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How to have a Famous Five summer

It's been 75 years since Enid Blyton’s Famous Five had their first outing. Although much in the world has changed, it is still possible to have your own wild, outdoor adventure. Lashings of ginger beer optional...

1. Go for a bracing wild swim

There are plenty of spots across the UK to indulge in a back to nature, chlorine-free swimming experience. For a gentle introduction for children try Bude Sea Pool (free), a part-natural pool filled by Atlantic tides, or, in Cumbria, Swim the Lakes (from £30) offers a range of wild swimming experiences in local rivers and lakes (while you wouldn’t catch Julian donning a wetsuit, they are provided here). For a wilder adventure (experienced swimmers only) Thurlestone Rock (free) in Devon is famous for its unusual natural arch (below), created over centuries by the crashing waves.

Thurlestone Rock

2. Have a picnic (ham sandwiches ahoy!)

Nothing says ‘Famous Five’ more than a hearty picnic, and on August 11 (Blyton’s birthday), four RHS Gardens – Wisley in Surrey, Rosemoor in Devon, Hyde Hall in Essex and Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire – will be holding a giant picnic party to mark the occasion. It’s all part of a Five Go on a Garden Adventure series in partnership with Enid Blyton Entertainment and Hodder Children’s Books, bringing to life the much-loved values of the Famous Five: friendship, heroism, adventure, outdoors and daring. Each garden will offer family activities including themed adventure trails (Help the Famous Five find Uncle Quentin!), writing workshops, garden displays, immersive theatre, craft workshops and storytelling. Entry prices vary per garden but we have a family ticket to be won – see over the page!

On August 11 – Blyton’s birthday – four RHS Gardens will be holding picnic parties to mark the occasion

3. Go searching for smugglers in underground tunnels

A mysterious tunnel is the epitome of a Famous Five adventure. Recreate the intrigue at Honister Slate Mine (from £8.50 per child and £13.50 per adult for a mine tour), an underground experience deep inside the 2,126 feet high Fleetwith Pike near Keswick, Cumbria. Following the route of the original mine workings, each guided adventure lasts around two hours and will see groups of up to 12 people led deep underground to explore a secret world of hidden passages and magnificent caverns. Mystery also abounds in Margate’s Shell Grotto (adults £4, children £1.50) a remarkable subterranean enclave, where winding tunnels snake beside 2,000 square feet of magnificent symbol mosaics, made out of cockle, whelk, mussel and oyster shells.

4. Watch out for pirates on the ‘Island of Adventure’

Just a short boat ride from the mainland, the Isle of Wight is awash with smugglers, spies and pirates, all within a space the size of inner London. New at Blackgang Chine for 2017, visitors can discover an underwater cave and abandoned sunken shipwreck (from £19.50 off peak, under 4s free). Or for a true pirate experience, head to Shipwreck Isle (free) and help defend the island from pirates (below).

Shipwreck Isle

5. Follow in the Famous Five’s footsteps in Blyton country

Dorset’s Purbeck coast plays a starring role in the Famous Five series and has its very own Enid Blyton Trail. Follow in the Five’s footsteps on a trip to Corfe Castle (below left), the inspiration for Kirrin Castle (adults £9.90; children £4.95 or free to National Trust members), by steam train from Swanage (return tickets £12.50 for adults and £7.60 for children), then explore the ruins. Hop on the boat to Brownsea Island – Blyton’s Whispering Island – and discover a haven of lakes, wildlife and heathland, all easily explored at just one mile long. There’s now even the chance for back-to-basics camping there, accessed via a 20-30 minute walk from the boat dock or kayaking, sailing or paddling straight to the south shore campsite from the mainland.

For more literary holiday inspiration check out visitengland.com/literaryheroes

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