Spring activities in Devon
Spring is such a welcoming time of year - it warmly signals a time of fresh beginnings, more pleasant weather and a refreshing increase in the number of daylight hours, lifting spirits and restoring energy levels.
Here are some ideas to put a spring in your step…
Visit Dog-Friendly Attractions
For many families, whether an attraction is dog-friendly or not, will be the deciding factor of a destination for a day trip. Fortunately, many of our local attractions welcome dogs - in fact, you may be surprised at how many places are happy to accommodate your pet. Some venues welcome well-behaved dogs on leads, supply dog bins and water bowls on café terraces. Some even have designated doggy tables in their cafés and showers to wash down the dirty fur of any of our four-legged friends who have had, perhaps, too much of a good time rolling around in the mud.
- Do prevent your dog from chasing wildlife and farm animals
- Do keep your dog in sight
- Do bag dog poo and bin it in the special bins
Decorate Flower Pots
Add a welcome splash of colour to the garden by encouraging the children to paint or embellish a flower pot. Plain terracotta or ceramic pots are usually cheap and can be bought at many of the garden centres or home stores.
Go on a Spring Flower Walk and Trail
Spring flowers really do brighten up the landscape and can be spotted on many trails and walks throughout the county. Children are able to learn about how the appearance of certain flowers signify the changing of a season.
Snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and bluebells flourish within a short space of each other but their appearance always follows the same sequence.
There are beautiful bluebell walks in Meldon Woods near Okehampton; Brownsham Wood in Bideford; Fingle Bridge near Drewsteignton; Borough Woods in Ilfracombe; Buckland Abbey in Yelverton and Salcombe Hill in Sidmouth – where often the aroma is equally as pleasing as the sight of the flowers.
Make a Welly Planter
Children tend to outgrow their wellies at a rapid pace of knots, so rather than sending the old boots to recycling heaven, how about re-using them in a way to add a funky, quirky feature for your garden? Start of by drilling some holes into the sole of the boots to enable the water to flow freely through the boot. Next, add some pebbles to the bottom of the boot, this will add some weight and keep it steady. Then pack in some compost, then plant your flower or seeds. Finish by sprinkling the plant or seeds with some water and placing the welly planter on full display for all to admire.
See and Cuddle Some Newborns
There’s something about new-born animals that children seem to absolutely love.
At this time of year, the fields are filled with newborn lambs bleating loudly and the Easter chicks are simply lovely in their yellow fluffy splendour.
The great news is that many of the farm parks and attractions have plenty of cute baby animals to see, feed and cuddle.
Help Out at a Beach Clean
The local beaches are wonderful places to be during the spring months. The summer crowds haven’t yet arrived, the sands have been freshly cleaned and yes, most of the time the weather is reasonably warm. You can contribute to this welcoming environment by helping out at one of the many beach cleans across the county.
Then, enjoy learning more about the sea-life you have helped to save at one of the fun rockpool rambles. Find some Beachwatch beach clean events on the Marine Conservation Society’s website - www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/events; or on the North Devon AONB’s website - www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk/beach-cleans; or on the South Devon AONB’s website - www.southdevonaonb.org.uk/explore/events/. Surfers Against Sewage is hosting a Big Spring Beach Clean from 6 to 14 April 2019 – if you want to get involved see www.sas.org.uk/our-work/beach-cleans/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a look at what’s happening in the region this spring…
Roarsome Fun at iBounce Exeter
iBounce Trampoline Park is a family friendly, fun filled environment perfect whatever the weather.
Children can burn off some energy bouncing on the trampolines that are lined up wall to wall or perhaps enjoy a game of dodgeball before launching themselves onto the giant airbag!
The iBounce Park in Exeter now has a brand new soft play centre with a dinosaur theme, so the little ones can have even more ‘roarsome’ fun. To find out more visit: www.i-bounce.co.uk
A Marble-ous Destination, Come Rain or Shine
There’s plenty to be amazed and amused about at House of Marbles this spring. This marble-ous attraction has no admission charges and has lots of wonderful sights to behold for all ages with a working glassworks, four fun museums, bespoke interactive marble runs and a penny press. As well as family friendly dining and shopping there’s ample free parking too. A nostalgic Brass Rubbing Trail is also available to complete for just £1! For details see www.houseofmarbles.com
Play Top Trumps at Paignton Zoo
You can find a new version of an old favourite at Paignton Zoo this year. In this special Top Trumps, guests can pit Zoo animals against each other – learning and discovering as they go.
The trail, launched at Easter, is fun, interactive and has a conservation learning element. Guests buy a Super Top Trumps Card when they arrive at the Zoo; each card comes with a trail activity sheet with instructions on how to play and space to record results. There are twelve giant cards around the Zoo for guests to discover.
