Date Posted: 01/06/2010
A month’s worth of memorable twists to your group day out.
Dartmoor Nature Tours
Groups of up to 25 people can enjoy year-round wildlife walks and tours across the scenic Dartmoor National Park, with themes to suit a variety of interests. From butterfly walks (May to August) and birdwatching tours (April to July), to fungi forays (October to November) and woodland walks, groups will be led by qualified guide, Phil Page.
Magic moments: Of particular interest to nature or bird-watching groups, guided by Phil’s expertise you may catch a glimpse of the Pearl Bordered Fritillary, one of Britain’s rarest butterflies but locally common on Dartmoor, or the notoriously difficult to spot Wood Warbler bird.
Promising an interesting and educational record of rural life in the so-called ‘garden of England’, groups can explore age-old farming traditions and unearth the region’s historical importance. Group rates are available for pre-booked parties of 15 or more.
Magic moments: With an extensive variety of talks and tours available, one particular highlight is the on-site workshops where groups can learn more about Victorian schooling or the life of a Victorian dairymaid. All additional activities can be packaged together with a delicious Cobtree cream tea or a cruise down the river Medway.
Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe
Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
Reportedly the oldest pork pie bakery and last remaining producer of authentic Melton Mowbray pork pies based in the town centre, Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe is recognised as one of the county’s most popular and quirky tourist attractions.
Magic moments: Groups of between 18 and 50 people can learn the art of hand-raising a Melton Mowbray pork pie at a Pork Pie Evening Experience, with the added bonus of collecting your pie the following day once it’s been baked.
Devon & Somerset Balloons
Groups of up to 15 people can enjoy spectacular views over south-west England on a hot air balloon ride with Devon & Somerset Balloons. Launch sites include Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Gloucestershire.
Magic moments: As well as experiencing stunning views of the countryside from the air, group members can partake in a traditional champagne toast after the flight, marking their first balloon voyage.
Active-8 Cornwall Ltd
Active-8 Cornwall Ltd can arrange a host of adrenalin-fuelled activities for adventurous groups visiting the scenic county. Catering for parties of six plus, activities include mountain biking, paddle boarding, climbing, horse-riding and even helicopter flights.
Magic moments: Get an alternative view of the rugged Cornish coast on a four-hour coasteering session. Available throughout the summer at Polzeath on the north coast, coasteering is a recent craze combining swimming along the base of the cliffs, scrambling over rock formations, and exploring the cracks, caves and crevices of the coastline, with cliff-jumping optional for dare-devils. All equipment is provided, and there is a minimum age limit of eight years old.
West Midland Safari Park
Promising 1,700 different animal encounters, visiting groups can enjoy brand new exhibit, Realm of the Indian Rhino, take the Discovery Trail, or take a four-mile self-drive safari.
Magic moments: Make the most of your visit by combining it with one of the park’s special events. The popular Bonfire Bonanza is to be held on the 6th November, featuring plenty of entertainment, late-night amusement rides and a hog roast, while the Santa Safari is set to run from the 1st to 24th December.
Horse of the Year Show
Another impressive line-up of equestrian entertainment is promised at the 2010 Horse of the Year show, taking place from the 6th to 10th October. Popular crowdpleasers include the high-speed Osborne Refrigerators Scurry Racing and NFU Countryside Pony Club Mounted Games. Discounted rates are available for parties of 12 plus, increasing for groups of 30 or more.
Magic moments: Make sure you catch this year’s headline entertainment act, the acclaimed Frederic Pignon! Equestrian display team Knights of Middle England, who were crowned winners of the inaugural H Factor competition at the British Open Show Jumping Championships. Log onto the show website for a complete timetable.
The Severn Valley Railway
A 16-mile steam railway line running from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, groups will be charmed by the charismatic period stations and the scenic views of the Shropshire and Worcestershire countryside. With combined visits and special events all year round, free coach parking is available at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.
Magic moments: For a truly memorable experience your group can travel in style in one of the historic dining coaches and enjoy a spot of lunch onboard. For group dining enquiries, telephone: 01562-827232.
The National Stud
Venture behind-the-scenes of the National Stud for a 75-minute group tour comprising the Stallion and Foaling Units, and the Nursery Yard, with plenty of opportunity to admire the resident horses. Daily tours take place from 1st February to 31st October.
Magic moments: For an extra-special experience, why not book a Newmarket Nights Tour? Groups can enjoy a guided tour of the stud and high tea, before partaking in an evening’s racing. Subject to availability, members can also visit the start line and the weighing room.
