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

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

4km circular walk along Ilkley riverbank and through Middleton Woods

The bluebells of Middleton Woods have been calling me since the first pictures started appearing on Instagram! So today we combined this with a visit to Ilkley Riverside Gardens (mainly to include the play area).

Distance: We shortened the suggested route (below), and map my walk recorded over 4km, but the full route is down as 4.8km so either we walked a bit less or their’s is a bit further.

Parking: If you haven’t been this way on a sunny day, be warned it gets really busy to park. The good news is it’s free- we parked outside Ilkley Riverside Hotel (and it was fairly quiet).

Facilities: We started at Riverside gardens which has a playarea and public toilets. Be warned the toilets in the hotel are customer only and they’re pretty strict about it. Riverside cabin does hot and cold takeaway food and drink.

Route: We followed the route πŸ‘‰here, BUT we did it anticlockwise (so heading towards the lido first), and after exiting the Woods came straight back down to the river path along Harding’s lane. We also started and finished at the hotel (where I had a hot chocolate with marshmallows mmmmm).

Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies

We started by a quick stop at the play area. Rightly or wrongly if one’s available I find it’s an excellent bribe to keep Jess motivated to get round the walk for when we return! It’s a decent one with a good selection of activities and equipment.

From here we walked through the gardens to climb the stone steps up to the bridge, after crossing we dropped down onto the path that passes the skatepark and skirts the rugby club. We briefly stopped to skim stones in the river, always fun!!

The path climbed past the lido and we crossed Curly Hill to enter the woods. If you’d followed the route provided, this would all be downhill… but we find Jess walks better uphill when there’s lots to keep her interested!

I’m not convinced we took the right track up through the woods, but we knew to head in a North East direction and eventually met up with the path I think we were meant to have taken. It’s probably easier in this since sense coming from the other way. The bluebells were just magnificent. Truly gorgeous… I think I took close to a million photos!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Jess kept herself entertained with her usual stick collections and playing hide and seek.

On leaving the woods we passed through a field with great views over Ilkley… and even more excitement; lambs in the field!

Rather than continuing along the route past the monastery we decided to head back along the road (Harding’s Lane) to rejoin the river. At just over 3 weeks until my due date I don’t want to push it too much with walking distance! If you decide to do the same be warned there’s no path for most of this road- but only three cars passed us and it’s a pretty road down with good views.

We picked the route up where the electricity sub-station is marked on the map, and followed the pretty path back along the river to where we started.

I think this was one of my favourite walks that we’ve done- maybe because of the bluebells which are such a treat to see! But as with all woods, every season brings something new to look out for, so I’m sure it would be special anytime!

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!

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

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!

Druid’s Temple, nr Ripon

This 19th century folly is a gem of a place for exploration, and as a bonus less than a kilometre from Swinton Bivouac. If you’re in the area it’s a lovely place for a stop and wander πŸ™‚

Route: The short walk to the temple is on a well signposted decent footpath. For a bit of a longer walk the woods have other trails that can be followed- just pick up a leaflet at the start or let your legs find you a way!

Location: Start at Swinton Bivouac

Access: Our sturdy buggy would have been fine today, in wetter weather some of the tracks may have been pretty muddy.

Facilities: Swinton Bivouac is a great starting point, there’s a lovely cafe here (amazing ice cream) with fantastic views. There’s a bit of play equipment for children, some owls to look at and the Owl Barn provided a craft area. There’s also lots of space for running around and the all important toilets.

Such a simple walk I don’t need much of a description, so instead here’s some pictures! The temple itself is perfect for hide and seek games, and a gorgeous place for a picnic.

We’d already made Jess walk a fair distance today (we’d visited Hackfall Woods before coming here) so she saved her energy and used her push bike.

There’s some lovely views to enjoy! And on returning to the cafe there’s no reason not to treat yourself again!

Rachel xxx

Travelling β€˜oop’ North? Three child-friendly alternatives to A1 services between Yorkshire and the Borders.

It’s always nice to break up longer journeys for kids. But services are usually lacking their need for fun and fresh air! Here are three suggestions of places we like to stop off the A1 to make travelling a bit more interesting.

1. Switch Scotch Corner for Cross Lanes Organic Farm.

Ok, so this is a bit of a detour… but don’t let the fact it’s 12 miles off the A1 put you off. Really it’s only 15 minutes from Scotch Corner services where you can fill up with petrol, and SURELY it’s worth it?

Website: http://www.crosslanesorganics.co.uk

What’s it got? A fantastic farm shop, which to be fair is worth the visit itself! It’s organic restaurant has a great menu, and with outdoor seating much more preferable than a motorway meal. There’s a decent play area, and being a farm there will be animals around to spot.

2. Passing Newcastle? A few minutes from the Cramlington services joining the A1 and A19 is the rather unusual but spectacular Northumberlandia

If you’re going past this way there’s really no reason not to stop at the world’s largest human landform sculpture (which is also a lovely country park).

Website: https://www.northumberlandia.com/

What’s it got? A visitor centre with cafe (closed Mondays) means toilets! Car parking is free, and there are even spaces for electric car charging. Walk through the smaller woodland area (spot animal homes in the trees and you could follow the woodland trail) to reach the sculpture itself. Decent paths and lots of climbing to wear out little legs. PLUS picnic benches if you’d rather sit out. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads.

3. Sunnyhills Farm shop in Belford is just 500m from the A1.

It might be a smaller farm shop than Cross Lanes, but its proximity to your route makes it an easy choice for a stop.

Website: https://sunnyhillsfarmshop.co.uk/

What’s it got? A play area, cafe with kids menu and delicious deli (amazing cake).

Hopefully these suggestions will help you on your travels! If you find them useful let me know and I can do some more on other well-travelled routes.