Goodbye Butlins, Hello Boutique British Activity Holidays for Families

Although the British climate may not be ideal for a lazy beach break, it’s perfect for outdoor

British holidays for British people are no longer the tacky discount option, either; in fact, they’re getting trendier and trendier, as the booming selection of boutique accommodation and luxury family hotels will testify. Of course, if you’re a hardcore nature-lover, you might be comfortable with nothing but rucksack, a tent, and the latest Bear Grylls paperback dangling
from your utility belt; but if your family prefers a little more comfort with their outdoors, read on.

Surfing off the Cornish coast

Cornwall’s combination of excellent accommodation, reasonable temperatures and some of the most reliable surf in Britain makes it a popular choice for surf fanatics and would-be surfers alike. Newquay has always been Cornwall’s surf mecca but there are good beaches all along the county’s north and south coasts.

My favourite so far is Lusty Glaze Beach; quite apart from its fantastic name, it’s a (privately owned) scenic horseshoe cove with a good surf school, cliff climbing, kids’ activities, a nice restaurant – and a spa! Perfect for comforting your shocked arm
muscles after that first day paddling your board around.

Most surf lessons in Cornwall are for anyone 8 years old or over, who can swim 75 metres or more. Adventure Cornwall is a good
place to look for surf schools, individual lessons and board hire across the county.

Hiking, biking and boating through the Lake District

With walks to suit every ability, the Lake District National Park is one of Britain’s most stunning stretches of landscape. Its volunteers run an excellent range of guided walks, including the Children’s Pathfinder, a 2.5 hour treasure-hunt trek which will teach your brood how to read a map (if they want to find the treasure!) and suitable for 8-11 year olds.

If you’d rather go off by yourselves, you will need a good map, as some areas have patchy mobile coverage – if any at
all – so relying solely on your iPhone isn’t wise. The National Park website really is excellent, though, with lots of advice, maps, and guides, including one for first time visitors to the Lake District.

With the clue in its name, the Lake District isn’t just about walking and cycling; hiring a boat and rowing or sailing around one of its many beautiful lakes is one of the most memorable childhood experiences you could create.

Boats offer a whole new perspective and – if you like a little education with your leisure – make topics like weather, wind direction, and even the basic physics of a boat, much more tangible and relevant to your young shipmates, especially when
they’re relying on the elements to get them back in time for supper.

Clothing wise, wear layers (with a waterproof on the top) which can be added or removed as easy temperature control, and take bottled water with you. You can buy refillable water bottles with a belt hook on the top, which attach to your clothing or backpack.

You will probably need walking boots, unless you plan to stick to the lightest routes, or cycling-only. There’s good bike hire available at Coniston and there are well-stocked supermarkets at Windermere and Keswick.

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