Hooray! It’s finally the summer holidays! July and August brings with it endless days for exploring, playing, discovering and generally having fun. We love a good adventure, and in our opinion, all the best adventures take place outside in nature. Fresh air, sunshine and wildlife – the perfect combination!
Build and garden den and camp out
You don’t need to go far to have an adventure – even your own garden will do! Sleeping outside is one of our favourite adventures. On a warm evening, you can listen out for the animals and insects that come out at night, and spot stars and constellations.
While you could use a tent, we think it’s even more fun to make your own den and sleep in that. You’ll need to check the weather forecast to make sure it’s not going to rain on you (although if it does you won’t have far to go!). You can use anything from the house to make a den. We reckon dining chairs with sheets or blankets over the top make a good shelter, with cushions to make a comfortable place to lie. If the ground is wet, you might want to put down a waterproof groundsheet or some bin bags first. Grab a sleeping bag or duvet, some snacks, something tasty to drink, and get ready to spot the nocturnal wildlife of your garden!
Search for treasure at the seaside
There are all sorts of amazing and unusual things to spot at the seaside, and it’s the perfect place to hunt for natural treasures.
Hunt in the rock pools, and you’ll find fish that glint and shine in the sunlight, colourful seashells, seaweed that comes in more shades of green that you ever imagined, and all sorts of species of animals like crabs, barnacles, anemones and mussels.
The Marine Conservations Society have produced a great guide to the plants and animals you can find on British Beaches. It’s free to download, or you can use it on a phone or tablet.
Your treasure hunting can also help scientists understand more about the natural world. There are two citizen science projects you can get involved in, and all you need to do is look out for certain things, then report back what you’ve found on an easy-to-use website.
When it’s time to go home, make sure you return all your treasure back to where you found it before you go. You want to leave the beach as you found it. The golden rule is ‘take only memories, leave only footprints’ – although you should of course also take your rubbish home with you too!
Make a shelter in the woods
If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big adventure! Playing in the forest is one of our favourite things, and when it gets hot in the summer time, it’s always cool and shady.
Why not see if you can construct a shelter in the woods out of the things you find there? Prop a few light, thin and long branches up against a suitable tree, make sure they are secure, then find more to fill in the gaps. A large branch or tree stump makes the perfect chair. Inside you can hide from the sun, and listening to the sound of the trees.
As you’re hunting for branches, you can also have a go at identifying the different trees around you. Look at the leaf shape, the pattern of the bark and how the branches grow from the tree trunk and with the help of a tree ID guide like the one the Forestry Commission have made, you’ll be able to tell your Chestnut from your Ash tree in no time at all.
Remember: only use branches and sticks that are already on the ground – you should never cut them off living trees.
Find the perfect picnic spot
Eating outside always makes food taste better, in our opinion, and it’s even better if you have a pretty place to eat in. Local wildlife reserves are often some of the most beautiful places to be in, with plenty of plants, animals, flowers and insects to look at while you munch on your sandwiches.
Look online and see where your local nature reserve is, then pack up a picnic and head there. If you’ve enjoyed your stay, you could make a donation to help keep it running, as many local nature reserves are run by charities or local groups of volunteers, or you could volunteer yourself to help look after it.
Being outside in nature has been shown time and again to reduce stress, relieve tension and make people feel happier, so we think it’s a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the world. A little haven of peace, quiet, nature and cake!
Try a new sport or activity
The summer holidays are the perfect time to get active outside, and with so many amazing activities to try you’re bound to find one that you’ll like.
Mountain biking – lots of Forestry Commission woods have purpose build trail centres, graded so you can find one that’s easy or challenging enough be fun on. Mountain biking is an exciting way to get out and enjoy the woodlands, and many of these trail centres will have rental shops so you don’t even need to buy a mountain bike to get started!
Surfing – there are plenty of amazing surf spots along the British coastline. If you’re tempted to get out and enjoy the water (and spot some wildlife while you play in the sea) then surfing is a great sport. You’ll learn to read the water, enjoy the calm of the open water and the thrill of catching a wave. Sign up for some lessons at a surf school, and they’ll also get you set up with a beginner surfboard to get started on.
Do some wild art
Creating art from nature can be great messy fun, and there are lots of things you can do, from mud finger painting to wild sculptures.
Mud finger painting –
Make a stick and leaf picture – Gather lots of fallen sticks, leaves, and anything else you can find on the ground. Mark out a picture frame on the ground, and get making! Create a picture using only the things you’ve found around you. Once you’ve finished it, take a picture – and we’d love to see if so share it on our Facebook page too!
Wild sculptures – There are lots of things you can create a sculpture from; sticks, stones, mud, leaves, branches and more. You can give each other sculpture challenges, or create a group of sculptures all together. How about a family of stick people, or a group of wild animals?
Don’t forget to take pictures of your creations and share them with us!
Cook your dinner outside
Food always tastes nicer when it’s eaten outside! If you’ve got a camp stove or barbecue, take it to a scenic location and eat your food outside in the fresh air. Take a picture of the view you’re having your dinner overlooking!
Try to choose food that’s been sourced locally to you, as the closer it’s come from, the lower the food miles, the lower the impact it’s had on the environment.
Don’t forget to pack up and take all your rubbish back home with you, and recycle anything that you can!