Annual Nature Raft Race 2016

Posted on August 12th, 2016

This is our 4th year of running a nature raft race. It was a tradition began with the Boy and Me at the end on their first visit 4 years ago, and one we have repeated on their return each year. I was slightly nervous as many of the regular guests from this week had moved on resulting in a different group of holiday makers this year that had never joined in the activity before. However more than half were regular Coombe Mill guests and embraced the idea of a nature raft race with the enthusiasm I’d hoped for.

Annual Nature Raft Race 2016 at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays

Nature Raft Race Preparations

From my point of view this is a great activity requiring very little set up and nothing to clear away after. That said, I did build a prototype and check it for buoyancy beforehand which I brought to give a guide. If you want to have a go I have a ‘how to make’ post.

Coombe Mill Nature Raft Race 2016 prototype

The weather was on our side and armed with bamboo canes as a base I left everyone in groups around the lawn designing their rafts.   

Building rafts ready to sail down the river

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

The children dashed around the bushes looking for things to make their rafts stand out while parents took over lashing reeds and wispy long grass round their bamboo frames.

Making nature rafts for the Coombe Mill raft race

When everyone was finished we headed down to the water.

Nature Rafts complete and ready to race

Ready for the 2016 Nature Raft Race to Begin

Our starting point was the foot bridge and the race was from here to the Coombe Mill road bridge further downstream. We have had some over enthusiastic race starters in the past but all the children were excellent this time waiting for my:

Three, Two, One, GO!

Before dropping their nature rafts down into the water.

Dropping the rafts into the river Camel

The river had been running fast after rain earlier in the week and the children had to dash along the river bank to keep pace with their rafts.

I had a group of older children, including Guy and Clio in the river to wade down after the rafts freeing any that had become tangled in the reeds or on rocks along the way.

Nature Rafts racing down the river Camel at Coombe Mill

It felt like just a couple of minutes before the first rafts were sailing down under the finishing bridge to a huge audience above. Best of all is that being 100% natural, any rafts that escaped could happily carry on to Padstow with my worrying about littering the river!

Watching the nature rafts float through the finishing race bridge

With the race complete the lure of the water called. One by one the younger children and parents followed the older kids into the river. Another hour of river play followed with swimming and body boarding in the late afternoon sunlight.

Playing in the river after the nature raft race at Coombe Mill

Gradually the children made their way across to the island to inspect the remains of the half term camp and try their hand at crossing the log bridge still there and test out the rope swing.

I have a feeling the nature raft race and river play will go down as a highlight of the holiday for many this week and I’m already looking forward to carrying the tradition in to next year.  

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall