Whether indoor or outdoor, when it comes to Telford activities, there’s a great choice for the whole family to enjoy.
Telford may not immediately spring to mind as a natural haven for exotic creatures, but the town’s Exotic Zoo and Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom tell a different story. Here, you’ll come across wildlife from the sparse plains of Africa to the lush rainforests of South America, as well as some of Britain’s native creatures. For a more hands-on encounter with the animals, Hoo Farm allows visitors to get up close and personal, with small-group experiences and keeper days available for an additional charge.
On Sundays and bank holiday Mondays between April and October, you can ride the rails of Telford’s Steam Railway before it transforms into the Polar Express for the Christmas season. A registered charity, the railway is run by volunteers and welcomes visitors to three stations along the former Wellington and Severn Junction railway, stopping at Spring Village, Lawley Village and Horsehay and Dawley for a round trip that takes 50 minutes. Tickets cost just a few pounds, with concessions available for children and seniors, and you can opt for a family ticket if you’re visiting with two adults and two children. A tearoom, a model railway and a range of experiences to put you in the driving seat are on offer for the ardent rail enthusiast and are bookable via the Telford Steam Railway website.
If you prefer to live life on the downhill, head to Telford Snowboard and Ski Centre in Madeley. Offering slope time for all abilities, prices won’t break the bank, with affordable rates for an hour of free skiing or boarding, whether you’re looking to hone or refresh your skills. For newbies, ski school awaits. Learn the basics of skiing or snowboarding in a safe and fun group setting during a two-hour lesson, and you can be swapping Telford for Tignes in no time!
If you’re looking to catch one of the big screen’s latest releases, head to Telford’s Cineworld, located in the heart of the town centre. Now boasting an IMAX screen, as well as a D-Box experience – which gives film fans the chance to experience films in 4D, thanks to a state-of-the-art ‘motion code’ in the seats – you’ll be treated to all the biggest blockbusters, indie releases and even some special screenings of stage shows and performances.
Small children – and big kids – will go wild for Jungleland’s choice of four activities under one roof. Take your pick of the soft jungle gym, complete with slides and a ball pit – plus a café, because watching kids at play is thirsty work – tee off to the call of the wild at Safariland’s nine-hole crazy golf course, strike it lucky with Alien Strike’s 10-pin bowling or get your trigger finger ready for Lazerland’s laser quest. Open seven days a week until 6pm, each attraction is reasonably priced and is just a five-minute drive from our Telford North hotel.
Vying for first place as the nation’s favourite zeitgeist activity, escape rooms and trampoline parks have been springing up across the country and Telford is no exception.
Nudging into prime position, thanks to its pun-tastic name, is Airea51 – Telford’s first bounce house and one of the newest in the UK. Slip on a pair of bespoke Airea51 jump socks and, in the immortal words of House of Pain, jump around. You’ve got 30,000 square feet and 54 trampolines to explore. Unleash your inner dodgeball demon on the dodgeball court, get some serious air to slam dunk on the basketball hoops, try your hand at a ninja warrior challenge on the assault course, summon your inner gladiator and dual on the balance beam or make like 007 on the parkour circuit.
If all that sounds a bit too strenuous, there’s also a café on-site for some low-tempo, high-gravity action. Prices are very reasonable for one hour online bookings and pre-booking is recommended. Check out Airea51’s website for prices and opening times which vary throughout the week.
If you prefer to give your brain a workout, XscapeNow could be just the ticket. Gather together a crack team and pool your collective brain power to find the clues and solve a series of puzzles before the time runs out. With different degrees of difficulty, three themed rooms await. Solve a mysterious murder, launch a rocket to flee a meteor strike or channel the greatest escapologist of them all to escape Houdini’s exhibition within 60 minutes or time’s up.
XscapeNow is open until 10pm every day but make sure you book in advance. The rooms are designed for between two and six players at a time, with prices varying depending on your group size.
It’s the picturesque landscapes and well-kept footpaths that make Telford a wonderful base camp for ramblers looking to head out into the Shropshire countryside.
Covering a sprawling 180 acres, Aqualate Mere National Nature Reserve is the largest natural lake in the West Midlands. You’ll be sharing the mere with the fishy and feathered wildlife that call the wetland home. Feel completely cut off from the rest of the world as you make your way around the one-mile long mere, surrounded by reed beds and pretty, low-lying woodlands of willows and alder trees. Marked, well-maintained footpaths and parking on-site make Aqualate an easy, accessible route for everyone.
A 15-minute drive from our Telford International Centre hotel, Apley Woods is a beautifully preserved 19th-century landscaped woodland. Set within 56 acres of meadows with winding footpaths, sculptures, century-old trees, ponds and fields awash with colourful wildflowers, Apley Woods has two short walking routes – the Pool Wood route and the Accessibility route. Both are well marked and have helpful information panels placed at key entrances to the woods giving walkers information about points of interest. The Pool Wood route is a 40-minute walk through the meadow, while the Accessibility route is shorter at just 20 minutes, with no steps and easy access making it the ideal choice for walkers with pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
The jewel in the crown of Telford’s outdoor pursuits is the Ironbridge Gorge, one of the first locations in the UK to be christened a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from the historical significance of the bridge as a marker of the town’s importance in the industrial revolution, the gorge itself cuts a stunning sweep through the surrounding tree-filled hills. If you want to forgo the on-site parking and enjoy the countryside, set off from Benthall Hall for a 3.4-mile walk through glorious woodlands and farmland for an exquisite view across the gorge, before stopping for a spot of lunch in Ironbridge. Give yourself at least two hours to enjoy the walk at a leisurely pace.
Saddle up and hit the road on the scenic Telford and Ironbridge Circular route. Following the off-road Silkin Way to the historic Iron Bridge on the River Severn, the route takes you through parkland and woodland trails, and hugs the river for stretches of the 14-mile (22 km) loop.
Make a day of it by stopping off at Blists Hill Victorian Town – a throwback some 100 years to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of authentic Victorian Britain. Learn about the town’s rich industrial roots at the Museum of the Gorge, and of course the Iron Bridge itself; the first ever cast-iron bridge in the world, built in 1779.
Council-run Telford Bike Hub and Plush Hill Cycles offer bike hire if you don’t bring your own set of wheels.
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