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Quad bike trek

Why go round in circles when you can go quad bike trekking? After quadding through fields, woods, mud and water, we left wanting to go on a serious quad bike expedition.

Our friends Rob and his son Kobe joined Seb and me for this adventure. We had been looking forward to it for weeks. There are not many opportunities for 10-year-olds to take control of an engine and zoom through the countryside, but this is one of them. While many quad biking experiences involve going through a set number of loops on a constructed track, at Brailsford in Derbyshire you have far more freedom. After an introductory static lesson we were off. While Rob and I were on very powerful quads, the boys had less horse power, but were still fast enough that neither of them tested their top speeds until they had been on them for a good hour. The open farmland allowed us to get up some serious speed and I knew that if I lost control of the steering I could have seriously injured myself. The boys had the most fun going through the woods where there were some deep flooded trenches. The trick is to keep moving and not stop and both of them managed to get through successfully, but were very, very muddy! At the end of our trek we were all soaked and covered in mud. These machines are serious fun and would be great for a much longer adventure. We would all like to take them through some of Britain’s extended byways.

Wild Park, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 3BN
There are quad biking courses and tracks across the UK where you can give this sport a try. We highly recommend Wild Park Leisure in Brailsford where we went for our quad bike trek.
 
Visit the Wild Park Leisure website to find out more and book your quad biking trek.
Make sure you wear some old shoes as they will probably get soaked and covered with mud.
Your safety is important on all adventures; please read our Safety Tips for more advice.
 
 

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113

Husky trek the moors

Being pulled at speed by a pack of dogs is an exciting and rewarding way to travel. You might think it is simply about being pulled along, but we discovered that this way of getting around is a team effort. 

Just north of Scarborough in the North York Moors National Park, Debbie runs one of the few places in the UK where you can learn to trek with huskies. It is said that sled dogs have been used north of the Arctic Circle for three thousand years. In the last thirty years, special scooters have been developed and you can now be pulled around effectively, even when there is no snow on the ground. Debbie keeps a team of huskies that are used in her club, as well as giving visitors a chance to learn about them and this ancient skill of getting around. On arrival, Seb and I got to meet her Siberian and Alaskan huskies, which included Polar, Esky, Sundance, Kodiak, Yukon, Hero, Uri, Star, Klute and Yaris, to name just ten. During our introduction to the dogs, Debbie briefed us on how to behave with them. Apparently, just going up to them and stroking their heads makes them uneasy, just like we would if someone randomly stroked the top of our heads. So, before we tried getting friendly with each dog, we let them have a good sniff of us. Seb was besotted with them all, but the real fun was still to come. After putting on safety helmets, knee pads and elbow pads, we made our way to the training track. I tried first and then Seb had a go with the same dogs so that he would not go too fast. Starting at the top of a long slope I stood on the big-wheeled off-road scooter attached to two very excited (and happy) huskies. With a release of the brakes and an enthusiastic call, the three of us sped down the hill. Within the first thirty metres I hit a dip in the ground and was nearly thrown off the scooter, but somehow I managed to hold on. Going uphill, the huskies needed my help and responded positively to every call of encouragement. When it was Seb’s turn he travelled even faster than me. With a lack of weight on his side, the dogs pulled him easily, until the final downhill bend when they both decided to go to the loo. Seb called for them to scoot on, but they carried on pooing until they were good and ready to head for the end of the course. This adventure was a training course in husky trekking. Debbie has suggested that we go back for a longer trek and we are looking forward to taking her up on the offer.    

Staintondale, YO13 0EL
Husky trekking is a fast-growing sport and there are centres across the UK where you can try it. 
 
- We went on our adventure training with Debbie from Pesky Husky. They are fantastic with children and run lessons and a club.
- Your safety is important on all adventures; please read our Safety Tips for more advice.
 
 

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Squeeze through holes in the ground

The Three Peaks area of the Yorkshire Dales is home to caves that are perfect for both beginner and the more advanced caver to explore, try some tricks and squeeze through some tight spaces. 

Thistle and Runscar Caves are great for novice cavers to give the sport a try. Iain and I got to the caves after a short walk from the main road. The caves are not in a cliff face with a big opening; instead they are almost hidden in the ground. If you were to walk by even a short distance away you could pass them without noticing. Iain is an experienced cave and mine guide who runs the company Go Cave and regularly takes families down these caves. Once in the cave, I was struck by how shallow it felt under the ground. It was pitch black when we turned our lights off, but the sense of not being too deep underground would be comforting for many beginners. Inside, Iain shared his fascinating geological knowledge before setting some challenges for me. While I enjoyed sliding up and around tight spaces, the real fun was in trying to find my way through the cave with no lights. In complete darkness the only way was by feeling the walls of the cave, keeping my hand in front of my face. I would not have felt happy doing this exercise without a helmet - or if I was actually lost with no light. If you have not been caving before, this is a great place for a first experience.  

