Caroline MillsSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Caroline Mills
Tell a child you’re all going on a family hike and they might look at you as if you’ve dropped from the moon. Re-package it as an Easter egg hunt and, guaranteed, they’ll be leaping from the caravan sofa, pulling their boots on as they exit the awning. Taking a walk through woodland areas is one of the joys of life, but rarely is there a better time than as the trees explode with that vivid lime green which only comes with the newborn spring shoots. Especially if there’s chocolate involved.
It’s crept up, and maybe taken some of us by surprise, but Easter is an early one this year – 25 to 28 March, including the bank holidays. So if you want to make plans before the kids break up from school, here are some suggestions, all excellent (or should that be egg-cellent?!) places to visit over Easter – and all linked to a springtime woodland walk. By chance, they also happen to be perfect locations for an egg hunt in case your little ones need that extra bit of sugar-coated persuasion.
Of course, it goes without saying, that if you're hiding eggs, make sure you know exactly how many there are to find and where you’ve hidden them, to ensure you don’t leave anything left lying around that could harm wildlife or litter the countryside. When my little ones are racing amongst the undergrowth searching for eggs, our golden rule is that nothing will be eaten until the hunt is over – then you know that those little foil wrappers have not accidentally found their way to the forest floor.
Ashclyst Forest (Devon)
Enjoy leisurely walking along sunken lanes and woodland rides, through broad-leaved and coniferous woodland. One of the largest woods in east Devon and a part of the Killerton Estate, Ashclyst Forest is renowned for butterflies. And you can pitch your van at Langford Bridge Caravan & Camping Park, which is approximately six miles away.
Brown’s Folly (Avon)
A nature reserve run by Avon Wildlife Trust, Brown’s Folly lies on the upper slopes of the Limpley Stoke Valley. A mature woodland of mixed native species, this is a great natural playground for kids but, best of all are the views over Bath from the edge of the wood. The Blackberries Camping Park, which was only established in 2014, is maturing nicely, having been beautifully landscaped amidst its own woods. It is within walking distance of the nature reserve, perfect for your relaxing Easter break.
Windsor Great Park (Berkshire)
Scroll to the accompanying image in the carousel above and you’ll see The Long Walk with Windsor Castle in the distance. A little less than three miles long, the carriage drive is a part of Windsor Great Park extending over some 14,000 acres, of which 8000 acres are forest. The public areas are predominantly woodland or open grassland. After a day of walking, you can retire to your tourer at nearby Hurley Riverside Park, on the banks of the River Thames.
Brockworth Wood (Gloucestershire)
Of international importance, Brockworth Wood, with its neighbour Buckholt Wood, are a part of the Cotswolds Commons and Beechwoods National Nature Reserve, displaying some of the finest examples of beechwoods in Europe. Combine this with the fine views to be seen from the heady heights of Cooper’s Hill (where people hurtle downhill after a wheel of cheese each May bank holiday) and you’ve got yourself a great spring walk. Briarfields Touring Park is for adults only and is just a short drive away, on the outskirts of Cheltenham.
Thetford Forest (Norfolk/Suffolk)
The largest lowland pine forest in Britain, Thetford Forest is teeming with footpaths and cycle tracks that criss-cross the Norfolk/Suffolk county line. And with The Dower House sat slap-bang in amongst the trees, you don’t even need to leave the campsite by car to make the most of a treasure hunt. Does this sound ideal for your Easter holidays?
Beacon Hill Country Park (Leicestershire)
You’ll be hard-pushed to cover all 200 square miles of the National Forest over the Easter weekend, but you could at least attempt Beacon Hill Country Park, just one tiny section. Not least because it’s where the 75-mile long National Forest Way starts (or ends). Ingles Hill Caravan Site is conveniently sited along the route.
Gwydr Forest Park (Conwy/Snowdonia National Park)
A forest of lakes and mountains in the heart of Snowdonia, you’ll find waymarked walks galore through the trees, the park noted for its wildlife in addition to the numerous outdoor activities. Riverside Touring Park, which is a finalist in our Top 100 Sites Guide 2016, as voted by you, sits on the edge of the park in the very attractive village of Betws-y-Coed.
Kielder Forest (Northumberland)
Nature has grabbed the opportunity and made this entirely manufactured landscape one of her own; you would never be aware just by gazing at the skyline that this swathe of Northumberland countryside was carved up by diggers 40-odd years ago. The peace and solitude now is sublime. Kielder Village Caravan & Camping Site makes the most of its rural location.
Lough Navar Forest Drive (County Fermanagh)
Take the seven-mile climb to the top of Lough Navar Forest and you’ll be rewarded with tremendous views over Lower Lough Erne, Donegal Bay and the Sperrin Mountains. There’s a picnic spot at the top, but you’ll find a couple of car parks along the route to stop off for treasure hunts amid the trees. Blaney Caravan Park can be seen from the viewpoint, too.
Dell Woods (Highland)
Just a few minutes from the centre of the friendly village of Nethy Bridge, Dell Woods, part of Abernethy National Nature Reserve, is a haven of green where red squirrels and crested tits chatter in the trees. Easy-going trails will take you to the heart of an ancient woodland and offer links to a great network of longer routes. Nearby Grantown-on-Spey Caravan Park was the regional winner for Scotland in Practical Caravan’s Top 100 Sites Guide 2016, and is a super place to relax after a day exploring and egg-hunting.