Katy Holland: Are We There Yet?

Get off the sofa, it's great outdoors
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The Independent Travel

Spring is in the air, but my kids won't get off the sofa. They're in need of a weekend in the countryside. And where better to put a spring in their step than the National Forest in the Midlands?

There are 200 square miles of forest to explore and, for 2008, the Youth Hostels Association National Forest (0870 770 8868; yha.org.uk) has opened an eco-friendly lodge with en-suite rooms and a licensed restaurant.

Kids will have tons to do there: the Conkers Discovery Centre has a challenging assault course; there's a new indoor Enchanted Forest; laser combat sessions in the woods; llama treks; and a science and discovery park (visit nationalforest.org.)

For more fun and adventure, head for Kent, where your little monkeys will love the new Go Ape! Adventure course (0845 643 9251; goape.co.uk) opening at Leeds Castle this month. Think tree-top canopies, rope bridges, Tarzan-style swings and zipwires. Child-friendly accommodation includes the Marriott Tudor Park in Maidstone (0162 273 4334; marriotttudorpark.co.uk).

If you want luxury with your countryside adventure, go to Bovey Castle (01647 445000; boveycastle.com). Set in the glorious surroundings of Dartmoor National Park, is relaunching its Rangers programme for children aged five to 15, with an array of activities including archery, nature walks, pony trekking – and ferret racing. A breath of fresh air for all couch potatoes.