When the sun shines in Devon, it's the most glorious place in the World.
Unpacking our Winter life and moving back into our Devon home is no simple task. Yet within a week of Devon under our belts, the girls have slipped easily back into their old school, our bags and boxes have been emptied & re-stored and it begins to feel like we never left. My beloved garden I was hankering for, is verdant green and brimming with beautiful blooms. My surfer husband and girls have re-acquainted themselves with their wetsuits & re-discovered our invigoratingly chilly ocean. The rugged, stunning coastline we call home seems more beautiful that ever as we view everything with an appreciation only seen through recently absent eyes. One of the huge pluses of being away from home, is returning home. Happy days.
There's some brilliant family action stuff to do in Devon so if you're heading this way for long bank holiday weekend, the entire week, or if you're lucky enough to live in these parts, then we've rounded up the best outdoorsy, adventure family stuff to get your teeth into this half term.
1. Take the kids coasteering (12+)
If you're up for adventure, one of THE best ways to discover North Devon's dramatic coastline is to coasteer. And if you've got kids 12 or older, it's a superb family day out. A mash up of swimming, cliff jumping and scrambling over rocks, coasteering is an exhilarating adventure enabling you to access sheltered coves, hidden beaches and secret caves. Take your kids with you on a coasteering adventure and I'll guarantee you'll shoot to the top of the coolest parents handbook. Xtreme Coasteering have sessions running daily during the half term. Check out their 'Xtreme Sea Safaris' which involves taking a thrilling RIB boat trip out of Ilfracombe to zip you to the perfect exploring location. Places book up fast with this popular company, so get on it if you want to get wet and wild this half term.
Book with Sue on 07412 603 116
2. Take the boat trip to Lundy Island
If you're after something slightly different with more than a whiff of adventure, take a boat out to Lundy Island, 12 miles off the Devon coast. A haven for wildlife with it's unique flora and fauna, Lundy was the first Marine Nature Reserve and Marine Conservation Zone in England. Half the adventure of Lundy is getting there. Kids will love the 2 hour boat trip onboard the MS Oldenburg across the sometimes tricky waters of the Bristol Channel. Don't be surprised to see pods of dolphins accompanying you across. MS Oldenburg has scheduled sailings to Lundy up to four times a week. Check half term sailing times here. Once you're there take one of the coastal walks, visit the lighthouse or join a warden led event (advertised outside the Marisco Tavern). These include walks, talks or better for kids Rockpool Rambles (all ages, free) or Snorkel Safaris (£10 each for ages 10+ price includes full wetsuit & equipment hire, click here to see dates available). Kids will love the island's treasure trail Lundy's Letterboxes, a quest that can take you all over the island. A letterbox sheet available in the shop for day visitors which concentrates on a few of the boxes closer to the South end of the Island and the village.
Day return tickets on MS Oldenburg cost £37 for adults, £19 for children under 16 and infants under four travel free of charge. A family ticket for two adults and two children is £84, other family combinations are available.
3. Go Surfing in Croyde
If you're holidaying in Croyde this half term, keep older kids (8-16) occupied and carve out some well deserved YOU time by putting the kids into Croyde's Surf Academy's action packed half term activity week. Kids will be frothing to get started with the 5 half days of activities which include surfing, coasteering and stand up paddle boarding. The Mon-Fri 4hr sessions run either in the morning (9-1) or the afternoon (1-4) depending on weather conditions.
Alternatively if you don't want to book the groms in for the whole week the Academy offer one on one kids surf lessons for £35.
Call Croyde Surf Academy on 01271 320 218 or look for their iconic big blue bus in Down End car park on the road to Croyde from Saunton.
4. Get high at River Dart Country Park
River Dart Country Park is family heaven. With 90 acres of parkland slap bang next to the River Dart, this place has everything adventurous kids want, covering all ages. Playgrounds of all scales smatter the forest so you'll be guaranteed happy kids from from tiny tots to teens. PLUS they've got an award winning campsite too if a day visit is just too short!
From toddler beaches, pirate ships (in the middle of a lake!), snake slides, mini zip wires, spider webs and play forts - there is seriously tons to do here for younger children. Older kids will be stoked to try the Dare Devil activities. Mega Zip Harness (8+) over the lake, or steady their nerve on the high ropes course through the forest, which now actually crosses the River Dart (8+ with adult, or 10+ solo). Other activities include canoeing (2+), kayaking, water zorbing (5+), indoor climbing & bouldering.
