The Gnome Roam, Newmillerdam, Wakefield

This has fast made it to one of my favourite ever family walks. We’ve walked round Newmillerdam a few times and on this sunny day the car park was full and lots of people were out enjoying the circuit round the lake. But once off the lakeside we only passed a couple of people and were able to soak in the fantastic woodland walk in peace.

Location: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/sport-and-leisure/parks-and-countryside/gnome-roam

Route: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Documents/sports-leisure/parks-countryside/gnome-roam-leaflet.pdf It starts in the car park and is well signposted all in way round in both directions.

Parking: Coin only pay and display

Facilities: Toilets at far side of lake. There’s a couple of pubs and cafes too, we went to Lakeside for a gorgeous Antipasti Platter.

Distance: 1.8 miles

Accessibility: Most of the route is surfaced and fairly flat, but it’s steep in places. There’s also a short grassy section. At the start avoid the steps by taking the track to the left and then cutting up to the right. I’d recommend either ditching the buggy OR taking the reverse route- there’s still a steep part but it’s much clearer and more manageable.

This is a lovely family walk, where you find the gnomes and complete the various activities as you go round. My favourite activity had magnifying glasses to look at some bugs, genius!

Whilst we’ve walked round the lake before we’ve never ventured up into the country park, and so I’m so pleased this takes you up there it’s gorgeous ❀️ The bear is in a particularly impressive area of woodland!

The route is well signposted throughout, so easy to do without a copy the downloadable route!

It was a superb walk, and we finished it by popping across to the other side of the lake to the Lakeside cafe where I had a fab antipasti platter!

Please give this gorgeous walk a go, I cannot wait to go back with Jess do it with her, let me know how you get on!

There was plenty on this walk to keep Jess entertained, but if you need more (!!) try this post for ideas.

Stanley Ferry & Southern Washlands Nature Reserve, Wakefield (4.6 km)

Wakefield Council have some AMAZING resources for walking, and this route is based on one of their suggested Health Walks. It’s a lovely flat route, with lots to see and some well positioned benches for picnics. Although James was in the carrier today (his first time!) it would be fine for most buggies, although it was a little muddy in places.

Route: http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Longer%20Walks/Walks_Leaflet_09_Stanley.pdf

Facilities: None, other than benches dotted about for picnics. BUT the Stanley Ferry pub (where you can start/finish) is well set up for families.

Accessibility: Paths are pretty decent and flat so would be fine for most buggies or little bikes!

The walk starts along the canal, where there are lots of boats to look at. Walking through the nature reserve is mostly woodland and extremely peaceful; I didn’t pass a single person on the path! The sound of water brings instant relaxation (much needed in my case as all morning I’d had the sound of nothing but screaming).

My favourite part of the walk was the path between the Lake and the River Calder, it was really beautiful.

It finished back at the canal, with a path from Broadreach Lock, following the Transpennine Trail back to the start.

So in all a hugely enjoyable walk, especially in the sunshine… I’ll be back!

If you’re looking for other walks in the area, this route around Heath Common is a great choice.

Nostell, Wakefield (NT)

Nostell has what every good National Trust property should have; beautiful gardens, good facilities, a decent cafe and an adventure playground. With some lovely walks it is a great choice for a day out with the family.

Website and location: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nostell#Contact%20us

Trail paths: https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/documents/maps/1431729758418-nostell.pdf

Accessibility: Good accessibility generally (a few easy to navigate steps with a pushchair in gardens themselves). Parkland walk not suitable for wheels.

Facilities: Everything you’d expect from the National Trust! Cafe/ toilets/ play area/ picnic benches.

Parking: Free for members. Β£7 all day for non- members, but note this does not include entry to house, play area and gardens but you can use parkland and other facilities.

We chose a beautiful sunny day for our latest visit to Nostell; everything looked so green! Being a weekday the site was relatively quiet, and there were parts of our walk around the gardens where we didn’t see a sole; absolutely gorgeous.

Jess was delighted to see a swan with her cygnets too on one of the Lakes!

The adventure playground was in sheltered woodland, but well spread out with a range of equipment. We have seen better I think from the National Trust (I think this might need a little updating), but it kept Jess happy enough!

