Great Missenden, Chilterns
Woodland walk, fun museum and pub lunch? That’s our kind of day out. Books for the daughter, exercise for me, food for dad…
Catch a train from Marylebone to Great Missenden (40 mins) home to the small-in-size, big-in-personality Roald Dahl Museum. The celebration of the life and work of the famous children’s author reopens this weekend following a few months of flood damage repair work. A family ticket (including 3 kids) is a steal at £22.60, frankly.
After exploring its multi-room interactive displays, the family can go a-hunting… Fantastic Mr Fox and Matilda are just two stories that feature scenes inspired by the author’s local countryside. Go to the museum’s website to find a map to a lovely little jaunt through the woods, passing kissing gates, valleys and farmland. Plus there’s an activity sheet of games and fictitious landmarks to tick off. We all enjoyed the picture frame game whereby everyone finds four sticks to make an imaginary view finder and sketches a pretty or unusual view.
If you’re lunching, we recommend the Cross Keys on the high street for its extensive pub grub menu with big range of kids’ dishes, puddings and gluten-free choices. Their website also lists a longer, 3 mile walk – which might appeal to anyone having pud, of course. Or you can go for longer hikes including a climb of Coombes Hill.
South Downs, Sussex
If it’s a dog-friendly, kid-friendly breath of fresh air with a Halloween twist that you’re after, then the Slindon Estate on the South Downs could be the answer – an easy National Trust 4.5-mile walk, rich with wildlife and history, framed by autumnal beech trees.
To reach the estate, direct trains run to Arundel from London Victoria. By car, Slindon is on the A29, just north of the junction with the A27, park at the Park Lane carpark. Depending how far along the 25 miles of public footpaths you go, you can pass a medieval deer park, a Druid’s grove, a post-Napoleonic War folly and an Early Stone Age raised shingle beach. These days, the sea laps the shoreline several miles further south, of course, but you can still see the coast – gaze east along the rise and fall of open chalk fields, over a Roman road, past Chichester Cathedral’s spire, across the Solent to the Isle of Wight on a clear day. Just beautiful!
For little legs, a circular hike ending up at a well-known pumpkin art display that makes national headlines will do nicely. For over 20 years, the Slindon Pumpkin Festival has turned this sleepy Sussex village into Britain’s pumpkin capital, with mural displays of 80+ varieties of pumpkin and squash. Unique!
Claire L is a mum of 2 kids (5 & 8 years old) and lives in North London with her family.