Aysgarth, DL8 3TH
Caving is a great sport but it is important to be trained properly or to go with a guide. Visit the British Caving Association’s website Try Caving for more information on finding your local caving club, course or guide. 
 
I highly recommend Go Cave for your underground adventure. They run courses and trips across the country.
Your safety is important on all adventures; please read our Safety Tips for more advice.
 
 

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86

Crawl through a mine

For two hundred years slate mining has been an important part of the Welsh economy. Today, quarries and mines are being opened up for adventure climbing, zip lining and underground journeys. After climbing over Snowdon the previous day, Seb and I travelled to Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia to explore under a mountain instead.

We had a thirty-minute walk to the entrance of the mine. Miles, our guide, is a highly experienced mine explorer and knows the mines here like the back of his hand. Despite knowing this, Seb became very worried when he looked down the long and deep tunnel that had been carved into the mountainside. With the remains of an old rail track along the bottom, the tunnel looked like something out of Indiana Jones. Miles unlocked the gate and we walked straight down the tunnel for around one kilometre. Behind us, the entrance slowly became a pin-prick of light in the distance. We turned a corner into a chamber that was so dark when our lights were off that we couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces. Seb’s nerves had calmed down by this point and he was excited as we began a series of adventure challenges. First we had to cross a freezing flooded chamber by boat, then guess our way through a number of tunnels to another flooded chamber, but this time we had to traverse a rock face to reach a short zip line, attach ourselves to it and zip across to the next tunnel. While we were having fun clambering over rocks, Miles told us stories of the mine and how men worked in families for decades, removing lumps of slate often weighing a metric tonne. To leave the mines we had to climb around a large chamber that had a thirty-foot drop into darkness, walk up an underground stream, and finally climb up a waterfall that soaked our feet. After climbing Snowdon the previous day, exploring beneath one of Snowdonia’s mountains made a sharp and exciting contrast. We highly recommend this adventure. 

Betws-y-coed, Conwy, LL24 0PN
There are mines in many parts of the UK that you can explore, but unless you have the right experience and qualifications, it is a good idea to go with a guide. From playing some of the navigation games that Miles set up, we know how easy it is to get lost underground without the right kit (or a long piece of string). 
 
We went on our underground adventure with Go Below Underground Adventures and highly recommend them. They were outstanding with us as a young family. Find out more by visiting their website
The great thing about caving and mine exploring is that it is a great sport to do in the winter when it is cold and dark outside. Deep underground temperatures are warmer, there is no rain or wind chill and it is dark anyway. 
Your safety is important on all adventures; please read our Safety Tips for more advice.
 
 

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Go on a wild-goose hunt

Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory is an ornithologist outpost in the far south-east of England. Birds from all over the world visit its reserves and nearly three hundred different species have been recorded here, including black kites, marsh harriers and bittern, but we came for a wild goose hunt.

Arriving at the observatory we were greeted by one of the volunteers, who was working on ringing birds. They had caught a large number that morning as part of the monitoring programme run by the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust. We were excited to have a close look at some of the wild birds, but my eye was caught by an impressive map that showed the migration patterns of the resident birds. Pieces of string pinned to a map showed birds travelling from Alaska, Africa and Asia, all passing through what seems, at first sight, a very modest bird habitat, but there is actually a lot going on here. The aim of this adventure was to spot geese, so we headed to the scrape, a lake with an overlooking hide, perfect for spying on the migrants flying in and out of the reserve. It’s possible to see bean geese, pink-footed geese, white-fronted geese, greylag geese, Canada geese, barnacle geese, brent geese, red-breasted geese and Egyptian geese, but we were clearly either too late or too early in the season as there was none to be seen. Instead we made our way down a footpath towards the coast where, in the woods, we enjoyed searching for slow-worms. After walking the rest of the loop back to the car we realised that we were not going to see any geese. We really had been on a wild goose hunt… 

Sandwich, CT13 9PF
See this article by the BBC on migrating geese and how to enjoy a wild goose hunt that actually results in spotting some geese. 
 
- Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Field Centre aims to educate and entertain visitors. Free to enter, the centre is well resourced and includes affordable accommodation if you are looking for somewhere to stay. To plan your time, visit the Trust’s official website and look at the courses and workshops they run. Many are aimed at young families.
- This guide to geese by the RSPB is perfect for identifying the different birds that you might see.
- Your safety is important on all adventures; please read our Safety Tips for more advice.
 
 

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