7 Family Adventures in the UK

Entertaining the family on holiday can be quite a challenge, given the diversity of ages and abilities  that often exist.  The children want fun and excitement; Mum and Dad might be looking for a chance to relax; and perhaps even the grandparents are hoping to rekindle the flame of their youth. No matter the size of the generation gap, or the range of interests in a family, the United Kingdom is a first-class choice.  With its diverse landscape of lakes, mountains, glens, and moors; its bustling city life, and its quiet, rural idylls, there are few places in the world to equal its diversity.

Snowdonia – Wales

The first designated national park in Wales, and boasting its highest mountain, Snowdonia is a smart choice for a family break.

Wern Uchaf
Snowdonia – WalesOneEighteen / Foter / CC BY-NC

Take a hike – whether a leisurely stroll, or a challenging climb is what you’re after, Snowdonia provides for all ages and fitness levels.  It boasts a plethora of walking routes around the lakes and along the coastline, all through breathtaking scenery.  Or, if you aim to conquer Mount Snowdon itself, there are several paths to please even the  most experienced of ramblers.  If, however, you want the view without the exhaustion, then let the Mount Snowdon Railway do all the huffing and puffing. The entire trip takes about ninety minutes, with a thirty minute stop to enjoy the panoramic view from the summit.

If the kids don’t find hill walking, train journeys and scenery exciting enough, then don’t despair.  Snowdonia offers kayaking, abseiling, canyoning, and natural waterslides, all of which will please even the most adrenalin-seeking teenager.  Or granny.  A trip to this national park has something to keep the whole family happy.

Norfolk – England

With more than its fair share of seaside resorts and some of the best beaches in Britain, Norfolk is a popular destination for young and old alike.  But sandcastles and surfing aren’t the only things that Norfolk has to offer.  How about a cycling holiday?  The Sustrans National Cycle Network passes through Norfolk and is designed to give cyclists, whatever their experience level, a safe and enjoyable ride.  Through old railway and bridle paths, quiet country roads, forestland and country parks, the cycle network provides cyclists the opportunity to view Norfolk at their own pace.

Sheffield Park, East Sussex
Norfolk – EnglandUGArdener / Foter / CC BY-NC

Or try the Norfolk Coastal Cycleway, with its almost 60 miles of easy undulations.  Passing through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, here is the chance to see stunning scenery and incredible wildlife, both on land and water.

If a long cycle is out of the question, then perhaps a leisurely spin through Thetford Forest is an energy efficient alternative.  Bicycles can be hired at the Forest Centre, from where you have the option to join one of the organised, guided rides, or just peddle off on your own for a little spontaneous adventure.  Whatever you choose to do, do it in Norfolk!

Kent – England

For 400 years Kent has been known as ‘The Garden of England.’  With its miriad of castles and country houses, surrounded by beautifully kept grounds and orchards, it’s easy to see why.  But there’s much more to Kent than its wonderful vegetation.  There are the famous White Cliffs of Dover, forever immortalised in song.  Folkestone in Kent is also home to the channel tunnel terminal, shuttling holiday-makers back and forth across the English Channel, to France.  But we don’t need to hop over to France to have a good time.  There is plenty of fun and excitement to be found right here on Kent’s doorstep.

Sailing into Dover as Viewed from St Margaret's-at-Cliffe
Kent – Englandantonychammond / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

If wildlife is your thing then pay a visit to Doddington’s Hawking Centre.  The entire family will be entertained and fascinated by the displays of owls, eagles, falcons, and even vultures!

If you want to combine culture with activity, Leeds Castle is a must-see.  With a plethora of medievel activities for adults and children alike, an open-air cinema, indoor and outdoor tours of house, grounds and gardens, Leeds Castle is almost a complete holiday in itself.  And, if all that jousting isn’t enough action for you, there’s even a 250m zip line, 20m high up in the forest, for you to get one of the best views in the county!

