Virgin Experience Days – Driving Experiences

Our older 3 children are becoming more difficult to buy for now and I think its important to include experiences rather than just material gifts. We’ve previously done junior off road experiences so last Christmas (2021) we bought the 2 younger teens the triple sports car experiences and the older teen a four car driving experience.

They were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get them booked. We were directed to the car chase heroes site and after some struggle we finally managed to get the right codes to get to the location/date selection page. This was not an easy task as the cars promised when you buy your package are almost always unavailable. Many of the dates didn’t have the required number of cars available at all. It took numerous visits for us to finally settle on a date in August at Tockwith airfield in York. We didn’t manage to book the cars promised on the bookings but there seemed to be more available and they were all happy with their options.

Fast forward to the day, August 11th. Right in the middle of a heatwave. After a 1.5 hour drive to our location we arrived at the postcode and saw no signs of it being the right place. We left and drove around some before returning to where we originally turned up to. When we came back the opposite way we noticed the smallest sign indicating we were in the right place and to follow the track down the side. The parking attendant was not a bit surprised and said he would mention to those running these events so hopefully in future the signs will be bigger than a 10 pence price. We got to the queue for the event and waited. It was hot. It was only just gone 9am and already it was like being in hell already and was only going to get hotter. The wasps were also up and out early, scaring even the bravest men around us.

We made it to the front of the queue and were asked about the damage waiver fees, essentially if you don’t have £5000 available on a cars then it is £25 per person for the damage waiver incase of any damage to the car you’re driving. This includes if someone hits you. I feel like this is pretty much a compulsory fee and should really be included in the price of the experience rather than being an unexpected extra. We were lucky we could afford it but what if we couldn’t? This wasn’t our only bitter experience as far as extras go.

We made our way to the tent area to pay our damage waivers and found some of the cars booked weren’t available due to mechanical problems. No problem these things happen, we changed them and everyone was happy (until every single car was then seen driving around shortly after). We were asked if we wanted sighting laps. These were £10per person and were described as being like a 1:1 lesson in a separate car before going into the sports cars. I thought this seemed like a great idea to give them chance to learn to use the controls. Turns out the two younger teens went together in the car (sat in the back) and were driven round the track once or twice. That was it. Wouldn’t have wasted my money if I’d known.

We were also asked if they wanted a high speed passenger ride at the end. That was also £10pp. My 7 year old was allowed so we paid for him to join in with dad alongside so that set us back £40. Forty pounds and they all got in together and had one lap, ONE LAP!!! around the track at high speed. I find it absolutely unbelievable that they could justify that charge for that. Don’t get me wrong they enjoyed it but that absolutely does not represent good value for money. Don’t waste your money. We essentially paid £60 for f*#k all.

Photo packages start at £25. We paid for the younger 2 and the eldest paid for his own. I believe they say a minimum of 5 photos and we got hundreds so I don’t suppose that’s horrendous. You are given a lanyard with an sd card in at the start. Between 3 of them there was 2 videos. As video packages start at £40 each we didn’t bother to buy those. To be honest it would be easy enough to sneak those away but were not like that. The photos took the extras on the day up to £160. That’s insane considering the junior driving experiences only cost £59.

We were impressed with the way they run the day though, we had only just paid our extras and finalising the cars when they started calling our kids names to go up. If you’re not available because you’re in a car already they move onto the next person on the list and they come back to you. It meant that although we were later than the 830am arrival time it said in the email that the kids were still called through in good time and the eldest who’s estimated driving time for one car was 330pm got that out the way at around 1030am. It was a steady flow. Everyone seemed happy and nobody seemed to be stood around for long which was good in the heat.

The facilities on site weren’t amazing but weren’t awful. The toilets are portaloos which generally stink wherever they are let alone in the middle of a heatwave. It made me a little bit retchy but that’s nobodies fault. We did see them restocking and cleaning them. There’s a little cafe which is nothing glamorous but was run by some friendly staff/kids and was well stocked. It wasn’t overly expensive which you might expect after parting with astronomical amounts of money when you first arrived. There are lots of good places to sit and watch the track. If you have a decent camera you could easily get your own great track photos and save yourself a small fortune buying theirs. We discovered many people brought their own camping chairs. They’ve obviously been before, this will definitely be a must for us if we do this again as they’re not provided for spectators.

We were relieved to be finished by just after dinner time. Not in a bad way but it was so unbearably hot to be stood about with very few places to go get some relief from the blazing sun. This is in no way the fault of the company running the site. Its a wonder the tarmac wasn’t melting on the track.

