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How To Plan An Adventure Holiday For The Family

Action-packed UK activities for all the family

Lazing around on sun loungers holds zero appeal for kids. But climbing a mountain, mucking about on boats, screaming at the top of their voices as they whizz down a zip wire? Yes, those are the sort of adrenaline-filled adventures kids love - and all the thrills, spills and laughs will bond you even more as a family. Best of all, rather than wasting precious holiday time in airport queues and hire car harrassment, you can make the most of your time and money with an action-packed holiday in beautiful locations throughout the UK.

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Here are some taster ideas for adventure holiday activities in the UK.

High speed thrills

Zip World Velocity is the longest zip line in Europe and the fastest in the world, reaching speeds in excess of 100mph for children aged 10 upwards with accompanying adults. Since the exhilarating Welsh zip opened Zipworld has expanded with memorable adventures in stunning locations, including the UK’s only Alpine Coaster, high rope courses and Zip Wire London on the South Bank for the summer months. Check out for location details, age restrictions and places to stay.

Go Ape have woodland locations throughout the UK, perfect for a fun day out with tree-top climbs and zip wires.

Surf’s up

Cornwall and Devon are ideal for learning to ride a wave, with surf schools dotted along the South West’s north coast for beginners and families. Nothing beats the excitement of getting up on the board - and riding your first wave, however teeny. And for thrills without the balance, body boarding is a whole lot of fun too.

Messing about on the water

Paddling down calm canals in canoes or exploring coastal caves by sea kayak is a wonderful experience for the whole family. If you are new to canoeing you’ll be amazed at what a wonderful feeling it is just simply being out on the water. You can can find out where to enjoy a starter session, take a guided tour en famille or discover new water routes near you at Go Canoeing.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

It’s the fastest growing sport in the world, primarily because it suits every age and level of fitness. You can SUP in the sea or in rivers. For a family trip with a difference, why not book an activity break at Activity Holidays on the River Dee, including SUP sessions, kayaking, canoeing and white water rafting while staying at a log cabin with its very own hot pool to relax tired muscles.

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On yer bikes, get set, go

Cycling as a family is a whole different scene from stressful city traffic dodging on your commute, with competitive dashes mixed with time to chat as you pass glorious countryside.

Get away from the traffic and choose a national cycle network route that best suits your kids’ ages and family style - sprints through woodlands, blood-pumping mountainous climbs or leisurely lanes and canal paths. The British Cycling Federation has lots of route suggestions too.

And to ramp up the adrenaline with vertiginous drops and hilltop peddling, what about a mountain biking family adventure? There are world-class trail centres throughout the UK. You can book a family taster session or a full beginners’ course at

Go climbing

Many indoor climbing walls will offer family taster sessions where you can all have a go at scaling beginner routes. You can find a wall near you on the British Mountaineering Council’s site.

But for a real white-knuckle climb, no training needed, head to Honister Slate Mine in the Lake District and Via Ferrata - a series of steel ladders and bridges following a Victorian miners’ route along the cliffs to the summit of Fleetwith Pike, at 2,126ft. Not scary enough? Try Via Ferrata Extreme, a rock face climb along rows of drilled iron hand and footholds and crossing a Burma bridge between two cliff faces. For a stay, you can book self-catering cottages with garden hot-tubs. Imagine sitting in the hot tub as a family replaying your days’ adventures.

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Go camping

Kids love camping. It fulfills all their dreams of outdoor adventuring - snuggled up together under canvas, collecting wood for the fire, sitting round a campfire telling stories and roasting marshmallows on sticks.

Go wild with your kids

As part of its 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾ initiative, which aims to encourage families to get outdoors and enjoy spending time together, recently the National Trust ran research revealing that just how much we love seeing our child running wild and carefree - but that the average child only spends an hour and 20 minutes outside a day, compared to their grandparents’ three and a half hours a day outdoor childhoods.

As inspiration, take a look at the list: ’50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾’

  1. Climb a tree

  2. Roll down a really big hill

  3. Camp out in the wild

  4. Build a den

  5. Skim a stone

  6. Run around in the rain

  7. Fly a kite

  8. Catch a fish with a net

  9. Eat an apple straight from a tree

  10. Play conkers

  11. Go on a really long bike ride

  12. Make a trail with sticks

  13. Make a mud pie

  14. Dam a stream

  15. Play in the snow

  16. Make a daisy chain

  17. Set up a snail race

  18. Create some wild art

  19. Play pooh sticks

  20. Jump over waves

  21. Pick blackberries growing in the wild

  22. Explore inside a tree

  23. Visit a farm

  24. Go on a walk barefoot

  25. Make a grass trumpet

  26. Hunt for fossils and bones

  27. Go star gazing

  28. Climb a huge hill

  29. Explore a cave

  30. Hold a scary beast

  31. Hunt for bugs

  32. Find some frogspawn

  33. Catch a falling leaf

  34. Track wild animals

  35. Discover what’s in a pond

  36. Make a home for a wild animal

  37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool

  38. Bring up a butterfly

  39. Catch a crab

  40. Go on a nature walk at night

  41. Plant it, grow it, eat it

  42. Go swimming in the sea

  43. Build a raft

  44. Go bird watching

  45. Find your way with a map and compass

  46. Try rock climbing

  47. Cook on a campfire

  48. Learn to ride a horse

  49. Find a geocache

  50. Canoe down a river

So, if you love having a great time together, sharing memories and seeing your children’s confidence grow, then it’s time to organise a UK adventure break or, at the very least, give your children opportunities to enjoy some of these outdoor adventures