Your half term checklist of fab family-friendly things to do.

Calling all parents!

Are you dreading half term? Are you pulling your hair out at the prospect of keeping the kids off their iPhones for more than 10 minutes? Are you searching for things to do? I suspect you are not alone. The February half term is a tricky beast for parents. It comes slap bang in the middle of winter when you’re still recovering from Christmas, and there’s no promise of clear skies or sunny days. However… nature is right outside the door… and it’s free (mostly)! So there’s no excuse not to throw on your Saltrock Hoodies and Beanies and get out there and have some wrapped up warm fun.

We put our thinking caps on and bashed our heads with adventure lover Martin Dorey, a dad with 2 girlies, and put together a half term check list. It’s for parents who are looking for really wild, exciting and brilliant days out that won’t cost the earth.

So… be prepared for one hell of a half term - your kids will thank you.

 

1. Get muddy. Really muddy. If February does something well it’s mud. So go and play in it. Find your inner child and find the mud cake making child inside your sofa surfing sons and daughters. Where there’s muck there’s fun!

  2. Pull on some wellies and walk the watercourse. There’s no better or muddier adventure than to explore Devon and Cornwall’s combes and valleys from in the water. So pull on your wellies, make a swishing stick and walk upstream as far as you can go. Don’t let it go over the top of your wellies! Just remember that streams are OK, rivers not.  

3. Get crabby! There are some choice locations for crabbing around the coast. Appledore quay is a favourite. Get yourself a crab line, use old bacon as bait (that’s our secret) and crab away! Biggest one wins!

  4. On yer bike! There are loads of places that have amazing off road cycling, like The Tarka Trail or The Camel Trail. A lot of them follow disused railways so the wee ones can come too. Nothing strenuous, just fun. For more, see http://www.tarkatrailguide.co.uk/tarka-trail-map.html  

5. Look up at the sky. Did you know that Dark Sky Parks are a thing now? Yes they are, and you can join in with events and happenings in places where the sky is really, really dark. Head out before dark on clear days (with blankets and warm coats), find your space on Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor and lie back to marvel at celestial wonders!  Check here for events: http://gostargazing.co.uk/event-organiser/344/

6. Go rockpooling. The beginning of February will see some pretty big low tides, which means lots of rockpools will be exposed. Perfect then for taking your dip net and seeing what you can find. What you need is a few rocks, a knowledge of the tides and a net. Best places to rock pool in the UK? Here: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/rockpooling

7. Make a sandy sundial. You might think it’s tricky, but it isn’t. All you need is a compass, a stick and some stones. Once you’ve worked out where north is the rest is easy….Just remember to angle your stick to 54 degrees for Cornwall and Devon! Make a sundial: https://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Temporary-Sundial

8. Make a rope swing in the woods! Yes!!! Who doesn’t love this? But the best swings are made from old buoys you find on the beach. So you’d better go beach combing then… see next idea.

9. Get up early and go bootlegging. After stormy nights all kinds of flotsam and jetsam lands on beaches all over the UK. Check the high tide line for big stuff like fishing buoys (see above), but don’t forget to look out for little stuff too, like toy soldiers and pieces of Lego.   Find your Lego booty: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28367198

  10. Explore a sea cave like a smuggler! On the weekend of the 17th and 18th of February spring tides are low in the middle of the day, which means you’ve got time to explore sea caves before the tide comes in again. There are some great ones at Bossinney, Tintagel, Chapel Porth, and Hartland Quay. If you miss the tide though, see the next one…

11. Go on a Saltwater Safari. If you love coastal exploring and don’t mind swimming or jumping a bit then you’ll adore Coasteering. It was invented by the boys and girls at TYF Adventure in Wales but now there are lots of people taking excited kids out to explore the coast. One of the best in North Cornwall is Smudge at Saltwater Safari. Call him and book a session! You’ll love it.

Find the seaweed zones. Did you know that seaweed grows in zones? See if you can find them. On days with low tides you’ll be able to see the colours change the closer you get to the sea. Start with the greens (Sea Lettuce and Gutweed) at the high tide mark, find the reds (Dulse and Laver) and paddle to see the browns (kelps and wracks). See https://goo.gl/x6Sgeu for more.