To sum it up all 3 had an amazing time. Kaesey (14) is thrilled to tell everyone the first car she’s driven was a Porsche. Sam (20) loved the Supra the most, and Zak (15) loved the Mustang. They’re all still talking about it nearly a week later so it’s definitely had an impact. There seemed to be a bit of inconsistency in the drives in the sense that some instructors told them to put their foot down whereas others were a bit more careful. I don’t think that was necessarily detrimental to their experiences but did leave them wondering where they stood a little bit in the next car they got in. The younger two obviously don’t have driving licenses and so the instructors did the gear changes and clutch controls which meant the kids could just concentrate on steering. They each got 3 laps around the track in each car which isn’t much but also didn’t seem to go too quick either.

I would definitely recommend a driving experience for anyone looking for something new for their kids. Just be wary of the sneaky add-ons and decide for yourself whether you believe them to be value for money for you. I’m sure we’ll do similar experiences again in the future but I will definitely pick my track side spot carefully and won’t waste my money on sighting laps or the high speed laps at the end. Another thing to mention is when booking with virgin experience days there seems to always be a 20% off code floating around. We get blue light discount and they offer 20% too. Who doesn’t love to save money?

honeysuckle farm

This family owned and run farm is one of our favourite places to visit, a half hour drive along the coast to Hornsea and this little gem is set back up a country lane. At around £5-6 each to enter it isn’t bank breaking but offers very good value for money. There is also the option to buy animal and fish feeds as extras and a cafe with seating indoors and out. Our last visit was with Toby’s friend August 2021 and this is a little bit about it.

One of the first areas you come to when you enter the farm is the huge undercover straw bale play area where kids GO WILD. Around the edges are cows, goats and sometimes guinea pigs. The goats are entertaining and greedy. Toby and his friend laughed at them climbing on each other and trying to get through the fence to empty his cup of food. He learned pretty quickly to keep those little fingers tucked in and as straight as he can too. He spent far longer however running around on and within the straw bales. To be honest this would be a good standalone day out for us. He would do that for hours. Kids all seem to automatically join in with each other and make cute little friendship groups.

Next you reach a picnic area and small outdoor play area built into a small hilly area. There are numerous picnic tables around to sit and watch the kids climb the hills and run through the little tunnels. After this there’s a decent size wooded area, there’s a number of climbing frames in there, an aviary, and an infinite amount of swords, wands, den supplies etc. We spent some time in these outdoor areas whilst Toby and his friend attempted to build dens and find the biggest swords. What a wonderful place to be to feed their imaginations.

We moved on from here to a maze area, its not on the scale of other maize mazes but the kids still love it. It’s a lovely nature walk from here around the rest of the farm with opportunities to see and feed fish and sheep. There are also donkeys, who are pretty laid back animals so apart from a quick glimpse we didn’t spend much time with them. We saw geese, ducks and some cute little furry animals in an enclosure but it escapes me what the little cuties are. Before COVID there were horse and cart rides which were such a treat, these were not available on our last visit sadly but if they are on your visit it is most definitely worth doing.

Another smaller straw bale play area signals you have almost come to the end of your walk around the farm. Sit down and let the kids burn off any remaining energy before an ice cream/coffee in the cafe and then home.

If you have time left before going home I suggest a fish and chip dinner on Hornsea seafront, or if you are a bit more adventurous go a little further afield to Mappleton beach to do some fossil hunting. Always check the tide times though as it is possible to get cut off, and watch out for ordnance.

Hornsea Seafront

The Deep

Toby, like probably every other 6 year old in the country loves watching YouTube videos, he has recently come across videos of aquariums after watching shark videos and asked if we could go visit one.

Toby loved the megaladon jaws replica

The Deep was our obvious destination, we live around 30-40 minutes drive away and having visited before we knew he’d love it.

It’s currently pre-booking only which was reasonably easy to do on their website and cost us £46 for two adults and one child. The tickets allow us to come back for another visit in 12 months too which is amazing.

Of course as with any day out its the added extras that cost you dearly – £3.50 for the sticker book, £20 for a couple of drinks and snacks in the cafe, £10 for a hammerhead shark soft toy… but is it even a day out with the kids if you don’t spend a small fortune on crap.

There are lots of weird and wonderful creatures to see, some are bloody ugly and others quite beautiful. The display of jellyfish floating around is mesmerising and calming in equal measure. Toby was thrilled to see sharks every single time although wasn’t impressed by the lack of blue whale.

My only complaint about our day out, and I can’t even blame the deep so it’s not even fair for me to mention it was the family behind us with a body odour problem. Seriously if you are leaving the house please get a good anti-perspirant.

There are many interactive displays which would be great but a few of them were not working when we visited. They were a bit old for Toby so it wasn’t really an issue but it could be for others.

I am always excited to see the penguins, they by far are my favourite creatures there but they weren’t putting on much of a show and just stood there for the most part. Still cute though. There was 2 that kept swimming about though and seemed interested in their human audience. Toby found them boring so we didn’t get to stay there for long.

The walls made of ice were a hit. Until he decided he might get frost bite in his fingers and we quickly left.

