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A Bumper Load of Summer Fun in The National Forest

Tuesday, 21st June 2011

Families searching for new ideas on where to take the children during the long summer break should head to The National Forest at the heart of the Midlands.  This ‘forest in the making’ is bursting with things to see and do, ensuring young ones and their older companions alike are kept entertained - whatever the summer weather brings!

Hicks Lodge, the new National Forest Cycle Centre, will be holding special events for families throughout the summer including Cycling Start for Parents and Toddlers on 12 July, Fun Family Cycling Day on 31 July, Teddy Bears Picnic Ride on 6 August and a Family Forest Tour on 17 August. The centre, in Moira near Ashby de la Zouch, features a stunning eco-friendly visitor centre with, café, bike hire and repair shop, showers, a wood-burning stove for chilly days, and eight miles of graded off-road trails.  While youngsters will enjoy the twists and turns of the most technical route, there are wide surfaced trails for buggies and tagalong bikes. Non-cyclists can also enjoy the young woodland on the dual use trails for walkers and cyclists.

The National Forest Maize Maze at Tatenhill near Burton upon Trent, already one of Europe’s largest maize mazes in the summer months, has now expanded to become a year-round attraction - the National Forest Adventure Farm.  Children will loveits gigantic 3,000 sq.m. indoor play barn, which houses three levels of exciting adventure play equipment.  Also indoors are party rooms, farming-themed activities including a straw mountain and pedal tractors, friendly animals for children to meet, feed and pet in supervised sessions as well as daily events such as milking and pony grooming. The maze will be open from 16 July.  As well as hours of fun in the maze, families can take a tractor and trailer ride, meet loads of animals and try out the popular funfield, which has loads to do including; pedal go-karts, jumping pillow, sand pit and mini assault course.

Every weekday from Saturday 16 July to Sunday 4 September, visitors to Conkers can enjoy extra summer activities, included within the daily entry price.  Mondays and Wednesdays the Dream Ponies will be delighting children.  Tuesdays and Thursdays the brilliant Nick Spellman is back with his award winning animal show!  Fridays will see the fantastic falconry displays from Trevor Hill.

There will also be daily craft activities as well as guided walks, trails and tracking on Mondays, puppet theatres on Tuesday and Friday, Wednesday willow workshops and ranger sessions on Thursdays.  And at 1pm every day during the summer holidays, children will be captivated by stories read in the Storytellers Hut overlooking Conkers Discovery Lake.  Places for many of the activities must be booked at Discovery Reception upon arrival.

Based upon life in a British woodland and set at the heart of The National Forest, there are over one hundred indoor and outdoor activities to guarantee hours of family fun – whether rain or shine!

Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre is open 364 days a year allowing visitors to ski even in the middle of summer!  Every school holiday the centre offers ‘Kid’s Fun Activity Days’.  These run from Monday 25to Friday 29 July and then every day through August. Taking place 11am – 5pm, this brilliant day out combines lessons in skiing (Monday, Wednesday and Fridays) or snowboarding (Tuesdays and Thursdays) with Tobogganing and Sno-Tubing. A hot lunch is included and everyone receives a badge and certificate at the end of the day. 

But this is not just for the kids.  Adults and children (over the age of 4) can come along to the Summer Open Day on Sunday 3 July to try a half-hour taster session in skiing or snowboarding for just £5. There will also be free fondue tasting, bouncy castle, slope demos and more.

Calke Abbey is holding a whole raft ofsummer activities.  Calke Bear Treasure Hunt kicks off the holiday fun on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 July.Accompanied by their own bear and an adult, children can follow the trail to find the Calke Bears as well as some of the wildlife that live in the grounds. Calke Abbey will be holding Geo Caching Taster Days onMonday 25 July, Monday 8, Monday 22 & Wednesday 31 August for those who love treasure hunts.  No experience is needed.

On Tuesday 2 and Monday 15 August visitors can join in the games from the past and present at Calke Abbey’s family fun day - The Games People Played. There will be a Minibeast Safari on Wednesday 3 and Wednesday 17 August for visitors to try pond dipping, sweep netting and searching for creatures that lurk under stones and logs in Calke Park.  Summer would not be complete without the wonderful open air theatre performances at Calke.  This year sees the family classic Pinocchio on Wednesday 3 August and then Shakespeare’s magical comedy ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ on Sunday 21 August. For information on times and prices for the activities, visit the websitewww.nationaltrust.co.ukor call 01332 863 822.

