By Rhiane Kirkby
If that mere glimpse of spring a couple of weeks ago got you, like me, thinking ahead to longer, lighter days then you may already have started planning how to keep the kids entertained during the Easter holidays. Sadly, a trip to the Maldives or even Majorca is not part of my equation – but leaving London for a day or two certainly is.
Here are some of the tried and tested places, recommended by parents around an hour’s drive from the capital. Coincidentally, most of them seem to start with ‘W’… for you Winning Wild Wonder mums who’ll shout ‘Woohoo we’ve left the city for a day!’
Odds Farm Park
It’s Easter – time for chicks, bunnies and little lambs and you can see them all at Odds Farm Park. Located in Buckinghamshire (Junction 2, M40) it’s a great place to visit as come rain or shine there’s something to keep everyone entertained. There’s a sizeable soft play area (with separate zones for babies and toddlers), an outdoor adventure playground, a wooden fort, a huge sand pit and H2Odds – a water playground. From 6th to 23rd of April the farm is going carrot crazy with carrot and egg hunts, theatre shows, spring themed arts and crafts and if you’re lucky some newborn lambs! Odds Farm Park is family friendly with great facilities, lots of car parking and a cafe which serves a wide range of food.
If fresh air and space is what you’re looking for then take a trip to Wendover Woods in Aylesbury. If you’ve got plenty of energy to burn – or more importantly your kids have – there’s a Go-Ape Tree Top Adventure, orienteering and a fitness trail assault course. If you’d prefer something more leisurely there are plenty of walks, including one for all Julia Donaldson fans. For £3, ZOG will guide you through the woods in search of his friends and those all important stars. You too can graduate from dragon school – though hopefully not with a captured princess in tow!
Talking of royalty – Windsor is set to welcome Meghan and Harry to the palace grounds this spring as they get ready to welcome their new arrival. There’s bound to be more excitement than usual filling the air in this historic town, making it a great time to visit. The added bonus is that it’s really easy to get to on public transport from London. You could spend a full day at the nine hundred year old Windsor Castle where this Easter they’ll be taking a look ‘inside the royal wardrobe.’ And there’s plenty more to do both inside and outside the palace walls. Inside you can see the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s dolls’ house, Harry and Meghan’s wedding chapel and the impressive Changing of the Guard ceremony. Outside, visit Windsor Great Park. With a Royal history spanning over 1,000 years there’s plenty to see and do. You can walk the Long Walk, explore the ancient woodlands and have a picnic on the banks of the stunning Virginia Water Lake. LEGOLAND is, of course, another option – but to do it all you may have to extend your stay.
Wellington Country Park
A fantastic day out when there’s nothing special going on, Wellington Country Park seems to have Easter all sewn up. Pirate shows, bubble fun, circus skills and trapeze workshops, a mega egg hunt, Easter crafts and to top it all a circus show in the big top tent. And when you’ve done all that there are adventure playgrounds, sandpits and jumping pillows to try, a miniature railway to ride on and a petting barn. Oh and mini golf, dinosaurs and a splash zone. You may need to stay overnight and that is an option – if you like camping.
If larger animals are more your thing then head to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. As the UK’s largest zoo – and the sister to London zoo, Whipsnade is set in 600 acres of parkland on the Chiltern Hills in Bedfordshire. It’s home to 2,500 animals, many of which are endangered in the wild and is easy to get to from the capital – just 20 minutes from the M25 (junction 21). Visitors this Easter (from April 6th) are in for a treat as some rather unusual species will be on show – all made from LEGO. Proud silverback, Gorman the Gorilla, took four people 480 hours to create and Linus the Lion, made up of an astonishing 65,440 bricks will be watching over his two playful cubs. There are LEGO meerkats, kangaroos, pandas and penguins and the biggest of them all, a one tonne elephant called Grey. Book online two days in advance and save 10% on the ticket price.
If the sun returns West Wittering beach is one to add to your agenda. Slightly further away than the other suggestions, at around a two hour drive, it promises to be worth it. It boasts the highest water quality and excellent facilities which have made it one of the premier Blue Flag beaches in the country. There’s plenty of parking and picnic areas and at low tide, shallow lagoons for children to splash around in.