Moorlands Nature Reserve, YO32 2RE

We’re always on the lookout for a new nature reserve, this one, near Skelton north of York, is great for children! As well as enjoying the nature (complete with Nature Trail), there are loads of things to look at and explore.

Website: https://www.ywt.org.uk/nature-reserves/moorlands-nature-reserve

Route: A circular path leads you round the reserve, follow this trail map.

Pushchairs: The path does get narrow in places, but is fine would be fine for most pushchairs.

Facilities: None, but the nearby Haxby does.. including a Costa!

Parking: Free roadside parking

Our first visit here was on a Little Legs walk with the Baby Walking Group. Jess was immediately on side on entry, when she spotted some logs to balance on. I was more interested in some early Snowdrops blooming, gorgeous! If you visit later in Spring, this is a prime spot to enjoy bluebells.

The nature trail takes you around the reserve passing 10 posts of animals (they’re listed on the map linked above). We walked in an anti-clockwise direction, which meant that we could leave the tree house until later in the walk.

One of the first things you come to is the pond, with a platform to help you take a better look.

I wasn’t expecting the sculptures dotted about, but they were great, with a pixie tree our particular favourite.

The treehouse provided shelter for our snack, the children loved climbing the steps and peeking out the windows.

The final excitement came with the fairy circle outside the classroom. After this we “enjoyed” playing hide and seek back to the entrance.

Overall, this is a really lovely reserve, especially for small children to explore. It’s great if you live in York, but perhaps a little far from Leeds, unless you’re combining it with another trip. If you’ve got National Trust passes, you could visit the nearby Beningbrough Hall.

If your little ones need a little encouragement getting excited about being in the outdoors, you might find this blog post useful.

The Muddy Boots 2020 Family Challenge

As the time to make some New Year resolutions nears, let me introduce you to a family challenge that gets you out walking at least once a month… as well as showing you some of the best family walks Yorkshire has to offer.

The concept is simple. 12 of my favourite Yorkshire family walks to complete in 12 months. I’ll be suggesting the months to do each walk on my social media, but feel free to mix them up if needed! Whilst some of these routes are buggy friendly, encourage your little ones to walk as much of the routes as possible (read this blog post for help).

You might be able to identify some of the walks from the pictures… but if not here we go!!

The Gnome Roam at Newmillerdam. At just under two miles with loads of activities on the route, this is a great starting walk to get little ones enthused about getting out and about. A pub at the end can get you warmed up from the cold.

Nature Trail at Oakwell Hall. This two mile route has two loops, so half way round you can stop off at the cafe to refuel… and the pull of the play area gets your little ones to restart!

Golden Acre and Paul’s Pond is 5.5km… and is suitable for buggies that don’t mind mud! Refuel and warm up in the scrummy cafe.

Ilkley and Middleton woods is best done April/May to see the glorious bluebells. With views over Ilkley and a walk along the river, this has a little bit of everything…

Up in Nidderdale lies the fantastic Hackfall woods. You might catch the bluebells here in May, but if not take a picnic and allow yourself to explore this gorgeous woodland.

Aaaahhh Heath. A summer visit means picnics on Heath common or drinks in the lovely King’s Arms beer garden. So summer is the perfect time to try this short circular walk.

One of Wakefield’s most popular family walks is the Room on the Broom Trail at Angler’s Country Park. Pack a picnic and some bird seed and enjoy following the trail round the lake.

Bolton Abbey is just picture perfect all year round. But on a sunny day you can enjoy a leisurely picnic as well as the views!

May Beck and Falling Foss. Walk away those September blues with a trip to the coast. Combine a visit to Whitby with this amazing and magical walk. Waterfalls, woodland and probably the best tea garden on the planet.

Damflask Reservoir is a great circular route with a fab cafe stop on the way round!

Stanley Ferry and Southern Washlands Nature Reserve combines a canal walk with woodland.The Stanley Ferry Pub is well placed for a family friendly meal afterwards, so you might want to keep this as a winter walk.

The National Trust always does Christmas well, so why not leave a walk in the beautiful Nostell parkland until then, before enjoying the Christmas spirit at the house and gardens.

