Ardsley Reservoir, 2.5km

This is lovely little reservoir, and although I probably wouldn’t go out my way to visit here for such a short route, it’s a good one if you’re in the area or want a breath of fresh air after a White Rose trip!

Location: A small (free car park) is located on Haigh Moor Road, Tingley, WF3 1 EE

Route: From the car park turn left towards the reservoir and then choose the direction round you want to walk! It’s a super easy path.

Accessibility: Flat and surfaced paths are perfect for buggies.

Facilities: None

With just over 3 weeks until my due date, hubby’s banned me from walking too far on my own. Maybe he knows something I don’t, because baby doesn’t feel like it’s coming out anytime soon!

So I decided to visit this small reservoir which had cropped up a few times on social media from people I follow. It was a lovely short walk, with good views, so a good one if you’re nearby and want to squeeze in a walk. It seemed a popular walk, I passed quite a few dog walkers and mums with buggies!

The West Ardsley website suggests there are reservoir rocks around that will help keep little ones entertained. To be fair I didn’t spot any- although I wasn’t really looking and there’s nothing to say new ones aren’t brought.

There are pebble beaches around the perimeter of the reservoir, but bathing is prohibited. That doesn’t stop good opportunities for stone skimming!

There are lovely views on the South side of the reservoir to appreciate too 😍

It took me just over half an hour to walk round this route, and I got an extra boost of smugness when I returned to the car about 30 seconds before it started raining. Love it πŸ‘

There’s not a lot more to say, so I’ll leave you with a few pics of the moody weather!

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

Thorp Perrow Arboretum, near Bedale

Easter Saturday was our first time to visit here- and what a visit it was! Absolutely gorgeous woodland to explore and there was loads to keep Jess entertained. The weather showed it at its best, with brilliant colours and sparkling water, we were so glad we tried it!

Website: https://www.thorpperrow.com

Facilities: cafe, toilets, gift shop which also sells drinks and ice cream, adventure playground

Access: paths are decent, there were lots of buggies and wheelchairs around.

Despite it being sunny and the Easter weekend, we found it lacking the hoards of people you sometimes find on holidays. There was a sense of tranquility as soon as you walked through the gates, which is saying something given we were there with a three year old.

On entering, you meet the tea room- looked nice although we didn’t eat there. There is a picturesque beck, which does have a designated area that you can paddle in and lots of picnic benches.

A short walk from the entrance is the adventure playground. It was a fabulous space- and we were the first ones there, winner! There’s a sandpit and zip line in addition to the usual equipment, so certainly enough to keep little ones happy!

We headed towards the Birds of Prey and Mammal centre, with some gorgeous spots along our way- including the incredibly pretty lake.

We timed it well to watch an Owl display- half an hour long which worked well for the children watching, and totally captured our interest. The birds on display around the centre were pretty spectacular in their cages, there was a fantastic range of birds.

We shared our bench during the display!

The mammal centre is small but it’s often quality not quantity, and this held true as we walked into the Wallaby area and were able to pet and feed them (food available to buy in the gift shop).

We spent some time exploring the woodland and snacked at one of the many benches dotted about enjoying the beauty.

So, if you find yourself in search of somewhere to visit on a sunny day, you could do a lot worse than Thorp Perrow. I hope that I’ve encouraged you to visit, let me know how you get on if you do!

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 few hours of fun at Pugneys Country Park

If you’re local to South Leeds or Wakefield, and are looking to fill a few hours and burn off some toddler energy, a trip to Pugneys will be well worth a trip! Whilst the location near a major road system puts some people off, it retains its beauty and there is heaps to do & plenty to keep little ones entertained!

Website: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/sport-and-leisure/pugneys-country-park

Distance: A walk round the lake comes in at just under 3km but there are lovely ways to extend-including heading up to Sandal Castle

Route: Super simple- follow the path around the Lake.

Facilities: Basically everything. From toilets to a cafe, from picnic benches to a fantastic themed play area. There’s even a miniature train that runs at weekends.

Parking: Pay and display- change only. It’s Β£2.50 for up to 4 hours.

Access: Path round the lake is perfect for any buggy or pram.

There’s not much description needed for a walk around a Lake, so instead here’s a summary of the best bits!

1. The Play area

A sandy boat wreck sets the scene for this absolutely fab play area. Clockwise from this round the Lake is an Outdoor instrument area.

