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Fun Ways to Spend Summer Days in The National Forest

Wednesday, 6th June 2007

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 English Midlands. With more attractions opening all the time, 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!

As part of Rosliston Forestry Centre’s ‘Get Active in the Forest’ programme, visitors can come along to the ‘Five for a Fiver Days’ and choose up to five exciting activities out of a wide range including climbing, archery, laser clay, laser combat games, sumo suit wrestling, skateboarding, tri-golf, stone painting, kite making and orienteering - all for a fiver! There will also be a series of events and activities taking place throughout the summer such as an evening with owls, family pond dipping, minibeast magic and family fun days. . As well as woodland walks, the Centre also hires bikes, offers fishing and bird of prey displays and has wildlife hides to spot the wide variety of animals and birds that visit the site. Younger visitors can slide down from the Sparrowhawk’s beak or climb through the crocodile’s mouth in the outdoor play area or bounce around in the soft play area.

There is always something new to see at Conkers. Created high above the existing exhibits, the new ‘Enchanted Forest” is a giant, fully interactive experience of life in a forest canopy. Adults and children alike enter through giant worm tunnels to see woodland life from a forest creature’s perspective. This woodland adventure covers several hundred metres of crawls, clambers and climbs suitable for all ages from four years old, with a soft adventure play area for toddlers.

During the holidays Conkers will host regular music events and its special summer entertainment programme in the covered Amphitheatre, with multi-talented Nick Spellman from Children’s ITV back by popular demand. Based upon life in a British woodland and with more than one hundred indoor and outdoor activities themed around Forest life and the environment, families will enjoy hours of fun at this lively discovery centre.

Visitors to this year’s National Forest Maize Maze have a ‘magical’ treat in store. The maze at Postern House Farm near Burton on Trent will be open to the public from 14 July with a spectacular new magically-themed design from world renowned designer Adrian Fisher.

Negotiating three miles of enchanted pathways, bridges and towers, ‘would be’ magicians must find clues for the ingredients of a strong potion which lie hidden within the maze. Ticket price includes entrance to the ‘Fun Field’, ‘Splash Zone’, mini inflatable maze and tractor trailer rides. The maze will also be open on selected evenings for a series of ‘Maze by Moonlight’ evenings.

Snibston Discovery Park in Coalville houses the largest fashion gallery outside London and with the hands-on interactive exhibits in its Extra-ordinary Gallery, guarantees an exciting, full and fun day out for all ages. In addition to the indoor galleries, take a ride on a diesel locomotive train; visit the Wild Water Play area and have a guided tour of Snibston colliery with a real miner. Every Friday during the summer holidays there will be special children’s activity sessions.

Coors Visitor Centre (formerly The Bass Museum) will have craft days during the school holidays which promise bags of family fun. The museum explores the fascinating history of brewing in Burton and is home to the famous Coors Shire horses – a reminder of the role horses played within brewing industry.

The Heart of the Forest Open Top bus tour will again be out and about in the Forest every Friday from 6 July with its hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour. Passengers get a rare glimpse over the hedgerows to witness the transformation taking place in The National Forest, where over 7 million trees have been planted, while stopping off at major attractions such as CONKERS, Snibston Discovery Park, Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Donington le Heath Manor House, Moira Furnace and the wonderful Sence Valley Forest Park.

Visitors can step back to a bygone age at the truly fascinating Calke Abbey which is presenting an exciting programme of summer activities. In addition to its outdoor concerts and theatre productions including Romeo & Juliet and The Wizard of Oz, visitors can meet the characters that lived and worked at Calke in the 19th century in the ‘Calke Alive’ events. There will also be family fun days and treasure hunts. The hall, gardens, restaurant and shop will be open seven days a week from 5 July until 31 August.

Visitors can not only explore the tunnels, tower and ruins at Ashby Castle with a fascinating new guide, but also see the Clash of the Knights and other events in the castle grounds. A walk through the ruins of nine-day queen Lady Jane Grey’s home at beautiful Bradgate Park is always a summer favourite or discover the area’s industrial heritage at Moira Furnace, Swannington Incline and Sharpe’s Pottery.

As you would expect, there is a huge array of fantastic events and outdoor activities to do across the Forest all year round including skiing and tobogganing at Swadlincote Ski Centre; horse-riding; sailing and windsurfing; survival and conservation courses; fishing or simply enjoy walking through the ancient or new woodlands created by this forest in the making.

Ideas on fun ways to spend summer days are contained in the 2007 visitor guides to the Forest and its surrounding area. These are available from Tourist Information Centres or from the National Forest Company, tel: 01283 551211, email: Or visit the website: for a complete listing of all the events going on within the Forest throughout the summer.