Long summer days, fresh air, beautiful surroundings: the essential ingredients for the perfect family adventure. Take a break from the everyday life of computer screens, commuting and domestic chores and get everyone canoeing, cycling, horse riding, snorkeling, bivouacking, water trampolining … or even milking cows.
HuffPost UK Lifestyle, in conjunction with Jack Wolfskin, brings you 10 fun ideas for active holidays for all the family. You’ll also find Jack Wolfskin’s range of products will kit out your children as well as yourselves, bringing the same high standards of hi-tech design and durability to inner and outer clothes, footwear, sleeping bags and accessories.
The same Texapore waterproof yet breathable materials are used in boys’ Rascal and girls’ Purple Rain hiking shoes. In addition, you’ll find kids’ Wild River, Water Rat or Seven Seas sandals ideal for canoeing, sailing, paddling in the sea or messing about on the beach.
There’s really no excuse then to leave your children behind this summer; you’re guaranteed to have your very own entourage of mini-alpinists, sailors, trekkers and cyclists!
1. Stay on a working farm in Devon, UK
Roll up your sleeves and get stuck into all kinds of old-fashioned countryside activities at Aller Farm near Stockland, Devon. Learn to milk a cow, feed the calves, build dens (with special kits provided), scrump for apples in the orchards, toast marshmallows on the camp fire, take trips to the beach a few miles away and generally run amok. An added bonus is that the River Cottage Canteen and Deli is located close by. For accommodation, tents are provided, and you can even have a private hot tub and shower set up outside your tent. Baby equipment is also laid on, and pets are welcome too.
2. Cycling holidays – Holland
Holland is the ideal location for family holidays on two wheels. Cycle paths are flat and mostly asphalted, and there’s no shortage of rental companies that will kit out all the family (consider <a href="http://wheel2wheelholidays.com/" target="_blank">Wheel2Wheel</a> for example). Hire your bikes and helmets in Amsterdam and pedal along the canals and through the parks before heading out to the historic cities of Den Haag, Delft and Rotterdam. Accommodation (camping, hostels and guesthouses) is plentiful and reasonably priced. Jack Wolfskin produce <a href="http://www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk/equipment/bags-and-travel-bags.aspx" target="_blank">10- and 15-litre courier bags</a> to stow your belongings, and you might also consider investing in their waterproof-yet-breathable <a href="http://www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk/apparel/children/all-jackets.aspx" target="_blank">softshell jackets</a> (available in children’s sizes too).
3. Sailing – Greece
Learn to sail as a family in Greece, and you won’t risk putting your children off for life because of freezing water or muddy shoes. Soak up the sun instead in the safe environment of Club Vounaki (run by <a href="http://www.sunsail.co.uk/" target="_blank">Sunsail</a>), and take advantage of opportunities for dinghy sailing and yacht and catamaran charters, using the latest equipment and expert instruction for all levels of experience. And if some members of the family really do insist on keeping their feet on dry land, there’s free use of mountain bikes, tennis courts and a gym, as well as ‘Minnows’ childcare for ages 4 months to 2 years and a variety of kids’ activity clubs for other age groups.
4. Walking in Austria, Sound of Music-style
Head for the flower-strewn pastures of the Tyrolean Alps for a holiday straight out of 'The Sound of Music'. Choose your route along the well-marked paths according to your stamina and appetite for altitude and you’ll encounter unspoilt valleys and idyllic villages along the way. Mountain trains, funiculars and cable cars will give tired legs a rest for sections of the journey. Companies such as <a href="http://www.inntravel.co.uk/" target="_blank">Inntravel </a>can organise itineraries with comfortable hotels with pools and spas to soothe sore feet and aching limbs. They’ll also arrange for your luggage to be transferred to each port of call, so all you’ll need during the day is a light pack (such as <a href="http://www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk/equipment/rucksacks/alpine-rucksacks.aspx" target="_blank">Jack Wolfskin’s Stowaway 22</a>) for water bottles and other necessities.
5. Moose spotting in Norway
Outdoorsy activities are a way of life in Norway, and at Gålå Høg¬fjellshotell you too can participate in a whole range of bracing pastimes, including fishing, cycling, walking and even a moose safari. Accommodation is in wooden cabins (with grass growing on the roofs, their own saunas and wood-burning stoves). If you’re feeling particularly hardy, there’s the prospect a freshwater swim early in the morning (though doubtless many will still prefer the heated swimming pool instead). And for your packing list, don’t forget <a href="http://www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk/footwear.aspx" target="_blank">boots</a>, <a href="http://www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk/apparel/men/all-jackets.aspx" target="_blank">jackets</a> and <a href="http://www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk/apparel/men/fleece.aspx" target="_blank">fleeces</a> to insulate yourself against the northern climate.
6. Canoeing – France
Canoeing on the Gorge du Tarn in southwest France offers gentle drifting waters as well as foaming rapids, so families can take their pick to suit ages and abilities. Companies such as Aigue Vive (<a href="http://www.canoekayakgorgesdutarn.com" target="_blank">www.canoekayakgorgesdutarn.com</a>) run shuttle buses that drop you and your canoe off at the start of the day, and pick you up again at the end to take you back to your campsite or gîte. One, two and even three-person canoes are available, and when the river’s high there’s rafting too (with instructors).
7. Walking with donkeys – Spain
Walking <em>en famille</em> in the province of Segovia, just north of Madrid, is made a lot easier when you’re accompanied by your own donkey. Children take turns to ride or lead their trusty steed as you follow ancient droving paths through protected countryside where birds of prey circle overhead and deer flee at your approach. Trip organisers <a href="http://www.inntravel.co.uk/" target="_blank">Inntravel</a> will arrange for your luggage to be ferried from hotel to hotel so you can travel unencumbered.
8. Underwater exploration – Greece
Discover a world of underwater adventure at Cape Sounio near Athens. Run by the son of Jacques Cousteau, the greatest marine explorer of them all, these week-long holidays are on offer from April to October each year, and provide children aged four to 12 the opportunities for snorkelling expeditions, underwater photography, studying tides, astronomy and even ‘junk to funk’ recycling experiments. Accommodation is in bungalows and villas set around the main swimming pool, and facilities also include an indoor heated pool, a separate children’s pool, tennis courts and a free children’s club for the littler ones.
9. Corralea Activity Centre – Northern Ireland
Corralea offers fun, healthy and green activities in the beautiful setting of the Fermanagh Lakeland. There’s canoeing, water trampolining, surfing and windsurfing, mountain biking, climbing, archery and even orienteering. You can visit for a day or stay a weekend or longer in the self-catering cottages nestled amidst natural woodland. And while you’re there, don’t miss out on nearby attractions such as the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark or the romantic monastic ruins of Devenish Island or the grand houses and forest parks of the National Trust’s Florence Court, Castle Coole and Castle Archdale.
10. Horse riding – Spain
Head for the mountains of Southern Spain to a finca that runs horseriding breaks for all the family (<a href="http://www.unicorntrails.com/europe/spain/andalusiaretreat"target="_blank">www.unicorntrails.com/europe/spain/andalusiaretreat</a>). Some may just want to have lessons on the Andalusian horses; others may feel more adventurous and follow the paths that wind through the mountains. And when you’re feeling a little saddle-sore, relax in the swimming pool, doze in a hammock in the orange groves, or head for the beaches only a short drive away.