I was feeling a bit ‘too pregnant’ today to try one of the Parkland walks as I’d hoped, but look forward to returning post-birth! From the shop you could pick up a few nature trails to keep children entertained too- always a useful addition!

Overall, as always, an enjoyable visit with lots to appreciate(although how couldn’t you on a sunny day) and we didn’t even visit the house, which I’m sure is lovely too!

Xx

A walk from Heath Common, Wakefield (2.5 miles)

We first discovered Heath a couple of years ago, when searching for a ‘cosy pub’. We found the delightful King’s Arms, and have returned on numerous occasions; both to enjoy the pub itself, but also as a starting point for walks around the Southern Washlands Nature Reserve. Today we tried a new route, from a document provided by. Wakefield Council.

Heath

Route: We completed the short walk on this page provided by Wakefield Council, 2.5 miles starting in Heath. Parking is free.

Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies;

muddy in places/ paths through fields

Facilities: The King’s Arms has good food (with children’s menu) and a lovely beer garden.

I think (I know) that I’ve fallen in love with the gorgeous Heath, and on a sunny day like today it really shows off the village to its best.

After looking at some of the many ponies that are kept on Heath Common, the walk starts down a little path from the back of the village covered by trees; truly picture perfect.

The path then opens out onto some lovely fields. You could be anywhere, you really can’t believe how close this is to the centre of Wakefield, it’s such a pretty area! We didn’t pass anyone at all on this part of the route, making it incredibly peaceful.

On the Bridleway between the road and Kirkthorpe we passed a field of bullocks and goats who seemed pretty interested in us (maybe it was the mooing noises Jess was making). She kept herself entertained blowing dandelion clocks and playing with sticky grass.

After passing through Kirkthorpe we joined back onto the path that forms part of the longer route past the Half Moon Lake. Once the Lake came into view, we spotted some steps down towards it, and came across a little bench where we set up for a picnic stop.

Before long we were back in Heath. The access land on which Heath sits is perfect for running around and burning off any remaining energy!

Obviously we finished the walk with a drink at the King’s Arms. The beer garden is lovely. Jess loved watching some horse riders stop for refreshments, their riders enjoying a glass of wine in the saddle!

This was a lovely short walk, nice and flat and easy to navigate; perfect for the 38 week pregnant walker! We’re looking forward to returning and trying the longer route.

Rachel xxx

Barlow Common Nature Trail, Selby

A true hidden beauty spot! As we were visiting the area, today we decided to try the nature trail (4km) at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s beautiful Barlow Common. With Drax Power Station as a backdrop we weren’t expecting much, but were so impressed by its peacefulness and underrated allure.

Location and Website: https://www.ywt.org.uk/nature-reserves/barlow-common-nature-reserve

Accessibility: Unsurfaced paths, but no stiles, so should be fine for a robust buggy.

Parking: Free parking

Facilities: Toilets and picnic area

Trail: http://data.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/Wildlife%20Trail%20Barlow%20Common_0.pdf There are 25 wildlife posts to find (the 25th isn’t listed here but is a Silver Birch).

We used the trail map to walk our three year old around this pretty nature reserve, giving her a sheet of paper with 25 circles drawn on. At each post she had to colour in a circle and describe to us the wildlife shown on the post (not much more than bird, leaf etc at her age but everyone needs to start somewhere!) It kept her engaged, particularly in the middle part of the main reserve trail where the posts were closer together. With an older child we may have asked them to draw what they saw.

The walk was delightfully peaceful- unless you count the sound of the birds! There were very few people around so we felt that we had the place to ourselves. The posts helped retain interest in a lovely route- they were often positioned in truly picturesque spots with picnic benches dotted about. The rabbit post was well positioned- the were loads around (not that Jess was quick enough to spot them!).

The route took us past a number of carved benches (also marked on the trail map), which featured some lovely quotes. Perfectly placed to sit and reflect!

The picnic area included a ring of small wooden mushroom stools (that were also dotted about the rest of the route). There were dens in the trees around the picnic area and in the woodland trail that Jess enjoyed playing in.

Overall if you’re looking for somewhere to visit in the Selby area, this is something I’d fully recommend. It’s a lovely spot where you can find real tranquility, even with children!

Not far away in the grounds of Drax Power Station is another reserve that I think we’ll try soon, map of walks here; https://www.drax.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Skylark-Centre-map-walks.png

πŸ‘‰To read more of our walks follow our Facebook page, or find us on Instagram or Twitter!

