Every Monday during the school summer holidays the Family Adventure Store are running Kayak Capers courses on the Lower Mill Estate. A range of activities will be included: canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, raft building and wild swimming. The course is available to 8 – 14 year olds and comes with the guarantee that you will get wet! It looked and sounded like a lot of fun was being had this Monday!
The course runs from 11.00 – 13.00 each Monday and costs £25 per child and is available to guests staying on the Lower Mill Estate. For more information give the Family Adventure Store a ring on 01225 768630 or 07971 252394
Trip Advisor has just ranked Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens as the 4th best zoo in the UK. This nomination by Trip Advisor takes into account the number and quality of reviews for zoos all over the world. Cotswold Wildlife Park was also named the 12th best zoo in Europe. If you have been there you won't be at all surprised by this accolade. If you haven't then make tracks and see for yourself the wonderful diversity of creatures, and how close you can get to them – especially in the walk through enclosures. There is plenty to keep the family busy all day, and as well as seeing the animals there is a great adventure playground – the skymaze.
With temperatures soaring this week, guests on the Lower Mill Estate have plenty of options for being near or on the water. The pools at the Spa are always very popular, but if the children want some sand to play on, Cotswold Country Park and Beach is just down the road. It is home to the UK’s largest inland beach – which has just had a fresh delivery of sand! The lakes are filled by natural groundwater which means they are very clean. A visit to Cotswold Country Park and Beach offers boat hire, water zorbing, bouncy castles, crazy golf, a climbing wall, adventure playgrounds, open water swimming, cafes and of course wonderful lakeside walks.
It's that wonderful time of year when strawberries are in season. A visit to the local pick your own farm makes a lovely activity that all the family will enjoy. From the Lower Mill Estate, Lotmead Farm is just a 20 minute drive away. Here you will find an award winning farm (in 2014 they were Nationa Finalist in the FARMA Local Food Awards in the Pick Your Won category). Lotmead Farm specialises in strawberries but there are also raspberries gooseberries and sweet blackcurrants as well as seasonal vegetables.
This weekend, 27th – 28th June, Fergie, the little grey tractor will be visiting the farm. He's a big hit where ever he goes. Visit www.littlegreyfergie.com to find out more.
We have loved exploring the lakes on the Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswold Water Park in our Canadian Canoe but we have been intrigued to try out a Stand Up Paddle board (SUP). We have seen lots of pictures of people on SUPs and have watched people using them but now it was time to try them out for ourselves. The Family Adventure Store have SUPs for hire on the Lower Mill Estate so we headed in their direction. We had arranged to have a board from 11am on Saturday morning. We had imagined heading out onto the water under clear blue skies, but it was not to be. The skies were grey and it was raining. We weren’t too worried as we were fairly convinced that our first encounter with a SUP would end with wet clothes – swimming things and waterproof jackets were the order of the day. We met Jenny at the Family Adventure Store and walked to collect a SUP. The Stand Up Paddle board the Family Adventure Store have available to hire is an inflatable version – don’t think squishy beach ball – more rigid board with a tiny internal honeycomb structure making it really firm, but not too hard to carry. The other vital piece of equipment, other than buoyancy aids which we were already wearing, was the paddle. A SUP paddle is much longer than a canoe paddle and the paddle part is quite shaped. Jenny talked us through how to hold it in the water (the opposite way round to the way we would have assumed) and how to steer. As you stand in the middle of the board you steer with the start of your stroke, rather than at the end of your stroke as in a canoe. We carried the board down to the edge of Somerford Lagoon, the largest lake on the Lower Mill Estate.
Setting off on a SUP is very different to setting off in a canoe. In a canoe it is helpful if someone gives the canoe a push off into the lake. When you a standing on a SUP, the last thing you want is for someone to give the board a push, upsetting your balance and propelling you into the water without your board! We were surprised to find how straight forward it is, and were quickly exploring the lake – it’s fun being that much higher than you are when you’re in a canoe – you have quite a different view. We quickly forgot that it was raining and enjoyed using the SUP. The children were very keen to have a go. We started off with them paddling while one of us sat on the back of the board, but we soon realised that they had taken to using a SUP like ducks to water and our role was redundant! As the children are shorter instead of using the SUP paddle they used a canoe paddle. Within a short time we felt at home with the SUP – and decided it was time to collect our Canadian canoe so that we could have more of us on the water at one time. The canoe is kept in the Lower Mill Estate boat park, 10 minutes walk from Daisy Chain, or a 10 minute paddle across the lake. We discovered that the SUP was quite capable of carrying one adult and three children across the lake! At the boat park 3 of us jumped into the canoe and our son enjoyed paddling the SUP back to Daisy Chain. It was fun to watch the terns diving as we passed by.
By Saturday evening the rain had cleared and so it was time for a barbecue. It was lovely to be able to barbecue by the lakeside while the rest of the family continued to enjoy playing on the lake in the canoe and stand up paddle board. There is an island in the middle of Somerford Lagoon which is fun to paddle around. From the middle of the lake the hungry paddlers could smell the barbecue cooking and so soon returned to shore for food!
