Best things to do with the kids in Southern England – when it’s raining

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You’ve spent hours searching for family holidays in the UK, scrutinising travel websites for the best deals, puzzling over maps trying to figure out the optimum route… but there’s one little worry still tugging at the back of your mind. Doesn’t it rain a lot in Britain? What shall we do if it does?

It does indeed rain fairly often here, but the stereotype isn’t completely true – London is drier than New York and Sydney – and the rain that does fall is rarely unpleasant. It guarantees that the British countryside is green, lush and beautiful, all year round, all the way from the gentle rolling pastures of the south, to the dramatic misty peaks in the north. British rain is normally pretty gentle, too, and rarely lasts for long.

Most importantly, Brits just get on with life whatever the weather – we just make sure we’re well-equipped with raincoats and umbrellas, just in case. Everything we’ve built here takes the rain into account, so there’s plenty to do, even when it’s drizzling outside.

Visit a real medieval castle

There are many wonderful old castles through Southern England – our favourites include nine hundred year old Berkeley Castle (Gloucestershire) which is still lived in by the aristocratic Berkeley family, with much of its dramatic interior open to the public. It’s seen a lot of history – you can still see cannon-ball holes in one wall, and deep knife marks on the huge kitchen table. Bodiam Castle, in Sussex, is another fairy-tale classic, surrounded by a broad moat which reflects the castles impressive 14th century walls.

Explore the rainforest

Cornwall’s Eden Project is wonderful whatever the weather, but do bring a backpack so you don’t end up carrying an armful of jumpers and raincoats, once you’re inside the tropical biome! Eden’s biomes are huge geodesic domes, which maintain specific climates within them. They’re home to thousands of plants, and some birds and insects, too. You can explore where and how your various daily luxuries – bananas, sugar, spices, coffee, medicines – are grown, and how this affects the environment.

Travel by steam

The Brits pioneered steam trains, and many “heritage” steam railways still survive, albeit for scenic trips through the countryside, rather than functional commutes. The Bluebell Railway in Sussex is a family favourite, popular with everyone from three years old to seventy! We love puffing through the fields and woodland, especially if we have a nice picnic, or a cream tea treat from the Pullman dining carriage. The Watercress (Hampshire), South Devon, and Gloucestershire Warwickshire railways are all nice alternatives.

Swim in the summer rain

One of our family’s favourite – and potentially weirdly British – favourites is to go swimming in the rain. This works best when the weather is uncomfortably warm, muggy but showery. Find an outdoor “lido”, a public outdoor swimming pool and play area where it’s nice to swim in the warm water, while cool misty rain refreshes your head. Aldershot Lido (Hampshire) is especially great for kids, with its three waterslides, fountain, ample shallow end, and sandpit, while Droitwich Spa Lido (Worcestershire) has fountains, water cannons and jets to splash around in. Even if you don’t set out to do swim in the rain on purpose, don’t worry if it happens by happy accident.

 

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