There is an abundance of things to do in North Devon no matter the time of year.
Here at Calvert Exmoor in Devon, we provide a wide range of accessible holidays in Devon, ensuring everyone can make some wonderful memories and enjoy the local area.
Whether you’re in the area for a day, are looking for holiday inspiration, or are planning on staying at Calvert Exmoor for a residential activity break, there are some great things you can get up to.
Browse our guide to discover what to do in North Devon and Exmoor.
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park is a stunning place to spend time. The picturesque landscape consists of rolling moorland and wooded areas and is home to roaming ponies, red deer and postcard-worthy beauty spots.
Exmoor is one of the smallest national parks in the UK, so the area is easy to explore on foot and by car.
Whilst exploring, it is likely Exmoor ponies will make an appearance. Sadly, these adorable animals are endangered, so though they roam free, they are well looked after. These ponies can be seen on the moors, often crossing the roads as they please.
If a pony sighting inspires you to try horse riding, discover the horse riding activities available at Calvert Exmoor.
Visit these places to experience what Exmoor has to offer:
Wistlandpound Reservoir is located right beside our activity centre and although it may be just outside the national park, it is a popular attraction for those who enjoy walking through nature.
The paths zig-zag their way around the water and through the woods. Whatever the time of year or weather, this is a beautiful place to escape the real world for a few hours.
If you want a more exhilarating way of exploring these paths, take a look at our cycling activities which also take place on the routes around the reservoir.
In the middle of a valley lies a historic clapper bridge made of large stone slabs and boulders. At 55 metres long, Tarr Steps is the longest bridge of its type in Britain, possibly dating back to the Bronze Age.
Technically, Tarr Steps is in Somerset, but seeing as it’s not far from North Devon we’ll include it in our list of sights to see!
The bridge forms a part of a short circular walk through the wooded valley and along the riverbanks – it’s a popular location for a reason. Taking a stroll across such a distinctive landscape is a must.
Similar to Tarr Steps, Watersmeet is a spot where you can see rapid rivers at the bottom of a valley. Named after its confluence, Watersmeet features waterfalls and paths along the sides of the river, plus routes around the surrounding area.
Regarding local fauna, the river is home to otters and salmon. Look inland for red deer, herons, wood warblers and jays. There is also a National Trust tearoom, providing a place to relax amongst the surrounding vista.
Valley of Rocks
Found near the village of Lynton along the Exmoor coastline, the Valley of Rocks is a prominent tourist destination for families and walkers to enjoy the stunning views. Wild goats roam the steep hills and stone towers that rise sharply into the sky in this dry valley.
Paths loop around the area, providing views of the sea and cliffs that make for stunning photographs.
Great Hangman – England’s Highest Cliff
Near the small seaside resort of Combe Martin in North Devon lies the Great Hangman, the highest cliff in England.
Combe Martin is just 10 minutes from Calvert Trust Exmoor and has parking spaces available for you to begin your venture. Then you can walk along the coast and ascend to a height of 1,044 feet.
The incline may be tricky, but the views of the surrounding moors and cliffs are worth the hike.
The highest point on Exmoor and the second-highest point in southern England, Dunkery Beacon is 1,704 feet above sea level.
On a sunny day, it’s possible to get vast views of the Bristol and English Channels, the Brecon Beacons in Wales, Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, Dartmoor in Devon and even Cleeve Hill — which is nearly 90 miles away in Gloucestershire.
The beacon is found in the remote heart of Exmoor, surrounded by barren but beautiful moors — luckily the car park is just half a mile away from the peak!
As you can see, Devon has some of the most incredible countryside scenery in the UK, but some of these spots might be slightly trickier to access for some people.
There are still plenty of ways for everyone to enjoy the natural wonders of the area. Make the most of your holiday by taking a look at all the wheelchair-friendly trails in North Devon in our blog below.
Popular North Devon Tourist Attractions
North Devon is home to many family-friendly attractions which are perfect for quick visits or complete days out.
Here are some top North Devon places that are worth a visit:
Quince Honey Farm
The home of honey and bees, Quince Honey Farm is around 20 minutes from the Calvert Exmoor centre in South Molton.
This quaint family attraction provides beekeeping courses and experiences, guided tours, honey tasting, candle rolling, critter encounters for children and more. There’s also a play area and a restaurant to round your visit off.
This conservation zoo is home to a wide range of animals such as wolves, cheetahs, African wild dogs, bugs, snakes, monkeys, kangaroos, and many varieties of cats — including the famous ‘Exmoor Beast’: black leopards!
Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
This is another family-friendly zoo — with the added twist of electronic dinosaurs! These animatronic displays provide an opportunity for both an educational and exciting experience.