Plus, there are six Super Top Trumps Cards to collect. Each card contains amazing facts and figures about that animal, such as height, weight and strength.
Guests can hand in their trail sheets; there’s an online table of top scores and everyone who returns a trail sheet will be entered into a monthly prize draw. Read more at www.paigntonzoo.org.uk
One Stop for Epic Adventures!
Discover archery, a 150 metre zipline, outdoor rock-climbing on a 70ft crag, abseiling, a high ropes tree top adventure, canoeing and kayaking with Dynamic Adventures on the beautiful Dartington Estate with its gardens, cafes and shops.
Leave children with the experienced team of instructors at Dynamic Adventures or join in for some family fun. Everyone’s welcome – whether you’re 6 or 86, a beginner or a pro, or want a 1 hour, half or full day session. Book now at dynamicadventurescic.co.uk or call 01803 862725.
Family Fun, Whatever the Weather!
Located in Torquay, just off the seafront, the Riviera Centre offers fun for all the family whatever the weather.
Waves Leisure Pool has a unique sloping floor, wave machine, flume and pirate water play features. It offers dip ‘n’ dine packages, fun sessions and under 3’s swim for free.
The Aqua Lounge Café offers a selection of snacks, drinks and meals, including fresh cakes and Starbucks coffee.
There’s also a soft play feature for the under 8’s. For more information visit: www.rivieracentre.co.uk
Climb this Easter - at the South West’s Largest Indoor Climbing Centre
There’s plenty to lift you off the ground at The Quay Climbing Centre, in the heart of Exeter, whether you are looking for some weekend fun with the family or want to work off some steam at one of the after-school and weekend junior climbing clubs.
With longer and warmer days approaching, why not head to Dartmoor for an outdoor climbing adventure with the team from the Quay, who run full and half day outdoor taster sessions. Call 01392 426850 to find out more.
Get Adventuring on Dartmoor
You don’t need to be staying at YHA Okehampton to grab an adventure. Adventure Okehampton has something to whet your appetite for fun, with 5 different days out on Dartmoor, suitable for all the family. Choose from rock climbing, to paddling down the River Exe, a day of high ropes, bush-craft or mountain boarding.
Adventure Okehampton also runs a full day Adventure Club for children aged 8 to 16 years that is packed with supervised, adventurous activities, costing from just £38. These include watersports days, action days and more challenging rock climbing and paddling days. Discounts are available for multiple bookings. Check out www.adventureokehampton.com/day-adventures
Get into a Green Space with Teignbridge Countryside Rangers
This spring, Teignbridge Countryside Rangers will take you on a journey of discovery. Junior Ranger is a free membership for youngsters - just join up on one of the activity days. Wild weekends are held monthly – just drop by and learn why rodents are remarkable, weave some willow and be there for a beach clean. For details email email@example.com or see www.teignbridge.gov.uk/greenspacesevents
Brolly Good Show at Princesshay
To welcome in Spring 2019, Princesshay is holding a family day on Friday 12 April.
The free event will feature live music throughout the day, street entertainers, a stylist area with free advice from a professional stylist plus a beauty lounge, free taster treatments and advice.
For more information on the event visit www.princesshay.co.uk or follow Princesshay Exeter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Hooray – it’s May!
May Day celebrations begin a month of festivals, shows and fun-filled occasions. It’s a time of year when communities congregate in city halls, village greens and town squares to mark the longer days and revel in the best of the season.
Although May Day falls on the first day of the month, the traditional celebrations and festivities happen at any point during the first weekend of May.
This timely celebratory occasion was chosen as it marked the date when most of the ‘seed sowing’ had been completed, making it a convenient time to give farm labourers a day off from their duties.
Interestingly, taking off the first Monday of the month as a Bank Holiday only started back in 1978. As the May Day festivities, had been enjoyed by many communities throughout the centuries, the Labour Government at the time decided to mark the occasion, by granting the first Monday in May as a Bank Holiday, giving families a day off from work and school.
Over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, many towns and villages celebrate with communal fetes, traditional festivals and shows.
Often, the celebrations are quirky affairs featuring Morris dancing, Maypole dancing and novel processions displaying unique characters to the town where they are taking place. Streets and parks are often dressed in bright flags, flowers and greenery, and live music from town bands, teams of drummers or accordion players, all contribute to a lively, convivial atmosphere.
A key part of the May Day celebrations is the maypole, which is placed at the hub of the action, bringing the community together.
Local primary school children often participate in the Maypole dancing, which involves a fun dance using coloured ribbons that are eventually woven into a pretty pattern around the pole.
Pairs of boys and girls, positioned at the base of the pole, and holding the end of a ribbon, weave in and around each other, with the boys going one way and girls going the other.
Aside from May Day celebrations there are plenty of other activities for families to enjoy throughout the month