Things to do around Exmoor for families
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Minehead has a lovely long sandy beach and a promenade offering traditional seaside attractions. The pebble beach near the harbour is over a mile long, with views across the Bristol Channel to Wales. The South West Coastal Path starts in Minehead, and goes all the way to Poole in Dorset. You can’t miss it – there’s a huge sculpture of a pair of hands holding a map. For more organised activities, Butlin’s is a short walk away and offers events for all the family which can be purchased on day passes www.butlins.com/day-visits/minehead/
West Somerset Railway
The steam train runs from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton. If you go the distance – the longest in England – you’ll see the sensational views of the Quantock Hills, farmland, coastline and views over Exmoor National Park. Each station on the route is worth a look. There are always special events on the line, depending on the time of year, including Steam Galas and rover tickets, first class dining on the Quantock Belle and Christmas Thomas specials for the kids. westsomersetrailway.digitickets.co.uk/tickets
Ponies are one of the defining features of Exmoor’s rugged landscape. To see ponies being cared for by the charity the Exmoor Pony Centre, visit the centre in Ashwick, Dulverton. http://www.exmoorponycentre.org.uk/ If you want to ride, try the Brendon Manor Riding Stables for horses and ponies suitable for everyone from the novice to experienced rider. www.brendonmanor.com
For fun for all the family, visit Tropiquaria Animal & Adventure Park in Washford village. It’s a great day out for adults and children of all ages. Hold a snake or tarantula in the Tropical Hall and see a wide range of fish in the aquarium. There’s outside play with a full-size pirate ships, an Indoor Play Castle, puppet show and many animals all around the grounds. Don’t miss the lemur monkeys! www.tropiquaria.co.uk/
You’ve come to the seaside so you’ll probably want to go swimming at some point. During the summer months when the sea is warm you have wide sandy beaches to sunbathe on before you take that dip. Minehead beach has sand and is very popular. Dunster beach of pebbles has great views and lovely restored beach huts. Blue Anchor is a large flat sandy beach, with plenty of parking and views for miles. And when you’ve tired of that and the steam train running along the coast, relax in the much-feted café. Porlock Weir has a tiny pebbled beach at the ancient harbour. Further afield, Kilve beach is famed for its fossils and Woolacombe has a sandy beach. For more information on beaches, please go to www.classicguide.co.uk/beaches-in-somerset.html where you’ll find all the information you’ll need to know.
Exmoor features miles of way-marked bridle paths and forest tracks suitable for mountain biking. You can hire bikes from Channel Adventure in Minehead, or Exmoor Adventures at Porlock Weir. We have bike racks at The Old Sweet Shop and Stone Barn. Please note that bikes are stored at your own risk and there is no cover for any of your property under our building insurance policies. This is also the case if you have taken insurance from a third-party holiday lettings agency.
And finally, in Minehead, try the Hairy Dog in The Avenue which has an enormous climbing frame with rope bridges, slides and ladders for children of all ages. www.thehairydog.co.uk/playground
Further afield is Puxton Park
Close to Weston-super-Mare is Puxton Park, a newly opening family run adventure park. This is described by local Mumsnetters as a “not to be missed” attraction. Set in 40 acres of countryside, you’ll find mini golf, a miniature railway, falconry, farmyard animals who you can feed and pet throughout the day, a milking parlour, owl encounters and much more. Be sure to bring your wellies and be prepared to get stuck in down on the farm! www.puxton.co.uk
If it rains
As well as a whole host of outdoors activities, there’s plenty to keep the children occupied in the event of wet weather. You’ll find plenty of board games and DVDs in your cottage, but we can also suggest lots of indoor activities.
The Hollywood Bowl in Taunton has 21 lanes, off peak pricing before noon on weekdays and you can reserve online or by phone (essential in school holidays). www.hollywoodbowl.co.uk
Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre
On a wet day, Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre is a short drive away at Porlock Vale. There are indoor shows with birds of prey, as well as horse riding and even alpaca treks. www.exmoorowlhawkcentre.co.uk
You’ll find soft play and coffee facilities at The Hub, a community based facility in Minehead – the perfect solution for letting off some steam in case of bad weather.
At Taunton there’s a huge play warehouse, AJ’z with a dedicated area for under threes as well as larger equipment for older children. www.ajzactivitycentre.co.uk
This is a much-loved facility for kids and families. There’s a Skate Park, climbing wall and bouldering wall, music studio and IT suite. And a free modern café too. The walls are a particular favourite with families. From 10-12 every day there’s a ‘Diddy Dudes’ session for kids aged 7 and under with three bouncy castles, scooters and trampolines. Definitely worth checking out if it’s going to be a rainy day. www.mineheadeye.co.uk