners.

Edith was Beatrix Potter’s cousin and the author often visited.

The woodland features some of the oldest and tallest trees in the Lake District, providing a fitting, canopied environment for the fairy folk.

Entry is free and doesn’t have to be booked but there is a charge for parking and the Fairy Trail activity costs £3 for kids, £2 for adults or £10 for a family of up to five.

Other activities that can be pre-booked include archery, laser clay, boat hire, mini golf, treetop nets and bike hire. See

Fat-biking over sand dunes

Conquer Europe’s second-highest sand dunes with an exhilarating day of fat biking in Bridgend, South Wales.

Skim along the beach, cross rocky crags and conquer the infamous 200ft big dipper on the Merthyr Mawr dunes with the specially designed bikes, equipped with fat tyres that can navigate any terrain.

Learn about the diverse wildlife and history of the South Wales coast during your guided tour.

Porthcawl Bike Hire is just a short distance from Bridgend train station.


Swing through Sherwood Forest

Connect with your inner monkey at Go Ape in Sherwood Forest.

Just 20 miles from Nottingham, you can enjoy amazing views from the tree tops, in over 3,000 acres of woodland.

You can also explore the forest on a Segway tour with Go Ape, hire bikes, or simply enjoy the miles of walking trails.

Book in advance at

Walk barefoot through woods

Kick off those shoes and wiggle your toes in the mud at Conkers Forest Park, Derbys.

Near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, it features 120 acres of indoor and outdoor play and 100 interactive exhibits and this summer everyone’s encouraged to discover the textures and sensations of the forest on the special barefoot walk.

Clamber over timber, bark, coal, mud and pebbles along the 450-metre barefoot walk, or crawl through the warrens, a maze of underground tunnels.

There’s also woodland, lakes and gardens, crossing wobbly bridges and climbing the viewing tower at the centre of the Fairy Labrynth.

Book in advance at

Rock climbing in the Forest of Dean

The spectacular Wye Valley cliffs offer a unique and beautiful playground for what is now one of the UK’s largest participation sports.

At Symonds Yat alone, there are 800 rock climbs of varying heights and difficulty, and it’s a perfect venue for individual or family forays into climbing.

The area also sports the famous Symonds Yat Pinnacle — a 100ft free-standing pillar of rock that soars above the valley, accessible to those aged 8 to 80.

Climbing taster sessions and advanced courses run on demand all year round.


Play Pooh Sticks in Ashdown Forest

Take a walk through the magical wood where Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore roam.

And of course, when heading to Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, first stop has to be Poohsticks Bridge.

A walking trail will take you to many of Christopher Robin’s and Pooh’s well-known haunts.

Download a leaflet from the forest’s website to make the most of your adventure.


Gorge-scrambling in Snowdonia

The National Outdoor Centre Plas y Brenin in the heart of Snowdonia is the place to go for a host of aquatic adrenalin adventures for all.

There’s expert instruction for families or groups of up to six in a host of activities including rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking and paddlesports.

But for something a little different, try gorge scrambling, a river-based adventure where you’ll climb, swim, slide and jump through rushing waters.

For details, see

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