Damflask Reservoir walk with a great cafe stop! (3.5 miles)

This is another lovely walk courtesy of Yorkshire Water; it’s buggy friendly, and with the option to stop at the fab licensed cafe in Low Bradfield, it’s a great choice for families.

Route: Download the route here; https://www.yorkshirewater.com/things-to-do/walks/damflask

Facilities: In Low Bradfield a local family friendly cafe open Wednesday to Sunday has great food, a small play area and good toilets πŸ‘ Plenty of benches around the route.

Accessibility: Pretty flat with decent paths (small sections on the road), suitable for buggies

Parking: Lots of roadside free parking. We parked on the damn.

The route is really clear and there is no need for a map- just follow the side of the reservoir. We went in a clockwise direction starting at the damn. There are loads of spots to stop for a picnic by the waterside, or benches on the path.

The advantage of starting at the damn means that the half way point is Low Bradfield, a short detour from the path takes you into this pretty village, where we found an ice cream van as well as The School Rooms, a massive find!! We’d had a picnic, but stopped in for drinks when Jess caught sight of the bouncy castle! The food looked awesome, next time we’re definitely stopping for lunch!

I love that this reservoir has boats! The walk back passes the boathouse giving Jess another point of interest. After the walks there are lots of pubs nearby for further refreshments and toilets (I sound bloody obsessed with toilets but given 4 weeks ago I gave birth that’s allowed).

Overall, it’s a fab little walk, I was so impressed that Jess managed most of it and was cheery throughout (although the ice cream van helped her spirits). A massive thumbs up!

A perfect day at Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Move over Whitby, we have a new favourite seaside town!! I cannot believe we’ve not visited this total gem of a place before! It seriously has EVERYTHING that you could want for a perfect day at the seaside.

Our day was off to a great start getting the Cliff Lift (Great Britain’s oldest water balanced funicular railway in operation) from the town down to the pier (Β£1.10 adult).

Down on the beach you can get fish and chips, sweets, or play adventure golf. We hired deck chairs for Β£1.50 per half day from the Surf school to sit on the beach with a picnic whilst Jess made sandcastles. Well actually she made sand crocodiles, but it kept her entertained! The beach is huge and sandy… and damp so perfect for building on!

Next up a walk along the pier (sole surviving Victorian pier in the North East), and a look at offerings from the Yarnbusters!

We let Jess burn through some 2ps at the amusements next, because you really can’t visit the seaside without a chance to be up on 2p.

Toilet stop! OMG these were probably the nicest public loos I’ve ever seen. I chickened out of taking any pictures!

We walked along the seafront and picked up ice creams before spotting Saltburn valley, where we squeezed into the miniature railway with pram for a one way trip. We came across this by chance, so were completely oblivious to the delights of the Valley! On our next visit (100% we’ll be back soon) I think we’ll spend more time to explore this properly. There seem loads of little trails in the beautiful woodland. And we didn’t visit the Woodland Centre which also looks a great place to see!

We took the short walk back from the drop off point of the railway past the play area and stream where lots of people were taking advantage of the sunny weather with picnics and paddling.

After another short play on the beach we headed back to the car via the cliff lift. The town looks lovely too, so I’m looking forward to exploring that next time. Another advantage to Saltburn over Whitby is that the drive back doesn’t involve the A64 and so much more traffic free!!

We’ve had SUCH a good day I can’t wait to return!!

Adventure Valley, Durham

Don’t go expecting bells and whistles, this place is refreshingly all about good old-fashioned family fun!

We’re up in Newcastle introducing James to family, so thought we’d take advantage of the trip to squeeze in a visit to Adventure Valley. We’ve not been before, and after seeing mixed reviews on the internet weren’t quite sure what to expect but I’m pleased to say that we had a great day, with lots of fun and laughs!

I’m not sure what you can compare Adventure Valley to; it’s great mix of farm, play areas and soft play. As with any of these places, on a sunny day it would be fantastic- particularly for slightly older children where you could set up a picnic base and let them explore the masses of outdoor play areas.

We were impressed with the selection of animals, particularly in creature corner which housed the world’s fastest tortoise (who didn’t move) and a variety of reptiles. There are regular petting experiences- even on a week day (although no pony rides through the week). Goat mountain gave you the chance to pull food up to the goats by a train!

The play areas are fab. In the bottom field there are loads of things to explore; slides, forts, sandpits, pirate ships, zip wire… with lots of picnic tables dotted about.

The Dragon Slide was a hit…. the first time Jess went down. Second time she fell out on the way down, not quite so successful! Think maybe for a little older ones.

The Bouncing Pillows were fun, and there was a separate one for over 5s which reduced the worry of bigger children jumping all over Jess!

As well as petting activities through the day, there are tractor rides and at weekends goat racing.