The Lake District – England

One of the most famous visitor destinations in the United Kingdom, the Lake District has a lot to offer.  England’s largest national park, its haunting setting of hill and forest, lake and river, dry-stone walls and whitewashed cottages, combine to create an idyllic image of peace and solitude.  And certainly, if peace and solitude are what you’re after, then there’s plenty to be had in the quiet and tranquility of the Lake District.  But that’s not all there is to this beautiful corner of England.  There’s also adventure, and lots of it!

Lakes2006_Z15646
The Lake District – EnglandEnnor / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Lake Windermere, the largest of England’s lakes, boasts a wide variety of watersports to suit all ages and abilities.  But the area is not restricted to watersports.  Horseriding, climbing, scrambling, wild mountain biking are all sports that are catered for in the area.  Tree-top trekking, zip-lining, and wall climbing are also available for the whole family, from five years and up.  The Lake District is definitely a place worth visiting.

Northern Ireland – A little place with a big personality!  Driving through Northern Ireland, one is impressed by the melding of town and country.  Even the heart of Belfast, the province’s capital, is but a stone’s throw away from green fields and rolling hills.  But drive a wee bit farther north and enjoy the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is a veritable jewel in Northern Ireland’s crown – the Causeway Coast.  Drive through the Glens of Antrim, take a walk through Glenariff Forest Park, or test your nerves on the precarious Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, to view the island’s puffin population.

Then, just around the corner, to Dunluce Castle, and on to the incredible beaches of Portrush and Porstewart.  It is possible to participate in a vast variety of water sports here, whether taking a surf lesson on Portrush’s West Strand, enjoying the thrills and spills of jet skiing, or getting a real bird’s eye view while parasailing over the bay.  Or take it easy on a boat trip to spot seals and dolphins off the coast of the Skerry Islands.

For the little ones there is an indoor play complex right on the harbour, featuring a water park and a bowling alley.  And, when everyone’s had their fill of adventure, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to satisfy those well-earned appetites.

Highlands and Islands – Scotland

You could travel far and wide, from one pole to the other, but you’d be hard pressed to find a place more hauntingly beautiful than the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.  With their fierce, rugged beauty, and sense of serenity, a visit to these famous destinations is cloaked in an almost mystic tranquillity.  Visit Inverpolly National Park, where there is no shortage of opportunities to view the wildlife or study the local wild flowers and vegetation.  Hiking, too, on the loch shores and coastline, is another opportunity to watch the seals and sea birds of the highlands. And what trip to the Scottish Highlands would be complete without a bit of monster spotting at the famous Loch Ness?

Island Tree on Lochan na h-Achlaise ~ Rannoch Moor, Scotland
Highlands and Islands – ScotlandMartin Sojka .. www.VisualEscap.es / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

A boat trip to the Hebrides offers the chance to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of these isolated islands.  Here the Scots Gaelic language is alive and well and the music and culture is woven into the very fabric of life.  Sea kayaking, surfing, cycling, and sailing are among the various adventure activities on offer, all of which give a unique opportunity to study the wildlife and culture of Scotland’s island communities.

Glasgow, Scotland

A bustling, busy city, Glasgow has a lot to offer each and every family member.  For fans of architecture there is a lot to see, from the intricacy of Temple’s Carpet Factory building to the space age, hyper-modern style of the Glasgow Science Centre.  And inside the science centre there are attractions enough to keep the whole family occupied for a long, long time.  The lastest films in the IMAX cinema, a host of interactive exhibitions, and regular shows at the planetarium are just a few of the many activities in which to get involved.

Cloister, Glasgow University
Glasgow, Scotland_skynet / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

After a day exploring Glasgow’s many attractions, you might want to get away from it all and enjoy the countryside.  Loch Lomond and The Trossachs Country Park is only a forty-five minute drive away and provides activities for all tastes.  Quad biking, horse riding, water sports, adventure courses all guarantee an enjoyable stay for the entire family.

The United Kingdom is a place of history, cultural, and diversity.  No matter which of its corners you choose to visit, you can be guaranteed family fun and adventure in every unique place.  Why not visit them all?

Josh writes on behalf of an airport lounge company called No.1 Traveller who run lounges at airports across the UK including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham.

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