Swinsty (3 miles) & Fewston (4 miles) Reservoirs

These gorgeous reservoirs North of Otley are perfect for pram walks and give fab views. I’d say Fewston is more picturesque, but Swinsty is shorter with better views over the valley… or you could do them both!

Route: Yorkshire water provide routes for both the Swinsty route (3 miles) and for Fewston (4 miles).

Accessibility: Both fine for prams; Swinsty a little easier.

Facilities: Park at the middle car park (Swinsty and Fewston carpark) where there is a toilet block, picnic benches and often an ice cream van.

Both reservoirs are extremely easy to navigate- after all, you’re walking round two massive bodies of water so it should be fairly clear where to go!

Walking round Swinsty is mainly on wider tracks, it can be a little muddy approaching the car park from a clockwise direction. Fewston is on gritted paths.

A 6km walk around RSPB Fairburn Ings, Castleford

This is a perfect walk if you want to feel away from it all without actually getting away from it all! There are lovely views and there are good paths, so great for a pram and a pooch.

Route: I followed the green trail on this map before dropping down and following the blue trail back along the river. It’s about 6km in total.

Facilities: At the visitor centre there are toilets, refreshments and a nature play area (so no slides, more about exploring). Along the walk there are plenty of benches to stop and enjoy a snack or picnic along with the views!

Parking: £4 all day or free for RSPB members.

Accessibility: Grit paths, suitable for a pram. A little uphill at the start but then flat or downhill the rest of the way round.

We’ve previously walked through Fairburn Ings when we did a circular route from Fairburn to Ledsham, but we’d not ventured to the west side before. It was much prettier than I realised, with great views.

I started by walking up the coal tips path- I turned right at the top of the hill to walk round the ponds. These pictures really don’t do the views justice!

Rather than doing the full route I continued along the path south west towards the river, then turning round just before the old bridge to follow the river path back. Truly gorgeous!

If you have little ones, you could try some of the activities closer to the vistor centre, read our previous blog post here.

Walks nearby; RSPB St Aiden’s.

Harewood Estate Circular, 4.8 miles

This lovely walk is around the estate perimeter, with lovely views over the house, through the deer park and across to Almscliffe Crag.

Route: We followed this route from the Walking Englishman website.

Accessibility: Muddy in places but generally fine with a buggy. There is one set of steps in Harewood when you leave the path adjacent to the A61.

Parking: there’s free parking at the junction of Wike Lane and A61 (where the walk starts)

Facilities: None, and limited places to picnic other than the field you start in and the deer park. The route passes the Muddy Boots cafe which has a children’s menu, high chairs and changing facilities.

This is a relatively easy route, with a couple of hills but nothing too strenuous. It’s just enough to let you feel that you’ve done a decent walk! Great if you don’t want to travel too far out of Leeds.

Bramley Fall, 1 mile

This might only be a short walk, but it’s got lots to explore along the way!

Route: Found on the following website: http://west-leeds-country-park-and-green-gateways.webplus.net/doorstep_walk2_bramley_fall.html. The paths are signposted at key points.

Accessibility: Along the canal path is fine, and you can get down and back up other ways, but this route itself would be difficult with a buggy.

Parking: Car park on Leeds & Bradford Road

Facilities: There’s a basic playground and picnic area. It’s a short drive to Kirkstall Morrison’s with a cafe and toilets, but there are none in the park itself.

This lovely route takes you down through pretty woodland (quite steep and uneven surface) onto the canal, crossing over a lock that we were lucky enough to see in use.

It’s a flat and easy walk along the canal- with the added bonus of a train line to the other side.

Crossing back over another stepped lock takes you back through the woodland. Before the playground you also pass outdoor equipment from a ‘Trim Trail’ that adds a little fun.

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 😂😂 such a mum comment but so important!
  • The walled garden- with scarecrow!

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

Enjoy!

Discovering Wildlife at Fairburn Ings, Wakefield

We had planned on doing a walk today, but the weather was somewhat wetter than we expected, so instead we decided to spend the morning exploring and pond dipping at Fairburn Ings. We had a truly wonderful time, and with our newly acquired RSPB membership we cannot wait to return and do it all again!

Website: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/fairburn-ings

Parking: At the visitor centre. Free for RSPB members, £4 otherwise.

Facilities: Toilets and refreshments (not a cafe) at the visitor centre. Play area with den building and bug hotels! Pond dipping, mini beast explorer packs. Multiple trails.

Accessibility: The discovery trail here is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.

On arrival at the reserve we went straight to the visitor centre. The staff there were super friendly and really helpful! They showed us all the things we could get up to and talked us through the trail routes. However, with the wet weather (and my bump means I can’t fasten my waterproof!), we decided to stay close and take advantage of the activities we could do on the short family friendly discovery trail. The trail has lots of information around, and never mind Jess, I found a renewed sense of enthusiasm and learnt loads whilst walking round!

If you’re not a member, the £4 car charge enables you to access all the trails for free, but there are small charges to use the pond dipping (£2 per kit) and explorer backpack (£3 each).

Here’s some of the things we got up to;

Pond Dipping

The Pond Dipping Kit included a net, tub to examine any findings and a guide (that Jess proudly wore round her neck). I must admit we weren’t massively successful with our findings, but the dipping itself was a novelty and Jess happily kept trying!

