100 Hours Outside

While the debate about how much screen time is appropriate for kids rages on, here at Bluestone we are all about free range fun. We believe there’s no such thing as too much time spent outdoors which is why we’ve come up with the idea of spending 100 hours outside this season.

There’s plenty of evidence pointing to how unstructured play gives kids the freedom to get outside and lost in nature.  They get lost in their imaginations and they get lost in wonder.  It’s hardly surprising to learn that the rich sensory environment that nature always provides helps kids rapidly develop. At Bluestone, spread over 500 acres, our nature reserve, woodland trails and lake are the perfect environment to explore safely.

In her book Balanced and Barefoot, Angela J. Hanscom, a paediatric occupational therapist, says every child needs a minimum of three hours outside per day. We get it – life is busy and we’re all for balance. But studies have shown that by the age of two, children are clocking up around 17 hours of screen time per week. This increased to around 25 hours a week by the age of three.

The demand on our kids’ attention is immense – from television to the internet to mobile phones. In the UK, children aged between 5-16 years spend an average of 6.3 hours of screen time per day. It’s never been more important to think outside the box. Which is why we’ve pulled together some ideas to encourage you and your family to try to at least match the average amount of screen time a child will be immersed in every year. Here are some suggestions to spend 100 hours outdoors this season while you’re here at Bluestone. Why not make a chart and see how many hours you clock up.

Stargazing in Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire is one of the best areas in the country to see the night sky. And the best place in the county to view the Milky Way is the designated Dark Sky of the National Trust car park at Broadhaven South. At this time of year, colder nights generally mean clear night skies - perfect for watching the stars come out.

In February some of the highlights of that night’s sky included watching Venus and Mars on the western horizon at sunset and Jupiter shining in the eastern sky. You can also spot the Big Dipper and Orion. While the naked eye can see lots of large stars and planets, if you use binoculars, telescopes or SLR cameras you can see the planets, nebulas, and black holes in much more detail. 

Parking at the National Trust car park,  SA71 5DR. There are toilets including disabled facilities.

Discover wild animal clues in the Bluestone nature reserve

It would be amazing to do this after it has snowed, but even if there isn’t any snow, tracking animals is another activity that works in the winter. It’s how our very own Ranger Rob identifies animals like otters here at Bluestone. Look for footprints in mud, soil and sand or other signs such as droppings and see what clues you can discover. Perhaps start in the Bluestone nature reserve and then follow the nature trail down to Blackpool Mill and the tidal Cleddau estuary. From around February, keep your eyes peeled for frogspawn and newborn ducklings in spring.

Toast marshmallows at Camp Smokey

When it’s cold outside there’s something just right about toasting marshmallows on a campfire, or jacket potatoes in the embers. You can’t beat a camp fire on the beach – just make sure your wood is dry and then you’re good to go. But if that seems like too much effort, let us do the work for you at the beautiful Camp Smokey. Overlooking a babbling brook, nestled at the bottom of the Steep Ravine within Bluestone's ancient forest, you'll find our unique, rustic, woodland diner. The outdoor terrace is the perfect place for a family meal, where you can enjoy all the sights and sounds of the forest. Choose from a menu packed with delicious barbecue-style dishes, and family favourites.

After lunch, make sure to pay a visit to our fire pit to roast some marshmallows, a unique experience that's a must for every break at Bluestone.

Camp Smokey is open from February 15.                                                     

Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt through Bluestone’s ancient woodland

For curious kids keen to categorise the different plants, animals and fungi they come across, then identify the species and outline some key facts. With numerous trails throughout the resort, Bluestone is a great place to start.

For adventures further afield, try the Stepaside Ironworks walk which mixes scenic coastal walking with an enclosed inland woodland walk in a quiet valley. The route follows the old railway line built in 1835 to link Saundersfoot Harbour with Stepaside Ironworks. Stepaside Ironworks is served by a large free public car park (SA67 8LT) with toilets at both Wisemans Bridge and Saundersfoot. Wisemans Bridge is at the halfway point of the walk.

Skipping stones

Did you know there’s a difference between skipping stones and skimming stones? While “skipping” is all about how many times a stone can bounce before it sinks into the water, “skimming” is to see how far a bouncing stone can travel across the water before it sinks into the water. It’s best to pick a large still body of water – like the Bluestone lake or a calm day at the beach. Find the smoothest flattest stones you can and see if you can beat the world record of 88 skips! If you’re heading to the beach, the best stones can be found at Coppet Hall in Saundersfoot, Newgale near Haverfordwest, Aberfforest near Newport and along the harbour at Solva.

Have a picnic

There’s something quite special about eating your lunch outdoors. Make your favourite sandwiches and maybe bake some cheese scones and your favourite cake and wrap them up before heading somewhere with a view. Make sure to pack a blanket to sit on. You can have a picnic in the woods here at Bluestone or you can use our winter walks guide to pick one of our favourite Pembrokeshire locations.

Fly a kite at Newgale beach

One of life’s simple pleasures: find a big empty space (check for overhead cables) and fly a kite. If you don’t have a kite, find one online to make your own from a plastic bag.

Pembrokeshire’s beaches – with their wide open spaces and smaller crowds – are the prefect spot. Places like Saundersfoot, Newgale, Broadhaven (north) and Whitesands are nearly always windy and they all have car parking and toilets as well as facilities for refreshments.