2. Activities for children all around the Lake

Starting at the visitor centre there’s the ‘Blown Away’ trail that you can follow as far as the path to Sandal Castle (activity sheet here). We haven’t tried it- but there’s also a pack to buy from the centre.

Otherwise, not exactly meant for children, but lots of interest in the Trim Trail exercise stations!

There were also stands for a ‘Room on the Broom’ scavenger hunt. I assume you can find out about this from the centre too- we didn’t, but Jess did the activities on the posts (such as hop across the path). It certainly doesn’t look as big as the one at Angler’s Country Park, but a welcome addition all the same!

The miniature railway is another bonus, there is a facebook page you can find from the Pugneys main website (above) for opening times. Nice and cheap too; Β£1 single, Β£2 return.

3. Standard Park Life

It’s got all the basics that a good country park should do- and more. Ducks and swans on the Lake to feed, plenty of picnic benches, a bird hide and nature reserve and lots of grass to settle down on with a rug and a ball. There’s lots going on a weekends to watch in the form of water sports and swimming, and you can even hire bikes here. The cafe looks pretty decent although we haven’t tried it.

All in all a wonderful park, perfect when you’ve got an afternoon to fill…. let me know your thoughts!

Rachel xxx

A sunny stroll around Golden Acre & Paul’s Pond (Breary Marsh)

The spring sunshine was out in full force today, which seemed to put Jess in a sunny mood as we visited Golden Acre.

Distance: 5.5k (can do shorter- just stick to the Golden Acre Park circular)

Accessibility: this route is buggy-friendly but not surfaced all the way round so may get rather muddy after wet weather.

Facilities: Cafe and toilets. Two decent car parks. Picnic benches.

Route: In summary an easy lap round Golden Acre adding on the path to Paul’s Pond- read below for a better description!

We parked at the car park off Arthington Road to start our walk, heading clockwise into the woodland. A map of Golden Acre is here.

Start the walk on this path.

The path soon enters a small woodland area. Jess got very excited to start walking through trees, and decided to give them all cuddles πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. So we spent a good 20 minutes going about 50 meters.

Leaving the woodland we came across an odd little circle of tree stumps, obviously Jess had to try sitting on them all.

We followed the path through the gorgeous tree lined path at the top of the park that leads back to the cafe and toilets. It’s so peaceful in this part of the park, we felt as though we had the whole place to ourselves!

From the cafe head through the underpass as though you’re going to the car park on Leeds road. Before the slope up to the car park there’s a path off to the left with green railings, follow this through the woodland to reach Paul’s Pond. It’s a gorgeous little walk, again it’s much quieter than the main paths of Golden Acre and extremely pretty! A highlight for Jess was the little ford. She must’ve gone back and forth at least twenty times.

Before long we reached Paul’s Pond, where the path laps round and we stopped for a snack. We sat a little back from the pond, the swans looked a little keen when we started unwrapping sandwiches!

Once round the pond, return to Leeds Road on the path that you came in on to re-enter Golden Acre. The paths get a little busier as you head past the picnic area to the Lake. We briefly stopped to watch the ducks before taking the path that loops round the lake.

It’s possible to visit Adel Dam Nature Reserve here, a beautiful spot if you have the time! It’s possible to take a buggy round here if you stick to the main path.

The path back to the car park is beautiful – full of cherry blossoms 😍😍. It was a touch too early for some trees but we still saw lots of colour! Be warned if you’re pushing a buggy- the path is deceptively steep (or maybe my 31 week bump just was slowing me down).

We couldn’t have chosen a lovelier day to have visited here, Jess was on great form and we spent about 3 hours walking round. Obviously that’s including two picnic stops! It went down well with Jess too; getting back to the car she said she wanted to go round again! So so good to hear ☺️☺️

Rachel xxx

Addition: Jess came home and asked to go for a nap. I woke her up 90 minutes later, she was still knackered and just cuddled into me on the sofa until tea time. A winning day all round really!

A family walk around Otley Chevin, North Leeds

The last time we went to Otley Chevin was 7th February 2016. I know this because an hour after returning home I went into labour with Jess- she was born a tiring 47 hours later. Perhaps this is the reason it’s taken so long to come back here.

So as I write this in the car drove home I’m hoping there’s no repeat of that outcome after a little walk at 31 weeks!

