Caroline Mills

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Kick-start your New Year resolutions early and make the most of the holiday season with a post-Christmas tour – Caroline Mills shares some top tips!

Who says the days after Christmas have to be flat? We’ve got loads of great ideas for overcoming the indulgence of the festive season, and to get you out and about with your caravan.

You know what it's like... It’s been turkey à la whatever for, seemingly, 12 days of Christmas, a dried out sliver of marzipan is the only evidence left of the cake and you’ve vowed never to eat sprouts again – ever. You’re even wondering whether that gifted pot of avocado body butter might make the awning track run a little smoother.

It's time to hitch up and head out. Burn off those Christmas calories and maybe get started on those New Year resolutions – read on!

1. Fancy a dip?

Christmas brings out the best of the silly season outdoor activities – like swimming in a winter sea. Dig out your bathers and head for the Boxing Day Walrus Dip at Pembrey Country Park, south Wales.

And you won’t be the only one with shivering limbs! This event attracts more than 1000 swimmers a year, this being the 31st season for the madcap swim.

Fancy dress is encouraged (think Christmas panto) and you should turn up for 11am at Cefn Sidan beach. Forget your modesty – this is all in aid of local charities, after all.

If you can’t make it in time for Boxing Day, Pembrey Country Park is good for all manner of outdoor activities, from wintry beach walks to adventure play areas, a dry ski slope and toboggan rides to an equestrian centre for pony treks, plus miles of off-road cycle tracks and numerous wildlife walks, including organised guided walks.

What's more, you can stay at Pembrey Country Park Caravan Club Site, located within the park grounds.

2. Get your skates on – or take a swing!

For those who want to keep the Christmassy feeling going as long as possible, the beautiful Royal Victoria Park in Bath is your destination.

There, with the backdrop of the architecturally magnificent Royal Crescent, is Bath on Ice. The outdoor ice rink, decorated to look particularly festive, is open until 3 January and prices include skate hire. If you’ve never been on the ice before, you can hire an ice marshal to help you master some skills.

But if you’d rather leave the ice skating to the rest of the family, you could have a go at Glow in the Dark Mini Golf beside the rink. Alternatively, continue with the Christmas indulgence and sit in the cosy bar sipping hot chocolate or mulled wine.

Pitch nearby at Bath Marina and Caravan Park, open all year, and just two miles from Bath city centre. You can catch one of the regular buses from the site, or burn off the cream and marshmallows on your hot chocolate with a walk along the riverside trail into town.

3. It’s only a mile

There’s no need to set an Ironman challenge for a New Year resolution when just a mile will do – but oh, what a mile!

In the sleepy backwaters (literally) of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, why not have a go at the Great Brook Run? The clue’s in the name – this cross-country race is half-land, half water, with plenty of mud thrown in to boot.

Anyone can take part, including accompanied children. Simply turn up at 11am on the day – 28 December in 2016 – to register and pay a nominal entrance fee for charity.

The race, at 12.15, begins and ends at The Tite Inn, Chadlington, where you can admire your shiny participant’s medal in the reflection of a pint glass. Hot snacks and full lunches (booking required) are available.

For a scrub down afterwards, Merryweather Farm Caravan Park is five miles from Chadlington and has 70 touring pitches, including hardstanding, plus a heated shower block.

4. Step into 2017

The Lake District is hard to beat for a bit of outdoor adventure and, providing you’re fully prepared, winter shouldn’t stop a walk on the fells or around the lakes.

If you plan a post-Christmas stay at The Quiet Site, with exceptional views overlooking Ullswater, you could work off the turkey sandwiches using the 20-mile circular Ullswater Way. The walking route provides some of the finest views of the lake and can be walked in either direction – look out for a daffodil on signposts.

If that sounds a bit timid and you’d rather make a New Year’s resolution to go caravanning in the Lakes on a regular basis, then Trust10 is for you. It’s a new and free 10k trail run, held on the fourth Sunday of every month.

There’s no need to sign up in advance. Just turn up at 8.30am for registration at the National Trust’s Claife Viewing Station on Windermere’s west shore to enjoy a scenic run. Never mind getting over the Christmas indulgence, there’s tea and fresh cake afterwards!

5. Hit the slopes

You don’t have to fly south for winter to hit the slopes. You can explore Scotland on skis with no fewer than five large-scale ski areas.

Glenshee is the largest resort in the UK, and extends across four mountains and three valleys. It offers 36 runs and 40km of pisted snow, off-piste and ski mountaineering terrain.

There’s plenty for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, from the gentle nursery slopes and Bunny Run to the black-graded Tiger, and with ski and snowboard lessons for beginners or to brush up on some rusty technique.

The Caravan Club’s site at Braemar, nine miles from Glenshee, is open for the ski season and is purpose-built for family skiers.

6. You don’t need a bike to go cycling

No, the brandy in the cake hasn’t gone to our heads. Stay at The Camping and Caravanning Club Site at Teversal and you won’t need to take your own bike with you to enjoy a cycle ride.

The Nottinghamshire campsite has 12 Boardman bikes on site for hire during your stay, and you can hire one by the hour or by the day. If you think an hour or two in the saddle might be a good idea, it’s advisable to pre-book your bike hire when you book your stay.

What’s more, you won’t have to head out on the roads with the bike as the Teversal site is situated opposite the Silverhill Wood Country Park with direct access to the Teversal Trails – a circular route on former railway lines – along with miles of other surfaced cycle and walking paths.

Silverhill Wood Country Park is located on the site of the former Silverhill and Teversal Collieries. Make your way to the summit for wonderful views and the statue of a Nottinghamshire miner ‘Testing for Gas’.

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