A buggy walk around Temple Newsam, Leeds

Temple Newsam Estate has loads of different walks and woodland to explore, which is lucky as it’s on our doorstep! This route takes in some of the highlights.

Distance: Approximately 3.5km

Route: Use the estate map here, our route is highlighted below in yellow. Walking in an anti-clockwise direction means the uphills are on smoother paths nearer the house. This route is suitable for buggies, but it is steep in places and be warned in wet weather can get extremely muddy in places!

Parking: Free, we usually park at the playground

Facilities: Head to the stable courtyard for toilets and cafe. Home Farm is just brilliant and extremely reasonable.

Starting the walk from the house gives you gorgeous views of what’s to come! Pass by the entrance to join the pretty tree lined avenue to start the walk.

When the path forks, take the left path (Bridleway) to start the circular route. It’s a lovely view on the way down this hill, a bit at odds with the sounds of the motorway and glimpses of trucks!

Top tip: Look out for the gate on the right out of some woodland (16 on the map) for a pretty part of the nature trail to glimpse at. There are also some picnic benches in here if you want a quiet and picturesque spot! Be warned there are a few (small steps).

We were surprised to be able to see Little Temple as we passed below it- in the past the shrubbery has obscured the view but it’s all been cut back.

Following the route shown takes you on a quiet path to the back of Lakes, and you can follow this back to the popular Rhododendron walk up to the house and cut through the farm to the playground!

There are so many variations of this route and new places to explore in this fabulous estate! Keep your eyes open for the next adventure there!

Rachel xx

4km circular walk along Ilkley riverbank and through Middleton Woods

The bluebells of Middleton Woods have been calling me since the first pictures started appearing on Instagram! So today we combined this with a visit to Ilkley Riverside Gardens (mainly to include the play area).

Distance: We shortened the suggested route (below), and map my walk recorded over 4km, but the full route is down as 4.8km so either we walked a bit less or their’s is a bit further.

Parking: If you haven’t been this way on a sunny day, be warned it gets really busy to park. The good news is it’s free- we parked outside Ilkley Riverside Hotel (and it was fairly quiet).

Facilities: We started at Riverside gardens which has a playarea and public toilets. Be warned the toilets in the hotel are customer only and they’re pretty strict about it. Riverside cabin does hot and cold takeaway food and drink.

Route: We followed the route πŸ‘‰here, BUT we did it anticlockwise (so heading towards the lido first), and after exiting the Woods came straight back down to the river path along Harding’s lane. We also started and finished at the hotel (where I had a hot chocolate with marshmallows mmmmm).

Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies

We started by a quick stop at the play area. Rightly or wrongly if one’s available I find it’s an excellent bribe to keep Jess motivated to get round the walk for when we return! It’s a decent one with a good selection of activities and equipment.

From here we walked through the gardens to climb the stone steps up to the bridge, after crossing we dropped down onto the path that passes the skatepark and skirts the rugby club. We briefly stopped to skim stones in the river, always fun!!

The path climbed past the lido and we crossed Curly Hill to enter the woods. If you’d followed the route provided, this would all be downhill… but we find Jess walks better uphill when there’s lots to keep her interested!

I’m not convinced we took the right track up through the woods, but we knew to head in a North East direction and eventually met up with the path I think we were meant to have taken. It’s probably easier in this since sense coming from the other way. The bluebells were just magnificent. Truly gorgeous… I think I took close to a million photos!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Jess kept herself entertained with her usual stick collections and playing hide and seek.

On leaving the woods we passed through a field with great views over Ilkley… and even more excitement; lambs in the field!

Rather than continuing along the route past the monastery we decided to head back along the road (Harding’s Lane) to rejoin the river. At just over 3 weeks until my due date I don’t want to push it too much with walking distance! If you decide to do the same be warned there’s no path for most of this road- but only three cars passed us and it’s a pretty road down with good views.

We picked the route up where the electricity sub-station is marked on the map, and followed the pretty path back along the river to where we started.

I think this was one of my favourite walks that we’ve done- maybe because of the bluebells which are such a treat to see! But as with all woods, every season brings something new to look out for, so I’m sure it would be special anytime!

