When most people think of outdoor activities in the UK, beach holidays in the southwest or hiking in the Lake District may spring to mind. But Shropshire, the beautiful, hilly Midlands county on the Welsh borders, is a destination in its own right – and is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages.
The unspoilt hills of the National Trust-managed Carding Mill Valley on the Long Mynd – an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – is a great starting point for an adventure, with boulder-strewn streams running between walking, cycling and horse riding paths.
Teens and adults can hire mountain bikes at the nearby Shropshire Hills Mountain Bike & Outdoor Pursuit Centre – follow waymarked trails, hire a guide or get technical with your smartphone and a Geocached trail.
Around 20 minutes away is The Edge Activity Centre in Much Wenlock, home of the first modern Olympics in 1850.
Here you can try a host of activities, including grass boarding, quad biking (ages 8 plus), archery (10 plus), clay pigeon shooting, high ropes and zip lining (12 plus).
If your two legs are feeling a little tired after all this action, head to the Old Vicarage Adventure Centre and you can swap them for four. Its pony treks vary from relaxed day rides up the Brown Clee hill to four-day trail rides (adults only). There are pony days where young kids can learn to look after ponies and have their first ride. The team will also treat you to a bespoke family outing.
If life on the water is more your thing, head to the pretty market town of Bridgnorth where you can hire Sun Valley Canoeing Co.’s Canadian-style canoes to take a trip through the sandstone gorges of the river Severn.
The Bridgnorth-Bewdley route takes you south via a riverside pub stop-off for lunch and brings you back via the famous Severn Valley Railway. All ages will love stepping back in time on the vintage steam engines.
Don’t miss: The Bees and Butterflies Summer Fair at the Fordhall Organic Farm in July. A great family day out where you can enjoy local produce, local ale, a BBQ and live music, plus a variety of fun activities for the kids including face painting, sack races and welly wanging(!). Open 10am-4pm, price per adult £3.
How to get there: Shropshire connects to the motorway network via the M6 and M54.
Travel time: It’s on the border of North Wales and is surrounded by Cheshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire and is approximately 3 hours from London, 1 hour from Manchester and only 40 minutes from Birmingham.
Where to stay: For real intrepids, stay in a wooden Camping Pod. There’s a pub on site that houses an outdoor Finnish Grillkota barbecue to ease exercise-induced hunger pains. Prices; from £35 a night for a pod sleeping up to five. Children under six stay for free.