Distance: lots of different routes you could take, we did about 4K.

Access: if you have a buggy, stick to the Bridleways, whilst some of the footpaths are fine others are extremely steep/muddy/rocky. We tried a buggy today and I’m just pleased I had an excuse to leave all the pushing to the hubby! Would be fine to take little bikes around- as many families were doing.

Parking: various car parks, unmarked spaces so gets tight at times and busy on sunny days. See the car parks here; https://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/chevin%20map.pdf

Facilities: Not great to be honest, two cafes though so head there for toilets and food. Lots and lots of benches and a picnic/ ball games area.

Route: Lots, but today we kept it short. If you look at the link to the pdf map above, we parked opposite the Cheerful Chilli and tea room, and walked East straight towards Caley Wood. We then went straight ahead over the board walk and left at the end to turn back past the wetland. And then followed the path back to the car!

We had every intention of Jess walking this with us, but she had a total meltdown in the car, and after 20 minutes of repeated “I want to go in the pram”, we took the easy option.

After getting her own way, she was on good form on the way round, asking lots of questions about the things we spotted on the way round.

There’s some really good wooden sculptures and interesting things to do. If you fancy doing a ‘can you see’ style activity whilst you go round here are some ideas;

  • Baby elephant sculpture
  • A wooden bridge over wetlands
  • Wooden horse sculpture
  • Fallen tree
  • A rocky crag
  • Ruins of a cottage
  • An animal’s burrow
  • A newly planted tree
  • Surprise view
  • A den
  • (If you’re lucky!) A red kite

At some point I’ll upload an activity sheet for here!

There are some lovely views over Otley and Almscliffe Crag for a picnic stop (or as Jess says ‘snic-snic’), and plenty of benches around for snack stops and to enjoy the views.

If you have the time and inclination head up to Surprise View (or even drive up if you haven’t seen it)- really spectacular views and well worth the trip.

For lazy days there’s a picnic area with lots of space for ball games if it’s not too busy.

In all it’s a lovely place to spend a couple of hours wandering round- any longer and no doubt you’ll need a cafe trip to use the toilets, and little ones might start to lose interest. Have fun exploring!!

Rachel xxx

Fountains Abbey, nr Ripon

On Monday I met up with NCT Helen (I love a good phone save name :-)) and her gorgeous son to use our beloved National Trust cards at Fountains Abbey. Now the last time I came here Jess couldn’t walk, and we did the standard route plus a stop off in the cafe in less than two hours. So on Monday I had totally expected to be home just after lunch. But pram pace is clearly not two-toddlers pace, and we were practically fighting rush hour by the time we left!

That’s not a bad thing- I just forgot how interesting everything is in the eyes of a three year old, and that exploration is a big time-eater!! I also couldn’t remember there being a play area (I suppose not needing it on our last visit it just went unnoticed), but the one here is awesome.

It’s the type of adventure playground that can keep Jess entertained for hours- usually I’m pulling my hair out after 5 minutes but there was SO much to do that it was a delight to see her play. Parking at the visitor centre (rather than Studley Royal) meant that we could visit at the start and end of our day (always useful for a good bribe).

The Abbey itself is truly amazing- it’s just fantastic to be able to walk around and enjoy the site. Lots of opportunities for hide and seek too! You’re free to wander around which is massively refreshing for a historic world heritage site like this.

We decided to head for lunch at the Studley Royal tea rooms and back again. From the Abbey to the tea rooms it’s a mile in distance, walking along the side of the stream and past the beautiful Water gardens.

We did a bit of a scavenger hunt on the way there and back with mixed success (!!) plenty of twigs and seeds to find though if you fancy choosing some shapes little ones need to find. There are pheasants galore too- good luck if you want to try counting them!!

The paths wind between woodland giving even more hiding and exploring opportunities! There are also lots of pretty benches for snack stops. The paths are good- so perfect if you’re taking a buggy round like me!

I’m so so pleased that we’ve returned to this fantastic place, and certainly won’t be leaving it so long to our next visit. It was great for Jess to visit with a friend, so it was great that we had company. No doubt we’ll be keeping an eye on events too (the Easter Treasure Hunt sounds a winner). If you make it there, or have been before I’d love to know what you thought!