Other things to enjoy;

  • The indoor soft play area (including an area for under 5s) next to the cafe, which we thought was reasonably priced. There’s also an Indoor Wild West Area.
  • Pedal Go karting track for older children and pedal tractors for those too little
  • The Runaway Races for over 4s- like a huge slide in inflatable rings

I’m sure there’s more- you can pay extra to do adventure golf too. In the summer it looks like a Maize Maze will be open.

Website: https://www.adventurevalley.co.uk

We bought tickets the day before online; as it was a weekday we paid Β£7.95 each (under twos free in). Personally I thought this was well worth the money. I’m not sure we’d make the trip from Yorkshire specifically for a day out here, but would certainly come again if we’re up this way and looking for a fun day out.

  • Cannon Hall Farm, Barnsley

    Making the most of the hubby’s paternity leave, on Monday we celebrated James’ one week birthday with a trip to the always-fun Cannon Hall Farm. Whilst he slept most of the afternoon, Jess had a great time and did not want to leave! We were so busy enjoying ourselves I forgot to take many pictures, so instead of a blow by blow account of what we got up to, here are the reasons we love to visit…

    The Play Areas

    Always happy with a slide, there’s a great adventure playground with lots of slides and tunnels. She loved the tube maze (pictured above)- especially when she saw what had happened to her hair! she spent at least half an hour on here exploring. We also tried the indoor soft play for the first time- what a fantastic space! There were some great slides, and for the younger ones a designated space.

    Farm Life

    It’s a farm! So seeing the animals is a clear perk. We were lucky enough to see newborn piglets en masse. And I felt suitably silenced complaining about the pain of breastfeeding when I saw 11 piglets climbing and squealing over each other to get to their tired mother. Never have I been so glad not to be a pig 🀣🀣

    As well as standard farm animals (pigs, goats, sheep, cows), there’s a really great reptile house. There’s also lots of opportunities to pet animals throughout the day. Jess was resistant to the iguana, but much happier to see the rabbits!

    Tractor Trailer rides are good fun- just be warned that through the week they’re less frequent.

    Quirky Activities

    Sheep racing and ferret racing are highlights of any visit here. The gambler in me always loves a good race, and combining this with some good ‘ole family fun is a winning combination!!!

    And finally….

    The food!! It’s got a great farm shop and cafes- including a dog friendly one. Get a stamp to enter/ exit the farm as much as you need.

    So in all a great family day out. Top tip; if you’re local after 3.30pm the entry price drops to just Β£3 and whilst you might have missed most of the organised activities, there’s still plenty of time for play and animals!

    Website: http://cannonhallfarm.co.uk/about-the-farm/

    Plumpton Rocks, Harrogate

    If you’re looking for a stunning picnic spot with lots of opportunities for little ones to explore, Plumpton Rocks should be top of your list! With a short lakeside walk and plenty of rocks for scrambling around its a great destination to create some real family adventures.

    Website: http://plumptonrocks.com

    Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies- be prepared for steps, slopes and scrambling.

    Cost: It was Β£3.50 an adult and Β£2.50 a child on our visit- but check website for up to date pricing

    Opening: Weekends only in season, 11am-6pm.

    Facilities: None, parking included in entry cost.

    If you’re looking for a decent walk, this probably isn’t the place for you. It’s barely a kilometre to walk around the lake. BUT if you’re looking to spend a few hours adventuring and exploring in some incredible scenery then this is the perfect place. I can’t believe we hadn’t been before!

    I’m not sure what we were expecting, after looking at the website I could see it was a pretty picturesque area. But I was completely unprepared for the beauty we found there.

    After looking at the information board, we decided to do a rough circuit of the lake. From the car park, moving in a clockwise direction it’s a steep descent down to the lake for little legs, but straight away it captured Jessica’s imagination. The path of the west side of the lake gave pretty views and a walk through some bluebells.

    At the top of the lake was a great grassy area perfect for picnics and a run around. Following the path round the rocks start and the exploring begins!

    There are loads of little trails and climbs for children; surprises round every corner! No areas seemed off limits, so you can explore to your hearts content, and easily get lost amongst the rocks! I loved that there were benches situated in the most surprising of places.

    Obviously the scenery continued to delight too! In the woodland behind the lakeside rocks there was more fun to be had with den building and even more climbing!

    If you haven’t been before, get that picnic packed and prepare to see some serious energy getting burned off. An absolute treat to find.

    Five Fab Reasons to visit Harewood with children

    We’re making the most of our Gardner’s World 2-4-1 cards and so today spent this sunny Friday afternoon at Harewood. The gorgeous weather kept us out of the house itself, so here’s our top five things we enjoyed whilst there!

    1. The Himalayan Garden

    All I can say is wow. Such GORGEOUS colours and beautiful setting with a stream running through and stepping stones. The fact a 3 year old was so taken by it just shows it’s charms. Absolutely lush.