Dare Devil activities are token based, with 1 token costing £1.00. Activities vary on amount of tokens required. For those wanting more thrills, River Dart Country Park also offer Adventure Days of caving, pamper poling and kayaking.
River Dart Country Park 01364 652511
5. Rev up and go Quadbiking (6+)
If you've got little rascal motor heads then Key Pitts Off Road Adventures, near Ilfracombe is for you. Children as young as 6 can try their hand at riding a Suzuki 50cc starting on a safe blow up track to get confident, then moving onto the Badger Run, a bigger tyred track.
Younger riders (8+) start on Yamaha 50cc or 80cc, have track tuition followed by an all terrain crossing of the valley for a circuit of easy going farmland. Think tracks, mud, water, hills, banks, slopes and a toboggan run all at a sedate speed, giving you the chance to get to grips with the bike before you take up the challenge. This ride is approx. 6 miles and will take 45 minutes including tuition.
Key Pitts provide all safety instruction, helmets and wellington boots for all riders.
Key Pitts Off Road Adventures 01271 862247 or 07446 078190
Prices: Badger Run: 15 minutes £15/Novice Run: 45 minute £35/Skill Run: 60 minutes £40
6. Go Coastal Foraging in Croyde
Croyde is better know for it's pumping surf rather than coastal foraging. But with foraging experiencing an upward trend, Croyde Surf Academy have ingeniously added family coastal foraging sessions to their quiver of ocean/beach experiences. A family of four session costs £75 for 2 hours or a child under 14 can join a group for £25. You can expect to find edible plants and seaweeds, crabs, mussels, whelks and even lobster if you're lucky. Courses are run by Matt (The Gourmet Forager).
Courses run at weekends during low season and 7 days a week in peak season (around low tide) so call to arrange your session this half term. Price includes wetsuit hire and insurance.
Croyde Surf Academy 01271 320 218
7. Den building at Arlington Court
You can always bet on the National Trust to do some fab outdoor activities for kids during half term. And if you're looking for an inland woodland family day out then visit Arlington Court. Only 5 miles from Barnstaple, this elegant regency house is surrounded by 3,500 acres of ancient woodland and lakes and is a perfect place to while away a sunny day. Drop in to join Rangers from 11am - 3pm on May 29th for Pond Dipping or May 31 to do some serious den building with their friendly Rangers.
If crafts are more your thing then Arlington also have a drop in family crafts session on 30 May 12-4pm.
Arlington Court 01271 850296
Check out their website here
8. Go biking at Haldon Forest, nr Exeter
Just outside Exeter, Haldon Forest is bike heaven for families. 3,500 acres of woodland house a fantastic array of fabulous bike trails ranging from the green graded discovery trail perfect for families pottering on bikes with some epic views. There's even a Gruffalo bike trail (1.5km) for younger children with an app you can download from home before you arrive. For older children looking to build confidence in off roading, there's a 'skills area and pump loop' area on either side of the car park. If biking's not your thing, Haldon Forest also boast a Go Ape centre where you're kids can take to the trees, discover the forest by Segway or whizz down zip lines.
Haldon Forest 0300 067 5826
9. Bug and Slug it at RHS Rosemoor Gardens
Delve into the weird and wonderful world of bugs half term at the simply beautiful RHS Rosemoor Gardens near Torrington. Whichever day during half term you choose to go there's plenty to do including the daily bugs and slugs trail around the gardens and various craft workshops running from 11am-1pm and 2-4pm.
Tuesday 30 May; Craft Workshop: Slug slime
Make your own sticky, slimy, slippery slug slime, and see if your friends are brave enough to touch it.
Wednesday 31 May; Craft workshop: Creative clay snails
Make your own clay snail. Will yours be happy, sad, silly or mad?
Thursday 1 June; Bug encounters with Reptobug
Reptobug are here with their vast collection of creepy crawlies. Come along and see what exotic creatures they have brought along to share.
Friday 2 June; Craft workshop: Wormery in a bottle
Keep your worms happy by building them a luxury wormery where you can study them or breed them for healthy garden compost.
RHS Rosemoor Gardens
Book online to get 10% off tickets. Prices: Adult £9.90, Kids: 4.95, Under 5's free.
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far