Farmstay in mid-Wales
Among the hills and rivers of the Upper Wye Valley, just north of Rhayader, sits Nannerth Fawr Farm, a 200-acre working farm that ticks every box as far as family spring breaks are concerned. There are river and woodland walks, purpose-built cycle routes (borrow bikes by arrangement or bring your own), an outdoor play area with castle and playhouse, games room with pool and table tennis, falconry sessions (book in advance), a hide above a badger sett and lambing, which is timed to coincide with the Easter holidays so children can help with feeding. And that’s just the farm itself. The farm’s two self-catering cottages are fully booked over Easter but there is still availabilty in the Loft, a top-floor apartment which sleeps two but a cot bed can be booked, so would be perfect for a couple with a toddler. Plus the gypsy caravan and showman’s trailer. Or, if you’re feeling brave, there’s the campsite. Real fires are allowed on site and you can hire camping equipment if you don’t have your own.
• The Loft costs £251 for a week at Easter, camping costs £5pp per night (£6pp if you want a hot shower and loo). The caravan and trailer cost from £202 for a two-night stay. nannerth.co.uk, 01597 811121
Gypsy caravan tour of Cumbria
Thanks to the popularity of glamping, gypsy caravans have gone from rare relic to two-a-penny at posh campsites across Britain. But finding one that you can actually tour in is a different matter, which is why the trips offered by Wanderlusts are so special. Run by Barny Maurice, who joined the circus when he was 16 and has been travelling ever since, Wanderlusts offers the chance to explore remote, off-the-beaten-track Cumbria and Northumbria in a horse-drawn gypsy caravan – crafted by Barny himself. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as you travel on quiet country roads, stopping to set up camp in wild meadows or by lakes or rivers. The company also offers pack pony treks into the Cumbrian fells, camping wild and cooking over a fire in stunning locations, using a pack pony to carry some of the gear.
• The caravan costs from £150 per night for two adults, children £20 per night, for a guided trip (minimum two-night booking). There is still some availability over the Easter weekend. wanderlusts.co.uk, 07815 439130
Bluebell walking break in south Wiltshire
Bluebell woods, country inns, ancient woodlands buzzing with bird chatter … if you’re craving spring colour after yet another cold snap, this new walking break, available in April and May, will banish all memory of grey winter trees and frozen muddy fields. On these three- or four-day trips, walkers are given easy-to-follow trail cards, leading them on a route chosen to make the most of spring flower displays – see yellow archangels, wild garlic and wood anemone, as well as bluebells – stopping in historic villages en route and staying in a country inn near Warminster. The cards include colourful local histories, such as stories of Alfred the Great, Iron Age hill forts and highwaymen.
• A three-day trip costs from £285pp B&B in a double/twin room (or £365pp with a three-course dinner each night), including complimentary bottle of wine, three or four days of independent walking itineraries, Ordnance survey maps with routes and Foot Trails’ trail cards with written directions, recommended lunch stops and nature guides. foottrails.co.uk, 01747 820626
A stroll and a pub lunch in Surrey
Join fellow walkers on a new series of UK day walks with Exodus travel, that includelunch at a selected country pub en route. A gentle woodland walk in Surrey takes you through historic Moor Park, and the village of Tilford to the top of Crooksbury Hill and back to Farnham along the North Downs. Lunch with a non-alcoholic drink is included at the Barley Mow pub. Alternatively, head to Oxfordshire for a circular stroll starting at the Thames riverside village of Goring, then through National Trust land and rolling farmland to the forests above Thurle Down. Lunch is at the Beetle and Wedge Boathouse before you walk it off along the Thames path back to Goring. The company also offers longer weekend walks in the Cambrian Mountains and Snowdon in Wales and the Peak District National Park.
• The Surrey walk, on 27 April, costs £39pp and the Goring walk, on 25 May, £43.50pp. Both include lunch. exodus.co.uk/walkingweekends, 0845 863 9600
Camping in the New Forest
Heading south but sticking with the great outdoors, here’s another camping option, New Forest-based Embers, which opens this Easter weekend, is bucking the glamping trend by going back to basics – well, almost. It offers 40 pitches, each with its own camp fire, a “concept … born out of the desire to recreate the magic of the campfire experience”. Marketing puffery aside, Embers offers easy camping with the chance to hire tents, an onsite shop, loos and showers and an activity programme including mountain biking and sailing. Set in the New Forest near the village of Beaulieu, and less than a mile from the nearest pub, Monty’s Inn, should you tire of sausages and marshmallows. Whether you’re optimistically thinking the Siberian winds will have passed by Easter weekend, or want to harden your family with a night or two of proper camping, Embers makes for an affordable family weekend.