Rachel xx

Hackfall Wood, near Ripon

Over the Easter weekend we visited this stunning wood. Of course, it helped that the weather was fantastic, but aside from that, the surroundings were truly beautiful, and Jess found surprises and fun round every corner. I was sooo proud of her, she walked nearly 4km without asking to be carried or whining once!

Website & Location: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/wood-information/hackfall/

Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies- there are steep slopes and uneven paths

Facilities: None, but we parked and walked from the Crown Inn at Grewelthorpe which is child-friendly, including toys! It’s 1/2 mile from the wood itself.

Route & distance: Walking routes can be found here. We did our own version -which was 4.5km from the pub. Follow the lane at the side of the pub until there’s a sharp bend to the right. You’ll see a path to the left here- follow this to the southern most entrance to the wood. From here, starting with the stream on out right we headed in a North East direction to the Sandbed hut. From there we went to Fisher’s Hall, and then down to Kent’s seat to cross the stream on the stepping stones and returning to the exit on the other side.

Anyone who went to Hackfall over Easter may have spotted that our route is remarkably similar to the Easter trail- and we’d actually planned to do this. Unfortunately it was a cash only jobby- and since neither myself or hubby seem to ever use cash any more, that put an end to those plans! But it’s a credit to the diversity and interest of Hackfall that Jess still was entertained the whole way round. She has a bit of a love of collecting sticks, which helped. But there were lots of places for hiding (or attempting to hide) which was a sure way to win her over.

Jess attempting to β€˜hide’

Our lunch spot was on the sandbank, a proper sandy beach!! Fantastic πŸ™‚ the perfect spot for a picnic, but quite steep steps to get down there. There were a few dogs in the water as well as one brave gent who fully got in and swam head under! Brrrrrrr. Be careful if you decide to paddle, the stones are pretty wobbly!

The follies such as Fisher’s Hall were gorgeous and fun to explore.

Another point of excitement was the stepping stones next to Kent’s seat. This is a good place for paddling too!

So overall a gorgeous walk, that’s not even mentioning that the bluebells were out in force as well as some daffs clinging onto life!

We ended the walk happy and ready for a drink, so we were pretty pleased with our decision with starting point!

Since it was so near, we followed this walk with a visit to Swinton Bivouac and Druid’s Temple. If you have time I’d thoroughly recommend- even if you just go for the ice cream!!

Rachel xxx

Canal walk, Methley, St Aiden’s (5.5km)

I’m not particularly a ‘bird person’. In fact, flashbacks from Hitchcock’s The Birds result in me still flinching when there’s too many of them around me. So an RSPB nature reserve isn’t usually my first choice of walk. But given its super local and is gorgeous, I thought I’d brave it without my protector- come hubby, and I’m so glad that we did! Today I joined it up with a walk along the canal and an all-important cafe stop in Methley.

St Aiden’s Website: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/st-aidans

Parking: Plenty around Lemonroyd Marina, Fleet Lane (LS26 9EU).

Access: Mostly flat, but some tracks can get muddy and some are quite rubbly, so your buggy needs to be quite robust!

Route:

Facilities: Although St Aiden’s has a visitor centre, this route doesn’t pass it, so I’ve built in a cafe stop at River’s Meet Cafe. It does fantastic sandwiches and cakes 😍 and is incredibly child friendly with a children’s menu, changing facilities and a toy and book selection.

Walk description:

From Lemonroyd Marina, we walked over the bridge waving at a passing canal boat.

The canal path passes a lock before it drops down to join the Trans Pennine Trail. We were lucky enough to watch a boat dropping from the canal onto the river 😍😍

Just be careful that you follow the river path- if you go under the railway bridge you’ve gone wrong! We walked along the track with the river to the left through the trees and the sounds of the railway to the right. Arriving at the bridge over the river, we turned right to join Station Road. There was further excitement as we arrived at the level crossing as the red light showed, woohoooo a train was coming!

Just through the gate and to the left is the road to Rivers Meet Cafe. It’s a bit of a squeeze for a buggy, we were lucky that there were no craft events on so could leave it in that room. On a warmer day I probably would have just sat outside. If you want something more substantial you could walk a little further to the Boundary House; one of our favourite pubs in the area. It does great food and a great outside area.