Regarding the real animals, they include lions, penguins, wolves, monkeys, Amur leopards, sea lions (who do daily shows), and more! In addition, the site features an indoor soft play area for younger children.
Built in the early 19th century, Arlington Court is a National Trust property with a neoclassical country house, formal gardens, a carriage museum and acres of land to explore.
The grounds are open all year round for walkers — excellent for dog owners — with paths that go past lakes, through forests, and fields where deer are known to forage.
The Big Sheep and The Milky Way Adventure Parks
These two theme-park attractions are each a day out for all ages. They both have indoor and outdoor play areas, rides, live shows, games, and family entertainment.
A visit to The Big Sheep includes cuddly animals and fun sheep racing.
Meanwhile, The Milky Way has a space theme with bumper cars and a fun ninja family area.
The village of Clovelly is a unique landmark as a working fishing village with no cars and old-fashioned cobbled streets that tumble down the hill to the harbour.
A trip here starts at the visitor centre where the main path will take you to a bygone era of old houses, shops and museums which will then lead to the sea below. Donkeys once pulled carts up the hill, but these days, donkeys enjoy the easy life, living in the stables and meeting passers-by.
Retreat to an idyllic haven at some of the most beautiful gardens North Devon has to offer.
Marwood Hill Garden
Tucked away in a quiet valley near Barnstaple, the 20-acre land at Marwood Hill Gardens is made up of three ponds surrounded by a collection of plants and trees. It features a cafe for the family to retreat to at the end of their walk. Marwood is a lovely haven to relax and enjoy nature.
Just outside Torrington is the RHS Garden Rosemoor, a year-round attraction for the whole family. There are beautiful formal and informal flower beds and plantings, separated into many different gardens, alongside woodlands and meadows.
Castle Hill Gardens
Home to the 15th generation of the same family, Castle Hill is a grand building that dominates the hill it sits on. The 50 acres of gardens and parklands that surround it are open to the public, made up of woodland and formal gardens maintained by the family since 1730.
Villages and Towns to Explore and Shops in North Devon
From cosy, quaint villages to large bustling towns, you’ll find a friendly place to spend time wherever you go in North Devon. We’ve listed just a few of the most popular here, but there are many more to be found, and some hidden gems tucked away:
Lynton and Lynmouth
Lynton is perched at the top of a hill whilst Lynmouth sits below. They are connected by a 130-year-old Cliff Railway — the world’s highest and steepest water-powered railway. Lynmouth has a stone beach with a dramatic coastline and a pleasant seaside town feel.
Known as the gateway to Exmoor, South Molton is a small, historic market town. Dog friendly and laid back, this is a perfect family getaway location.
The unofficial ‘capital’ of North Devon, Barnstaple is the place to be if you miss the creature comforts of urban life and want to peruse popular high-street brands and independent retailers.
The seaside town of Ilfracombe has a little bit of everything; shops and restaurants, family attractions, striking coastal views, rock pools and beaches. The picturesque harbour is the focal point of the town where the iconic St. Nicholas chapel overlooks the modern statue of Verity by Damien Hurst — the second tallest statue in the UK.
Beaches in North Devon
Looking for a long sunny day on the beach? Or want to blow the cobwebs away with a walk by the sea during the winter months?
If you want to know how accessible beaches in North Devon are, check out our blog below:
North Devon beaches are always worth a visit, whatever the time of year. They are popular because of good surfing conditions, long golden sandy beaches and the stunning surrounding countryside.
Some dominate the landscape whilst others are small, secret and hidden away. These are some of the seaside areas you could visit:
Saunton Sands is a classic beach, with blue seas, scenic dunes, and three and a half miles of sand that disappear into the horizon. Facilities include a large car park, café and beach shop for a full day out.
Lifeguards are on duty for most of the year, making it a safe place to swim, surf or play on the beach.
Woolacombe beach is a multi-award winning location for holiday destinations. Like Saunton Sands, there is a long expanse of sand and sea, with lifeguards, shops and facilities.
The beach is backed by the village of Woolacombe which has additional shops and restaurants.
Croyde is another sandy beach, popular with surfers and sunbathers alike.
This spot is perfect for rock-pooling as it’s set in a small bay with rocks on either side of the sand. Facilities are on-site with lifeguards in summer. There are coastal walks to the nearby Croye village and around the bay.
Speaking of surfing, Calvert Exmoor gives everyone the chance to have some fun with watersports. If you’re not convinced, discover the benefits of surfing for people with disabilities to enhance your break.
For something different, discover Broad Sands beach. This beach is not a well-known one, it’s a secret gem that many locals wish to keep to themselves.
Broad Sands is a small cove hidden on the coast of Exmoor — and it’s an adventure to get to. This place can’t be reached by road; instead, you have to park at the top of the cliff and take a 200 step path down to the sand.