A memorable experience for all ages, uncover the sweet-toothed story of the history and heritage behind the popular chocolate brand. With 14 different zones to explore, groups of 15 plus are entitled to discounted admission rates.
Magic moments: For a memorable excursion what could be more fitting than Cadbury World’s Memory Lane tour? Combining an educational talk about the Bournville Village and Cadbury, with a guided heritage tour around Cadbury World, this excursion is particularly suited to adult groups keen to learn more about the history of Bournville and the Quaker ethics - as well as the secrets behind the chocolate-making of course! The tour finishes with an afternoon tea of scones and sandwiches, with prices starting from £13.95 per person.
The Beatles Story
Visit The Beatles Story this autumn and you’ll be in for an extra special Fab Four experience. The awardwinning attraction is an atmospheric journey into the life, times, culture and music of The Beatles. Group discounts are available for ten or more people.
Magic moments: Visit Fab4D - a new 4D cinema show at the attraction’s second home at Liverpool’s Pier Head. This spectacular experience combines 3D computer generated animation with a dramatic fourth dimension, immersing audiences in a new virtual world exploring the music of The Beatles. The 40-seat cinema experience includes some thrilling additions such as water sprays, bubbles, aromas and leg ticklers.
From 5th to 7th November, thrill seekers at Alton Towers resort can watch a fabulous fireworks display alongside all of the usual rides and attractions that the famous theme-park offers. There is a 20 per cent group discount for ten or more people when booked in advance through the website, and tickets booked online in advance receive early ride times.
Magic moments: Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Alton Towers with a ride on its new rollercoaster, TH13TEEN, followed by the fireworks and a special late night opening.
Go and experience what life is really like on a modern dairy farm. The day can take any shape or form you wish, whether it is an early start for a full day or just a few hours in the afternoon, and could include everything from milking the cows, feeding the baby calves, trimming cows’ feet or mucking out the bull. A full day will include lunch at the local pub and some farmhouse churned Cheshire butter to take home.
Magic moments: If your group goes at the right time, you could be helping to deliver baby calves.
Manchester United Football Club
Old Trafford, Manchester
See the stadium through the eyes of Manchester United greats. Experience the dizzy heights of the North Stand, Sir Alex Ferguson’s pitch-side dugout spot, the atmosphere soaked players’ dressing room and emerge from the famous tunnel onto the pitch.
Magic moments: Tour Old Trafford in the company of iconic players such as Wilf McGuinness, Norman Whiteside, Stuart Pearson and Alex Stepney with a special Legends Tour. Legends Tours are available throughout the year, check the latest available dates by telephone or visiting the website.
Hawkstone Park Follies
The Follies is promoted as a ‘fantasyland’ of woodland, caves, crags, cliffs and concealed monuments, and the 100-acre site nestled in the Shropshire countryside provides a stunning and fascinating terrain for agile groups to explore. The circular route takes around three hours to navigate, after which groups may wish to book a meal at one of Hawkstone Park Hotel’s two restaurants.
Magic moments: The scenery alone will take your breath away, but for groups still left with some extra puff, the Follies offer a variety of activities for pre-booked groups, including a 4x4 driving experience, archery and clay pigeon shooting.
Ipswich, Suffolk (and Maldon, Tilbury and London)
Topsail Charters offer groups of up to 50 people the opportunity to experience an Orwell cruise onboard one of these magnificent vessels, dating from 1895. Sailing from the newly redeveloped dock area, you can enjoy a four hour cruise on the beautiful River Orwell to Harwich Harbour and back. Suitable for all ages and most mobilities, your group can enjoy a relaxing, interesting and memorable cruise. The large decks and saloons provide ample space for relaxing in comfort with a range of facilities.
Magic moments: Book a four hour cruise with a fully-catered lunch and enjoy the scenery as you eat.
Sea Life Centre
Various locations throughout the UK
Fancy diving beneath the sea without getting wet? You’ll come eyeball to eyeball with everything from shrimps to sharks at these nationwide aquariums, with special group rates available.
Magic moments: Take a trip on a glass bottomed boat at the Sea Life centre in Brighton, see a giant pacific octupus in Oban, Scotland or some baby crocodiles at Weymouth Sea Life Park. At the Great Yarmouth centre, groups can even watch a shark feed. The displays team there has managed to train its four biggest sharks to respond to signals and collect their food on command.
