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 ‘hide’

Our lunch spot was on the sandbank, a proper sandy beach!! Fantastic 🙂 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

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