Family days out in the Shropshire Hills
Holidays are a time to recharge the batteries and refresh yourself so, as a parent, it’s nice to let someone else think about keeping the children amused from time to time.
There are many ways to do just that in the Shropshire Hills – with opportunities you simply won’t find anywhere else.
Children will love a visit to the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, where they’ll find a replica of the Shropshire Mammoth, the original having been discovered in bogland, near Condover. Dated at nearly 13,000 years old, its location in late 1980s extended by 5,000 years the date when mammoths had been thought to have become extinct in Great Britain. There’s also a fantastic film offering a panoramic view of the whole area, as well as a café and walks and places to picnic in the extensive gardens.
Enjoy a great day out at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm, near Craven Arms. The beauty of the farm is that it is not simply a reconstruction of a Victorian farm – it actually is one, with traditional farming techniques passed down through the generations.
Parents will find lots to learn on a visit and the children will just love the animals and watching craftsmen and women, like the blacksmith, the farrier or the bodger at work. What’s a bodger? These days we think it means someone who does a job badly, but in the old days, a bodger was a highly skilled wood-turner, making useful things, like chair legs, typically from ash.
The kids will find little piglets to ooh and ah at, while – for grown-ups – the farm will transport them straight to the set of TV’s Victorian Farm, filmed right here.
Acton Scott Historic Working Farm
Another place for the kids to get up close to the animals is Rays Farm, near Bridgnorth. Here you’ll find all sorts of friendly fellows, from guinea pigs and rabbits, to reindeer and llamas. The children can pet the kids (the animal kind!) in the pygmy goat paddock, while there are also two woodland walks for the family to follow.
A holiday is a great chance for the children to try something new. Why not take the opportunity for them to have a go at riding a horse or pony? Country Treks Equestrian Centre, near Cleobury Mortimer, caters for children of all ages, from tots to teens. Throughout school holidays there are Pony Days and Mornings, giving youngsters of all abilities the chance to spend time with ponies.
Pony Trekking with Country Treks
If visiting Rays Farm or Country Treks, a good place to stay is Broome Park Farm B&B, with a strong focus on sustainability and locally sourced food. It’s a working farm that aims to help youngsters (and adults too!) to get to know a little more about where their food comes. Children of any age are welcome and there are extras such as travel cots, high chairs and family games to keep everyone happy.
Other great destinations for all the family include Ludlow Castle, where you can encourage the children to imagine life in Medieval times, when the castle witnessed turbulent events in the Wars of the Roses, and was for a time capital of Wales.
English Heritage runs hands-on history and family events at some of its properties, including Stokesay Castle, throughout summer. Watch the website for details.
Daniel’s Mill, near Bridgnorth, gives an insight into more stable and rather more recent times: it boasts England’s largest working waterwheel, grinding wheat that is baked into loaves, scones and cakes at a bakery in Bridgnorth.
For a gentle day out, take a picnic to Carding Mill Valley, or eat at the excellent tearoom before exploring this dramatic valley beneath the Long Mynd.
Visit our Events listings for many different activities for children and families, including the ever popular Clun Green Man Festival, which takes place annually on the May Day Bank Holiday weekend. It’s two days of family-friendly fun, when the Ice Queen is banished and, all things being well, the Green Man and May Queen are victorious in heralding the arrival of Summer.
Adventure centres in the Shropshire Hills often stage activities specifically with families and children in mind
Live the Adventure, near Cleobury Mortimer, offers Family Adventure Days, bookable in advance and designed for two adults and three children, aged seven or over. You can select form a variety of adventure activities and enjoy either a full or half day with your own dedicated instructor.
Multi-Activity Days for children aged seven to 12 are held by Oaker Wood Leisure, near Ludlow, and should be booked online in advance. These are full days of fun and adventure, running around in the wood and experiencing a wide range of exciting activities, including zip wires, climbing, rafting, pistol shooting and among others.
Oaker Wood Leisure
The Edge Adventure, on Wenlock Edge, offers lots of different activities for younger people, including one from quad biking (age six to 14), Segway (ten-plus), clay pigeon shooting (ten-plus), plus one from sniper shooting (six-plus), climbing wall (six-plus), archery (eight-plus), mountain boarding, (eight-plus), and zip wire (ten-plus).
Quad biking at Edge Adventure
Of course, there may be days when you just don’t fancy being outdoors. Yes, it may even rain! Then why not head for the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, where the prize exhibit in the award-winning Shropshire Hills Through Time exhibition is the Shropshire Mammoth. The Discovery Centre also run outdoor themed children’s activities especially during the holidays.
This is a full size replica of the near complete mammoth skeleton found at Condover, near Shrewsbury, in 1986. Find out about the big woolly beast’s daily diet and play the interactive games and, if the sun comes out again, take a wander in the Centre’s Onny meadows and community garden. There’s always lots going on here, so take the chance to visit the café and find out about courses, self-guided walks and other activities.
For other museums dedicated to the life and history of the Shropshire Hills, visit our Museums page.This product has been developed as part of the Shropshire Hills Tourism Cooperation Project, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under the auspices of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The project is delivered by Gravity Consulting Ltd on behalf of Shropshire Hills and Ludlow Destination Management Partnership.