From archery to sea fishing: 5 excursions to plan with your dad for Father’s Day
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This year, Father’s Day is certainly a bit different than what we’re used to. We’re now in our third month of lockdown, and while restrictions are beginning to lift and some socialising is allowed, many people will not be able to visit their dads today.
So we’ve come up with a list of fun, dad-friendly trips and things to do that you can plan for the months ahead — or, if you want to be super organised, for next year.
1. The Malt Whisky Trail — Scotland
For a boozy break with your dad, why not try the Malt Whisky Trail that runs along the Moray Speyside region of Scotland and is home to the world’s largest concentration of malt whisky distilleries. Malt whisky is Scotland’s national tipple, so you’ll meet the masters who have perfected the art of single malt. Not only that, but Malt Whisky Country is also breathtaking with plenty of walking opportunities to clear your head the morning after.
You and your dad can discover how different whiskies are crafted, nose whisky straight from a cask, feel the heat of the copper stills and soak up the atmosphere of a bonded warehouse. You can build your own itinerary, of course, but here is a three-day is one we recommend.
Begin your pilgrimage in the heart of Speyside at The Glenlivet Distillery. After your visit there, follow the River Spey north to Knockando for a tour of Cardhu Distillery before heading west to Craigellachie to round your day off with a visit to the Speyside Cooperage. For day two, start in Dufftown with a tour of Glenfiddich Distillery before heading to Glen Grant Distillery, followed by Strathisla Distillery.
For the final day, begin in the quaint town of Elgin with a tour of Glen Moray Distillery. Afterwards travel west to Forres and tour Benromach Distillery before visiting Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery. The Malt Whisky trail website recommends taking a taxi from place to place. There are also plenty of good hotels and guesthouses dotted around the area, and we particularly like the Craigellachie Hotel (at about £165 per night) — this old train station/hotel is the very definition of cosy.
How to get there: The nearest airports are Inverness (INV) and Aberdeen (ABZ). The nearest mainline train stations are Edinburgh or Glasgow before hopping on a regional train to Keith, Elgin or Forres.
2. Sea fishing — Norfolk and Devon
There’s something very rewarding about catching your own supper. Sea fishing is a great outdoorsy and bonding experience, and it’s always quite exhilarating to be out in open water — especially in the U.K. where conditions can be windy and choppy. Head to Brancaster Staithe on the North Norfolk coast and Norfolk Fishing Trips & Charter will host you in its boat, Chloe-L. The waters are one of the best tope (small shark) fishing areas in the world, and you will also have the chance to spot seals and porpoises.
The boat’s skipper Jake Wright knows these waters like the back of his hand and will take you to all the prime fishing spots where you could also catch mackerel, whiting and cod. You are invited to bring your own food on board and cook it. Prices for an 8.5-hour tope fishing trip, including all the gear, is £70 per person. (Note that tope have to be returned to the water alive after being caught). To stay, try the Blakeney Hotel in Blakeney — a 17th-century manor house hotel facing the salt marshes and the estuary. Rooms start at about £163 per night.
If sea fishing in the West Country is more suitable, head to Plymouth in Devon for a “Fish n Trip” experience with Plymouth Boat Trips. The main target is mackerel though you may be lucky enough to catch herring, cod, pollock and sea bass. After your day’s fishing, why not book in for “cook your catch” and relax whilst your bounty is prepared for you at the Boathouse Cafe, situated on the quayside. Prices start at about £25 per person for 3.5 hours and there needs to be a minimum of four passengers in a boat — so maybe do a double dad date with a friend! To cook your catch is an additional £14.95 per person. In keeping with the nautical theme, stay at Rooms by Bistrot Pierre, once home to a Royal Navy Admiral but now restored as a boutique B&B with 14 rooms full of period features. Prices start at about £134 per night.
How to get there: The nearest airport for Norfolk is Stansted, but Norwich is a nearby domestic one. The nearest train station is King’s Lynn. For Plymouth, fly to Bristol or get the train to Plymouth.