Chester Zoo’s 110 acre site is home to 7,000 animals and 400 different species, many of which are endangered. Groups can attend presenter talks or learn more about the park from a tour guide. The zoo also has a selection of tropical indoor animal houses including the Tropical Realm, and the Butterfly Journey. Groups can benefit from discounted admission prices.
Magic moments: Fruit Bat Forest is Chester Zoo’s exciting, yet spooky, bat cave which visitors can move throughout as bats fly around amongst them.
Experience 1,000 years of jaw-dropping history; great battles, ancient myths, spellbinding tales, pampered princesses and heroic knights at this Medieval castle. Special rates for groups are available.
Magic moments: Dare you enter the Castle Dungeon after dark? This evening event transports guests to the darkest chapter in the castle’s history, from the terrors of the torture chamber to the foul pestilence of the plague. Atmospheric surroundings, live actors and top of the range special effects combine to create a multi-sensory experience designed to bring history to life. Guests will be taken to the castle’s Coach House to continue the evening with a three-course feast, complete with drinks and more entertainment from the dungeon’s grimmest inmates.
Explore the tranquil back waters of the beautiful Norfolk Broads with TheCanoeMan.com. Enjoy the scenery and abundance of wildlife on your trip, from kingfishers to otters. A day can finish off at picturesque Coltishall Green, where there are two pubs perfectly placed for lunch. Paddle your canoe downstream and then catch the train back with the ‘Paddle Steamer’.
Magic moments: Combine your canoe trip with a selection of bushcraft trails, designed to provide an introduction to the basic fundamentals of bushcraft and survival techniques. Learn traditional fire making techniques, shelter building, knife skills and more.
Sudbury Hall and the Museum of Childhood
Sudbury Hall was the country home to the Lords Vernon, and is a delight of 17th-century craftsmanship, featuring exquisite plasterwork, wood carvings and classical story-based murals. The Museum of Childhood is situated alongside, where you can explore the childhoods of times gone by.
Magic moments: Take a behind-thescenes tour and step back in time to the late 17th-century to discover what life would have been like above and below stairs. From the humble servants’ quarters in the attic, to the bachelor bedrooms below.
Discover a rambling Tudor mansion with rich Victorian interiors set in a wooded estate on the banks of the Mersey. Situated in a region noted for its timber-framed buildings, Speke Hall is considered one of the most outstanding examples of its kind.
Magic moments: Experience the sights, smells and sounds of Speke Hall’s rich past with an interactive sensory trail. Visit the Victorian kitchen and servants’ hall and discover a fascinating insight into life below stairs. You can even play billiards on what is thought to be the original 19th century table from the hall or take a costumed tour to bring Speke Hall to life.
The revolutionary home of Lord Armstrong, Victorian inventor and landscape genius, Cragside was a wonder of its age. Built on a rocky crag high above the Debdon Burn, Cragside is crammed with ingenious gadgets and was reportedly the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity.
Magic moments: Visit the World of the Water Wizard exhibition and lift a Mini with hardly any effort at all; or take a walk on the iron bridge, enjoy the views and feel dwarfed by the giant conifers that surround you. A discounted rate of 15 per cent is available for any party over 15.
Whitburn, Tyne & Wear
This iconic lighthouse is fronted by an inspirational coastline of dramatic rock formations. Souter Lighthouse opened in 1871 and was the first to use alternating electric current. The Engine Room, light tower and Keeper’s living quarters are all open to view and the Compass Room contains hands-on exhibits to fascinate visitors of all ages.
Magic moments: Climb to the top of the tower and see the amazing views of the beautiful north-east coast. Group tours can be arranged for an additional charge.
Hardwick Hall was built by the Countess of Shrewsbury in the 1590s and has survived almost unchanged. It is home to some of the finest tapestries in Europe.
Magic moments: Have magnificent Hardwick Hall to yourselves on a private guided tour, outside of normal opening hours. Get a more intimate glimpse at the incredible, virtually unchanged interiors and celebrated collection of 16th and 17th-century embroideries and tapestries. Learn about the life and times of Bess of Hardwick, Elizabethan England’s second richest and most powerful woman, as you visit the Threads of Time exhibition. Special rates for groups are available.
Located within the arches of a Victorian railway viaduct, Vinopolis promises to introduce visitors to the world of wines and spirits, with a host of tours, talks and tasting experiences available for groups.
Magic moments: Vinopolis’s cocktail making masterclasses offer a fun and alternative experience for visiting groups of ten or more people. Learn how to create a variety of popular cocktails under the guidance of a resident expert, climaxing with the chance to mix your own concoction.