Adventure Valley, Durham

Don’t go expecting bells and whistles, this place is refreshingly all about good old-fashioned family fun!

We’re up in Newcastle introducing James to family, so thought we’d take advantage of the trip to squeeze in a visit to Adventure Valley. We’ve not been before, and after seeing mixed reviews on the internet weren’t quite sure what to expect but I’m pleased to say that we had a great day, with lots of fun and laughs!

I’m not sure what you can compare Adventure Valley to; it’s great mix of farm, play areas and soft play. As with any of these places, on a sunny day it would be fantastic- particularly for slightly older children where you could set up a picnic base and let them explore the masses of outdoor play areas.

We were impressed with the selection of animals, particularly in creature corner which housed the world’s fastest tortoise (who didn’t move) and a variety of reptiles. There are regular petting experiences- even on a week day (although no pony rides through the week). Goat mountain gave you the chance to pull food up to the goats by a train!

The play areas are fab. In the bottom field there are loads of things to explore; slides, forts, sandpits, pirate ships, zip wire… with lots of picnic tables dotted about.

The Dragon Slide was a hit…. the first time Jess went down. Second time she fell out on the way down, not quite so successful! Think maybe for a little older ones.

The Bouncing Pillows were fun, and there was a separate one for over 5s which reduced the worry of bigger children jumping all over Jess!

As well as petting activities through the day, there are tractor rides and at weekends goat racing.

Other things to enjoy;

  • The indoor soft play area (including an area for under 5s) next to the cafe, which we thought was reasonably priced. There’s also an Indoor Wild West Area.
  • Pedal Go karting track for older children and pedal tractors for those too little
  • The Runaway Races for over 4s- like a huge slide in inflatable rings

I’m sure there’s more- you can pay extra to do adventure golf too. In the summer it looks like a Maize Maze will be open.

Website: https://www.adventurevalley.co.uk

We bought tickets the day before online; as it was a weekday we paid £7.95 each (under twos free in). Personally I thought this was well worth the money. I’m not sure we’d make the trip from Yorkshire specifically for a day out here, but would certainly come again if we’re up this way and looking for a fun day out.

  • Travelling ‘oop’ North? Three child-friendly alternatives to A1 services between Yorkshire and the Borders.

    It’s always nice to break up longer journeys for kids. But services are usually lacking their need for fun and fresh air! Here are three suggestions of places we like to stop off the A1 to make travelling a bit more interesting.

    1. Switch Scotch Corner for Cross Lanes Organic Farm.

    Ok, so this is a bit of a detour… but don’t let the fact it’s 12 miles off the A1 put you off. Really it’s only 15 minutes from Scotch Corner services where you can fill up with petrol, and SURELY it’s worth it?

    Website: http://www.crosslanesorganics.co.uk

    What’s it got? A fantastic farm shop, which to be fair is worth the visit itself! It’s organic restaurant has a great menu, and with outdoor seating much more preferable than a motorway meal. There’s a decent play area, and being a farm there will be animals around to spot.

    2. Passing Newcastle? A few minutes from the Cramlington services joining the A1 and A19 is the rather unusual but spectacular Northumberlandia

    If you’re going past this way there’s really no reason not to stop at the world’s largest human landform sculpture (which is also a lovely country park).

    Website: https://www.northumberlandia.com/

    What’s it got? A visitor centre with cafe (closed Mondays) means toilets! Car parking is free, and there are even spaces for electric car charging. Walk through the smaller woodland area (spot animal homes in the trees and you could follow the woodland trail) to reach the sculpture itself. Decent paths and lots of climbing to wear out little legs. PLUS picnic benches if you’d rather sit out. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads.

    3. Sunnyhills Farm shop in Belford is just 500m from the A1.

    It might be a smaller farm shop than Cross Lanes, but its proximity to your route makes it an easy choice for a stop.

    Website: https://sunnyhillsfarmshop.co.uk/

    What’s it got? A play area, cafe with kids menu and delicious deli (amazing cake).

    Hopefully these suggestions will help you on your travels! If you find them useful let me know and I can do some more on other well-travelled routes.

    A trip to Wallington Hall, Northumberland

    A weekend at my parents gives us the perfect opportunity to visit some of the fab National Trust properties in the North East. The gorgeous sunshine drove us outdoors today, so we revisited one of our favourites; Wallington Hall.

    This must be one of the most child-friendly NT properties around with three great play areas on the estate; an adventure playground, a fort and a Train stop.

    There’s loads of things of interest as you wander round the extensive gardens… including a fairy tree!

    Today we headed down to the walled garden, just 10 minutes from the house so perfect for little legs and a great place to play hide and seek as you go!

    There are some lovely views of the lakes as you walk, and you can even spot some ducks to feed.

    There’s a small cafe in the far corner of the garden for a little cuppa and cake before you head back.

    The house itself has lots of different things to see, it’s one of those places that I fondly remember from my own childhood.

    There are also some lovely walks that you can do here- see the NT webpage for more details.

    The River Walk is just two miles, so a nice choice for families, I’d maybe go clockwise (towards the walled garden first) which means you don’t need to pass the play areas until the end of the walk (and so can use them as a bribe if needed!)

    Being a National Trust property means that there’s the usual high standard of facilities including food services, but if you did want to take a picnic there are plenty of pretty benches dotted about the estate.

    We haven’t tried cycling, but there is a place to hire bikes if you fancy it too.

    It’s a really great place to visit, and you could easily spend the day here. It’s over a two hour drive from or home in Leeds, so I probably would save a visit until I was in the area, but definitely give it a try if you can!

    Rachel xxx

    Gibside (National Trust, Newcastle), A Day Out

    Whenever we’re in Newcastle – which is pretty often as my parents still live there- we take the opportunity to visit some of the National Trust sites. Gibside is a favourite of ours, particularly at key events such as Easter when there’s a really good hunt to follow!

    Today was another visit, a fairly mild winter’s day meant that we could enjoy some of the paths (there’s plenty of exploring to do), as well as spend some time in the pretty extensive (but usually busy) playground. The hall itself is in ruins- so this is definitely one for families who like the outdoors. There’s a great Nature room that teaches children about all the wildlife they can find around the estate, as well as a room to eat those packed lunches on rainy days. You can pick up worksheets for bird spotting too!

    The main paths to the key locations in the estate are buggy friendly, and if your little ones don’t walk much yet they will be needed as there’s quite a lot of ground to cover- but most of the walking routes are unsuitable for wheels!

    If you’re in the area and are National Trust members I’d definitely give it a try- perhaps a little too far for a stand-alone visit, and if you’re paying for your trip I’d wait until there’s something on. Having said that, if your children are a little older and enjoy walking there’s plenty to do, so no need to wait!

    Rachel xx