Activity breaks: 10 top ideas for a supercharged October half-term

The Mole Resort, North Devon

In the heart of the Devon countryside sits an Arts and Crafts manor house and 58 lodges with private hot tubs. Rolling hills and 125 acres of parkland provide the ideal setting for families (and their dogs). Dive into the indoor pool then try your hand at tennis, archery or pickleball. Book a bushcraft and survival course and learn to build shelters and make fires – essential skills come the apocalypse. A jam-packed itinerary is recommended to make the most of the facilities: a fully equipped gym, group fitness classes, a spa, games room and seemingly endless child-friendly courses. Then feast in one of three restaurants, or enjoy a DIY roast dinner kit delivered to your lodge for a cosy night in (themoleresort.co.uk, from £225 a night for a 2-bed lodge for 4 people).

New Park Manor, Hampshire

Nestled in the depths of the New Forest, this luxury manor offers different activities every day through half-term, including craft sessions – from Halloween masks to pumpkin carving – in the Den, and a daily storytime with milk and cookies for younger ones (alongside 90 minutes of childcare, included in the rate). For older kids, the forest is a great playground, with horseriding and cycling – including e-bikes and tandems – on offer nearby, along with archery and kayaking on the tranquil Beaulieu River (family rooms from £323; luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk).

De Vere Cotswold Water Park, Gloucestershire

Set on the tranquil shores of one of the 180 lakes that make up the Cotswold Water Park, this stay is ideally placed for enjoying an active few days on the water. The Park offers a huge choice of watersports, from paddleboarding and kayaking to more challenging wake-boarding and water-skiing. On dry land, there are walking and cycling trails, with the chance of spotting otters, water voles and birds preparing for migration (doubles from £149 room-only; devere.co.uk).

Plas Weuyndd, Snowdonia

A fantastic base from which visitors can make the most of all the white-knuckle thrills offered by the monumental Snowdonia area, Plas Weuyndd has comfortable, unfussy rooms and is situated next door to the extraordinary Zip World caverns and the three rides that whiz passengers down to the valley floor below at dizzying speeds. Older teens will love the Antur ’Stiniog mountain biking trails, also nearby, while crowd-pleasing burgers are on offer back at base (family suite from £104 room-only; plasweuyndd.co.uk).

Augill Castle, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

Even without the activities, Augill Castle is a kids’ dream of a place to stay; a proper turreted castle that could be straight out of a classic storybook, without a hint of stuffiness or formality. Older ones will love the chance to try canyoning or ghyll scrambling, with kayaking and paddleboarding available on nearby lakes, while younger children will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, with family mealtimes, and plenty of space in the Drawing Room for games and toys – which never have to be put away. (family interconnecting suite from £240 room-only; stayinacastle.com).

Celtic Manor, Newport

This vast resort moves up a gear in school holidays, and the October half-term is no exception with pre-bookable activities including pumpkin-carving, lantern-making and indoor games such as air hockey, table football and pool. Outside, the huge resort offers high and low ropes courses and laser combat, archery (including “Archery Tots” for younger children), and a giant inflatable obstacle course. Golf – Celtic Manor’s biggest draw for adults – is open to younger members, too, with foot golf and crazy golf, as well as tuition at the resort’s Golf Academy (family room from £189 B&B; celtic-collection.com).

Crieff Hydro, Perthshire

This sprawling Victorian resort – given a contemporary spin with slick bedrooms, a state-of-the-art spa and more than 60 activities to choose from – ups the ante in half term, with quad biking in the Action Glen, zipwiring through the trees and target practice on the rifle range, along with horseriding, golf and watersports on Loch Earn. Children are welcome at all three of the main restaurants, while the swimming pool has designed “splash time” for families, leaving plenty of opportunities for quieter, parent-friendly dips (family suites from £237 B&B; crieffhydro.com).

The Belfry, Warwickshire

Book the half-term package at this Warwickshire hotel and dinner for the family is included, as well as free activities ranging from mini-golf to archery, rifle shooting and mini go-karts (age 3+). The Woodland Walk is at its most beautiful in the autumn months, with falling leaves to catch, bug hotels to spot and dens to build, while the Belfry Trail – especially for half-term – takes families around the resort, searching for hidden letters to create a message and win a prize. Evenings are a mix of movie nights or giant jenga competitions, with a kids’ library and colouring station for quieter moments (family rooms from £199, dinner B&B; thebelfry.com).

Firepits and Forestry at Watergate Bay, Cornwall

Pack wetsuits and plenty of warm clothes for a holiday at this buzzy, surf-focused hotel, set on one of Cornwall’s most glorious beaches. The hotel has its own “beach school”, encompassing everything from firepit cookery and bushcraft to survival skills and good conservation habits, with different activities running each day of half term. On the beach, Wavehunters (wavehunters.co.uk) provides surf lessons in groups, for families or privately, with paddleboarding and yoga also on offer. Back at the hotel, the Living Room is a relaxed family-friendly space that offers food all day, with a good kids’ menu (family interconnecting suites from £240 room-only; watergatebay.co.uk).

Rockcliffe Hall, County Durham

Choose from cosy apartments, woodland houses or rooms in the original hotel at this elegant country house, with free cycle hire (including children’s bikes) and two tennis courts. Young golfers can practise their shots on the driving range (with an adult present), with individual and group lessons offered at the PMG Academy, while all kids at the hotel get their own miniature bathrobe, slippers and Bubble &Dream toiletries, with an all-day kids’ menu available in the Clubhouse restaurant (family rooms from £249 B&B; rockcliffehall.com).

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