As a mum of two under-fives, I know that travelling is not always easy with young children. So you’ve packed up your car to the brim and you’re heading to the highlands of Scotland! What is there to entertain the kids, rain or shine, to make your holiday a relaxation zone? Here are my top 5 ideas to amuse, inspire and entertain the kids in the hidden gem of Caithness:
- Children love freedom (at least mine do!) and the biggest selling point of visiting Caithness is the SPACE. We are famous for BIG skies, and a flat landscape that enables you to see from one end of the county to the other. So my advice would be to get outdoors. There are some spectacular beaches in Caithness, but Dunnet beach is in a league of its own with 2 miles of golden sands brilliant for running, dog walking, paddling, scouring rock pools, builing forts and bridges, scaling the dunes and best of all, for flying a kite. A great activity for a windy day.
- Dunnet Forest is an expanse of woodland which has been lovingly tended to by the local Forestry Trust to make it into a riddle of paths and trails with hidden treasures along the way. With a good car park and free entry, the forest is accessible to all and provides lovely shelter on a windy day. There are flat paths suitable for a pram, and more challenging terrain “off the beaten track” for the more adventurous older children. Why not take a flask of tea or a picnic to have at the Log Cabin in the centre of the forest, its a good break for you and the kids.
- If a day of pouring rain strikes during your trip to Caithness, the “Messy Nessy Play Centre” on the precinct in Thurso is a great place to head to. With coffee and cakes for mums and dads, there is a schedule of activities for the children to span a wide range of ages. With regular “slime-making” classes a big attraction, the centre also runs ceramic painting workshops for children as well as other “messy” activities. There is a small soft play area downstairs and a large ball pool upstairs to keep toddlers entertained. Check the weekly schedules on Facebook for up to date info on whats on during your stay.
- The Castle and Gardens of Mey has always been an attraction for the older generation, but just two years ago, they added a new animal centre within the grounds of the Castle itself. With an array of domestic farm animals to pet, feed, hold and speak to, there is an informal feel with friendly keepers to help you learn about the animals. Watch out for Alice the Donkey! The grounds themselves are great to run around and explore and the cafe does lovely food with brilliant kids lunchboxes.
- There is nothing better than happy kids, and a good playpark is often the route to happiness! The village of Castletown fund-raised to provide a brilliant playpark for the local community, and visitors to the area will love it too. There is a great range of smaller and larger apparatus for younger and older kids, and a large locally crafted picnic bench perfect for mums and dads to relax while the kids play. My top tip would be to grab a sausage roll from the Castletown Butchers or a sandwich from the shop, and make this your lunch destination for a sunny day as the kids won’t want to leave (I spent most of my Summer at this bench!)