3. Wilderness camping — Wales
There’s no better bonding experience than putting up a tent with someone, right? If you’d like some serious peace and quiet, to get back to nature and if you’re not scared of the dark, plan a visit to Wonderful Wilderness in Powys, Wales. On the beautiful 50-acre farm called Dolygaseg, there are six hand-picked, super secluded pitches to camp in so you’re really off-grid. You’ll be nowhere near a neighbour, so you’ll hear lots of wildlife. Positioned between forest and farmland, Wonderful Wilderness has lots to do in the day including cycling, walking and animal spotting. It’s very dark at night, so a great spot for stargazing (or playing hide and seek).
If you can’t be bothered to build your own campfire and want a few more creature comforts, there’s also The Shepherd’s Hut (wilderness-lite, basically). It sleeps four (with duvets), has a kitchen and even a loo. But we challenge you to go full Bear Grylls with your dad. Prices for a pitch start at £30 per night for two people. The Shepherd’s Hut starts at £90 per night (you get a fresh loaf of bread delivered every morning, too).
How to get there: The nearest airports are Liverpool or Manchester, then we recommend you hire a car as the farm is quite remote. By train, the nearest station is Shrewsbury.
4. Gentleman’s afternoon tea — London
Afternoon tea is a British tradition dating back to 1840. It was originally introduced by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, as a “snack” at about 4 p.m. to break up the long wait between lunch and supper. It has evolved now into a bit of a day out and is generally much more than just a light bite before dinner. Staples are sandwiches, cakes, pastries and scones with clotted cream — but there are loads of variations, including “gentlemen’s afternoon tea”, which caters for those with more savoury tastes. So why not treat your dad to one? London is a fabulous place for this rather decadent pastime as you can combine it with a show, a museum or shopping.
Three of our favourites picks are the Ace of Spades afternoon tea at the Sanctum Soho. This rock and roll feast includes truffle Croque monsieur, fish and chips, beef sliders and Jack Daniels ice cream. Finish it off with a cigar on the famous hotel’s roof bar. The Reform Social and Grill at the Mandeville hotel has macho private club vibes with its leather booths and dark furniture. The afternoon tea menu treats include Welsh rarebit fingers, beef and Yorkshire pudding and a whole menu of whisky cocktails. We also recommend afternoon tea with craft ale at The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe. On the menu are blue cheese and cider scones, Royal Legbar scotch eggs, fish finger sandwiches, potted smoked salmon and, of course, delicious ales. After, or before, go and catch a play at the Globe. Both the Sanctum and Mandeville are hotels, so if you fancy staying there too, rooms for both start at about £200 per night
5. Clay pigeon shooting and archery — Tyrone
If your dad is more into outdoor pursuits and reckons he is a good shot, then clay pigeon shooting and archery are a brilliant way to test that out. Todds Leap in Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland is an activity centre in the forest and countryside of Ballygawley. Your clay pigeon shooting session will be led by a qualified instructor, who will lead you to the target range, kit you out with your gun and if you’re a complete beginner, will get you started on the essentials of the sport. Once you’ve mastered that, try your hand at archery, “Hunger Games” style. It’s suitable for all fitness levels and a good chance to get your breath back before tackling something more challenging like rock climbing.
Then — if you’re not too exhausted — there’s also zip-lining and blindfolded driving. Continue with the hunter/gatherer vibe and stay at one of the onsite log cabins in traditional cottage homes that once made up the area known as Lanavoye. If you want to stay somewhere further afield, we recommend Corick House Hotel & Spa, a charming four-star retreat set in landscaped gardens. Prices start at about £149 per night.
How to get there: The nearest airport is Belfast, and if you are already in Ireland, the best option is driving. Ireland is small, so it shouldn’t take too long.
Every dad is different, of course — some are foodies, some are sporty, some have a particular hobby. But one thing they all probably have in common is that they will be missing you this Father’s Day. If you haven’t been able to see your dad today, do not fret, plan one of these trips with him (or the whole family) and make it a day to remember!
Featured photo by Giselleflissak/Getty Images