The path winds through the woods and offers spectacular views. Once on the sand, the beach is quiet, remote, picturesque, and perfect for a swim.
Ilfracombe Tunnels Beaches
Found in the town of Ilfracombe, the Tunnels Beaches are a unique area.
Originally a Regency-era bathing bath, the shingle beach has a ringed rock formation that creates a natural swimming pool with the rocks separating the still water from the sea.
Getting to the beach requires walking through the large hand-carved tunnels of the cliff. There you can find calming pools to swim in.
Tunnels Beaches has Blue Flag beach status and the Quality Coast Award. There’s no need to worry about safety as Tunnels Beaches has a lifeguard on duty and is listed as the safest beach in North Devon.
Accessible Activities in North Devon
At Calvert Exmoor, we’re passionate about delivering accessible activities for people of all abilities. There are wonderful areas to explore in North Devon, but not everywhere is adapted for the needs of people with disabilities.
We provide a range of activities for disabled people with specialist equipment to make your holiday both safe and fun! Take a look below at some of the opportunities we provide:
Our archery sessions have a wide range of bows, techniques, and targets to discover! This popular activity is a relaxed way of developing self-esteem and is great for group bonding.
A challenge course is a fantastic way of encouraging people with disabilities to overcome obstacles in new ways. The challenge course activity is cleverly designed to not be too demanding but still provide just enough difficulty and fun for a real sense of achievement.
Many people with disabilities don’t get to feel involved in daring activities. Giving them the chance to glide through the air on our giant swing will be a delightful sensory experience.
Each activity has adapted equipment for various needs and qualified instructors will supervise these sessions to maximise enjoyment and safety. Seize your chance to experience thrilling adventures with the whole family!
We’ve touched on just some of the many things to do in North Devon, there are plenty more places and attractions to discover!
A break with us provides the perfect opportunity for you to visit all these remarkable locations. Our accessible accommodation is the ideal place to stay for an activity break, designed with accessibility in mind for people of all abilities.
Stay for a weekend, Monday to Friday, or for seven days and you’ll have time to visit some of the places we’ve mentioned, in between doing exciting inclusive activities.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team! We look forward to welcoming you for a North Devon break soon.
Beaches are beautiful examples of the grandeur of the natural world and are spaces that everyone should be able to enjoy. As an accessible outdoor adventure centre in Devon, we are committed to ensuring everyone can experience the joys of the countryside, especially the stunning beaches dotted around the North Devon coastline.
When you visit us at Calvert Trust Exmoor, you’re never too far from numerous picturesque seaside locations, many of which offer accessible facilities, including the ability to hire beach wheelchairs or carriages.
We cover everything you need to know about renting a beach wheelchair to ensure your next coastal adventure is the best it can be.
How Accessible is the North Devon Coastline?
In recent years, our glorious county has been a part of some great projects designed to make rural areas more accessible and inclusive spaces.
The Countryside Mobility Scheme is a non-profit organisation that aims to ensure the South West countryside is made accessible for all visitors.
With their influence and the impact of other dedicated companies, many areas now have on-site beach wheelchairs and carriages, with both manual and electrical options available to hire.
Schemes like this not only cater to beach locations but also aim to make woodland spaces and National Trust properties wheelchair accessible.
How to Hire a Beach Wheelchair
Whenever you’re on holiday and want to find out more about the local facilities, your first port of call should be the relevant tourist information centre. Here, you will be able to find out about the accessible opportunities in the area as well as how to hire any available equipment.
From there, hiring your beach wheelchair is a relatively simple process; you’ll just have to get in touch with the local beach shop or information centre, who will be able to give you more information about availability and any hiring prices.
The Best Accessible Beaches in North Devon
The list of beautiful local beaches is a long one, with plenty of locations offering access to all-terrain wheelchairs and trampers. Here are some of our favourite accessible beaches that make must-visit spots!
To find out more about these stunning destinations and more, read our blog below.
Is Croyde Bay Accessible?
Croyde Bay is a surfers paradise with various schools offering surfing lessons to anyone willing to have a go!
Calvert Trust Exmoor are currently partnered with the Wave Project and Surf South West to provide surf lessons to our guests in Croyde, with surfing as our only off-site activity.
If surfing isn’t your thing, and you’re just after a meander along the sands, there’s plenty of opportunity for that too. Croyde Bay is recognised as having disability access with short slopes down to the beach. It should be noted that the sand at the entrance is soft, which can make it more challenging to manoeuvre around for users of mobility aids.
A big bonus for Croyde Bay is the Changing Places toilet, thanks to a local Access For All community group.
We have provided two of our own beach wheelchairs for the Wave Project and Surf Southwest, which contribute to the accessibility of guests and students learning to surf at Croyde beach.
Is Saunton Sands Beach Accessible?
