TRAVEL: Adventure for all the family
A fun-filled active holiday that aims to keep everyone happy.
Can scaling climbing walls and clambering over obstacle courses bring a family together? Emily Shelley experiments on an activity holiday in Wiltshire
Trying to get your kids to turn off their phones and come outside during the summer holidays can turn into one endless nag.
PGL are known for running kids-only holidays (it’s come to stand for Parents Get Lost), but they now offer family adventures that aim to keep everyone happy.
Could it keep my two off their tablets, and encourage my timid daughter to join in with others? Would it help us all reconnect after a very busy couple of months at work and school?
I get my answer when I see my shy little girl yell with glee as she throws herself off a tower down a 100ft zip wire. She’s just watched me lead by example, with a bit less enthusiasm and a scream of fear.
That’s the way of a family holiday here. You’re all in it together and the parents are expected to be as adventurous as the children.
I’ll admit to being a bit anxious when we collect our itinerary as we arrive for our weekend break.
We are down for climbing at 8.30 the following morning, followed by an obstacle course before lunch. All of us feel a bit nervous as we explore the site that evening - until we hear the trees around us come alive with the happy marching songs of more than 800 children returning back to camp after a day of adventuring.
It does run a bit like a military camp - one huge mess hall and ‘units’ of kids everywhere with their sporty young leaders. Accommodation for families is in a separate building (an old manor house) to the main centre, and has hostel-type rooms with bunk beds, but with en suite bathrooms.
Forget glamour here. After a (surprisingly restful) night in our bunk beds and a hearty, noisy breakfast, we put on old comfortable tracksuit bottoms and trainers as requested and are led like lambs to the slaughter at the foot of the climbing tower.
There are two other families in our group, with children around the same age. As the first mum shimmies her way to the top of the tower, rings the bell and abseils back down gracefully to the cheers of her children, I realise this could get quite competitive.
No-one in our family would be winning this event, however. We all make it up about half way and freeze with terror. Despite yells of encouragement from the ground of “You’re nearly there,” we all spot this as an obvious lie and refuse to budge.
But we nail the obstacle course, and family pride is restored. The sun has come out by now, we are all on first name terms and chatting away with the others in our group - and laughing our heads off as various members fall flat on their faces in the dirt.
The schedule is packed, but there are long gaps for lunch and a mid-afternoon break for you to catch your breath and get a cup of tea.
Emily Shelley was a guest of PGL (www.pgl.co.uk/families; 0333 321 2114) who operate Family Adventure breaks (children five years plus) at seven centres in the UK and four in France during the summer (and some half term dates). A two-night break at PGL’s Liddington adventure centre costs from £185 per adult and £159 per child, including simple accommodation, all meals, activities, instruction, equipment and evening fun.