Wildlife Explorer Backpack

After choosing the orange backpack (huge bonus points for the different colours!), we went off on our mini beast safari. There were a range of activities to do (rubbings, drawings as well as ‘discovery’ activities) and some really good resources included that helped us identify what we saw (a bird guide for example). Unfortunately the mini beasts we discovered got as exciting as a ladybird, but no doubt if we had longer we would have looked harder.

Jess was also excited to find a stethoscope in the pack, and took the opportunity to listen to the baby 😂😂

The Play Area

The Play area is really well thought out, whilst it doesn’t have your traditional equipment (other than a swing) the activities are designed to engage children and kept Jess really entertained. After all, you can find slides anywhere- but how often do you get do climb on a dragon fly or build a den?!

The Hide

When the rain got a little heavier it was the perfect opportunity to take shelter in the hide. Jess enjoyed watching the ducks ‘having a bath’. There were pictures around the hide to help us identify what we saw (I’m far from knowledgeable and so found it really useful to help Jess).

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our morning here, and I was disappointed to leave (Jess is spending the afternoon with her grandparents so had to cut our trip short). In better weather we’ll definitely be returning for the full day- perhaps do the activities in the morning then take a picnic and do one of the trails in the afternoon.

If you go, let me know what you think, I hope you have as much fun as we did!

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

This Green Moon, Swillington

The sunny weather has matched our sunny spirits this morning as we searched for Big Foot at This Green Moon. We had an amazing time, even better than last year’s trail- which was always going to be hard to beat! If you’re headed there tomorrow (Easter Monday) hold off reading- this may contain spoilers!!

This fantastic place is on our doorstep, and we discovered it on a bike ride to St Aiden’s. It’s not obvious to find if you’ve not been before- but you need to head past Swillington Organic Farm, which is signposted on Aberford Road.

At three years old, Jess sometimes finds trails difficult to follow when there are questions or activities to follow, but this was perfect for her. There is a map for those who can read it- but she was more than happy spotting the footprints and collecting the stickers on the route.

There is plenty to look at and do around the trail, including a visit to the mud kitchen, characters to keep us on track, and spotting homes of the ‘Swilligogs’.

If you haven’t been to This Green Moon before the set up is fantastic, with a fire pit central to the experience- as usual, marshmallow toasting was a highlight!

The hubby loves the bar here-today with Moonshine on draft. Ice cream and a Pizza stand were also on hand to keep us fed. My Creme Egg Ice cream was amazing- the full Creme Egg on the top helped!

There was a craft tent for Jess to make her own drum (related to the trail theme) which she was super proud of!

But the best bit of our trip was summoning Big Foot itself… watching 30 odd children excitedly banging their drums was an absolute joy to watch (even if Jess was a bit scared to see Big Foot himself). The whole story had been so well thought out, with an overriding theme of acceptance and love, such a lovely message to share at Easter.

So thank you those who hosted and planned this event. If you can’t make it tomorrow, keep your eyes peeled for their events throughout the year here. We can’t recommend this place any more highly, everything we’ve been to has just been a joy!

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 😋. 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 day out at Lotherton Hall, Aberford, Leeds

It’s been a good year since we last visited Lotherton Hall, but after today’s visit I think it’ll be a lot sooner to our next visit! 😍

We usually only go for specific events; things like Christmas or Food Festivals. Today though, the Easter ‘Mad Hatter of an Easter Holiday’ trail around the grounds took a back seat to our enjoyment of just a really lovely day out. It’s got a great play area, little walking trails, animals to see and all standard facilities.

Website: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/lothertonhall

The entrance fee is just £8 for an adult, with reduced costs for Leeds card holders and free for under 5s. It’s brilliant value, particularly compared to costs of other days out (so thank you Leeds city council- it’s a cracker).

For the first time ever we actually tried the house; there’s no real reason we haven’t been in before; we just usually prefer the outdoors. But today we needed to count the Easter bunnies inside. So in we went and were instantly impressed by the layout of the rooms and all the things to look at, including toys in many of the rooms to keep little ones entertained.

Our favourite room though had to be the dress-up room, which we had to eventually drag Jess away from. Downstairs the Easter craft area also kept her interest, with my scissor skills being called into action with the creation of Easter masks.

After the house, next stop was the play area.. a great space and perfect for our three year old. She could climb even the highest slide without help. With a smaller climbing frame for the younger ones and a zip line, there’s lots to keep them entertained.

Adjacent to the play area is a picnic area with more play equipment for slightly older children; more zip lines, swings, see-saws and climbing frames.

We had a lovely picnic with some well-timed sunshine, and then headed to Wildlife World. If like us you haven’t been in a while I think you’ll get a huge shock! It’s completely transformed- and is just fab. I can’t get my head around the value!

After walking past the warty pigs and brilliant flamingos we walked through the shop to see the exceptionally inquisitive penguins, who came right up to us! Walking into Africa was another highlight, where you can walk into the enclosure.

Animals seen, after a quick ice cream stop we walked back past the picnic areas to join the boundary path. In the trees are some little obstacles such as balancing beams to keep interest, and Jess did her usual tree hugging 👍

So we had a great day, and we didn’t even see everything (Jess was shattered). You can go to see the deer and there’s a hay maze for children to navigate through!

I’m so sure we’ll be returning regularly I think we’ll get the annual membership next time, at just £24 we only need three visits to make up the cost. If you’re a regular visitor please let me know your favourite spots, I’m sure there is lots more to see!

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Rachel xx