• £20 per adult per night, £5 per child. Opens Easter Weekend (from 29 March). emberscamping.co.uk, 020 3214 3904
Horrible Histories at Warwick Castle
The troubled tales and gruesome facts told in the Horrible Histories series will be brought to life at a Foul Fayre, a joint effort created by the children’s books and Warwick Castle. Characters will show just how lousy life was for the Stormin’ Normans and Vile Victorians, by way of Smashing Saxons, Measly Middle Ages and Terrible Tudors at five different camps set around the castle grounds. Make a weekend of it and book into the Gables Warwick (thegableswarwick.com), an independent hotel with all the charm of medieval architecture (dark wood beams, leaded windows and carved stone fireplaces), with none of the nasty stuff that the Horrible Histories revel in.
• The Foul Fayre (Awesome Easter) is open from 23 March–14 April and will be included in the normal admission for Warwick Castle. Adult tickets are £25.80 and children’s tickets are £19.80. Family tickets start from £90. warwick-castle.com, 01926 495421. Further Fayres will take place from 25 May–2 June (Wicked Whitsun) and from 20 July–1 September (Stormin’ Summer). Luxury family suite at the family room at the Gables from £235 including breakfast; doubles from £125
An unusual Highland retreat
If you’re looking for a Scottish country escape, Cruinn Leum Round House is an unusual self-catering holiday home, perched in splendid isolation on the Applecross peninsula, opposite the islands of Raasay and Skye – but is just three miles drive to the restaurants and shops in Applecross. Originally built as a recording studio, the circular building offers open-plan accommodation built to an eco-design, with the wow factor provided by large windows giving spectacular views of Lochcarron and the Isle of Skye. These are the landscapes this area of Scotland is famous for, and that make it such memorable walking and climbing country. Alternatively, enjoy the coast by boat, kayak or on a fishing trip. You reach the property on a choice of two roads, one of which is the infamous “Bealach na Ba” (“Pass of the Cattle”), an old drover’s road with sweeping hairpin bends that has the greatest ascent of any road in the UK. It makes for a memorable arrival through the incredible scenery of the Applecross hills and Cuillins of Skye – but for a less terrifying journey, opt for the calmer scenery of the coastal road.
• Sleeps two. Seven nights in the Round House costs £425 between mid-April and early May including electricity, heating (including log burner) and towels/bed linen. unique-cottages.co.uk, 01835 822277
Craft for the kids at Camber Sands
The Galliavant Hotel in Camber Sands is offering a 30% saving on double rooms, for two adults and one child on a roll out bed, over Easter, with a child’s craft class at Craft Magic in nearby Rye included. This family friendly former motel located opposite the beach and the dunes, has 18 rooms decorated in cool coastal blues and whites, with driftwood furniture and shell ornaments. The hotel Bistro has an emphasis on locally sourced produce, with dishes such as Dungeness gratinée cod fillet, fresh from the Rye bay and Romney roast salt marsh lamb with potato gratin dauphinoise. A children’s menu is also available. The hotel is just 90 minutes from London, and five minutes’ drive from the historic town of Rye, where children can get creative by making a mosaic mermaid or ‘decopatch’ pig.
• From £199 based on two adults and a child on roll out bed, including full breakfast and three-course dinner plus children’s meal and a Craft Magic class in Rye. Valid 2-9th April. Alternatively, for an adult-only stay, doubles cost £95 a night B&B (saving £40 a night), available 31 March-4 April and 4-7 April, thegallivanthotel.com, 01797 225057
Stay on working farm in east Cornwall
Comfort Wood Cottage is a former barn adjoining Newton Farm, an organically run Cornish small holding with a flock of Lleyn sheep, bullocks, horses, geese, chickens, ducks, ferrets and pigs. The owners welcome visits from guests at the barn, whether you want to pet new born lambs (aw) or buy their organic produce, including lamb (yum). There are walks directly from the barn into the adjoining woods which lead to the National Trust-run Cotehele House and Quay set on a 1,200-acre estate.
• The property sleeps up to eight, and is available in March for £557 per week and April from £687 per week. Pets welcome for a £25 supplement, toadhallcottages.co.uk, 01548 853 089
Make your own sausages in Suffolk
Sausages have had a bad rap recently but on this course you – or rather your kids – will get to see exactly what’s going into your bangers. Suffolk-based Food Safari is running children’s sausage making workshops in Ipswich where kids get to create their own sausage filling – mixing meat, rusk and any ingredients they like from salt and pepper to garlic and chilli, stuffing them into natural casings and then learning to link or tie them into sausages to take home. Makes a change from cupcakes! Stay at Hill House Hall, a timber framed house dating back to the 14th century (the Georgian facade conceals the older main building) in the centre of the historic town of Woodbridge (about a 20-minute drive from Ipswich).
• £25 per child (must be accompanied by an adult), suitable for age 6-12 year olds. Drinks and a few sausages included. 11 April 11 and 30 May. foodsafari.co.uk. Family suite at Hill House (in the south wing of the house with double room and a twin room for the children) costs from £160 B&B per night, hillhousehall.com, available 10,11 and 12 April
Late Easter breaks in the UK – The Guardian