This year marks 75 years since The Famous Five set off for Treasure Island in the first of the hugely-popular Enid Blyton series. Here are VisitEngland’s top tips to enjoy your own wild, outdoor adventures this summer. Lashings of ginger beer optional.
Go for a bracing wild swim
There are plenty of spots across England to indulge in a back to nature, chlorine-free swimming experience. For a gentle introduction for children try Bude Sea Pools (free), a part-natural pool filled by Atlantic tides, or in Cumbria Swim the Lakes (from £30) offers a range of wild swimming experiences in local rivers and lakes (whilst you wouldn’t catch Julian donning a wetsuit, they are provided here). For a wilder adventure (experienced swimmers only) Thurlestone Rock (free) in Devon is famous for its unusual natural arch, created over centuries by the crashing waves.
Have a picnic (ham sandwiches ahoy)
Nothing says The Famous Five more than a hearty picnic, and on 11 August (Blyton’s birthday), four RHS Gardens - Wisley in Surrey, Rosemoor in Devon, Hyde Hall in Essex and Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire - will be holding a giant picnic party to mark the occasion. It’s all part of a ‘Five go on a Garden Adventure’ series in partnership with Enid Blyton Entertainment and Hodder Children’s Books, bringing to life the much-loved values of The Famous Five: friendship, heroism, adventure, outdoors and daring. Each garden will offer family activities including themed adventure trails (Help the Famous Five find Uncle Quentin!), writing workshops, garden displays, immersive theatre, craft workshops (think making your own adventure binoculars and compass) and storytelling. Entry prices vary per garden.
Go searching for smugglers in underground tunnels
A mysterious tunnel is the epitome of a Famous Five adventure. Recreate the intrigue at Honister Slate Mine (from £8.50 per child and £13.50 per adult for a mine tour), an underground experience deep inside the 2,126 feet high Fleetwith Pike near Keswick, Cumbria. Following the route of the original mine workings, each guided adventure lasts around 2 hours and will see groups of up to 12 people led deep underground to explore a secret world of hidden passages and magnificent caverns. Mystery also abounds in Margate’s Shell Grotto (Adults £4, children £1.50) a remarkable subterranean enclave, where winding tunnels snake beside 2000 sq. ft. of magnificent symbol mosaics, made out of cockle, whelk, mussel and oyster shells.
Sleep under canvas
No Famous Five adventure was complete without a stay in a tent or caravan. Swap modern day glamping for a back-to-nature experience in one of England’s wilder spots. In South East Cornwall, Highertown Farm campsite has no formal pitches or reception – just a great countryside location in the village of Lansallos up the lane from a secluded beach and a ‘Timmy’ welcome policy (standard grass pitch from £12 a night). In Somerset, you can stay in The Famous Five Caravan used in the Famous Five TV series, now set in an apple orchard and with an open fire for cooking (from £80 per night).
Follow in the Five’s footsteps in Blyton country
Dorset’s Purbeck Coast plays a starring role in the Famous Five series and has its very own Enid Blyton Trail. Follow in the Five’s footsteps on a trip to Corfe Castle, the inspiration for Kirrin Castle (Adults £9.90; children £4.95 or free to National Trust members) by Steam Train from Swanage (return tickets £12.50 for adults and £7.60 for children), then explore the ruins (being sure to keep an eye out for smugglers). Hop on the boat to Brownsea Island – reimagined as Whispering Island by Blyton – and discover a haven of lakes, wildlife and heathland, all easily explored at just one mile long. There’s now even the chance for back-to-basics camping there, accessed via a 20-30 minute walk from the boat dock or kayaking, sailing or paddling straight to the south shore campsite from the mainland.
Learn the art of bushcraft…
Building dens and lighting fires risk becoming a lost art but there are plenty of ways brush up on your survival skills (should it ever come to that). Sea Kayak Devon offers a range of off-grid bushcraft, fishing and kayaking experiences near the banks of the River Dart. With no electricity or running water at camp, it’s true back-to-nature stuff (two-day self-catered camp from £135 per child and £175 per adult). In The New Forest National Park, this spring will see the opening of its first permanent wild play site, the Holbury Manor Park and Warren Copse, which encourages children to explore and interact with nature through activities such as den building and tracing animal tracks.
Watch out for pirates on the ‘Island of Adventure’
Just a short boat ride from the mainland, the Isle of Wight is awash with smugglers, spies and pirates, all within a space the size of inner London. New at Blackgang Chine for 2017, visitors can discover an underwater cave and abandoned sunken shipwreck (from £19.50 off peak, under 4s free). Or for a true pirate experience, head to Shipwreck Isle (free) on 2 July and help defend the island from pirates. Red Funnel is currently offering 20,000 day returns (car + 7) for just £40 each for travel from Southampton to East Cowes until 7 June (terms and conditions apply).
Get on yer bike
Cycling specialist The Carter Company has launched a new Enid Blyton tour to mark the anniversary. The luxury, family-friendly adventure starts in the village of Studland and, over five days, visits many of the Dorset sights and places that were loved by Blyton and featured in her stories, such as Corfe Castle, Kimmeridge Bay, Lulworth Cove and Stair Hole. Accommodation is at Knoll House Hotel, which was a favoured holiday spot for Enid Blyton in the 1960s. Prices from £975 per person including breakfast, dinner, accommodation, bike hire and luggage transfers). For a more spur-of-the-moment cycle, check out the Ordnance Survey Get Outside cycling guides or get a fresh two-wheeled perspective on a National trust cycle route.
For more literary holiday inspiration check out www.visitengland.com/literaryheroes
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Evelina Andrews / Louise Ferrall / Emma De Vadder
VisitEngland Press Office
Tel: 020 7578 1437 / 020 7578 1429
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