So there you go! At the start of each month I’ll be sharing a bit more about these walks for you. Make sure to share any walks with #muddybootsfamilychallenge. Good luck!

Brayton Barff, 2km circular

We were visiting family near Selby today, so stopped off to do this short walk on our way there. It’s been a scorcher, but the well-surfaced main path is through woodland and so we thoroughly enjoyed the shade! Even better news is that if you come in spring you’ll find bluebells 😍😍

Route: https://www.yorkshirewater.com/things-to-do/walks/brayton

Parking: A small free carpark, it can get busy.

Facilities: None, but I’m sure you’ll find a decent country pub nearby, right? There are benches dotted along the path.

Pushchairs: At a little over a mile I’d say why not try to let your toddler walk, it’s a good early one! Otherwise the main route is completely buggy friendly.

The basic premise of Brayton Barff is a circular path around a hill. Whilst the path undulates, there aren’t any significant uphills/downhills. You get some lovely views over to Selby and Drax. There are lots of little trails to take you up the hill and explore, but these are not suitable for buggies. Plenty of little legs do though, and there are loads of examples of den building!

With little explorers I’m sure you could spend hours on this beautiful hill, but equally if you’ve got just an hour to kill when you’re in the area this is a great choice!

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.

Northwood Fairy Trail, York

There’s a little magic in these woods, if you listen closely and stay very still you might just find a fairy!

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

Northwood Trail is a 1.5km path through some gorgeous woodland. You get the distinct feeling that you’re not alone, and can find lots of evidence that fairies are around, from the toadstool fairy rings, to the overhead fairy bridges, to the fairy doors on the trees. You’ll even see the thrones of the fairy king and queen!

Jess was disappointed not to see a fairy (she’d hoped dressing like a fairy might encourage them to show themselves), but reliably informed us that they were sleeping, and was happy that she’d seen where they live!

The path passes a bamboo maze to find a fairy ring! Be warned, it’s not an easy one and you may be in there longer than you think!

Towards the end of the trail is an area for children to play, with plenty of chopped logs to climb over and a den building area.

Back at the start we enjoyed tea and cake at the GORGEOUS cafe (I imagine in winter it’s even more awesome) and visited the fairy museum.

We really enjoyed this truly lovely walk (even in the rain) but be warned there’s limited places for stopping on the trails, and nowhere to picnic. As such it’s not a walk that you can spend a long time on, so take that into consideration when deciding whether to pay up! It could definitely do with some activities on the way round, perhaps some puzzles or nature spots and rubbings. Having said that it’s still relatively new, so perhaps these things are on the way!

So it’s not an all-day attraction, but would be a great stopping point to the coast or moors. The cafe itself is worth a stop, and I think we would on our next trip to Bridlington.

PS When looking back at our photos Jess was delighted to spot fairies!! They were invisible to our eyes, but the camera never lies, and we can see lots of fairy orbs flying around the fairy ring… see, they really do exist!!

👉Another Fairy Trail that you might enjoy is Studfold! This is more of an activity based trail, so you can make more of a day of it!

Rabbit Ings Country Park, Barnsley

This lovely little park has a number of short walks that would suit little legs and has masses of wildflowers to enjoy. There are a number of routes that can be followed by coloured markers, including a path up to a viewpoint.

Website and map: https://thelandtrust.org.uk/space/rabbit-ings-country-park/?doing_wp_cron=1563200285.8920269012451171875000

Parking: Free parking

Facilities: There were toilets at the visitor centre open when I visited, but they may not be open all the time. Benches around the park.

Accessibility: Good paths, steep in places. Fine for buggies and little bikes!

Whilst there are marked routes you can follow, I chose my own path, taking in most of the perimeter and viewpoint was about 4km. It was a beautiful morning, but the paths were quite quiet and I enjoyed the peace!

The walk up to the viewpoint was pretty, and there’s a well positioned bench to enjoy the view.

It’s a lovely park, and if you’re in the area a good place to spend a couple of hours!

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 £3.50 an adult and £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 😂😂 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. £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

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!