Now that the winter is behind us, spring is well and truly in the air. The trees are beginning to blossom, the grass is starting to grow and the world is starting to look that little bit brighter.
If you’re anything like me, spring feels like the first real opportunity to stretch those legs and shake off the winter blues, with some special outdoors time. And if you’ve got young children, they’re bound to be itching to get into the big wide world for some much-needed fun.
But if you’re not lucky enough to live in the rolling countryside, getting outdoors might not feel as simple as it probably should. And if a walk in the park isn’t enough to satisfy your urges, what opportunities are there to do some fun stuff outdoors – preferably without breaking the bank?
Thankfully, there are still a tonne of fun things you can do outdoors without having to shell out too much – if any – of that hard-earned cash. Here are a few ideas to get you started…
English Heritage and the National Trust
Two of our country’s finest organisations, the National Trust and English Heritage, both have properties, gardens, parkland and historic monuments ALL over the country. If you’re like me, you might want to splash-out on an NT membership – you can get an annual family membership for well under £100, and provided you use it regular it can be a really great money-saver.
If you don’t want to shell out, English Heritage has a wealth of historic monuments that are completely free to visit. Both organisations have fantastic (free!) smartphone apps which will tell you where your nearest properties are, so there’s no excuse not to get out and enjoy your local area.
Join some local ramblers for a walk
If you’re dying to go on some long walks, but don’t have the first idea where to start, why not look up some of the local rambling groups in your area? Most of them will host several different walks each week, and will help beginners to learn the ropes without charging you a penny.
In my area there are well over 20 rambling groups, most of which have their own websites detailing what they’ve got coming up. Even better, many of the walks end up in the vicinity of a pub – so you can reward yourself for all that exercise with a few cheeky shandies. What could be better?!
Try your hand at Geo-caching
If you like getting outside but you find walking a bit… unfulfilling – or if you have children who want something else to do while enjoying the fresh air – give Geo-caching a try. If you’re not familiar with this extremely popular past-time, think of a more basic version of Pokemon Go.
There are a number of great apps to help you along the way, and no setup or membership is required. Just find out where your nearest cache is, hunt it out and see what you find. We’ve found everything from badges to coins, but many caches are simple notebooks for you to write your name in – simple, but highly addictive if you’re into it.
Do some summer camping!
We’ve been camping for as long as I can remember – my parents have a photo of me having a bath in a washing-up bowl when I was less than a year old. But since we’ve had children of our own, camping has really come into its own – a fantastically cheap holiday or short break where you can experience the joys of nature close-up.
Whilst you might need to pay a little for a camp-site, there are many places around the UK where you can camp for less than £10 a night – and it’s a darn sight cheaper than a hotel. Once you’ve got the equipment, you can camp for years and years with very little spending required.
Hit the beach!
If you’re lucky enough to live within a reasonable distance of the coast, a day at the beach can be a delightful – and mostly free – way to spend a sunny day. Pack yourself a picnic and some games, or just take a towel and soak up the sun. There really are very few do-it-yourself days out that could even come close to a sunny day spent on the beach.
Get on the waiting list for an allotment
If you don’t have a garden or vegetable patch of your own, why not see if your local council has a waiting list for allotments in the area? You’ll be amazed at how little they cost to rent (we’re talking single-digit figures in most places) and you can try your hand at vegetable or plant growing.
All my friends with allotment plots absolutely rave about how much fun they are – and how easy it is to make friends with the other gardeners, too. And you should see some of the sheds they have…!
Join a local sports team
If all of these ideas sound a little too sedate for your liking, why not join a local sports club or organisation for some outdoor games? Now that the winter is behind us, many of them will meet up regularly for practices in the park or at local sports centres.
Those are just a few ideas to get you started, but as you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can enjoy the magnificent outdoors without having to fork out a lot of money! Have fun.
Henry Elliss is a digital marketer by day and a pun-loving, dad-blogging, photo-taking, Lego-making, beard-wearing, child-caring father of two and husband of one by day, night, weekend and every other moment. For more family adventures, reviews and parenting hints and tips, visit Henry’s Fatherhood blog at http://www.henrysblog.co.uk/.