5 affordable ways to keep the kids entertained this summer

The summer holidays are upon us. A time of year that most parents dread a little as 6/7 weeks is a LONG TIME! But this year, the vast majority are running on empty before we’ve even got there – because we’ve already had the kids at home for 4 whole months.

One big positive to lockdown has been that we all realised we didn’t need lots of expensive days out – I’ve spoken to lots of friends whose kids have been happy running around in the woods.

We’ve tried and tested a few local options – all of which are suitable for kids under the age of 6.

Hetchell Woods

Just outside Bardsey, these woods are run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and provide a natural adventure playground for the kids. Some of the trees already have rope swings attached to them. My two loved climbing some of the lower level trees and playing “Billy Goats Gruff” on a wooden bridge by the stream. We could happily spend hours here bug hunting, sword fighting with sticks and generally burning off a bit of energy. Close to it there’s also the Roman Earthworks called “Pompacali” which I can only describe as a set of horseshoe shaped mini hills, kind of like a Roman quarry. Anyway – a brilliant picnic site and ideal for the kids to roam around and run up and down the mini hills!

Top tip – this is a nature reserve, so careful to not let the kids go too crazy! Also – wear wellies, it’s really muddy under those trees!!!

Cost – FREE

Alsmcliffe Cragg

Set on the road between Harrogate and Otley, you can see this rocky outcrop for miles. It’s a really popular spot for climbers, and obviously comes with the health warning of – it’s an enormous rock and therefore very dangerous! But, if your kids are of an age where they understand they can’t climb the big rocks or go too close to the edge, they’ll love it! We took a picnic, and found a small outcrop of rocks that the kids could climb up and slide down to their hearts content. I must admit, this wasn’t the most relaxing solo trip out I’ve ever taken with them – but they had loads of fun!

We bought our picnic from the local cafe/farm shop The Local Pantry and there’s a lovely pub at North Rigton too.

Top tip – the rocks are dangerous and there are sometimes cows roaming around at the back.

Cost – FREE (unless you opt for either of the lunch options!

Busy Birds Outdoor Learning

A brand new company which I feel just set up at the right time! Charlotte & Grace are both qualified teachers who share a common passion for nurturing young explorers in the great outdoors. The 90 minute sessions have a variety of different options for your little ones to enjoy – mud kitchen, bug hunting, crafts and story time to name a few. Or you can just let them roam and explore!

Sessions are available at Stockeld Park and Yolk Farm, Minskip – but they sell out quickly so best to plan in advance! www.busybirds.co.uk

Top tip – remember to take your own snacks, drinks and possibly even a flask!

Cost – £9 with a £6 sibling discount

SPLAT messy play Harrogate & Surrounding areas

I did wonder if my kids at 4 & 6 might be a bit old for this, but I needn’t have worried – they LOVED it! Originally a provider of messy play classes, SPLAT have cleverly pivoted their business to hiring out messy play kits. You can hire a tuff tay, all the related equipment and two materials from 48 hours up to a week. Themes are: Under the sea / On the farm / Colours and rainbows / At the zoo / Summer.

Contact – https://www.facebook.com/Splat-Messy-Play-Harrogate-Surrounding-Areas-105275927583436

Top tip – The kits are best used outside, but if it’s raining I’d strongly recommend putting an old sheet or a picnic blanket down inside!

Cost – £15 for 48 hours hire. (Can be extended to 7 days for an extra £8 – availability permitting!)

The Druids Temple – Swinton Bivouac

Ok – this ones a bit of a drive (about an hour) but it’s so worth it! Swinton Bivouac is situated just north of Masham. There’s a cafe, which wasn’t open when we visited, but a lovely hot food truck was serving bacon/sausage sarnies and burgers for lunch (we might have had both!)

We took the kids bikes and followed the woodland cycling trail to the Druids Temple. The reality was that the cycling was a bit tough going for the kids in parts (too muddy) and they wanted to stop every 10 metres to climb on rocks/trees/play on rope swings – but it was a gorgeous day out, and we’ll definitely return. Maybe even for a stay in the glamping pods next time!

Top tips – Bring wellies for the mud

Cost – £2 for parking and £2 per bike for the trails. Oh…and whatever you want to spend on food!

There are loads of other options for free days out – the riverside at Knaresborough, Linton (swimming NOT advised due to currents), Roundhay Park, Temple Newsam, the walking trails at Lotherton), Anglers Country Park, and Golden Acre are all favourites and will be on our list for the summer holidays too – I just wanted to keep the blog concise and point out some places / options you might not have heard of.

Hope you all have a great summer exploring…..only 7.5 more weeks until the school’s (hopefully) reopen – WE CAN DO THIS!

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