Ah, the great outdoors: all that fresh air, rosy cheeks and innocent entertainment. If you’re tired of city living, head outside – and there’s no better place to begin, thanks to our guide to interesting, unusual and distinctly cultural outdoor events and outdoor activities. From film festivals in the Lake District to art biennials in the gardens of stately homes, as well as the UK’s finest sculpture park over in that there Yorkshire, it’s all here.
Here are our picks
Wray Castle, Low Wray, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0JA - Visit now
This mock-gothic castle sits imperiously on the shore of Lake Windermere, far from the crowds. Built for a retired Liverpool surgeon with ideas of grandeur, he crammed every architectural feature he could think of into the brief and got the lot – a portcullis, turrets, arrow slots, mock ruins in the garden and even secret passageways and escape routes to and from the master bedroom. It is marvellous in a bonkers sort of way and has stunning interiors and grounds.
Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, WA14 4SJ - Visit now
For a slice of the country that’s close to home. The National Trust’s most popular property, Dunham Massey, is just a few miles outside Altrincham, set in beautiful parkland, and close to favourite pub The Swan with Two Nicks.
Heaton Park, Middleton Road, Higher Blackley, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M25 2SW - Visit now
Heaton Park’s Temple – a small circular structure with a breast-esque dome and Tuscan columns, designed in 1800 – was built on the highest point in Manchester. Scale the hill it sits on and you can see (and be seen) for quite a distance. It gives a unique view of the green fells that surround the city, as well as being an iconic spot: Heaton’s Temple was featured in none other than the 1981 TV series, Brideshead Revisited.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, Yorkshire, WF4 4LG - Visit now
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a day trip in itself – pack kids (if you’ve got them, don’t go stealing someone else’s), a picnic, a camera and go exploring the art and landscape at this stunning gallery beneath the sky.
Formby Beach, Victoria Rd, Formby, Liverpool, L37 1LJ - Visit now
This National Trust-owned nature reserve on the Mersey coast is a thing of diverse beauty. Red squirrels a-gamboling in the pine forest? Check. Rolling sand dunes that act as a border betwixt sea and sky? Check. Vast, flat expanse of beach? Check. Though Formby gets chocka on a sunny day, its miles and miles of beach makes it easy to leave the madding crowd far behind. Car parking on site; Mersey Rail station a mile or so down the road. No cafes or shops (bring a picnic. And a bucket and spade).