A nice add on is the amazon rainforest section with a variety of ants, frogs, snakes etc. Not my thing at all but Toby loved it.

We left at 6 when they closed and went to look at the sculptures outside, if you aren’t already walked to death then have a walk along the beautiful path along the Humber.

I’m sure the fact it was a bright sunny day and that the sun was coming down helped to make it look more beautiful. Its also a bike route we have earmarked for the future.

A short walk across the bridge is a variety of bistros and restaurants that I can’t offer any opinion on as we didn’t visit but I imagine you could finish a lovely day with a lovely meal.

View from the bridge

We finished the day with Toby telling us he’s going to work at The Deep when he’s older so its definitely made a good impression on him. We recommend with a score of 9/10 (only missing the 1 because or the faulty interactive displays).

Visit Flamborough

Flamborough is one of my favourite local (ish) places to visit. An hour up the coast it is a small village 4 miles north-east of Bridlington.

Flamborough is amazing for outdoor adventure lovers with its interesting rock formations, caves, rock pools to explore, and lots more. It is also home to one of the uk’s most famous RSPB reserves – Bempton Cliffs, where around half a million seabirds, including puffins, gather to breed and raise their chicks between March and October on the colossal chalk cliffs.

We’ve yet to explore so much of Flamborough but here are some of the highlights of our trips to hopefully entice you to visit and show this beautiful area some love.

Flamborough Head

Flamborough Head

Simply beautiful wherever you look with stunning views over the vast chalk cliffs and rocky ground, you can’t fail to have your breath taken. You can follow the coastal path along which will bring you on a visit here, or as we did, picked up the coastal path for a short walk to see this little beauty – The Drinking Dinosaur – an amazing natural rock formation caused by years of erosion by the sea. From the right angle it resembles a sauropod drinking from the sea.

The Drinking Dinosaur

We have visited this next section of Flamborough head twice now, accessible by some pretty steep steps it isn’t for everyone. Getting down is much easier than getting back up. But it is sure to bring out the explorer in you. Kids (and adults alike) will love the rock pools that appear when the tide goes out, seals are also a frequent visitor, and there are plenty of little nooks and crannies to explore.

There are so many interesting rocks to find too, these captivate Toby, my 5 year old mini explorer every time. You’ll see in some of the later pics above that his hoodie is stretched from the weight of his favourite rocks that he smuggled up the sheer steps.

Flamborough Lighthouse

This working lighthouse is a magnificent display acting as a waypoint for passing deep sea vessels and coastal traffic. Currently closed due to covid and we have only seen it from the outside but were fascinated nonetheless. We live opposite a lighthouse ourselves but it is no longer active so this was such a novelty. This lighthouse was built in 1806 replacing the previous lighthouse built in 1669 (which still stands down the road).

Danes Dyke

I absolutely love Danes Dyke, a beautiful nature reserve with lots of scientific and natural importance. It’s earthworks are believed to date back to the dark ages.

We love to park up in the car park and walk through the woods to the stunning coastal vista that greets you at the end but in the past we have walked for some time around the woods, discovering tree swings left behind by others. It’s one of my favourite places in Flamborough and Toby’s too as we don’t have woods like this near us for him to explore.

The pebble beach at Danes Dyke is made up of so many weird and wonderful rocks, the bigger the better when you’re 5, and you can also join the coastal path to admire the entire Flamborough coastline from the cliff top.

Thornwick Bay

Thornwick Bay

Our latest visit to Flamborough saw us investigating the natural arches and hideaways on Thornwick Bay. The first time we visited we arrived at high tide so couldn’t explore like we would have liked but yesterday the tide was out and we immediately set out to see as much as we could before the tide turned and started coming for us.

The rocky beach is accessed by steps and the view that greets you as you descend is sure to get everyone excited.

Descending the steppy path to Thornwick Bay

There are no dog restrictions on Thornwick Bay and you can swim and bathe here also. Sea shoes are a must for the rocky ground underneath.

We started by exploring a beautiful natural arch to the right before venturing under another arch at the other side of the beach round into a whole new beach. It’s a good work out scrambling across the uneven rocks and climbing the rocky steps that take you along the beach. If you do get caught out here by the tide, or just don’t want to walk back there is a precarious staircase that we ascended to take us back to the Thornwick Bay cafe. This path could be dangerous in anything other than dry conditions I think as it appears there’s been some shift in the steps and some are missing, but it was dry yesterday and we managed it easily enough with a 5 year old in tow.

If you are confident you have time on your side you can continue around the coast to discover further. We probably had plenty of time but chose to go back up to visit the cafe for a drink and ice cream.

Parking is £1.50 for the day and there is a caravan park nearby yet the place wasn’t packed with people which is perfect for us.

I’d love to know if you’ve been inspired to visit Flamborough by my post or if you already love the area where is your favourite place to visit? Any secret hotspots for us to discover?