    2. The Bird and Animal Experiences

    Through the courtyard you can enter the animal experience. Lucky them, they have a pretty incredible view! There’s a relatively small selection of animals, but enough to keep interest with rabbits, goats and pigs. The birds include penguins 😍 with a twice daily penguin feed to watch! There are also flamingoes, owls and macaws. Harewood and the surrounding is also famed for the possibility of spotting Red Kites, and we were incredibly lucky to see one really close during our picnic. Breathtaking.

    3. The ferry across to a picture perfect picnic area

    There is a free ferry between the bird garden and the picnic area- it’s a short trip across but a novelty journey to get lunch! There was a converted horse box selling refreshments- including Prosecco if the mood takes you!

    4. The Play area

    What would a family friendly day out be without a decent play area? This one is a good size with different age-appropriate equipment.

    5. Pretty walks around the grounds

    Walking from the picnic area towards the Himalayan Garden takes you past Fairy tree ❀️ If you have older children you could keep them entertained with one of the trails on the Families page of the website. The path between the walled garden and lake affords some stunning views, and we were delighted to see some cows cooling off!

    Other highlights;

    • Food and drink is reasonable and readily available (including ice cream!)
    • The Curiosity Cabin; a place for little ones to learn and get creative
    • The House!
    • Facilities for changing and toilets πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ such a mum comment but so important!
    • The walled garden- with scarecrow!

    For full details of Harewood visit their website; https://harewood.org

    Enjoy!

    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

    Studfold’s Fairy Trail, Nidderdale

    Our last visit here was pre-child Gorge Scrambling with friends, so following a fairy trail with our daughter wearing wings and a tutu was somewhat of a change of pace, but no less enjoyable. In fact, seeing Jess getting involved in all the activities was absolutely brilliant (just as well, since she’s been excited all week about seeing the fairies!) It’s a great trail, and if you’re looking for something to do in Nidderdale, an activity that I’d thoroughly recommend.

    Website: http://studfoldtrails.co.uk/adventure_trail/fairy_trail/

    Trail: Β£6.50 for adults and Β£5.50 for children. There were different difficulty levels of the trail activity booklet depending on ages, but the activities around the trail itself could be for various ages.

    Time: We took just under 2.5 hours to go round (including snack stop). If it had been a little warmer and drier we could have spent longer. With older children it might also have taken a bit longer as they would have spent longer at some of the activities (although would be walking faster so who knows?!)

    Facilities: Everything you need; toilets, cafe (who can also provide picnics), and free parking. You can camp here and do lots of other activities too!

    Accessibility: Technically there were no stiles and steps could be avoided, so a robust buggy could have probably done it, but to be honest I wouldn’t recommend taking one.

    As soon as we told Jess we were going to find the fairies today she’s been super excited to don her fairy wings (they’re encouraged!) and fairy skirt and start her fairy walk! At the start we ‘briefed’ her with the basics; she had to spot stone bunnies and find the next marker on the trail. She was terrible at finding the rabbits, but better at finding the pictured markers. As we went round there were loads of activities, most of which would have suited slightly older children better but she liked looking in them and enjoyed the ones she did do.

    Some of the parts of the trail had special interest; firstly the ‘Go kart’ track (pedal tractors of different sizes). We loved seeing a biking fairy, and Jess loved that there was a pink helmet!

    The den building area was also fab.

    For an extra 50p you could also purchase a badge and wish set at the start. There was a fairy house here where you could write your wish on seed paper and plant it in the fairy garden. We did a wishing ‘spell’ but Jess wanted to keep the seeds to take home.

    Of course we were here to see the fairies!! πŸ§šβ€β™€οΈπŸ§šβ€β™€οΈ Unfortunately they were all asleep as we walked round, but we saw lots of fairy homes and tried to wake them up. They’re clearly heavy sleepers – I think most of Nidderdale heard Jess hollering!!

    There was also a treasure box in the Magical Woods where you can take an unwanted toy from home and swap it for something that you might want in there- a lovely idea!

    Towards the end of trail is the play area and barn. There are fantastic views from here, as well as facilities to stop and lunch. There are eco toilets and drinks facilities with an honesty box. If you don’t want to carry your picnic round (or want to order one), you can have yours brought up here and delivered to the barn! In the barn itself are colouring pencils where you can colour in the paper circle from the 50p set (at the end you watch this get turned into the badge). The play area includes sandpit, diggers and tractors and a junior obstacle course.

    It’s a pretty short walk overall- Jess had no problems walking all the way round. Mainly because you could usually see the next activity ahead (so incentives to keep going). It’s quite a drive up there from where we are (Leeds) so if you can I’d try to tie it in with something else up that way- maybe a trip to Brimham Rocks or Pately Bridge on the way home. Or next time I think we’ll stay at the campsite and do some of the other activities, make a weekend of it. Regardless of how you plan it- if you’ve got a young child with an interest in fairies it’s definitely worth a trip!

    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!

    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