Katy Holland: This year, tell the kids to take a running jump
Are We There Yet? May I suggest you go and jump off a cliff?
Sunday 09 January 2011
If you're in search of inspiration for a family adventure this year, may I suggest you go and jump off a cliff?
I don't mean to be rude, but it's fast becoming the activity for families looking for thrills – otherwise known as coasteering – and is taking place right now at rocky outlets across the country.
The theory is that hurling yourself en famille from precipices, sliding over slippery rocks and splashing around in freezing water is enjoyable – bonding, even. You simply explore the shore by whatever means necessary: jumping, swimming, slithering, abseiling and scrambling your way along otherwise inaccessible parts of some of the UK's most beautiful coastlines.
But before you come over all health and safety on me, it can be done only with qualified instructors, and with the proper safety gear: hard helmets, wetsuits, buoyancy aids, etc. Oh, and it's not usually suitable for children under 12, although some of the more family-friendly companies will organise special courses for youngsters. As my 14-year-old puts it: "You get to do everything you're not usually allowed to do."
Not surprising, then, that coasteering looks set to blow all those boring old kids' activities like sailing and surfing out of the water. Mark Handford, director or Snowdonia Adventures (01286 879044; snowdonia-adventures. co.uk) says youngsters are increasingly keen to give it a go. "Over the past year, we've noticed a rising number of families inquiring about our courses. It's an ideal activity for a short break for families."
Other family-friendly companies offering this adrenaline-pumping experience include Welsh "glamping" experts Fforest (01239 623633; coldatnight .co.uk), which organises special family coasteering days along the Pembrokeshire coast, and The Kids and Me (01892 530193; thekidsandme .co.uk), specialists in single-parent adventure holidays. Or, for some daredevilry Scottish-style, take a few days at Raasay House, off the Isle of Skye (01478 660266; active.visitscotland .com), a beautiful setting to try your hand at outdoor pursuits.
After all, it's not every day you can tell the kids to take a running jump...
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