With Britain’s coastal hotspots expected to be full for the summer holidays this year, we're coming to the rescue with some inspiration for free-range fun for families planning their travels post lockdown.
What’s more, there are still plenty of great value for money options with space for peak summer travel for camping, glamping, cosy cottages, boutique hotels and gastropubs.
These seven new trip ideas show how swapping the crowded coast for messing about on the River Wye or venturing up Hergest Ridge to walk with the wild ponies would be an appealing way to make the most of precious family time away.
1. Multi Day Canoe Trip Adventure
Escape from lockdown by taking to the water - come paddling on the photogenic River Wye with camping overnight en route! There are lots of good companies which arrange canoe hire such as Canoe the Wye which offers guided and self-guided trips.
Try the three day Hereford to Symonds Yat trip. Spend a couple of days exploring the cathedral city and its hipster foodie scene before enjoying camping at Tresseck Park in the lovely village of Hoarwithy; spotting peregrine falcon and deer; vintage hunting and ice creams in Ross-on-Wye, ancient castles, including Goodrich, & elegant suspension bridges and perfect picnic spots.
To complete the week, book into the YHA Wye Valley for three nights. Set in 25 acres bang on the banks of the River Wye it even has its own canoe landing station – ideal for families keen to get back out on the water to try out paddle boarding and wild swimming. Those that want to stay on dry land will enjoy the miles of surrounding walking and cycling trails such as the Peregrine Path.
2. Fast & Furious Adrenaline Breaks
After months of homeschooling, what better blow out than an adventure break including high ropes, axe throwing, archery and quad trekking? All of these activities can be enjoyed by combining time at Oaker Wood Leisure - a specialist outdoors activity centre, and Viking Games - where you can try six traditional Nordic games amongst other activities.
They are about a 55 minute drive apart so either base yourself up near Oaker Wood which offers exclusive use glamping for family groups; or down near the Viking Games either on site in one of their 'Belle Tents' or at one of the nearby B&Bs, barns or farmstays.
3. Wild about Wildlife Adventures
Families looking for a big hit of native wildlife will enjoy hiking with wild ponies at Hergest Ridge near Kington, llama treks with local farmers and visits to Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s excellent collection of nature reserves.
Stay on a farm to feel really close to nature, check out our selection of farm stays in the Stay section. Another option is White Heron's collection of cottages with outside swimming pool and access to a 700-acre estate.
4. Dog-friendly Escapes
Many families who invested in a lockdown puppy over the last year will be looking for dog friendly holidays this year. Herefordshire is a county which welcomes pooches with open arms. There are great walking trails including the Mortimer Trail and Wye Valley Walk; and a wide range of dog friendly accommodation to choose from.
Farm stays and self catering cottages such as Flanesford - a collection of eight characterful cottages with some lovely historic features – make for a great base.
5. History Buffs & Literary Lovers
Kids and grown ups alike will enjoy exploring the county’s Iron Age Hill Forts, Stone Age Burial Chambers, castles, museums, churches and ancient battlegrounds. Trying on the medieval helmets at Eastnor Castle near Ledbury is great family fun as is exploring Longtown Castle dating back to the 12th century with magnificent views over the Black Mountains. Other local favourites include Wigmore Castle and Richard’s Castle. There is also much to discover in Hereford city itself, including the Mappa Mundi in Hereford Cathedral.
For those interested in ley lines, 2021 marks the centenary of their discovery by Alfred Watkins. Visit Herefordshire will be launching a guide to Watkins explaining the significance of his revelation that a system of straight lines criss-crossed the countryside worldwide, and that these tracks connect ancient spiritual sites.
On the book front, fans of C S Lewis will enjoy spending time in the Golden Valley – his inspiration for Narnia, and those that love John Masefield’s The Box of Delights will enjoy literary Ledbury where John was born.
Hay-on-Wye with its bookshops and cafes is a delight in itself and makes for a great base for this type of trip. Two other perfectly historic places to stay are Feathers Hotel in Ledbury and The Green Dragon Hotel in Hereford.
6. Tipi Stays, Cider Cycling & a Secret Beach
In 2020 Visit Herefordshire launched two new cider cycling circuits which link some of the county’s best cider producers. Families keen on exploring by two wheels will love these routes which combine stunning rural scenery with some great orchards, farms and family friendly pubs. The kids will need to stick to the homemade apple juice but the parents can reward themselves with a cold cider at the end of a day out and about!
The routes can be done by experienced cyclists over a day, or broken up, with families enjoying shorter sections such as exploring the cider producers of Much Marcle and visiting Hellens Manor, Westons Cider with its playground and Greggs Pit. Mix up the bike riding with some river activities such as paddle boarding or kayaking would be a great combination.
And, there’s a wide choice of farmstays, B&Bs, gorgeous glamping, hip hostels or cosy cottages to suit. A firm family favourite is White House Glamping near Ross on Wye which ties in very nicely with the southern cider circuit. Boasting a secret ‘beach’, outdoor cinema, firepits, a lovely dairy farm and direct river access, these five tipis firmly tick the wholesome family fun boxes.
7. Pre-school Parent Friendly
Frazzled families with pre-schoolers in tow looking for a relaxing escape this summer will also be catered for well. Pottering around National Trust properties such as the glorious Berrington Hall, Croft Castle and Brockhampton make for leisurely days out with family friendly cafes and adventure playgrounds aplenty. Hampton Court Castle is a great place for little ones to let off steam and its fabulous café and gardens will keep the grown ups happy too!
Locals in the know enjoy Rowlestone Ice Cream with its ice cream parlour, play area, woodland adventure trail and campsite. But some of the best moments of a family holiday in Herefordshire will be playing by the riverbank and having a picnic in a gorgeous scenic spot.
Parents can be reassured that the foodie scene in Herefordshire is thriving, so good local produce served by cafes, restaurants and farm shops is guaranteed. There’s even a cornucopia of soft fruits ripe for picking at farms across the county – many of which welcome families for ‘pick your own’ experiences.
Wet days are covered if families book a cosy cottage to hole up in, and experiences like family crafts at Eastnor Pottery make for great fun. Animal lovers will enjoy feeding ponies and goats at Newbridge Park Farm near Ledbury and there is an awesome outdoor play area. The Small Breeds Farm Park and Owl Centre in Kington is home to a wonderful collection of miniature, rare and friendly creatures guaranteed to delight guests of all ages.
For a real treat and for those missing their swimming sessions, book into one of the cottages at Lakes Edge.