Donington le Heath Manor House is hosting a number of free activity days every Wednesday between 2-4pm that will bring the fascinating history of this area to life.  On Wednesday 20 July youngsters can discover life in Roman Britain with Roman soldiers, real ‘finds’ and crafts.  On Wednesday 27 July they can dress as an Early Saxon warrior or princess in the Meet the Anglo-Saxons Day. Knights, Castles and Fairy Tales will be popular on Wednesday 3 August, and on Wednesday 10 August it is time to Meet the Tudors.  Throughout the holiday, visitors can have a go at the games people played in Roman, Anglo-Saxon and medieval times as well as other indoor and outdoor games from around the world.  For more information on the activities visit the websitewww.leics.gov.uk/donington or call 01530 831 259.

Visitors can enjoy a free performanceby 1623 Theatre company  - Midsummer Magic, in The Glade, Rosliston Forestry Centre’s open air theatre on 23 and 24 July.  Heartbreak productions will perform Pinocchio on 31 July followed by the ever-popular Last Night of the Proms on 10 September. 

From 2-4pm every afternoon from 25 July through to 2 September, Rosliston Forestry Centre will hold drop-in activity sessions - archery every Monday and Friday, Wildlife Watch on Tuesdays and laser combat every Wednesday and Thursday.  On 27 July and 26 August there will be a Forest Frenzy afternoon where visitors can choose as many activities as they want for just £10 per person. Activities include archery, woodland combat, climbing, hawk walk and crazy golf to name but a few.  No booking is required for either the drop-in sessions or Forest Frenzy.

There are a number of activities taking place where booking is essential. From Monday 1 August to Friday 5, and Monday 15 to Friday 19 August children aged 8 – 14 can join the Out & Active Holiday Kids club. This will run from 9am – 5pm each day. Youngsters aged eight and over can discover survival skills on a Bush Craft Day on 9 August. Booking is also essential for this.

For more information on activities, the Glade orto book sessions contact01283 563483. Tickets for the Glade are also available through Swadlincote Tourist Information Centre on 01283 222848.

The many nocturnal creatures that visit the site will be discovered on Rosliston’s Nightworld walk from 7:30pm on 22 July.For more information about the environmental activities including the drop-in Wildlife Watch sessions call 01283 535039 or email rosliston@south-derbys.gov.uk.

But if all those activities sound a bit too much like hard work – how about an afternoon Cream Tea in The Hub Café.  Rosliston Forestry Centre also hires bikes, offers fishing and holds bird of prey displays and has woodland trails, log cabins and play areas.  Younger visitors can slide down from the Sparrowhawk, climb through the crocodile’s mouth or have fun in the soft play area (for under 5s). 

There will be loads of children’s activities from creative craft to storytelling, coracle paddling to eco art at The National Forest Wood Fair on Bank Holiday Monday 29 August.  

The Ferrers Centre for Arts and Crafts is holding a series of events, entertainment and workshops this summer. Key dates for the diary are the Make and Take Mosaic Workshops on 16 July and 20 August.  There will be music in the courtyard on 17 July, 14 August and 11 September.  For more information visit the website www.ferrerscentre.co.uk

Moira Furnace Museum is set beside the Ashby Canal and links to Conkers, the Ashby Woulds Heritage Trail and the wider Conkers Circuit – perfect for walking, cycling and spotting summer wildlife. The grounds and car park are free and the children can visit the Little Smelters play area.The museum and boat trips will be open daily (except Monday). 

There will be craft activities and summer holiday fun at Sharpes Pottery Museum starting with Making Clay Pots on 29-30 July and Plate Decoration 5-6 August.  The following weekend will see Crazy Landscapes (12-13 August) and 3D tiles 19-20 August.  There will be a week of Silly Scarecrows from 20-26 August, culminating in a circus skills workshop, storytelling and crafting on 26 August and a Crafty Bank Holiday Weekend (26, 27 and 29 August).

Snibston will be holding itsCircus Skills Extravaganza on 28 July with circus skills workshops throughout the day. The whole family can learn from the professionals and have a go at juggling, plate spinning and other circus skills - with an end of day performance finale.

The 2011 visitor guide to The Forest & Beyond is bursting with great ideas on fun ways to spend summer days.  These are available from Tourist Information Centres or from the National Forest Company, tel: 01283 551 211, email: enquiries@nationalforest.org  or visit the website: www.visitnationalforest.co.uk for a complete listing of all the events going on within the Forest throughout the summer.  For more information on opening times and admission prices on the individual summer activities contact the venues.