Saunton Sands is made up of three and a half miles of warm, golden sands, backed by the rolling dunes known as the Braunton Burrows.
The beach features numerous amenities, including two accessible toilets and accessible parking spaces.
The entrance to the beach consists of very soft sand and a steep slope, which can prove to be challenging for wheelchairs. However, the Saunton Sands Beach Shop holds five wheelchairs suitable for both adults and children, including:
- Three Landeez beach wheelchairs
- Two NOMAD all-terrain carriages
How to Hire a Beach Wheelchair at Saunton Sands
Advanced booking is recommended, especially during the summer months. You can call 01271 890771 to rent a chair for:
- Half a day
- A full day
- Or on a weekly basis
Two of the wheelchairs at Saunton Sands have been provided by the Calvert Trust Exmoor site.
Is Woolacombe Bay Accessible?
Woolacombe Bay is another dreamy coastal location and home to a glorious landscape of golden sands.
Accessible toilets are available in the village, and the beach is recognised as having easy access, with a ramp that leads to the beach. Again, sands can be soft and more difficult to navigate.
An electric beach wheelchair is available to hire from the Woolacombe Tourist Information Centre.
How to Hire a Beach Wheelchair at Woolacombe Bay
Due to the popularity of Woolacombe, booking ahead of time is thoroughly recommended. You can either call 01271 870553 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To hire the beach wheelchair, you automatically become a member of the Countryside Mobility, which has an annual fee of £10.00. Alternatively, you can try a £2.50 two week ‘Taster Membership’.
Once a member of Countryside Mobility, you are allowed to use the available trampers at any of the 36 sites in the South West.
A donation of £5 per session is also encouraged.
Is Lundy Island Accessible?
Situated just 12 miles off the North Devon coast, Lundy Island is a brilliant day out for anyone visiting the area. The raw and natural landscape of the island is immense, and the wildlife is spectacular. Though rare to see, both deer and puffin inhabit the island.
On the island, there are two electric wheelchairs available for hire. Because of its more remote location, travelling to and staying on Lundy can prove tricky for some, so make sure to consider these elements too.
How to Hire a Beach Wheelchair on Lundy Island
Booking in advance is essential to ensure someone is available to assist once the boat has docked on the island.
The electric wheelchairs are available for day hire. However, you will already need to be a Countryside Mobility member due to the reduced staffing on the island and the requirement of tramper induction for new members.
Hire will cost £20 for a full day and £50 for a week.
Other Accessible Places to Visit in North Devon
Once you’ve had your fill of sea and sand, head to one of the county’s fantastic National Trust properties to delve into the historic homes and striking landscapes. You can find some of our top accessible National Trust sites below.
Hiring a Wheelchair at the National Trust
If you are interested in visiting a National Trust site and require wheelchair hire, we recommend getting in touch with the location in advance to check for wheelchair availability – some locations may only provide seasonal wheelchair hire.
Wheelchair hire from the National Trust is usually part of the Countryside Mobility Scheme, which means you will need to be a member.
Hopefully, you can make the most of your next North Devon beach holiday with this bit of insight! If we missed something, or you want to tell us about your experience hiring beach wheelchairs, we’d love to hear from you – leave a comment on our Facebook page to get involved.
If you or someone you know could benefit from an accessible activity break with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out more about the Calvert Experience.
5 Facts About Exmoor
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by stretches of Exmoor’s stunning landscape. Our accessible site is set amongst beautiful rolling hills, putting you in a prime position to enjoy peaceful views spanning across moorland, water and woods.
As a local charity in Devon, we love to make the most of our surroundings – Exmoor National Park is a renowned area of natural beauty and makes an excellent location for exciting adventure breaks with lots of outdoor activities!
Here, we share some of our favourite Exmoor facts to help you get to know the place a little better.
Exmoor is Home to Unique Plants
Exmoor is teeming with flora and fauna, making it a great place to visit for those that love wildlife and celebrating the natural world. In fact, Exmoor is home to unique plants that don’t grow anywhere else.
These Exmoor-exclusive plants include various species of the whitebeam tree. The National Park is also home to a plethora of various nationally rare plants, including lichens which have only been found on one specific Exmoor tree!
There are Herds of Roaming Ponies
When visiting Exmoor, you’ll see many awe-inspiring sights – if you’re lucky, one of these sights will be a herd of roaming Exmoor ponies!
These native ponies are free to roam the moors, with twenty different herds grazing across various commons. There is nothing more exciting than crossing paths with these lovely creatures during a walk or drive through the moors.
Exmoor Boasts England’s Highest Cliffs
The first thing you think about when considering Exmoor is probably the expansive moorland, but Exmoor is also home to the highest coastline on the British mainland.
The highest cliff named Great Hangman has a spectacular 800ft cliff face looming over the roaring waves below.
