WHERE TO GO
CENTRAL The middle of the UK is an overlooked gem. The bleak marshes and fenlands of the East contrast with the rolling hills of the Cotswolds and the industrial heritage of the Midlands. Explore the country’s heritage and find peace in her gentle countryside.
Just getting to Orford Ness National Nature Reserve (nationaltrust. org.uk/orford-nessnational-naturereserve) is an adventure; you cross a small sound by boat. It’s a wild, wind-whipped place; a shingle spit dotted with curious buildings left over from the atomic testing programme, many that you can explore,
DOVEDALE - PEAK DISTRICT
climb and go inside to find out more. Some of the structures are still shrouded in mystery, and the history of the adjacent, huge, Cobra Mist radar station is fascinating – read up before you visit. Take a trail across the Reserve to spot migrating birds, sea peas clinging to the stones, Chinese water deer, brown hares and birds of prey, or throw pebbles into the North sea.
The Peak District is a quietly excellent place for family holidays; heart-soaring scenery, plenty of things to do with kids, and a friendly welcome. Dovedale (nationaltrust.org.uk/ ilam-park-dovedaleand-the-white-peak) is a nature-packed place for an easy family day out. Walk across the 19th century stepping stones, spot the fossils in the craggy Lovers Leap, and take in some truly spectacular views. There are caves, and arches formed from erosion, in the gorge – more adventurous families might try rock climbing, those without equipment can ascend Thorpe Cloud to be rewarded with a marvellous view. The deep limestone gorge is home to lots of shallow pools – cool off your sore walking feet with a paddle at the end of the day.
RE-CHALKING THE WHITE HORSE
If it’s space you’re after, it doesn’t get much airier than White Horse Hill (nationaltrust.org. uk/white-horse-hill) in Oxfordshire. The most rolling of rolling countrysides come to a gentle peak here, with views across six counties. Even on a still day, you’ll find a gentle breeze – bring your kite and watch it soar. Climb the hill to look at the prehistoric white horse carved into the grass – it’s a special, sacred-feeling place, even if we don’t have a clue why it was created. Make the most of the hill by tumbling down to the bottom of it, or neighbouring Dragon Hill, said to be where St George slew his dragon. If the horse has put you into the mood for more ancient history, walk a mile to the west to Wayland’s Smithy, a neolithic long barrow and tomb.
FAMILY HOLIDAY GUIDE 2016