School’s out for summer… so we decided to pick the best active things to do in Yorkshire with your kids over the six-week school holidays
Dive in at Sheffield’s own aquapark
Southern Spain or South Yorkshire? You’re hardly likely to be able to tell the difference if you don a wet suit at Sheffield Cable Waterski’s new aqua park. Based in the pretty Rother Valley Country Park, the Total Wipeout-style park allows you to bounce up and down on trampolines, shoot down slides and try and stay upright on the narrow bridges that hold it all together. Tonnes of fun for kids young and old – and if you don’t want to get your hair wet, simply sit and watch from the waterside café and pub.
Hour-long sessions cost £15 per person. See sheffieldcablewaterski.com
Row, row, row your boat…
… gently down the Wharfe. It’s been 16 years since the pretty market town of Otley had boats on the river – the last business offering the service closed at the height of the foot-and-mouth crisis in 2001. But the boats – and pedaloes – are back for this summer thanks to local businessman Chris Thornton. The first vessels set sail on August 5.
Rowing boats and pedalloes will be available to rent, price from £7 per person per hour. See visitotley.co.uk
Go down a cave with Dave
The Yorkshire Dales’ limestone base is riddled with more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese. The number of caves and potholes available make them an excellent choice for novice and experienced cavers – and it makes sense to learn from the best. So hook up with the excellent Dave Gallivan of Yorkshire Dales Guides who offers caving classes for children in the Long Churns and Alum Pot caves outside Settle. The three-hour sessions will have young ones scrambling and shooting around underground in no time at all. The early evening trips run from 5pm-8pm, and the minimum age is eight years old.
Introductory caving courses start from £15 per person. See yorkshiredalesguides.co.uk
Fossil hunting in Whitby
Whitby’s famous for its fish ’n’ chips, Captain Cook history and Dracula legends… but also offers excellent fossil hunting along Yorkshire’s Jurassic Coast. It helps, of course, if you know what you’re looking for, and there’s no one better to show you around than Blue Badge guide Tim Barber who’ll show off dinosaur prints in the rocks and then have the kids looking for ammonites and belemnites by cracking open rocks with claw hammers. If you discover one of these prehistoric creatures, you’ll be the first person to lay eyes on it for more than 16 million years – how’s that for bragging rights?
Private fossil hunting is from £185 for four people. See realyorkshiretours.co.uk
Jump around at Treetop Nets
Imagine a load of giant trampolines, slides and walkways all made out of nets and suspended up to 12m off the ground – and that’s what you get a Treetop Nets, next to the Lightwater Valley theme park outside Ripon. Our kids absolutely adored this when we visited, bouncing around like no tomorrow and – just about – wearing themselves out. There are several of these around the country – and the Yorkshire one is the biggest. Combine it on the way back with a stop in nearby Ripley, home to “world famous” ice cream.
Prices start from £13 per person. See treeptopnets.co.uk
Camping at Bolton Abbey
Bolton Abbey is one of the Yorkshire Dales’ prettiest settings thanks to the ruined 12th-century Augustinian monastery and pretty riverside setting – complete with a “Welly Walk” packed with things for kids to do in the outdoors. Glamp up a visit with a stay at Catgill Campsite, a mere 10-minute walk from the river. There are hot showers, a kitchen area, firepits to rent and an on-site shop selling coffee and croissants in the morning. Camping easy enough even for those who can’t stand the thought of a night under canvas.
From £10 per night for adults, £5 for kids. See catgillcampsite.co.uk
Get snappy on Ilkley Moor
If you have a budding David Bailey on your hands, take them to that most Yorkshire of places Ilkley Moor for a morning with the Walking Photographer. Award-winning snapper Rich Bunce takes camera enthusiasts on walks around Ilkley and Burley-in-Wharfedale – both home to Neolithic sites with incredible carvings made thousands of years ago, a special insight for kids studying Key Stage 2 history.
Social walks start from £10 per person. See walkingphotographertours.com
Bilberry picking at Brimham Rocks
Brimham Rocks are an incredible series of balancing boulders on Brimham Moor in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Looked after by the National Trust, they’re a great place for a picnic, or from late August, somewhere to pick the abundance of billberries (British blueberries) that grow here. Themed activities on offer include geocaching and the quite lovely “50 things to do before you’re 11¾”.
Free entry, car parking from £6. See nationaltrust.org.uk
Visit William’s Den
William’s Den is the new £3m indoor-outdoor play area near North Cave just outside Hull. Crafted from wood, the attraction includes a 475sqm play barn and extensive outdoor play, including a 50-metre zip wire, den making area and ‘mountains and molehills’ space for kids to play in. There’s also an on-site restaurant offering wood-fired pizzas and homemade ice cream.
Adults from £8, kids £9.50, under-threes £3. See williamsden.co.uk
Go take a hike… with a llama
For something completely different, head to Kiln Farm to go walking with one of their llamas. The, friendly, family-run centre in the heart of Nidderdale offers trekking with llamas year round, with children needing to be seven years old and over to take part. Outings range from short treks around the farm to full-day trek experiences and for those who can’t bear to part from their new friend, there are llama adoption packages.
Trekking sessions are from £32 per person. See nidderdalellamas.org