Order in time for Christmas

8 family friendly ways to get up, off the sofa and out this January

After all the fun of Christmas and New Year, being back at work and school can feel a little dull and boring. Don’t panic. Prise yourself off the sofa and put your boots on. Then take a few more steps into the cool winter air and remember what it’s like to be outdoor and active. That’s the hard bit done. Now you can enjoy some of that lovely time off from work with a few adventurous, family-friendly activities. While beach walks are de rigeur on cold crisp winter days, there’s a whole lot more that the intrepid tribe could get up to . You might not get Gran in a wetsuit but there’s no reason she couldn’t zip across the chasm at the Eden Project, is there?

We asked adventure lover Martin Dorey, a dad with 2 wriggly girlies, to recommend some winter wonders to help you stuff that turkey and say goodbye to the sofa blues.

Wrap up warm. We’re off on another 8 fabulous Saltrock adventures!!! 

CREDIT: GARETH DAVIES PHOTOGRAPHY
1 STRIP AND DIP AT AN OUTDOOR SWIM

Here in Saltrock country this crazy way of burning off the calories – and adding the feel good factor – has become a staple in December and January. Bude’s Christmas Day swim, which raises thousands for Bude Surf Life Saving Club and sees over 500 people take to the ocean at Crooklets Beach, is a lively, family friendly event where all the generations take part. It’s invigorating, fun and you have to be a little bit cuckoo to do it. But it’s in the name of charity so why not? There are swims at locations all over the UK at various times, including Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, but you can also head for a dip any time of year - wash away those January Blues!

Worried about the cold? Don’t be. Here’s a list of Dos and don’ts for your Christmas dip: https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/festive-swims-dos-donts/

2 ZIP IT ON A HIGH WIRE ADVENTURE

There are a few places where you can ride really long zip wires in the UK. At Velocity in North Wales you can ride Europe’s longest – and the world’s fastest – that will zip you down a mountain and over a lake for over a mile. Closer to home you can ride England’s longest and fastest zip wire at The Eden Project in Cornwall. How about flying 50 feet above those incredible biomes? That would certainly be a wow moment, and you could warm up afterwards in the tropical dome.

Ride the zip at Eden: http://www.edenproject.com/visit/whats-here/zip-wire-adventure-activities 

Ride Velocity in North Wales: https://www.zipworld.co.uk/adventure/detail/velocity

3 WRAP UP AND GO STAR GAZING

Exmoor, which is just a hop, skip and a jump from Saltrock’s base in North Devon, has been designated as Europe’s first Dark Sky Reserve. This is because it has some of the darkest skies in England with very little light pollution. On dark clear nights there is NOWHERE better to wrap up warm, throw down a rug and point your eyes skywards. Wonder abounds in the heavens if only you make the time to look. Incidentally, if you prefer to head north, go to Galloway Dark Skies Park in Scotland. They enjoy the same status, with skies that are inky black because so few people live there. And there is a good chance you might see the Aurora Borealis too.

Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve: http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/stargazing

Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park: http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/forest-parks/galloway-forest-park/dark-skies

4 MOUNTAIN BIKING ON SINGLE TRACK TRAILS

If there was ever was a good time to get the kids into downhill, this is it. With brand new bikes and biking clobber, helmets, gloves and trainers, there is no better way of blowing away the Christmas cobwebs than by haring down a purpose-built mountain bike track in the woods. All of you – even Mum and Dad – will feel 10 years old again. There are tracks all over the UK, including centres at Cardinham Woods and Lanhydrock House in Cornwall, and Haldon Forest near Exeter. The Beast of Bodmin blue run at Cardinham is one of the best.

The best trails in the UK: http://www.bikeradar.com/mtb/gear/article/best-trail-centres-in-england-35974/

The Beast Of Bodmin: https://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-992jks

5 LEARN TO SURF

Don’t wait until summer to put that new surfboard in the water. There are a number of surf schools around the UK who take lessons year round, including between Christmas and New Year. So there’s no excuse to take a dip. You will need the right kind of gear though, and that means donning hat and gloves and something warm to put on afterwards. The waves can be really powerful at this time of the year so go easy, although you’ll be more than safe if you head to Surf Snowdonia to surf the artificial waves at the UK’s first man made surfing lagoon.

Surf Snowdonia’s man made surf lagoon: https://www.surfsnowdonia.com/surfing/

List of UK surf schools: https://magicseaweed.com/Surf-Schools-Directory/17/0/0/

6 HIKE THE COAST PATH TO DESERTED SANDS

Turning a walk into a day of adventure is easy. Set yourself a goal and go for it. The UK has lots of hidden and secret beaches that can only be accessed from the coast path. That means they are yours to explore. Wrap up warm and set off to find them and you are sure to hit the jackpot sooner or later. As you trundle along the coast in search of beaches with wonderfully evocative names like Woody Bay, Greysands, Peppercombe, Mother Iveys and Rockham you’ll make a mental note to return again, and again and again. Just prepare well, bring a flask and you’ll enjoy an outdoor adventure like no other. And it’s free!

Find a few more hidden beaches: http://www.wildswimming.co.uk/hidden-beaches/

7 GO ON A FOSSIL HUNTING ADVENTURE

The Jurassic Coast stretches for almost a hundred miles between our Sidmouth and Swanage stores, offering all kinds of opportunities to scour the beach for fossils of your own to take home. Charmouth is the centre for the Jurassic Coast, with a Heritage centre able to take first timers on fossil hunting walks with all the kit. Kids will love seeking out the bellemites and ammonites right there on the beach and in the rocks. And they’ll get some exercise while you get to enjoy a stroll on one of the UK’s nicest beaches. Perfect.

Dos and Don’ts of fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast: http://jurassiccoast.org/discover/things-to-do/fossil-hunting/

8 INDOOR CLIMBING

This time of the year it may not be that wise to take the kids into the mountains, but they can still enjoy the thrill of climbing at indoor climbing walls all over the UK. They can start with a little traverse and then… who knows where you’ll find them after that? Just look up! In the hands of a professional instructor they’ll be perfectly safe. And if you want to have a go, why not? Or you could simply log in to the wifi and order a latte. Yes, but really? That’s not what you can here for, is it? Get in that harness and get up that wall. You – and they – will love it.

Directory of indoor climbing centres: https://www.ukclimbing.com/listings/?t=wall

 

Martin Dorey is a surfer, cook and camper van traveller. He was the presenter of a BBC2 TV show called One Man and his Campervan and has written 3 books on the subject of four wheeled living and two ringed cooking. He is currently writing and researching a book about the UK’s best campervan journeys, Take the Slow Road.

🎅🏻 14 DAYS UNTIL SANTA 🎅🏻