14 family-friendly activities to enjoy in the Cotswolds this summer

Grab your camera or smartphone and pick up tips from expert wildlife (c) Iain Green

Grab your camera or smartphone and pick up tips from expert wildlife (c) Iain Green - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

School summer holidays are looming, and luckily there’s no shortage of boredom-busting activities on the doorstep connecting children to nature and the beautiful Cotswolds landscapes. Here are 14 fun, adventurous, creative ways to help keep everyone happy (and healthy) in the great outdoors

For lots of cycling route ideas around the Cotswolds, visit www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk (c) monkeybusin

For lots of cycling route ideas around the Cotswolds, visit www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk (c) monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

1. For a pedal-powered day out, head to Blenheim Palace for its annual Family Cycling Day, August 12. Spin along trails around Queen Pool or the park perimeter and maybe refuel with a picnic – why rush a World Heritage Site?

2. For lots of cycling route ideas around the Cotswolds, over hills and along the flat, plus cycle hire information, see cotswoldsaonb.org.uk.

Painswick Rococo Garden (c) flowersandclassicalmusic / Getty Images

Painswick Rococo Garden (c) flowersandclassicalmusic / Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. How do you get that brilliant nature shot? Grab your camera or smartphone and pick up tips from expert wildlife photographer Iain Green on a Family Fun with Photography morning exploring Greystones Nature Reserve, Bourton-on-the-Water, July 26; for bookings see gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk.

4. Meanwhile two-hour Family Sharpshooters Photography Workshops at Batsford Arboretum, Moreton-in-Marsh, encourage you to look for colours, patterns and textures, with ‘explore and capture’ challenges set by photographer Alan Ranger. Book your session, July 30, August 7 or 29, here.

5. Technology keeps kids indoors glued to screens? Geocaching – treasure hunting with a GPS-enabled phone or similar device – gets everyone stretching legs as well as minds. The geocache trail running the full length of the Cotswold Way from Chipping Campden to Bath encourages oodles of fresh-air exercise with stunning views en route.

6. Don’t forget the Cotswolds AONB Hare Trail! Those colourful creatures are hiding in the centres of towns, at the corners of villages and tucked in hidden valleys – how many can you find? With prizes on offer there’s even more incentive to get out exploring.

7. Go on safari and maybe capture a gallery of flora and fauna on your smartphone to share with friends. Cotswolds nature reserves are ideal places to get spotting creatures large and small, birds, butterflies and flowers in woodland, meadow and quarry landscapes. Check out Browne’s Folly, Bathford, Foxholes near Burford, Radway Meadows and Gloucestershire’s diverse reserves.

8. Also go birding at Cotswold Water Park, a haven for flying visits. Check the bird blog and download a birds leaflet for tips on where to find what – kingfishers, green sandpipers, great crested grebes. Let off steam with activities from cycling to boating.

9. Share adventures at Wilderness, Cornbury Park, August 2-5, celebrating creativity, nature and the wild. From circus, music and magical mayhem to games exploring woodland, crafts workshops, twilight tales and overnight camping: let them run wild.

10. Tree climbing, cooking from ‘field to fork’, camping, ‘little dudes’ Haystack Mountain fun, and the chance to meet Paddington and The Gruffalo – just some of the reasons to head for The Big Feastival at Alex James’ Farm near Kingham, August 24-26. Oh, and the fab music line-up.

11. Step off the beaten track to BBC Springwatch sites on Ranger Walks at Sherborne Park; enjoy toddler trails and the new discovery tree trail at Dyrham Park; tackle wobble beams and balance bridges on Woodchester Park play trail – these and many more adventures await at National Trust properties.

12. Roll down a really big hill, make a daisy chain and tick off other ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾‘ at Newark Park, Ozleworth. A special Wildlife Week, August 13-19, also features a wildlife trail in Newark’s gardens, nature crafts and bug hunting with the ranger.

13. Walk, run, jump, fly a kite; learn about butterflies and rare flora and fauna on Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons – maybe treat yourselves to tasty ice cream from Winstones afterwards. Escape to Selsley Common; take a self-guided family walk on Cleeve Common or join Summer Holiday Family Fun activities, August 3, 17 & 31.

14. Experience the theatrical nature of Painswick Rococo Garden brought to life by swashbuckling outdoor performances of The Three Musketeers, August 26 & 27. Download a Westonbirt Summer Play booklet and learn how to measure a ‘tree giant’ in the National Arboretum or make a sundial from natural objects.

For further information on the Cotswolds AONB and the Cotswold Conservation Board, visit the website here.