From climbing trees to camping out in the wild, and skimming a stone to rolling down a really big hill, kids can let loose across the county tackling these 10 challenges to tick off...
1. BUILD A DEN: There are plenty of woodlands to head for across the Garden of England. Our pick is Betteshanger Country Park in Deal, where you can wander for hours in the 121 hectare site of the former Betteshanger colliery. If your youngsters could do with some instruction, why not book for the Really Wild Wooders Family Forest Skills Day on Bank Holiday Monday, May 29, between 10am and 2pm, when you can learn to build a den, make woodland crafts and spend time swinging on the rop swing and relaxing in the hammock. To book call 01304 619227 or visit betteshanger-park.co.uk
2. CRAZY CREATURES IN A ROCK POOL: Want to see a crab up close (but make sure you put it back afterwards)? Many of Kent’s beautiful beaches reveal their rockpool delights at low tide and give young trackers the chance to see some sea creatures and catch a crab – also part of the challenge. Tankerton Beach has breathtaking views and a promenade, plus rockpools to revel in. While there, there’s a grassy slope where your young ones can also try out No.2 challenge – roll down a really big hill.
3. DISCOVER WHAT’S IN A POND: There are plenty of pools around the county to dip into, but Kent Wildlife Trust’s pond at Tyland Barn in Sandling, near Maidstone, has plenty of treasures which young trackers can check out. The trust holds regular events where children can learn about pond life and wildlife. For details go to kentwildlifetrust.org.uk
4. EXPLORE INSIDE A TREE: So many trees, so little time. Head to Ightham Mote, near Borough Green, where there is an ancient woodland, Scathes Wood, which runs alongside the long driveway. You can search for a suitable tree in the 15 acres of woodland – at least one is sure to shape up. For details visit nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote
5. FIND YOUR WAY WITH A MAP AND A COMPASS: One of those older, wiser children who’ve reached their 12th birthday recommends Chartwell, near Westerham, for this challenge in the National Trust’s book, 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 and 3/4. The former home of Sir Winston Churchill has more than 80 acres of woodland and farmland to explore, as well as the gardens which inspired Churchill to paint. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell for more.
6. FLY A KITE: There’s nothing as freeing as watching colourful kites take to the skies. There are a number of kite festivals where you can watch and try, including the 30th anniversary weekend of the Teston Kite Festival at Teston Country Park, Maidstone, on Saturday, August 12 and Sunday, August 13. Or for a free and easy family day, head to the coast and visit South Foreland Lighthouse, at St Margaret’s at Cliffe, near Dover. Spend time with games, trails, deck chairs and kite flying with those coastal breezes. For details head to nationaltrust.org.uk/south-foreland-lighthouse
7. GO BIRDWATCHING: Samphire Hoe, near Dover, is the spot to catch some special birds in the wild. Flying in to spend seasons on our shores, you can see birds from other countries as well as plenty of seabirds, as the site is right on the coast. With easy parking, a cafe and regular workshops and days held there, your young ones will not even notice they’re learning about wildlife. For details go to samphirehoe.co.uk
8. GO ON A REALLY LONG BIKE RIDE: If your family have your own bikes, you can head anywhere to tackle a long bike ride, but if you need to get your hands on two wheels, try Bewl Water at Lamberhurst, where you can hire bikes and head off around the trails yourselves, whether it’s around the countryside, or on the edge of the reservoir. There are also plenty of places to picnic and a great adventure play park in the woods for kids to let off steam. To book your bikes, visit bewlwater.co.uk
9. JUMP OVER WAVES: With miles and miles of coastline, you’re spoilt for choice in Kent, but when you’re under 11 and three quarters, you want to feel the sand between your toes and know that there’s an ice cream nearby. Head to Broadstairs and jump the waves at Viking Bay, where there are chip shops and ice cream parlour’s a shell’s throw away, and parents will be happy as the bay is sheltered. Visit visitthanet.co.uk/attractions/viking-bay for details.
10. VISIT A FARM: All children love to see real farm animals mooing and clucking. Where better to check them out than the Rare Breeds Centre in Woodchurch, near Ashford, where there is even pig racing to watch between 10am and 5.30pm daily. Go to rarebreeds.org.uk for details.
THE NATIONAL TRUST GUIDE
With countryside and coastline, Kent has everything you need to tackle the National Trust’s ultimate guide to 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 and 3/4.
The trust’s guide has five sections each with 10 activities, which get more adventurous as you go on. The trust wants grown-ups to share in the joy and supervise their youngsters as they try them out. And if you haven’t tried some of them – it’s never too late (just forget your age!). The trust has an adventure notebook where you can note down where you tried the activities and what you learnt.
There are other guides, including nighttime adventures and getting messy. For details click here
* Senior features writer Angela Cole and her daughter Rachel – who is 11 and 3/4 this month – tried out many of these activities (just in time!)