With Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester to pick from, when it comes to a camping holiday the North-West will leave you and your family spoilt for choice. Will it be the Lake District or the fells? Or maybe a trip to the seaside? And of course Campsited has plenty of sites waiting to welcome you and the kids, too.
Time to head for the great outdoors!
1. A haven for furry (and not-so-furry) friends near Liverpool
The larger grey squirrel, which arrived from North America in the 1800s, has generally been bad news for our small red variety. Though, generally outnumbered, the feisty little native red is still hanging on in certain strongholds – and the Formby Nature Reserve, with its dramatic sand dunes and sweeping coastal pinewoods, is one of them. This nature reserve is also home to the even rarer natterjack toad, colourful sand lizards and great crested newts. Follow miles of paths through woodland, grassland, heath and sand dunes, with great opportunities for walking, cycling, orienteering and geocaching along the way.
2. Fly through the air with the greatest of ease
Perfect for kids (aged six and up) with a sense of adventure, Aerial Extreme Knowsley offers 60 obstacles at varying heights off the ground. This is the biggest course of its kind in the country, with rope bridges, scramble nets, zip wires, swinging logs, balance beams and more. Your little ones can release their inner Tarzan – complete with lions and tigers roaring from the safety of the safari park next door! Note: minimum height requirements are 1.1m for the junior adventure course and 1.4m for the full adventure course.
3. Top banana! Discovering Liverpool’s treasures
Curious About Liverpool has downloadable treasure hunt maps (with printed versions also available to order) and is a fun way to learn the ropes of this swinging city. Each map offers a choice of two walks: pick from Museums, music and culture and River, port and docks; or the two Cathedral routes. Who’ll be the first to spot one of the many “lambanana” statues – colourful hybrids representing Liverpool’s export of lamb and import of bananas?
4. Take a walk on the wild side in Lancashire
Fancy exploring something a little different from Blackpool’s popular zoo and sea life centre? Then take your little monkeys to the Forest of Bowland, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Here you’ll find the Bowland Wild Boar Animal Park which offers a choice of seven circular walks to see those wild boar and many other animals. There’s also a chance to feed the llamas, red deer, goats and lambs, and a replica Iron Age roundhouse to visit.
5. Famous brands - from must-have trainers to fizzy pop
Did you know that Reebok, Vimto and Fishermen's Friends all started life in Lancashire? You can find out all about the county’s industrial legacy – and much more – with a visit to the Museum of Lancashire in Preston. There’s a changing programme of free events and activities, while permanent interactive exhibits include an archeological dig and a chance to stage your own mock trial – thereby tapping into the museum’s earliest days as Preston's very own court house.
6. Get the scoop down on the farm
As far as we know, no kid has ever said no to ice cream… And now The Ice Cream Farm in Cheshire has got this ultimate treat well and truly licked – with the world’s largest purpose-built ice cream parlour. Here you’ll find 50 award-winning flavours of delicious dairy ice cream, as well as themed play areas from adventure golf to the Scoop JCB challenge. All together now: I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
7. Discover the long and the short of things in Warrington
Gullivers World is a family-run amusement park, specially designed for families with children aged two to 13, which boasts 80 age-appropriate rides and attractions. While older kids enjoy the dodgems, log flumes and tree-tops swings, little ones can have a giggle or two in the clown school. And for dads there’s the RAF Burtonwood Heritage Centre (open to Gullivers visitors via an entrance inside the park) which commemorates 53 years of aviation history from 1940 to 1993.
8. A Victorian love story revealed
Dunham Massey with its ancient deer park and house full of treasures is a National Trust property well worth a visit. When 18-year-old George Harry was named the 7th Earl in 1845, he inherited Dunham Massey and became the wealthiest and most titled young man of his time. He turned his back on polite Victorian society, however, to marry a skilled circus performer – causing shockwaves that were felt on the estate and beyond. Today Dunham offers a good choice of family-friendly activities, from helping the Victorian servants with the household chores to climbing an enormous log pile in the north park.
9. Pottering around in Beatrix Potter’s footsteps
The Lake District is one of the country’s most popular destinations for visitors and rightly so. There’s plenty here for campers to enjoy, from walks and bike rides to a spot of sailing when the wind’s up! One of our favourite spots is Derwentwater, which is a 10-minute walk from the town of Keswick (which in Norse means “cheese farm”). Beatrix Potter, who was born 150 years ago in 1866, found the inspiration for her much-loved characters Benjamin Bunny, Mrs Tiggywinkle and Squirrel Nutkin in Derwentwater – so keep your eyes peeled for the odd animal dressed in breeches or pinafore.
10. Roam Roman territory and discover Hadrian’s Wall
Cumbria lays claim to the longest visible stretch of Hadrian’s Wall and so it’s the perfect place for kids to start exploring Roman Britain. You can follow part of the national trail that traces Hadrian’s Wall either on foot or by bike – just be aware that it’s a full 84 miles from Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria to the aptly named Wallsend on Tyneside. You’ll find kid-friendly activities along the way, with English Heritage promising to pull out all the stops during school holidays in particular.