As well as having the highest cliffs, Exmoor can also claim one of the most isolated stretches of coastline as the cliff’s extreme heights make the shoreline extremely remote.
Exmoor has Inspired Generations of Writers
Countless writers and poets have been inspired by the stunning views and natural beauty found at Exmoor.
Early Romantic poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are among just some of the most notable examples. The origins of their seminal work ‘Lyrical Ballads’, which transformed 18th century English poetry, has often been attributed to their shared love of Exmoor’s coastal walks.
Calvert Trust Exmoor itself has a connection to Wordsworth too as our name ‘Calvert’ comes from his friend Raisley Calvert, who he dedicated a poem to upon his death.
There are Rumours of a Mysterious Exmoor Beast
With such a rugged and isolated landscape, it comes as no surprise that Exmoor has birthed a couple of mysteries. One of the biggest mysteries to come out of the moors is the popular tale of the supposed ‘Beast of Exmoor’.
Eyewitnesses have described seeing a large, black cat-like creature roaming various locations, with the first sighting being reported in the 1970s.
Since then, there have been numerous alleged sightings of the Beast despite no real concrete evidence that big cats are roaming the wilds of Exmoor!
Exmoor has countless wonders just waiting to be explored! Why not get a taste of what it has to offer by visiting us at Calvert Trust Exmoor? Exmoor is the perfect backdrop for our exciting and inclusive adventure activities.
The rest of North Devon is full of some great sights and attractions too – you can discover more in our blog below!
To find out more about our site and the kinds of activities we offer, you can get in touch by calling 01598 763221 or emailing email@example.com.
Encouraging Your Child to Make Friends on an Activity Trip
There are many benefits of visiting an activity centre like ours, such as helping with anxiety or improving mental health. An activity break can also give your child a chance to make new friends, helping to improve their confidence in making friends elsewhere.
Talking to new people can be scary whatever your age, yet for many children connecting with others can be difficult or frightening, especially if they have disabilities. To help, here is our guide to encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip…
Encourage them before travelling
It can often be beneficial to prepare your children for their trip, from helping them pack to talking about the exciting activities and fun games they’ll be doing.
You could also mention that other children will be there too, possibly doing activities in your group or sitting near you during meals.
You could then suggest that your child talks to the other children, or give them a positive goal, like to find out other people’s names.
Some children may be anxious about this idea, some may not understand the point, whilst others will look forward to it. Whatever your child’s reaction, listen to their response and give them gentle encouragement to interact with others.
Doing this before your arrival gives them time to process the information and be more prepared to communicate with others.
Work out some ‘opening lines’ together
It may be a good idea to practice saying hello in various ways, especially if you predict your child will need extra encouragement to make friends. To assist them further, try to create some opening lines or questions your child could use to start a conversation.
Examples could be ‘My name is- what is yours?’ or ‘I like your jumper’ or ‘What did you enjoy about today?‘
Practising and rehearsing social skills in a safe and warm environment will support your child by teaching social cues. Planning out what they could say can make them feel that bit more prepared to meet new people.
Lead by example and encourage them to follow
Once you have arrived for your activity break, strive to speak to others in a friendly manner so that your children can pick up on it and possibly follow your example.
You could even use the opening lines you created to show them how they can progress and add prompts for your children to contribute or carry on the conversation.
By modelling positive, friendly behaviours, you can guide your children to do the same.
Talk to them about feelings and encourage empathy
Parents can help children develop social skills during a short activity break by focusing on feelings and empathy, which will help build friendships.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts and feelings of others. Developing feelings and empathy is a complex process that starts from birth and continues throughout our lives, but it is a key factor in making friends.
- Identify feelings, both positive and negative – It’s important to put a name to what your child might be feeling whenever you can. Saying something as simple as, ‘You seem happy/excited/joyful/upset/angry/scared‘ helps a child identify what they are feeling in themselves and can be all they to hear to express their emotions
- Identify feelings in others – In the same way, saying ‘That person seems happy/angry‘ helps children see emotions in others and allows them to identify with them. This can be developed further by using them as conversation starters.
Use feelings to start conversations
During an activity break, giving children prompts increases empathy and provides an opportunity to start a conversation, laying the groundwork for friendship.
For example: ‘They seem happy they did the activity, why don’t you say well done and ask them what they enjoyed the most?’ or ‘That child looks upset, perhaps they are scared of doing the activity. What would you say to them?‘
Likewise, questions related to negative feelings could also allow them to start a chat and connect.
If these prompts lead nowhere, that’s fine. It’s best to not force the situation further, instead make suggestions and allow the children to connect in their own way if they wish to.
Notice and praise caring behaviour
Whether with your prompts or not, make a point of praising your child when they show empathy and engage in a caring way.
