Get out into the gardens of our historic houses, which are aiming to keep families occupied with a programme of activities throughout the holidays.
The grounds of Warwick Castle in the Midlands will be alive with entertainment – including the opportunity to come face-to-face with Merlin's The Great Dragon and to watch the Flight of the Eagles display over the castle ramparts. Book online in advance to get 30 per cent off a Kingdom Ticket, which gains entry to the castle and attractions (warwick-castle.com). Just one of the outdoor options at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is The Little Explorers Tour, which encourages children to burn off excess energy by roaming deep into the heart of the garden in search of the young Queen Victoria's "squirty willow tree" – or the Emperor fountain, which puts on a show with its 60-foot flume (chatsworth.org). Kids can try circus skills, as well as watch a magic show and balloon modelling and being amused by strolling entertainers at Lincolnshire's Burghley House which hosts the Jester's Fair on 6-7 August (visithidden england.com).
In the south-west, Prior Park Landscape Garden near Bath is offering children the chance to scale new heights at The Big Tree Climb, 22-27 August, when they can experience the exhilaration of climbing and zip-wiring from the treetops (nationaltrust.org.uk). Meanwhile, families can lose themselves in the maze and mythical grotto in the grounds of Kent's Leeds Castle every day this summer (treasurehouses.co.uk). Try the geocaching craze at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire tomorrow, and on three further dates in August, when you can master the art of the treasure hunt for the digital age (nationaltrust.org.uk).
Choose one of three dates to take a stroll on the really wild side when families can join the Reptile Walk at Avon Heath Country Park in Dorset on 27 July, and 10 and 22 August. The heath is home to all six of Britain's species of reptile and some top tracking tips should help you spot them (dorsetforyou.com). And kids can continue the nature detective work at Hughenden Manor, in Buckinghamshire, on a Beasts and Butterflies Walk led by the property wardens on 27 and 29 July and 3 August (nationaltrust.org.uk).
The London Wetland Centre has organised various nature-themed activities for families, including pond-dipping and a self-guided wildlife and wetlands trail, from 1 August-4 September (wwt.org.uk). Kids can grab their magnifying glasses and follow the Victorian guide to explore the minute world of minibeasts on the Time Travellers Go Ugly Bug Safari at Witley Court & Gardens in Worcestershire on 9 August (english-heritage.org.uk). While in the south-west, Ramscombe Great Wood in the Quantock Hills in Somerset is offering Wildlife Watching for Kids on 14 August, when they can discover the fauna of the forest, including an encounter with a rare-breed owl (quantockhills.com/events). Meanwhile, from 28-29 August the restored two-acre Kitchen Garden at Lincolnshire's Doddington Hall is inviting families to search for mini-beasts, complete a Unicorn Quest, and follow the Kitchen Garden Trail, familiarising themselves with the scents of home-grown herbs along the way (visithiddenengland.com).
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