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 Β£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 πŸ‘

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 Β£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

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 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

Oakwell Hall Country Park, WF17, 2 miles

Facilities: cafe, toilets, play area, parking

Accessibility: the 2 mile nature trail itself is not suitable for buggies BUT there are lots of other paths to try out, just might be muddy in places. Use this map for access guidance.

Location:Nutter Lane,Batley,WF17 9LG

http://www.friendsofoakwellhall.org.uk/images/pdfs/oakwell_nature_trail.pdf

I love everything about sunny days β˜€οΈβ˜€οΈ it’s so lovely to see so many families out and about enjoying the fresh air! We weren’t planning on a walk today but this fabulous weather drove us here, a great decision even if I do say myself! We walked the superb two mile nature trail, before heading back to the centre to get ice cream and a trip to the play area. The sole ice cream van must’ve thought all his Christmases had come at once, massive queues in February!!

Oakwell Hall is a lovely place to spend a few hours- there’s plenty to do and see and well signposted trails. The play area has a good combination of activities for toddlers in a gated area, as well as larger obstacles for older children dotted about in the nearby woodland.

I think it’s the type of place that you can find something new every time you visit. Just be warned- unless there’s an easier way to get there that we haven’t found (highly likely) it’s a bit hidden away so make sure you have a navigator next to you on your first visit.

Roundhay Park, LS8, Park walk

Distance: The route below is 4.2k- but you can do more or less!

Parking: free, and there are a few different ones, I tend to park at the Southern one off Wetherby Road.

Buggy friendly: Yes, although muddy and steep in places so be prepared! Stick to the tarmac park paths if you want to keep it easy.

Facilities: Play areas, duck feeding, cafes

https://www.roundhaypark.org.uk/roundhay-park-tour-leeds/roundhay-park-walks.html

Roundhay Park really has a soft spot in my heart. I lived here when Jess was born, so this was my go to spot when I was pregnant, particularly when I went over my due date- all I did was walk to try and get things moving! And then one of my first trips out was to the park. A gentle stroll was such a challenge, the Roundhay Fox was our first drink in public with a baby, eeeeek! Happy memories 😍

Anyway, my favourite route starts at the Southern car park and takes an anti-clockwise route round the park. It’s a steep, bumpy start to join the lakeside path and keep heading north right to the top of the lake. At this point rather than continuing round the lake, keep going straight ahead into the woods. You’ll see a little bridge to your left, cross this and head uphill. When the path forks, stay left, and you’ll pass the back of the ruin. It then takes you to the Upper Lake. I walk round the top before heading past the front of the Mansion. Take a path down to Lakeside cafe and a fantastic under 8s play area. The cafe has toilets in the entrance, and you can also buy duck food if you haven’t bought and yourself. Once you’re ready to head back, rejoin the Lake path to take you back!

Another great path- although really tricky in places with a buggy- is the gorge walk, check out the map on the link. It’s really quiet, you pass very few people, and it’s easy to forget you’re in a park!

If you haven’t been before it’s definitely worth a visit!