Days out with the knights, and more

A round up of some of the most interesting and unusual activities in the next few weeks, from re-enactments and workshops tofamily entertainment at historic sites

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The entire grounds of the grand Tudor Speke Hall will become a huge sports field for two days in August in Game On. All activities are suitable for beginners and there will be medals to be won. A climbing wall, golf sessions and fencing will be on offer and there’ll be demonstrations from local martial arts clubs. Be sure to check out the house itself – it’s had a turbulent 400-year history since it was built by the devoutly Catholic Norris family, and included a secret priest hole. Visitors can wind down after a day of action with a stroll around the beautifully restored gardens and surrounding woodland.

18-20 Aug, Speke Hall (


Visit the ancient deer park and grand house Dunham Massey and witness the Lost Carnival. Based on the tale of two rival Victorian carnival families, on 28 and 29 July there’ll be two evenings of performance, live music and intrigue. That includes mesmerising acrobatics and a chance to try some yourself, a puppet show and a fire performance. The Jake Leg Jug Band will play authentic 1920s ragtime sounds and there’ll be festival food and drink. Throughout the summer visitors can witness carnival life behind the scenes and take part in a trail of installations filled with circus and theatrical challenges. You can meet performers and help them keep their balls in the air and their hula hoops twirling, or cartwheel continuously, prepare costumes and practise songs. Inside the house you’ll explore the remarkable real-life story of Catharine Cox and George Harry, who were shunned by Cheshire society for marrying between social classes.

31 July-19 Aug, Dunham Massey (


Lammas celebrations are traditional festivities marking the annual wheat harvest. The age-old tradition will be brought to life in the 400-year-old great hall of East Riddlesden. Delights await on the banqueting table and you can learn more about the traditional loaf mass.

1-13 Aug, East Riddlesden Hall (


In a hands-on history lesson during Roman Scarborough you’ll experience the most popular sport in Roman times – chariot racing – witness cavalry demonstrations and watch fascinating displays of falconry. The castle’s 3,000-year history will be brought to life in theatrical style as you take in the stunning panoramic views of the Yorkshire coastline and take tea in the master gunner’s house.

5-6 Aug, Scarborough Castle (


Cheer on fighting knights and duelling warriors as they perform in a combat display of Medieval Mayhem at Richmond Castle. Originally built to subdue the unruly north of England it is one of the greatest Norman fortresses in Britain.Visitors will experience living history, can test their skills at have-a-go archery and get involved in interactive plays.

19-20 Aug, Richmond Castle (


The Lancashire Witches Weekend will include a Pendle Witch Story Walk, telling the notorious 400-year-old tale. There’ll be visits to the infamous Well Tower dungeon where old Demdike will tell tales of her past while other creatures lurk in the darkness. Theatrical performances in the courtyard include The Little Witch Show and Shakespeare’s Three Sisters. An exhibition of artwork from Ailsa Read commemorates the lives of the witches and the injustice they suffered, and interactive activities include broomstick training, witch crafts and a witch treasure hunt. Read more about the Lancashire witches in Spell It Out at

19-20 Aug, Lancaster Castle (


Family Fun on Yorkshire Day is an opportunity to explore the magnificent restoration of the Piece Hall with its redesigned piazza and heritage interpretation spaces. Actors will be portraying some of the characters from the building’s rich history while children can follow trails, try crafts and giant weaving, take up a heritage challenge and dress up. There’ll be a Victorian-style photographic display by Emma Mitchell who will be on hand to talk about her work and an exhibition from local artist Jake Attree, the Piece Hall’s artist-in-residence who has documented the transformation project. Street food stalls will pop up as local musicians perform. Read more about the restoration of the Piece Hall at

1 Aug, the Piece Hall (


John Nevison was a famous late 17th century Yorkshire highwayman who robbed the length of the Great North Road but especially in the northern counties. Once he was supposed to have ridden from London to York in less than a day to gain an alibi for a robbery he’d been witnessed committing. An elaborate re-enactment gives visitors to the medieval site the chance to meet the infamous highwayman while exploring one of the most complete and well-preserved castles in England.

5-6 Aug, Skipton Castle (


Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Chatsworth Park, the Chatsworth Country Fair is a true celebration of the countryside and its pursuits. Three days will be packed with family entertainment, with a great grand ring line-up featuring Dzhigitivka! The Way of the Cossack Warrior and the White Helmets Motorcycle Display. Around the showground there will be an armed forces display, hot air balloons, birds of prey, leather and willow work, dog agility, vintage cars, dry stone walling and pipe bands among much more. Celebrity chefs will host displays and there’ll be a shopping and food village too.

1-3 Sept, Chatsworth House (

Coledale Valley

In stark contrast to the stunning views of the northern Lakes is its industrial past. The last mineral mine to be worked in the region – Force Crag Mine – has been restored by volunteers and a guided tour, happening just five times a year, allows visitors to explore the above-ground processing mill and remains. During the Second World War tonnes of barites were extracted for munitions. It was a risky operation during icy winters but the harsh working environment was still in operation until the 1990s, when a collapse occurred and the mine was forced to close. It’s only accessible by foot, bike or National Trust 4×4 and overlooked by most. Visitors should park at Braithwaite and walk the gently rising mine track to the head of the Coledale Valley and sheer, dark face of Force Crag.

9 Sept, Force Crag Mine (

Walk it off

Encouraging kids to get their walking boots on when there’s a whole world of Netflix to explore can be a challenge but little children will enjoy the challenge of the Gruffalo Trails on offer in various locations across the north, including Delamere Forest, Gisburn Forest and Grizedale (

South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival (9-24 Sept, includes 130 events for walkers, cyclists and horse riders of all ages and abilities. While enjoying the scenery there are many walks that will also introduce you to the area’s rich history, such as the Halifax Music Heritage Trail, the Chartists’ Way or the Archaeological Nordic Walk on Crompton Moor. Families can learn about fungi in Hardcastle Crags and there’s an opportunity to learn how to rock climb in Littleborough. You can even find out how the Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team train their dogs.

Meanwhile Wray Castle in Cumbria is offering a series of barefoot walks if you want to get truly back to nature (17&19 Aug, The guides know all the best places to get your feet into and promise you’ll never want to put your shoes back on.

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