Many of us want to get active but it can be hard to find the time, never mind the energy! One of the best ways to get motivated is when there's an opportunity to combine activity with fun. How about swapping the spinning class for an hour in a canoe, or giving your arms and legs a workout while learning to master a windsurf or paddleboard?
Whitlingham Country Park is the perfect place to go if you want to get some exercise, enjoy the scenery and try something different for the day. Less than two miles outside the city centre, the country park is home to the Great Broad, an expanse of open water that's perfect for sport, and Whitlingham Adventure - an outdoor education and activity centre.
Fun on the water
There are classes for children (aged eight and over) and adults as well as family activity sessions. You can try your hand at everything from kayaking to sailing. Family canoeing sessions are £20 per person (for a two-hour session) and open to anyone over the age of eight. You'll be under the supervision of a qualified instructor so you can rest assured that you're safe, even if you're all complete beginners. There are also family activity sessions in sailing, windsurfing and paddle-boarding. If you just want to get used to the water without too much to learn, book yourselves a two hour session in a funboat.
Summer holiday courses
During the summer holidays there are plenty of courses for children (aged 8-11 and 11-16) including the 5-day Summer Adventure Week at £160 per child. Five full days of activities could include climbing, archery, team challenges, paddlesport, raftbuilding, sailing or orienteering. The next Summer Adventure course runs 31st July - 4th August and again from 29th August - 1 September (4 days) for £140 per child. There are all sort of other summer holiday courses spanning four and five days including sailing, windsurfing and paddling, see the full summer holiday club programme here.
Fun on dry land
If you prefer to keep your feet dry, there are all kinds of ways to stay active and safely on the banks of the Broad. If you have a steady hand and a keen eye you might enjoy archery. The sport is open to anyone over the age of 16; there are courses running in July, August and September where you can try your hand at the sport in a two-hour Sunday session for £20.
Children aged 8-16 can bring out their inner Bear Grylls with a course in survival where they can learn exciting skills for forest survival combined with an archery session. There are courses running on 17th and 24th August for £33 per child. Those with a head for heights may be interested in scaling the outdoor climbing tour with a Climb and Archery session, or if you want to mix land and water you could try Climb and Kayak. All youth courses are suitable for those aged 8-16.
Cycle around the Broad
Whitlingham Country Park is beautifully scenic and provides the perfect route for a short cycle. You can take the circular route around the Great Broad on the wheelchair accessible path which is 2 miles / 3km. Though the park is just outside the city, it's blissfully peaceful so you can take in the nature as you circle the water's edge. The park is open all year round so you are free to cycle and walk at any time.
Picnic and walk
If you want to ease yourself in to being active, treat yourself to a picnic by the water or on one of the benches at the Broads Authority Visitor Centre. the park's historic flint barn is a great place to enjoy a coffee and a piece of cake before you think about burning off the calories with a leisurely walk around the Broad. There are also two wheelchairs available to hire at the visitors centre and the circular path around the water is fully accessible.The Visitor Centre is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm in summer.
Whitlingham Charitable Trust is holding a Woodland Activity Day on Wednesday 23rd August where you can explore the woods and nature and have a go at some traditional woodland crafts. The event is free and you can drop in any time 11am and 3pm. See the full events programme here.
You'll find Whitlingham Country Park on Whitlingham Lane in Trowse, NR14 8TR, less than two miles outside of Norwich city centre.
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