Written by: Cally Worden
Is your standard choice for a holiday getaway becoming a bit stale? Beach resorts, cute cottages, camping trips and hotels can all offer guaranteed holiday fun for the family. But if you fancy injecting a little adventure into your recreation time then why not try one of these more unusual options for spending time away from home together?
B&B in a Windmill
The romance of a round windmill tower and its majestic sails is sure to appeal to young and old alike. Cley Windmill in Norfolk, dating from the 18th century, is a fine example of a windmill has been lovingly restored to welcome guests. Enjoying lovely views over Blakeney Marshes and out to the sea, and the site also offers a self-catering accommodation for 4 in the converted stables nearby.
If your kids are anything like mine, then the idea of sleeping up a tree is enough to whip them into a frenzy of hyper-excitement. Why not create special fresh-air memories with your brood, and hire a treehouse cabin from the likes of Forest Holidays, who have sites dotted around the UK.
At Happisburgh, close to Cromer in Norfolk, there is a working lighthouse complete with red and white stripes. Just next-door is the Grade II listed cottage that was formerly home to the lighthouse-keeper, and is now available to rent as holiday accommodation. Handy for the Norfolk Broads, and with a cellar that has been converted into a kids den and a safe and enclosed garden, this charming and quirky place has plenty to offer all the family.
Crown Hill Fort
Located in Devon, this unusual building is littered with replica guns and cannons – it was constructed in the 1860s to offer protection to the naval base in nearby Plymouth. Accommodation within the fort can sleep up to 8, and once the gates are closed to the public each day the fort is the perfect playground for boys and girls of all ages.
Anyone familiar with the cult 60s TV show ‘The Prisoner’ will be aware of the weird and wonderful setting that is the village of Portmeirion in Wales. Families can stay in an Art Deco hotel, self-catering cottages, or even in a castle, in this quirky, colourful place that feels like a life-size model village.
Not literally of course – staying in a pineapple would be a big soggy, but at Dunmore Park in Falkirk you can stay in an intricate stone folly, built for the 4th Earl of Dunmore in 1761, that has a curious pineapple-shaped roof structure. Presiding over a huge walled garden, the Pineapple offers holiday accommodation with a difference, and great access to some lovely parts of Scotland.
House in the Clouds
The name of this holiday retreat is more literal than that of the pineapple! The popular 1920s holiday resort of Thorpeness in Suffolk is home to an imposing and impressive water tower that dominates the landscape with its lofty seven floors. Sleeping up to 12, it is a great place to visit with extended family or friends. The top floor houses a games room that offers fabulous views of the North Sea and the surrounding countryside.
If none of these ideas take your fancy, or if money or time is tight, then I can also highly recommend investing in a cheap, lightweight pop-up tent from your local outdoors store. Creating a den in your own back garden, and camping out there overnight can offer bags of fun for youngsters at a bargain-basement price. And you have the house on-hand in case little ones get scared, cold or tired. Time to go forth and experiment in whatever way floats your boat!