You could say how proud you are when you see them being kind and thoughtful to others. State why it was positive behaviour and talk about how it might have made the other person feel.
Positive reinforcement will give them belief in themselves and motivate them to do it again, hopefully increasing the bond between children.
Other issues that children often struggle with are sharing and taking turns. Or they may have difficulty being in a team. When they get these things right, however, it will increase their social skills.
Adventure activities can often be a combination of group work and solo participation. So an activity break is a perfect opportunity to practise their sharing skills and general communication with others.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have groups no bigger than 10 people, meaning it’s easy for children to talk to others and participate in group activities.
Highlight when and how they shared correctly or gave help to others. They may not have realised they’ve done something positive, so nice comments on how they behaved will support their future interactions.
Experts recommend providing immediate positive feedback, that’s kept brief and simple.
Encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip – Summary
- Prepare them before the trip so they have time to process the fact other children will be there to talk to
- Practise greeting others and prepare some opening lines
- Lead by example and start conversations, aim to include your child
- Identify positive and negative feelings in other children
- Guide your child to relate to other people’s feelings and to use empathy to prompt them to start a conversation
- When you see your children exhibiting friendly or caring behaviours, such as sharing and taking turns, praise them – this encourages children to repeat the positive behaviours
Finally, parents shouldn’t place social expectations on children and force friendships to emerge from nowhere. They could make one or two good friends during their stay with no need to worry about them being the most popular kid on site.
With over 25 years of adventure breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor, many children have come out of their shell and made new friends during their stay. Sometimes with help from the ideas above, and sometimes all on their own.
However your children make new friends on an activity trip, it is a magical moment that makes the stay even more worthwhile.
We welcome many families time and time again, on weekend and midweek breaks. They come for the activities and facilities, and also for the chance to meet new people. See more about our family breaks in Devon for additional information.
Residential trips are an opportunity for children to learn, grow, and have fun. Yet for a parent, watching your child leave for a residential can be a daunting or worrying experience. Many parents wonder how their child will behave and will they be safe?
In this news piece, we hope to ease your worries with guidance on how to keep your child safe on a residential trip, even if you will not be by their side…
Learn about the residential
It’s essential to carefully plan for a residential, which starts with knowing all the details. Teachers or group leaders will be arranging the trip but parents, guardians or carers should be involved in several ways.
You could talk to the people planning the residential. Schools commonly hold pre-trip meetings to inform and take questions. If not, consider contacting them directly.
It can seem scary entrusting your children in someone else’s care. So knowing timings, travelling plans, locations and sleeping arrangements will settle your nerves. You can also inform the residential leaders of important information about your child to keep them safe and well.
Talk with your child about their trip
When you have all the details about the residential, you can pass it on to your child in a way they will understand. This helps them get excited whilst also contributing to their safety on the trip as they will be better prepared.
Talk them through where they are going, what they will be doing, and how days will be structured. Listen to any concerns they may have and add reassurance.
Perhaps your child is nervous or unsure about going? The more your child talks about it, the better they will feel. We have compiled some extra tips on how to get them excited for a residential trip.
Discuss safety and boundaries
Another area of discussion is what they must do to keep safe.
Talk to your child about the importance of staying with the group – close to their teacher, group leader or other authority figures, such as activity instructors.
It can be helpful to explain that a residential is fun and thrilling but that they still need to follow the same rules they follow when at home, at school or walking on the pavement.
It’s often beneficial to add extra boundaries unique to their residential. Examples could be emphasising that they must stay in the centre, or that they can’t use the activity facilities until told to by an instructor.
The more conversations you have, the better children will understand the rules, even though you won’t be there to supervise them.
Check out the location
If you know where the residential is taking place, why not spend time with your child looking at it online? Search for the location and see what comes up. There may be galleries on their website or good images on the search engine to go through.
If brochures or itineraries are available, you could go through them together to help get your child excited. Plus it gives you extra opportunities to establish the rules of the trip. If there are maps or plans of the grounds and accommodation, use them to set boundaries, showing where they can and cannot go.
Pack their bags as a team
Get your child involved in the packing of their bags. Since you both know what the residential involves, you can ensure they have everything needed for a good time whilst looking after themselves.
Depending on their age and abilities, kids can contribute in different ways. Let younger ones see what you are packing and explain why each item and piece of clothing is essential. They could then add fun and comforting extras, such as a toy, book or accessories.
Older children could pack their bags themselves, with supervision and guidance if needed. This teaches them to plan ahead, increases independence, and makes them think of their own wellbeing and safety.
Packing together reassures them, and you, that they have everything needed to feel prepared, safe and secure.
See our guide on things to pack for a residential trip.