Newgale beach has a large car park with parking and toilets (SA62 6BD)

Identify songbirds at Black Pool Mill

With the ancient woodland and lodges surrounded by trees, there’s a multitude of birds calling Bluestone home. See what you can hear from your lodge before venturing further afield – follow the nature trail down to Black Pool Mill and see if you can identify some of the birds living on the estuary. Treat yourself with a hot drink at the Mill before you head back to the resort.

Decorate a pebble at Manorbier

Head to the beach – Manorbier and Newgale beaches have some good ones - and take some paints with you. Collect a couple of nice smooth flat pebbles and paint them outdoors. Leave them for other people to find or take them home to decorate your lodge or garden.

Parking at Manorbier beach car park where there are public toilets. There is a shop, post office and pub a short walk away in the village. The castle also has its own private café.

Have a Teddy Bear’s Picnic at Bluestone

Bluestone has a new mascot for 2024: Teddy Blue. From February, guests will be able to make their very own Teddy Blue at the Bear Boutique and dress him up in his special blue jumper. Why not bring Teddy Blue and all your own teddies outside and have a Teddy Bear’s Picnic?

Make some mini fairy cakes in your lodge and set a place for each teddy.

Flower pressing with spring flowers

With the worst of winter behind us, the spring flowers such as snowdrops, primroses and bluebells will soon be carpeting the Bluestone resort and the coastal paths. Pick your favourite flowers and press them in a book, or a proper flower press if you have one. Use them to make cards for your loved ones -maybe a Mother’s Day or Easter card. Simply place your flowers between two sheets of paper, place them in the pages of a large book and weigh them down with more books or something heavy.

Eat an ice cream cone outside

It might be winter but that’s no reason not to go for a walk and treat yourself to an ice cream. In fact, we say they taste even better if you’ve braved a wintry walk first. Some of our favourite ice cream spots include Pointz Castle near Newgale (check their opening times), the Ocean café at Broadhaven north, the Boathouse tearoom at Stackpole Quay and the Kiosk Café at Coppet Hall in Saundersfoot.

The Kiosk Café is open all year round and there is parking and toilets at Coppet Hall beach.

Climb a Preseli hill

Pick a hill with a good view and pack some snacks. Some of our favourite peaks in Pembrokeshire are Carn Llidi near Whitesands which has some amazing views right across the north of the county. Carn Ingli at Newport – which means Angel Mountain in Welsh – offers some panoramic views across the Preseli mountains and the coastline below. Foel Eryr in the Preselis is another decent climb and on a clear day it’s possible to see all the way from the Gower peninsula to Skomer island in the west.

Under a mile long, the walk to Foel Eryr is the shortest, and probably easiest in the Preseli Hills that we know of. Parking for Foel Eryr is at Bwlch Gwynt, between Tafarn y Bwlch and Tufton, at the summit of the B4329. When you reach the highest point on the road you will find the parking area on your right.

Collect leaves at Bluestone

Snap pics of unusual-looking plants in our flowerbeds, hedgerows and woodland to identify them. The ancient woodland at Bluestone is home to numerous species of trees – see how many different types you can identify during your stay.

Go to a local farmers market

See what produce is in season or buy a new kind of jam to try on your toast. There’s the Haverfordwest farmers’ market held every Friday at Riverside Shopping, a 25 minute drive from the resort. And a bit further away there’s the Fishguard farmers’ market every Saturday held at the Fishguard town hall. 

It’s best to get there early while there’s still plenty of choice and they tend to pack up just after lunch time.

Take a night hike through the resort

Dig out a torch and dress up warm and head out for a night time adventure. Here at Bluestone you might be lucky enough to spot a hedgehog or perhaps a badger or a fox. Make sure you warm up afterwards with something hot to drink.

Go on a bike ride

This is an easy one for all the family – pump up your tyres and get out on a bike ride. The traffic-free roads through the resort are perfect for building confidence while the quiet lanes through Canaston woods are scenic, albeit hilly. You can always stop off at Blackpool Mill for a well-earned slice of cake.

Try nature photography

Get outside with your cameras – maybe decide on a theme – and see who takes the best picture. Nestled in so much natural beauty, there are options aplenty – ideas include animals, nature, water, black and white or shadows.

Watch a sunset at Newgale

Pack a blanket, something warm to drink and find a spot to settle down and watch one of the greatest shows on earth. Being far out west, Pembrokeshire has some epic sunsets. For the best ones, head to the beaches on the north-west coast – Newgale, Broadhaven (north) and Manorbier all deliver some exceptional sunsets, and the best bit is they all have car parking meaning it’s just a short walk back to the car in the evening dusk.

Watch the sun rise at Amroth

Set the alarm clocks early, pack a flask of something hot and pick a spot to watch the sun rise. The best places to catch a sunrise are Amroth, Coppet Hall, Saundersfoot and Tenby.

There’s parking at Amroth (SA67 8NG) and a couple of pubs and cafes for refreshments.

A day at to the beach (with so many to choose from)

Build a sandcastle, dig a hole, splash in the waves, or go rock pooling – the beach isn’t just for summer. One of our favourite places for rock pooling is at Marloes Beach where the variety of rocky formations and great expanse of sand make it a great place for rock scrambling too. Other places for child-friendly rock pooling include Broadhaven South, St Brides and Caerfai Bay near St Davids.

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