We are so thankful to our Guest writer, the fabulous Laura of Hilton Health for taking all the hassle out of deciding what to do for the next few days! Here are her Top Ten things to do in the lead up to New Years….
The presents have been opened, you have spent hours putting all the new toys and games together and hunting for the right batteries for them all, you’ve cooked enough food to feed half of Bath and are now trying to find creative ways to use up the turkey. You are in Christmas limbo land, that bizarre week between Christmas and New Year during which nothing is operating quite as normal.
You feel the need to burn off some calories, and your children are still super excitable and in desperate need of ways to burn off that excess energy. Here are a few suggestions for ways in which the whole family can use this week to have some fun, active time together so that you not only get to burn off some calories and energy, but you have a lovely time together in the process.
- Walking in a winter wonderland
We are spoilt for choice of walk options in our beautiful local area. You don’t necessarily have to go off anywhere new or go very far. Just pull your wellies on, get the woolies on and head out. If, however, you do fancy a walk somewhere different, here are a few suggestions.
- The Skyline – If the views alone are not enough to entice the children to enjoy the Skyline walk though (they sadly aren’t for mine), the two-mile section of it that is set up as a ‘Family Discovery Trail’ may just do the trick. This takes in the brilliant woodland play area at Claverton Down and the ‘Long Wood Elf and Fairy Foray’ where children delight in finding the fairy doors nestled in the tree trunks. This trail definitely encourages my children to walk further than normal without moaning.
- Velvet Bottom @ Cheddar Gorge – It’s a bit further away but is a flat walk with plenty of interest thanks to the way in which the landscape has been altered by the area’s mining past.
- Kelston Roundhill Walk – You can follow this route around Kelston Roundhill, and when sign posted drop down to Bath Soft Cheese Co where you can visit their cafe for a cheese toastie or hot chocolate, and watch the cows being milked.
- Black Dog Woods – 14 miles from Bath this completely wild wood feels worlds away from the stresses of everyday life. Click here for a map.
2. Ice, ice, baby
It’s fabulous how many ice rinks are around over the festive period now. Not only is this is a lovely festive activity the whole family can take part in, but it is a great way to get active too. And thankfully all abilities can now enjoy ice skating thanks to skating aids kids (and – let’s face it – wobbly adults) can use to help them balance.
Some great local ice rinks can be found in Royal Victoria Park, Whitehall Garden Centre and if you are up for travelling a bit further the Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare has a huge covered ice rink as well as a brilliant snow slide.
3. Whizz down those hills
Keeping with the theme of winter sports, another option is a session of sledging, skiing or snowboarding at Mendip Snowsport Centre. Experienced skiers or snowboarders over eight-years-old can attend drop-in sessions. Those without experience can book onto a “TRY” session. Alternatively those who are between four and 12 years old can enjoy an hour-long tobogganing session. Whichever activity you choose you can recuperate afterwards in the lovely Alpine Lodge.
4. Balance, bounce and stretch
If you often watch your children in soft play centres with some level of envy, you should make the most of the Family Gym sessions taking place at Baskervilles Gym on December 23rd and January 3rd. You can bounce, roll and test your balance alongside your kids. It’s a great way to have fun whilst being active together.
The popularity of trampolining centres can only be a good thing in this modern world in which we are all far too sedentary, both at work and in our leisure activities. We have several great options in our local area so why not grab your trampolining socks and burn off some mince pie calories with a bounce. Great options include Better Extreme in Bath, Flip Out in Longwell Green, Free Dog near Temple Meads in Bristol, or AirHop at Cribbs Causeway.
6. A shot in the dark
If you find adventure golf in the daylight a little too easy, why not challenge yourself at Bath’s adventure golf course, which has gone all festive on us with a glow-in-the-dark course. See the website for more information.
7. Reach for the sky
Another great activity the whole family can take part in together is climbing. The brilliant thing about climbing is that it is a mental as well as a physical workout. Not only this but everyone on the wall is challenging themselves, whereas in some activities if adults are doing it alongside kids they’re not being stretched themselves. Writhlington Leisure has a great climbing wall and has open ‘Clip and Climb’ sessions between 9am and 11am every Saturday and Sunday. There’s no need to book, own climbing gear or have any previous climbing experience. Anyone over five-years-old can take part once they have had a short induction.
Further afield The Climbing Academy: The Church (formally known as Undercover Rock) in St Werbergh’s, Bristol is an incredible climbing facility set within an old (you guessed it) church. It offers climbing courses for anyone over six, drop-in sessions, family taster sessions, and climbing clubs. It’s a fantastic facility that we’re very lucky to have on our door step.
For a less serious option there’s Clip ’n Climb just off the M32 in Bristol, which has fun themed climbing walls. Book in, turn up, receive your harness, listen to the safety briefing and you’re away. Anyone over four can take part.
8. Run free
If you prefer to brave the elements you could go for a family run. All you need to do is pull on your trainers and head out the door. If you think your children would enjoy a run that feels like a proper event then you could sign up for Junior parkrun, which is open to children who are between four and 14 years old. The 2k event takes place every Sunday at 9am at Odd Down Sports Ground. It costs nothing to take part, you just need to sign-up on the website before your first event.
9. Park life
We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to park in our local area. This is such a great activity, costs nothing and if you play with your kids you don’t only get a workout, but lots of other benefits too. Former Play Development Officer for B&NES Claire Sands says, “Joining in when your kids are playing in park offers so many benefits besides the opportunity to be physically active. It’s good for family connection, attachment, relationships, emotion regulation, emotional health, mental wellbeing and more.”
Royal Victoria Park’s incredible park is an obvious choice, but it can get overwhelmingly busy and when you have several children it can be hard to keep tabs on them all.
Here are some slightly calmer, but no less wonderful options:
- SandPits in Oldfield Park – This lovely park has a stream running through it so is great for welly wading.
- Alexandra Park – Offers views over beautiful Bath and you will spot many squirrels amongst the trees.
- National Trust Woodland Play Area in Combe Down (mentioned above)
- Radstock Park – Has a good range of play equipment and, being next to the cycle path, means you can pair a play with a cycle or scoot. This is great for anyone who got new wheels for Christmas that they are desperate to try out in a safe environment.
- Alice Park – With its pretend road, like Radstock Park, it’s a great place to put any new wheels to the test. It is also has a lovely cafe which is open every day except Christmas Day.
10. Splashing Around
It’s a classic but this list wouldn’t be complete without the mention of swimming. Although December and January days don’t exactly inspire us to want to strip down to nearly nothing, once you’re all splashing around having fun in the water it’s worth it.
Bath Leisure Centre’s recently refurbished swimming pool has a 25m pool for “proper swimming”, or for more of a fun splash around you can enjoy its fun leisure pool complete with water play equipment and a flume.
Hopefully you now have plenty of inspiration for ways you can have a fun family time whilst being active between Christmas and New Year. I’d love to find out what you get up to, so please let me know, or share any other suggestions with me via ‘Hilton Health’ on Facebook or ‘Hilton_Health’ on Instagram. I look forward to hearing all about it.
Laura Hilton is a nutritionist, personal trainer and mum of three from Timsbury, near Bath. For more healthy tips for busy parents head to HiltonHealth.co.uk, ‘Hilton Health’ on Facebook or ‘Hilton_Health’ on Instagram.