The forecast for Sunday was grey – the weather forecasters seem to excel in talking down the weather. The sun came out and we had beautiful blue skies with fluffy white clouds and very light winds. Perfect weather for paddle boarding. We set off around the edge of the lake – there is always more wildlife to be seen in the reeds at the edge and we enjoyed gliding silently towards egrets. The SUP is able to explore slightly smaller, shallower passages than the canoe, so it was fun to explore new places. By staying close to the edge of the lake we were able to come ashore to swap paddlers. Whilst we discovered that it is possible to swap vessel in the middle of the lake it was slightly more wobbly, although our confidence had meant that today we were wearing shorts and t-shirts rather than swimming things! There were lots of swans on the lake, and it was lovely to watch a couple of them running across the water, lifting off and flying across the lake.
Jenny told us that a recent guest on the Lower Mill Estate had swum around the edge of Somerford Lagoon and measured it as 2.2km. I think we’ll stick to paddling (not with our feet!) We loved our adventures with a SUP and will definitely be spending more time on them. The children were very excited to tell their friends about their adventures on returning to school this morning!
To contact the Family Adventure Store to book a SUP, or indeed a kayak or bike for your holiday on the Lower Mill Estate give them a ring on 07971 252394 Hire charges are by the day or 3 days, but have a chat about what would work for you as they are very happy to work around you.
We love getting out onto the water with our whole family and provide a Canadian Canoe for our guests to use. If you are a large group who would all like to be on the water at the same time, or if you'd like to try something a little different, the Family Adventure Store will be able to deliver a variety of water craft onto the Estate for you to rent during your stay. These include Canadian Canoes, Kayaks and Stand Up Paddle Boards. Rates start at £20 per day for a Kayak or SUP up to £95 for a Canadian Canoe for 3 days.
If you'd rather keep your feet on dry land you can also hire bikes from them – £20 per day for an adult bike. They also have children's bikes available.
For more information give the Family Adventure Store a ring on 01225 768630 or 07971 252394
A great way of exploring the Lower Mill Estate with your family is by doing the Miss Mouse Adventure Trail. The trail takes you on a route past 5 of the lakes on the estate, and along the way there are picnic areas, and treasure chests for children to find. In each treasure chest (5 in all) gold coins are hidden which can be unlocked with a special code. When all 5 coins have been collected children can then pop into the General Store where they will be rewarded with a sixth coin (pictured). The Miss Mouse Adventure Trail gives a lovely way of keeping children excited about having a walk while the older members of the family can enjoy exploring the estate. The trail starts at the Miss Mouse Meeting Hut which is near the entrance to the estate. Here you can collect a map and codes for the treasure chests before beginning your trail.
Monday 4th May sees the return of the hugely popular epic May Open Day at South Cerney Outdoor, just 5 minutes from Daisy Chain. There will be a great range of activities on offer including fun boat sailing, kayaking, canoe tours, kata kanus, stand up paddling, sailing trips, SUP racing, power boat rides and an archery competition thrown in for good measure!
This event really is something for the whole family and a great way to spend time together in the great outdoors.
There will be a hog roast and BBQ available too.
Morning and afternoon tickets are available for the bargain price of £10 – but do book ahead – it is likely to be a sell out! Phone South Cerney Outdoor on 01285 860388 to book. Visit their website at http://www.southcerneyoutdoor.co.uk/ for more details.
Morning ativities lauch at 10am and afternoon proceedings start at 2pm.
With the arrival of so much beautiful sunshine now is a great time to jump in a canoe and explore Somerford Lagoon, the lake directly in front of Daisy Chain. We have a Canadian Canoe for guests to use which is perfect for families to use to gently paddle across the lake. Paddling around the edge of the lake you can spot lots of wildlife from kingfishers to egrets. If one Canoe isn’t enough for you contact http://familyadventurestore.co.uk/ who can deliver one for you to rent onto the Lower Mill Estate.
Cotswold Falconry Centre, based at Batsford Park, near Moreton-in-Marsh, is home to about 150 birds of prey. Through education and fun, the centre aims to promote the greater understanding of birds of prey. Each year Cotswold Falconry welcomes over 20,000 visitors who enjoy daily demonstrations of free flying birds of prey. The Falconry has a history of successful breeding and has bred over 30 different species.
Cotswold Falconry Centre also offers the opportunity to have flying experiences with their birds of prey, with a range of options available, from starter experiences to owl evenings and eagle days.
A recent Trip Advisor reviewer wrote of their visit, “A fantastic day out! The flying displays were really good. You get close to owls, vultures and eagles and the knowledgeable staff explain all about the birds and how they exercise them. You can have an owl fly to your arm and the vultures swoop over your head. Brilliant! Great for adults and children alike.”