Make them stand out
One more point about packing is to dress your children in brightly coloured clothes that stand out and avoid dark colours that will blend into surroundings. This will make them easy to see and remember in a crowd or against a natural backdrop.
The colour of their clothing is unlikely to be an issue during a Calvert Trust Exmoor visit, as activity groups are small and supervised by the same instructor throughout. But elsewhere on other residentials, it may be beneficial for their safety.
Make sure contact details are up to date
Confirm that the group leaders have your correct contact details before the residential. Provide one or two additional emergency numbers if you may not be reachable – just in case.
Have faith in risk assessments
Schools and residential leaders will have your child’s safety as their highest priority. They will conduct rigorous risk assessments for every activity and location, whether it be a day out or week away.
A risk assessment must be carried out for each residential, which will help teachers identify and remove any of the potential risks. Schools must adhere to set staffing to child ratios and will keep individual physical, medical, social and behavioural needs in mind before and during a residential.
Schools must also have an emergency response plan to follow if an accident or incident occurs during a trip.
Plus, residential centres have their unique risk assessments and safety procedures with trained staff and instructors who also have everyone’s safety as their highest priority.
Residential breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor
At our activity centre we welcome children of all ages and specialise in accessible breaks for people with physical, learning, sensory or behavioural disabilities. Our residential breaks are based at our remote centre in North Devon, meaning the group stays safely inside the grounds away from busy roads.
The stay will include activities throughout the day, then access to group swimming sessions, the sensory room, and social areas in the evening. Activities, accommodation, meals and facilities are all on-site and included in the costs.
Wherever they are visiting, keeping your child safe on a residential break starts with good communication and ensuring children understand what they should and should not do to keep themselves safe. The residential leaders and centre staff will take it from there to make sure everyone has a wonderful break.
It is not unusual to feel anxious when you are in an unfamiliar setting and situation. It is an entirely acceptable feeling, no matter what your age or who you are.
It is important to remember, if you do feel these emotions, they do not have to remain with you throughout your adventure break. There are small but helpful things you can do to improve how you perceive your new situation.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing accessible breaks for everyone to enjoy, from school residentials to holidays for people with disabilities. We want to make sure that every one of our guests has the best experience possible, so have created this blog to help you.
Who Can Benefit From This Advice?
We have created these tips for everyone to try if they are ever feeling anxious when they are away from home.
If you are an independent adult on an accessible adventure break, we hope you can refer to this blog to help you if you are feeling unsure.
If you are a carer or a parent with a child of any age, who is about to embark on a residential adventure, we hope we can help you with ideas on how to alleviate their feelings of anxiety.
Accept How You Are Feeling
It is ok to feel a bit on edge when you are away from home, even if you are only down the road! It is a feeling that can primarily occur when your usual daily routines have had to change for the duration of your trip.
Begin by identifying the feelings of unease and accepting them for what they are. It is important to remind yourself that it is completely fine and natural to feel this way when you are away from what you know.
Talk To Someone About How you Feel
Once you have accepted how you currently feel, let someone else know. Whether they are:
• A staff member, such as an instructor
• A family member
• A friend you have gone on the adventure break with
• A teacher
• A carer
You never know, they may feel similar and appreciate that you have confided in them! You can talk about what you love back at home and how they might also like it if they ever come to visit.
It may break the ice for those you do not know so well too.
Remember You Can Call Home
Living in the 21st-century means you are never too far from home! With mobile phones, social media, Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp, staying in touch couldn’t be easier.
If you would like to ring home and talk about things, go for it! There is no shame in letting your nearest and dearest know about how you are doing. They will be able to see the situation from the outside and remind you of all the amazing reasons you wanted to go in the first place.
Talking to your family members will reassure your anxiety that everything back home is ok and you aren’t missing out on anything. Their jolly voices will let you know they are happy and healthy.
Put Things Into Perspective
Once you have accepted and communicated how you feel, it is time to try and gently shift your perspective on the experience.
You feel anxious, and that is completely acceptable. And it is also ok to feel worried but still want to make the most of your opportunity away from home.
Think about the initial reasons why you wanted to come. What activities did you want to try? Were they as you expected them to be? How did it feel to do them? What highlights will you share when you get back home?
Record Your Feelings
Noting down your feelings can be as effective as talking for some people.
You could think about:
• What were the highlights of the day? You could break down the day into morning, afternoon and evening and reflect what you enjoyed the most at each point.
• What challenges did you face today?
• How could the situation be different next time?
Good or bad, it is all acceptable to note down!
Perhaps you will revisit your thoughts in your journal, or perhaps you won’t, it doesn’t matter! Similar to talking, it is just good to get the feelings out in the open so you can move forward and take each day as it comes.
Try to Be Social, Even If You May Not Feel Like It
When you feel uncomfortable, the idea of talking with new people can feel incredibly daunting.