Rachel xxx

A morning stroll around Woodlesford Lock, LS26

I was all prepared to go for a bit of an adventure today… but the home shopping arrived an hour late, and the realisation of how much washing I had to tackle this first day back from holidays made me re-assess my options. So instead, I stayed local to a short walk along the canal at Woodlesford.

Distance: Just under 2 miles (3k)

Accessibility: Fine for most buggies. One side of the canal is a tarmac road, the other side is a clear footpath but can be muddy. Also have to navigate over the locks- I managed it 30 weeks pregnant, so shouldn’t be a problem!

Facilities: A small car park and roadside parking. Picnic areas. No cafe but sometimes a catering van parks up at weekends. No toilets.

Route: Super-easy! From the car park and lock (pictured top-left below), follow the road (don’t worry, no traffic) to the next lock along- cross the canal here and come back the other side!

Jess was in good spirits as we started walking as dozens of ducks came running towards us in hope of food! She often visits here with her nursery so took great pleasure in telling me where we should be headed πŸ™‚

The start of the walk is so pretty- besides the ducks we liked looking at all the different canal boats and there’s a lovely picnic area for those sunny days.

I then passed her a little activity sheet to complete as we walked. Excuse the drawings- it was a 2 minute job before I left the house and decided we were coming here, but might give you inspiration to do something better! Also COMPLETELY underestimated the number of ducks she’d be crossing off.

One of the first things you come across is some wooden carvings; a scene from the Gruffalo and a wooden elephant 😍😍

The rest of the walk up this side can be spent spotting birds (you might be lucky enough to see the nesting swans) and jumping in puddles.

Jess was delighted when two canal boats passed us- and everyone on them waved at us!!

When you reach the far lock you might be lucky and get to see it in action, but even if not it’s a good chance to explain how it works πŸ™‚ You can also see a wind turbine in the distance- Jess was massively confused by what this was, perhaps this would have been something more interesting to have used on her sheet!!

On the other side the path can get quite muddy, and sits between the canal and river, so is gorgeous to walk along! Not so gorgeous, but interesting for Jess, was the sight of diggers in the distance moving rubbish onto the waste disposal site.

We followed this back to the start to catch up with the boats who waved at us πŸ™‚

This is a great little walk if you have an hour or two to kill, and there’s loads of scope to extend it if you want (I’ll post some other routes over the next few months). Let me know if you try it and like it!

Rachel xxxx

A buggy walk from Bolton Abbey Cavendish Pavilion to Barden Bridge, 4.7 miles (circular)

Distance: 4.7 miles/ 7.5km; shorter & longer walks possible- check out their website!

Route: https://boltonabbey.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Cavendish_to_Barden_Bridge.pdf

Facilities: Parking a little pricey but worth it and plenty there. There’s a cafe at Cavendish Pavilion as well as a couple of spots in the village.

Access: The suggested route says it is suitable for pushchairs- and it’s surfaced paths so I’d tentatively agree. But be prepared for some steep climbs and narrow edges, there’s a couple of large stones to navigate too so probably would recommend two people!

My husband’s back has been playing up, and with my 6 month pregnant belly we thought a buggy walk would be the best way to enjoy today’s gorgeous weather! We settled on Bolton Abbey- a firm favourite of ours and decided to do this relatively easy route. It is steep in parts so don’t go prepared for a gentle saunter, but definitely do-able.

We decided to start at the Pavilion and walk up to Barden bridge up the east side of the river. You could also choose to walk to the bridge and back along the relatively flat west path, but then you’d miss out on some of the superb views you get!

We found a lovely spot for lunch by the river near the Aqueduct; another benefit of a buggy walk means we could pack up extra kit underneath so could spread out the picnic rug and take a ball to play with. When it’s not being used as a car park (it wasn’t today) the field at Barden Bridge would be another good choice.

We were delighted to find a Yorkshire Dales ice cream van parked up at the bridge, and happily wolfed them down as we turned back down the river.

Any desperate calls to the toilet or for food can be covered by a detour to the Strid facilities as you pass- luckily no need today for us.

The final stretch back to the Pavilion is on a flat and wide path, and is the part of the woods where there are often activities for the children to see, so it’s worth checking the events before you head there.

The Pavilion is the perfect place to end, it gets quite busy during peak times so prepare to queue for food!

Today was the sort of day where any type of walk would have been a total joy, but Bolton Abbey looked absolutely amazing in the winter sunshine, we had a fantastic day out!