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Nikki Squires writer of the Wild Guide Central England gives some ideas to enjoy the hidden gems in the countryside around Rutland with the kids.

The sun is shining and there’s a ripple of anticipation in the air for long, lazy days with warm, balmy evenings. The opportunity to kick back and enjoy some quality family time. Mother Nature is burgeoning her wares in every corner of the garden, parkland and forest; engulfing the world in an array of bright, ambrosia-rich blooms. Foxgloves, buttercups, poppies and wildflowers galore flourish and, once again, awaken our senses to the possibilities ahead.

Nikki Squires writer of the Wild Guide Central England gives some ideas to enjoy the hidden gems in the countryside around Rutland with the kids.

The lure of the outdoors whispers to us, tempting us further afield as we peel off the restraints of the cooler months and bask in the warmer temperatures that accompany the longer days leading up to the Solstice and the summer holidays. Without the need to fend off the biting cold, amongst complaints of freezing hands and toes, summer affords us the chance to explore our beautiful countryside at a more relaxed pace. The temperate climate that we British love to bemoan and deliberate so much about is what gives us our lush green meadows, pretty summer flowers and rich, flora-dense woodlands. Once the trees are laden with leaves, blossom and the first buds of promised fruit, walks around our local areas, and indeed, further afield, become wholesome and captivating.

Getting out into the countryside, meandering around a forest, having a picnic in a field, enables us to immerse ourselves in nature. Without our laptops, phones or social media directing our thoughts and attention, our senses attune to our surroundings, we notice more, we hear more, we feel more. And it’s the little things that bring us joy: bumblebees humming around the wildflowers, re-fuelling on nectar or collecting pollen; delicate butterflies with iridescent wings, fluttering along the hedgerows; picturesque vistas greeting us atop the rolling, verdant hills.

5 tips to keep the kids happy:

  1. Set the kids (and adults) a challenge: who can find the smallest/longest stick? Who can walk backwards to the corner of the field? Who can spot an acorn? Offering lots of little challenges along the walk will keep everyone motivated, laughing and interested.

  2. A classic game of ‘I Spy’ is a great game to play with anyone of any age!

  3. Give each child a pot of bubbles to keep them entertained. I know a 17 year old who isn’t averse to one of these on a walk!

  4. Take your shoes and socks off and paddle in a steam. You can buy cheap microfibre towels that take up less room in your bag than a thermos!

  5. Make a bridge over a: stream, puddle, dip in the ground, nothing!

The Wild Guide selections:

Sykes Lane, Rutland Water

Sykes Lane beach on the north shore is a recently designated official swimming site. With lifeguards on duty from 1st July to September this is the perfect spot for those new to wild swimming and perfect for those with young children. The beach can become crowded on peak days.

Bellmount Tower, Belton, Grantham

A proud folly built primarily as a viewing tower in 1750. Although it is only rarely open to the public to see inside, the hilltop location is stunning. Locally nicknamed Brownlow’s Britches after Sir John who settled here in the 1720s, the aristocracy would, on occasion, dine here with servants carrying food up from Belton House for guests to enjoy along with the fine views across seven counties.

Merry's Meadows Nature Reserve, Greetham

A beautiful and diverse wild flower meadow in a ridge and furrow pattern just off the Viking Way, north of Greetham. The rare frog orchid can be found here, along with many others. The perfect summer picnic spot or quiet place to take a book and escape from life for a while.

Fox and Hounds, Exton

Overlooking the village green, this beautifully presented inn offers high quality food and overnight stays in a luxurious interior. With a quintessentially English country garden to enjoy in the summer and a cosy log fire for cooler days, the Fox and Hounds is a great place to enjoy in all seasons.

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