If you are on a trip without company from home, or with people you do not know so well, it is essential to ensure you do not isolate yourself, especially if you are not in the most positive of mind frames.
By socialising, it will feel like a massive achievement in itself and may instantly lift your mood. Many adventure breaks have social areas for guests to interact with. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have numerous social areas for our guests to relax in including, The Barn bar, the games room and our stunning courtyard for warmer weather.
You never know who you are going to meet, so try your best to keep an open mind even though this is easier said than done. You may make a friend for life, all starting with a simple hello!
Keep Social Goals Attainable
If you are a shy person, keep your social goals small and achievable, so you don’t feel too overwhelmed. Try meeting one person, to begin with. Listening is an admirable trait in people, so try this at first and see where you go!
Get Out Your Comfort Zone
When you feel like you miss home, try and reflect back to why you wanted to go on your adventure break and the activities you envisioned yourself trying. Speak to your instructor about your feelings, so they can encourage and reassure you to try all the experiences you thought you would try before you felt anxious on the trip.
Bring Familiar Things With You
Bringing something special to you from home is a popular thing to do.
It could be a much-loved photo, a cuddly toy, some sweet treats or a cushion. Anything that brings you comfort, don’t be afraid to take it with you.
For parent or carers whose children are going on a residential trip away, why not ask your child what they would like to take with them? Take a look at our blog on how to get your child excited for a residential trip for some other handy hints and tips!
Have you ever felt homesick when you were on an adventure break? What helped you? We would love to know! Why not let us know on our social media channels?
Having fun isn’t only possible in the sun! Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we offer an array of accessible, outdoor adventure activities in Devon which can be enjoyed come rain or shine. Whatever the weather, our activities will continue as long as our instructors feel they are safe. It is worth noting that the water activities we provide are only available between the months of April and October. With the incentive of staying dry in mind, we have selected a few of our indoor based activities as well as those which do not depend on good weather that you can expect to experience while staying with us. Calvert Trust Exmoor is an accessible site that provides adventure activities for people of all capabilities, ages, experience and confidence levels.
The Giant Swing
Intending to improve self-belief, the giant swing is a fun activity which has been implemented as a sensory experience for all to enjoy. Situated in our indoor activity centre, our adaptive harnesses and supports can be customised for each individual and fulfil any requirements they may need. It’s up to you how high you would like to go. Just pull the release when you feel ready and away you go! If you would like to push yourself, we can heighten the hoist, or if you would like a relaxed swing, we will always make sure you feel safe and secure.
The Crate Stack Challenge
An excellent activity which can be used to bring together and improve the relationships between groups and school communities. It is a fantastic experience that can test problem-solving abilities and as a result, increase feelings of self-confidence upon completion. It is an activity which can be accessed by all, including wheelchair users.
Our horse-riding sessions are only available on weekdays unless we have organised one of our ever-popular horse weekends. Our courses encompass extra activities such as learning to communicate with horses and understanding the behaviours of the animal. Stable management is also a possibility if guests would like a closer experience with the horses. It is the opportunity to groom, tack up and muck out as well as completing horse agility sessions. For children who are unable to support themselves, we can organise a tandem ride which is the arrangement of a member of staff sitting behind a child and acting as spinal support. For those who are unable to horse ride due to specific medical reasons, carriage riding is an alternative activity that we can provide.
Here at the Calvert Trust Exmoor site, our centre has many facilities to enjoy, including an indoor swimming pool. Fitted with specialist equipment, each person of any capacity or with any condition can access the pool. Heated to a minimum temperature of 30 degrees, you can enjoy being in the water without any chance of feeling cold. Complete with a Jacuzzi, it is a lovely way to spend some leisure time while staying at our accessible site.
While this isn’t an indoor activity, why be concerned about the rain when you are already in the sea? Surfing is a challenging but fulfilling sport which can be enjoyed in the sun or accompanied by rain. Our Calvert Trust Exmoor site is in proud partnership with both Surf South West and the Wave Project, and we love including surfing as an accessible activity for our guests. Our new one to one lessons are a welcome introduction and provide even further learning opportunities than our usual sessions of ten guests to one instructor. Surfing can be a fantastic sport for those with disabilities, for more information, take a look at our previous blog.
After an exciting day challenging yourself in a fun and safe setting with our qualified instructors, our beautiful site has many areas you can enjoy and unwind in. Our courtyard is a peaceful place to sit back and reflect on the day. The Barn bar is a hub for socialising and a great place to share your stories from the day. The games room is available for guests entertainment, and the TV room is a place to relax for a bit. Our accommodation is complete with free Wi-FI in all communal areas if you would like to report back home about your fun-filled day.
If you would like to know more about the adventure breaks we offer, including our themed breaks, and would like some guidance on the booking process, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to ring us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.