IT'S GREAT OUTDOORS
A small 18-acre working farm in Oakham, Rutland Farm Park, has lots for little ones to explore. Children can get up close and learn about the animals as well as feed them, with bags of food available to buy. There's also the chance to enjoy a cuddle with rabbits and guinea pigs in Amy's Farm Corner, while the ride-on tractors and play area are great additions.
As well as animals great and small, multi-award-winning Sacrewell Farm, in Thornhaugh, has a host of attractions including tractor rides and playground. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, head for the playbarn with its huge soft play area, pedal tractors and new play village with tool workshop, library, kitchen, gift shop, and tipi areas.
West Lodge Rural Centre is a small, family-owned farm in Desborough, where children can get hands-on with a variety of animals. The cuddle corner is home to the farm’s cute and fluffies, while larger animals like cattle, goats, and ponies roam and graze in the paddocks. There's also an outdoor play area, extensive nature trails to wander and a fun indoor play barn.
Watery fun can be found by the bucketload at Stamford's Burghley House Garden of Surprises. Features such as the moss house, shell grotto, swiveling Caesar busts, jets and mirrored maze are a firm favourite with little ones. Weather permitting, take a picnic to enjoy in the neighbouring Sculpture Garden - where this year's ‘Form and Function’ theme features some inspiring super-sized exhibits children will love.
While Rutland Water is the perfect place for a leisurely walk or bike ride in beautiful surroundings, a wildlife-spotting trip on the Rutland Belle pleasure cruiser is always a winner. For adrenaline junkies aged six and over, the hugely-popular Rutland Aqua Park inflatable course is ideal for burning off lots of energy. The layout features climbing walls, trampolines, balance bars, slides, and blast bags. Open, until September 22, youngsters must be over 1.2m tall, confident in the water and able to swim 25m unaided. Six and seven-year-olds can attend any session provided they are accompanied by a grown-up.
Belton House, near Grantham, boasts not only the National Trust's largest outdoor adventure playground, but also the biggest in Lincolnshire. The centrepiece is a giant tree house structure with four decked platforms, scramble nets, climbing wall and a 30-feet tall tower with an internal maze, mesh crawling tunnel and large tube slide. Elsewhere, there are zip wires, a net swing, giant revolving disc, gravel play area, musical play equipment and water play. As an extra treat, for a small additional charge, take a trip on the miniature train to the woods and back.
As well as a woodland adventure playground, Grimsthorpe Castle, near Bourne, has walking and cycling trails, with routes specifically designed with families in mind - avoiding steep inclines and rough terrain wherever possible.
Just outside Little Bytham village, Bythams Spinney is a fun-packed small woodland area with play equipment including a zip-wire, wobbly bridge, slides, swings, seesaw and playhouse, plus room to run around.
Fineshade Wood, in the heart of Rockingham Forest, near Duddington, features a network of trails to explore by foot or on two wheels - there's even a treehouse to discover. Or take part in the free Zog Activity Trail, looking out for characters from the story, uncovering hidden signs on reveal panels and learning as Zog did at dragon school. For a small fee you can pick up a Gruffalo orienteering map before heading out on this navigational challenge to find 12 Gruffalo markers hidden in the deep, dark wood. The visitor centre has an outdoor play area if the children still have the energy!
On the outskirts of town, Bourne Wood has a pleasant walk, skip or run, to the ponds, a sculpture trail and parkland for playing.