After our food stop we retraced our steps back to the bridge and went over it to enter St Aiden’s. We were immediately struck by the noise of all the birds! Totally incredible. We took the bridleway that leads towards Swillington, crossing the causeway which Jess was a big fan of! The swans were very interested in our passing.

We headed towards Swillington until the path crossway in front of the uphill climb, where we turned left onto the perimeter route. Along this route Jess was quite happy playing with sticks, but if you needed to keep interest in a buggy you could try a birdspotting or nature sheet such as this one.

This path follows the side of the wetlands with plenty of benches to stop and enjoy the view or for a picnic stop.

Look out for the right turn towards North West Lake, otherwise you’ll end up heading back to the causeway. This track brought us round to the edge of St Aiden’s and along the side of the river. There is a cutting on the right that takes you over a Weir to cross the river and back onto the canal.

Straight ahead we found ourselves back facing the Marina, and walked right to cross the canal on the bridge. Alternatively you could be more adventurous and cross on the lock πŸ˜‹. Lots of fisherman and canal boats meant we took our time enjoying the short distance back to the car.

It’s a great walk with plenty to see. And at 5.5km it’s short enough that little ones retain interest if they are in the buggy!

There’s lots of scope to extend this walk, starting at Woodlesford for a longer walk up the canal, or for even more, adding it onto this walk around Woodlesford Lock.

Let me know if you give it a go or have any other suggestions for this area!

Rachel xx

A family walk to explore the riverside at Hardcastle Crags

This walk is perfect for little legs who enjoy exploring woodland, climbing and balancing! Jess loved it (despite a mishap in the stream!) and it’s perfectly placed for a stop in Hebden Bridge for a cheeky cake stop!

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardcastle-crags

Distance: It’s a mile to the Mill from the car park on the Estate path, but in total my tracker recorded 4.5km.

Route: The Tree Trail on this map https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/documents/maps/1431729757435-hardcastle-crags.pdf, although we continued along the river path a little longer than suggested on here. We didn’t visit the crags themselves on this trip, but they’re about ten minutes further on past the mill if you fancy it.

Access: Only the main Estate path is suitable for buggies, so don’t try it if you follow this route.

Facilities: Cafe at the mill, also toilets (they’re not great though). Benches are dotted along the path and there’s a picnic area near the mill. There’s no play area but if you stop off in Hebden Bridge after the walk there’s a decent sized one near the canal. Shame there’s nothing at the main car park.

Parking: We parked at Midgehole car park, when we arrived we found a space no problem, but by the time we left it was pretty busy with some tight turns after dubious parking. There’s a smaller car park (Clough Hole) closer to the mill, but it looks a steep path down.

We set off along the estate path before cutting down towards the river when we saw a track. Along the path there was loads to keep Jess entertained, although perhaps most of her fun came from finding big sticks to hit together and make lots of noise! The tree trail has signs in front of a variety of trees for you to learn as you go. We collected different leaves to see if we could tell what they were.

There’s a great spot to cross the river on stepping stones, nice big ones that meant I could go across with Jess holding her hand as I went. So we went backwards and forwards no problem.

Unfortunately the paddling in the water after proved a problem. Cries of ‘not too deep Jess’ were to no avail as Jess went a step too far for her ankle wellies and promptly ended up sitting in the water. Thankfully the sun was out today, so despite her looking like she’d wet herself, and having totally sodden feet, she was quite happy continuing along the path herself (that’s not to say there wasn’t tears when she first came out!!). I suppose that just shows how engaged she was in her surroundings!!!

At the mill there’s a nice but busy cafe, we skipped this to take advantage of the spring sunshine at the picnic area. It overlooks more stepping stones and you can see the path at the other side, so definitely a good people watching spot.

Jess is barefoot on this picture as we unsuccessfully tried to dry out her wellies and socks! Rather than making her put back on cold wet things we returned to the car park by the estate path, with Jess on her daddy’s shoulders and some fleecy mittens on her feet to keep them warm. 🀣 It’s a pleasant enough path, just not quite as fun as the river path.

To finish our trip out we stopped off at Hebden Bridge for a cuppa and cake on the canal and a little play in the park (decent size but super busy). It’s a lovely place to spend a few hours, next time I’d probably try going on a less busy day to find a bit more peace!

Rachel xxx