5 tips for planning a family adventure away from the crowds
Wow. Aren’t we lucky with this amazing spell of weather? With lockdown restrictions easing, we’re all (understandably) hoping to enjoy some extra time outdoors.
That said, the news reports keep warning of busy and over-crowded natural tourist hotspots. Popular beaches and walks are so crowded that social distancing becomes difficult which can cause worry and stress – exactly what we don’t need right now! Below I have listed some ideas to plan an outdoor adventure and avoid the crowds this year as well as some recommendations of places to go.
So how to avoid the crowds and enjoy a much needed breather outside? There are a few easy tips to help find your own space;
1. Look at a map
I’m a self-confessed map nerd. I love them. But they’ve never been so useful. You can view google maps online, buy an OS map of your local area via the OS website or in a local petrol station, or download the OS map app.
How to use the map
Use the map to search for places that are likely to be quieter. Ideally, large open spaces, woods, long stretches of coastline, and where possible, places a little further away from towns. Here you’re more likely to find the space you need. It can also be a fun game – pick somewhere on the map that you know nothing about and head there – it’s a bit like bingo, sometimes you get totally lucky and find a hidden gem and other times you end up in a bog….
2. Avoid car parks
Anywhere with a car park is likely to attract people and I’ve seen our local car parks totally over-flowing in the past week. Find a different place to start your walk from, or a separate area of beach away from a car park. There are plenty of safe places to park as long as you’re not blocking passing places, field entrances needed by farmers, tracks, driveways etc. In general I find the further away you are from a car park, the fewer people. Pack a picnic in your backpack and walk as far as your and any little legs with you can go.
3. Explore local
The Lake District Tourist Board have some great advice about how we can use this time to really explore our local areas. Check that map again and find somewhere to explore that is local to you and that you’ve never been to.
4. Large spaces
Inevitably smaller spaces like a small beach, a lake with limited access, or a local park will have more people in a smaller space and make it impossible to avoid the crowds this summer. Instead, head to large woodlands where you can free-roam, or local hills, peaks or moors with more space to ramble.
5. Find a new footpath
Why not spend the day adventuring down a new footpath that you’ve never used before? Unless you live in a very touristy place, your local footpaths are likely to be relatively quiet.
Where can I walk?
Here are a few of our favourite walks that are so spacious that social distancing is inevitable!
1. Crook Peak, Somerset
This is my son’s favourite walk. You can either take the extreme climb straight up to the peak (our favourite) or a more gentle incline along the ridge of the peak. From here, see 360 views over the Severn Estuary, all the way to Cheddar reservoir, and over the Somerset levels. From the peak there are many footpaths you can take to explore more. See if you can find the hidden cave…. In Somerset you could also consider Dolebury Warren, Draycott Sleights, or Beacon Batch for space and view
2. Dead Woman’s Ditch, Quantocks
This is a beautiful, eery walk with wind swept trees covered in moss and beautiful views over the Quantocks. There’s a number of car parks that you can use which I have never seen other cars in. There is so much space here and so many routes you can take that you’re unlikely to even see another person! Take a picnic and a map and spend the day exploring this beautiful area.
3. Stockhill woods, Somerset (or any woods)
The great thing about woods is that you don’t have to follow the footpaths. Adventure into the depths of the woods and build a den! You can play a game of hide and camouflage if you happen to see anyone else.
4. Corfe Castle from Knowle Hill, Dorset
Corfe Castle and this part of Dorset can be really busy but you can admire the views of the beautiful ruins of Corfe Castle from Knowle Hill (footpath behind the church). There’s a beautiful meadow to have a picnic too. There are lots and lots of spacious hillforts across Dorset which are perfect for a spacious walk and a picnic.
Dartmoor is HUGE and you can walk pretty much anywhere. If you’re going out for a walk on the moor just avoid Haytor, Hound Tor, and Dartmeet as this is where everyone else is!
Find more details on awesome places to explore on Dartmoor here.
6. Fancy a swim?
Best to avoid the crowds this summer on busy popular beaches. Why not find a stream or a river and walk up it as far as you can? You might find some deep pools for a quick dip or, if not, the ankle deep water will keep you cool.
Check out our top Wild Swimming spots in Somerset here.