LOCKDOWN has certainly been a long, intense few months for all of us, and especially for children, who haven’t seen a classroom or mucked around in a school playground since March (and many of whom now won’t until September).
As lockdown eases this weekend, there’s an opportunity to relieve the cabin fever and head out for days of adventure and discovery. We all know that it’s better to be outside than in and with many outdoor attractions now welcoming visitors, family days out are an option once again. Zoos, safari parks, theme parks, gardens, and the grounds of historic sites have put in place a range of protective measures to ensure the risk of exposure to Covid-19 is low.
With many attractions running at reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing, it’s a chance to enjoy some of the most popular places without the crowds and interminable queues. Get those picnics packed!
The Bear Grylls Adventure
Thrill-seeking kids (and adults) will be beside themselves with excitement with the all-action adventures to dive into at the ex-SAS and TV personality’s theme park (pictured top and above). Experiences include an assault course designed to test endurance, strength and agility; a wind tunnel giving you a taste of skydiving at 12,000 feet; a high-ropes challenge with 36 obstacles to tackle; snorkelling with reef sharks and rays; plus archery, climbing walls and escape room challenges. Activities are mostly for kids aged eight and over. From tomorrow, beargryllsadventure.com
Peppa Pig World
The multiple award-winning theme park dedicated to the slightly mean kids’ TV character who loves muddy puddles is toddler heaven and happy ones make for happy parents. Peppa Pig World is actually one part of the much bigger Paultons Park Theme Park, which has about 70 rides and attractions, including rollercoasters and water rides, spread across the 140 acre site on the edge of the New Forest. Unsurprisingly, it sold out on its reopening weekend, so get in there quick for your fill of Peppa and her family. From tomorrow, peppapigworld.co.uk
Why not get into the great outdoors and ‘breathe’ as 45 historic English Heritage sites and their magnificent grounds reopen this weekend, with more planned for August. Take your pick from testing your eyesight at Barnard Castle in Durham, which dates to Norman times, and exploring Tintagel Castle on the breathtaking Cornish coastline (pictured), steeped in the legend of King Arthur. Or have a nose around the remains of the fourth largest city in Roman Britain, Viriconium (Wroxeter in the Midlands). From tomorrow, english-heritage.org.uk
The post-lockdown drive-in movies phenomenon has plenty on offer for kids, with screenings of enduring favourites. Luna Cinema at Warwick Castle’s site, for example, is showing Jurassic Park (above), Mrs Doubtfire and The Little Mermaid, among others. There’s also the excitement of doing something unusual, and more sedate — depending on how much sugar they’ve had. From tomorrow, various venues, lunadriveincinema.com
The popular theme park dedicated to operating diggers, dumpers and construction machinery, reopens its four sites in Devon, Kent, Durham and Yorkshire next weekend. Entry will be restricted to 500 visitors per day, to ensure social distancing is maintained. You can’t take kids on rides if they are aged under two-and-a-half. There’s also gentle attractions and rides such as the Skyshuttle and Diggerland Train, as well as the adrenalin-charged Spindizzy and actual JCBs to get to grips with. Expect to find fully grown humans letting their inner Bob The Builder run amok. From July 11, diggerland.com
The theme park and hotels throw open their doors this weekend, with most of the rides and attractions still in operation. They include LEGO Studios 4D shows, as well as distanced meet and greets with characters (pictured above). Aimed at three to 12-year-olds, the 150-acre site will be operating at a reduced capacity, so booking is essential. From tomorrow, legoland.co.uk
The stars of Edinburgh Zoo are the only two giant pandas in the UK, Tian Tian and Yang Guang (pictured above), who have a thing or two to teach us about social distancing. And you can get to view these solitary animals — mating season aside — in their outdoor enclosures. You can see penguins frolicking in Europe’s largest penguin pool — 65m — including a diving board, and swamp wallabies hopping around an outback exhibit. At the time of writing, Scotland is closed to outside visitors so Edinburgh Zoo is currently only open to people living in Scotland. edinburghzoo.org.uk
NT has reopened the grounds and gardens of more than 100 of its sites in England and Northern Ireland, but the houses remain closed. You can still go for a proper hike, ramble, stroll or picnic in woodland on the North Downs, see waterfalls in Cumbria, prehistoric stone circles in Wiltshire, quintessential Victorian gardens in Staffordshire, and a coastal nature reserve in Norfolk. Booking is essential. Wales is working to a different timetable, so many National Trust sites there remain closed — check for up to date information. nationaltrust.org.uk
The expansive 30 acre gardens, Rainforest and Mediterranean Biomes are open now. Kids ought to love the waterfall and totem sculptures, and there’s 1,000 types of plant to navigate, too. One-way systems are in place in the education centre, where you can gorp at Peter Randall-Page’s 167 tonne Seed Sculpture, above. It’s free for NHS and care workers, but you have to book. edenproject.com
STAY COVID SAFE!
All venues we’ve spoken to have put in substantial safeguards to ensure your children can play safely and remain socially distanced. Check websites before heading out to see requirements. Common measures include:
■ Reduced capacity and timed slots, so booking is essential
■ Wearing masks is recommended
■ Hand-washing stations
■ Staff wearing PPE
■ Temperature checks on entry