Caroline Mills

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From Beatrix Potter to Robin Hood events and more, enjoy this summer's motorhome holidays with Caroline Mills' guide to family-friendly UK attractions

Still looking for places to go in Britain this summer with the kids? Caroline Mills offers up a bevy of new attractions and family events that will send you on your way across Britain for notable motorhome holidays with children.

The summer holidays will soon be here and kids will be clamouring for something to do in their lengthy break from school. You may be thoroughly organised and have something planned for every day that the little mites are at home. 

On the other hand if, like me, that final term of the academic year suddenly catches up with you and you realise nothing’s booked for your summer holiday, never fear – you’ll find some superb ideas here for a British family staycation and a quick romp around the UK. There’s lots going on, with new family attractions and some exciting events that the kids will love. 

Besides, now's your chance to show the kids that it can be exhilarating to take off and go motorhome touring wherever the mood takes you. Here’s to a great British summer in 2016!

Flying high over Brighton

At 162 metres high and with an observation pod rising to 138 metres, the British Airways i360 will be Britain’s highest observation point outside London – taller even than the London Eye – when it opens in time for the school summer holidays in 2016. Cruise up slowly in the glass viewing pod to enjoy breathtaking 360˚ views of up to 26 miles over Brighton, the South Downs and the coastline as you’ve never seen them before. There’s a Sky Bar and stylish brasserie, aiming to source locally-produced food from the 26-mile radius of the South-East that can be seen from the observation tower, while children will enjoy the play zone and interactive exhibition.

To extend your stay on the South Coast, why not stop over at the Brighton Caravan Club site? It’s only a short bus journey to the town centre for a stroll along the seafront, visit Brighton Pier, shop in the newly opened West Pier boutiques or take a tour of the impressive Regency Royal Pavilion.

Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest, the legendary stomping ground of Robin Hood will come alive with his spirit in August, when the annual Robin Hood Festival returns. The festival, taking place from 1 to 7 August 2016 and celebrating the famous outlaw and his band of Merry Men, is a favourite with families during the school summer holidays. It provides a week of free entertainment and a daily programme packed with Robin-Hood-themed events designed to educate and entertain children of all ages, as well as adults. You’ll find archery, falconry, medieval music and entertainment, jousting and traditional food. Walk through the forest and encounter many of the festival’s characters, take part in a range of family activities and visit the legendary Major Oak. 

The small and peaceful Shelford Nurseries Caravan Park, situated in an old orchard, will provide you with a quiet base after all the fun and frolics.

Learn to fish, Pembrokeshire, Wales

If you’re looking for some early pre-holiday fun between 25 June and 3 July 2016, Pembrokeshire Fish Week will be celebrating all things fishy with some 200 events and activities taking place county-wide for all ages and tastes. From fishy menus to outdoor adventures, arts and crafts to seashore foraging, the festival is a celebration of the county’s superb fish, shellfish and local produce, as well as the spectacular coastline, great angling and maritime heritage.

Pembrokeshire Fish Week casts off over the weekend of 25 and 26 June with a fantastic opening event, the Milford Fish Festival. The family-focused, fish-themed event will provide plenty of opportunity to learn how to prepare and cook fish with filleting and chef demonstrations. You can also enjoy fishy feasts while soaking up the atmosphere at the live music stage and put local eateries to the test in the Chowder Trail.

Throughout the week there will be plenty of leisurely outdoor activities to whet your appetite, from guided coastal walks, to boat and fishing trips, cycle hire to seashore foraging sessions. For keen anglers there will be fishing competitions with taster days for beginners and those simply wanting to improve their fishing skills. There are also lots of great family activities to enjoy. Children can participate in beach and river exploring, try catching crabs, or enjoy art and craft sessions. 

St David’s Camping and Caravanning Club Site bags a spectacular spot in Haverfordwest, in the far west of Pembrokeshire, but still allows easy access to the rest of the county.

25 years of The National Forest, Midlands

Did you know that England has a national forest? If you have been driving your motorhome up the M1 you might have passed a brown tourist sign and wondered what it was. Well, 2016 sees The National Forest celebrate 25 years since its inauguration, so maybe this summer is the time to explore it. Covering much of the Midlands, from Staffordshire to Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to Derbyshire, in its 25-year history over 8.5 million trees have been planted. The forest cover is now more than 20% (from the original meagre 6%), which is nearly double the average for the country. 

There are great ways in which to explore the forest with children, whether on dedicated traffic-free cycle routes, visiting the many attractions within the forest like the beautiful Calke Abbey, or walking along the 75-mile National Forest Way, Britain’s most recently-introduced long distance trail, from Stafford to Leicestershire. 

The National Forest is the first forest of this scale to be created in England for 1000 years and the boldest environmentally-led regeneration scheme in the country, using trees to bring about economic, social and environmental benefits. People can also be part of it through the 'Plant a Tree' scheme – and that includes actually planting it. What a wonderful leaving present you and your children can give to the forest, after a great family caravan holiday here.

If you enjoy cycling, the Conkers Camping and Caravanning Club site at Swadlincote is a brilliant place to stay to make the most of the woodland cycling tracks. However, if you fancy taking a hike along The National Forest Trail, Ingles Hill Caravan Park is the one for you, the site being very close to the walking route.

150 years of Beatrix Potter, Cumbria

2016 marks the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth. Her classic tales of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck and Mrs Tiggywinkle, to name a few, were dreamt up from her beloved Lake District and it was with the proceeds of her books that she bought Hill Top, now owned by The National Trust. 

If you're touring with children, visit Beatrix Potter's tiny cottage in Near Sawrey, because it is a time capsule of Potter’s life, crammed with her favourite things. Her garden is filled with the colours that made her watercolour paintings so vivid in the books. Numerous events take place throughout the year at Hill Top but, while you are in the area, it’s also worth visiting the Beatrix Potter Gallery (also owned by The National Trust) in Hawkshead. The gallery displays original artwork by Potter, with a new exhibition to celebrate what would have been her 150th birthday. 

The Lake District is filled with attractive campsites but a popular one with Practical Motorhome’s Top 100 Sites Guide voters is Park Cliffe Camping and Caravan Estate at Lake Windermere.

This is also a lovely site for adult motorhome tours in the Lake District. So, if you can manage a child-free weekend away, here are six good reasons for adults to tour the UK now.

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