Studfold’s Fairy Trail, Nidderdale

Our last visit here was pre-child Gorge Scrambling with friends, so following a fairy trail with our daughter wearing wings and a tutu was somewhat of a change of pace, but no less enjoyable. In fact, seeing Jess getting involved in all the activities was absolutely brilliant (just as well, since she’s been excited all week about seeing the fairies!) It’s a great trail, and if you’re looking for something to do in Nidderdale, an activity that I’d thoroughly recommend.

Website: http://studfoldtrails.co.uk/adventure_trail/fairy_trail/

Trail: £6.50 for adults and £5.50 for children. There were different difficulty levels of the trail activity booklet depending on ages, but the activities around the trail itself could be for various ages.

Time: We took just under 2.5 hours to go round (including snack stop). If it had been a little warmer and drier we could have spent longer. With older children it might also have taken a bit longer as they would have spent longer at some of the activities (although would be walking faster so who knows?!)

Facilities: Everything you need; toilets, cafe (who can also provide picnics), and free parking. You can camp here and do lots of other activities too!

Accessibility: Technically there were no stiles and steps could be avoided, so a robust buggy could have probably done it, but to be honest I wouldn’t recommend taking one.

As soon as we told Jess we were going to find the fairies today she’s been super excited to don her fairy wings (they’re encouraged!) and fairy skirt and start her fairy walk! At the start we ‘briefed’ her with the basics; she had to spot stone bunnies and find the next marker on the trail. She was terrible at finding the rabbits, but better at finding the pictured markers. As we went round there were loads of activities, most of which would have suited slightly older children better but she liked looking in them and enjoyed the ones she did do.

Some of the parts of the trail had special interest; firstly the ‘Go kart’ track (pedal tractors of different sizes). We loved seeing a biking fairy, and Jess loved that there was a pink helmet!

The den building area was also fab.

For an extra 50p you could also purchase a badge and wish set at the start. There was a fairy house here where you could write your wish on seed paper and plant it in the fairy garden. We did a wishing ‘spell’ but Jess wanted to keep the seeds to take home.

Of course we were here to see the fairies!! 🧚‍♀️🧚‍♀️ Unfortunately they were all asleep as we walked round, but we saw lots of fairy homes and tried to wake them up. They’re clearly heavy sleepers – I think most of Nidderdale heard Jess hollering!!

There was also a treasure box in the Magical Woods where you can take an unwanted toy from home and swap it for something that you might want in there- a lovely idea!

Towards the end of trail is the play area and barn. There are fantastic views from here, as well as facilities to stop and lunch. There are eco toilets and drinks facilities with an honesty box. If you don’t want to carry your picnic round (or want to order one), you can have yours brought up here and delivered to the barn! In the barn itself are colouring pencils where you can colour in the paper circle from the 50p set (at the end you watch this get turned into the badge). The play area includes sandpit, diggers and tractors and a junior obstacle course.

It’s a pretty short walk overall- Jess had no problems walking all the way round. Mainly because you could usually see the next activity ahead (so incentives to keep going). It’s quite a drive up there from where we are (Leeds) so if you can I’d try to tie it in with something else up that way- maybe a trip to Brimham Rocks or Pately Bridge on the way home. Or next time I think we’ll stay at the campsite and do some of the other activities, make a weekend of it. Regardless of how you plan it- if you’ve got a young child with an interest in fairies it’s definitely worth a trip!

Xx

Ardsley Reservoir, 2.5km

This is lovely little reservoir, and although I probably wouldn’t go out my way to visit here for such a short route, it’s a good one if you’re in the area or want a breath of fresh air after a White Rose trip!

Location: A small (free car park) is located on Haigh Moor Road, Tingley, WF3 1 EE

Route: From the car park turn left towards the reservoir and then choose the direction round you want to walk! It’s a super easy path.

Accessibility: Flat and surfaced paths are perfect for buggies.

Facilities: None

With just over 3 weeks until my due date, hubby’s banned me from walking too far on my own. Maybe he knows something I don’t, because baby doesn’t feel like it’s coming out anytime soon!

So I decided to visit this small reservoir which had cropped up a few times on social media from people I follow. It was a lovely short walk, with good views, so a good one if you’re nearby and want to squeeze in a walk. It seemed a popular walk, I passed quite a few dog walkers and mums with buggies!

The West Ardsley website suggests there are reservoir rocks around that will help keep little ones entertained. To be fair I didn’t spot any- although I wasn’t really looking and there’s nothing to say new ones aren’t brought.

There are pebble beaches around the perimeter of the reservoir, but bathing is prohibited. That doesn’t stop good opportunities for stone skimming!

There are lovely views on the South side of the reservoir to appreciate too 😍

It took me just over half an hour to walk round this route, and I got an extra boost of smugness when I returned to the car about 30 seconds before it started raining. Love it 👍

There’s not a lot more to say, so I’ll leave you with a few pics of the moody weather!

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

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 🙂

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

A few hours of fun at Pugneys Country Park

If you’re local to South Leeds or Wakefield, and are looking to fill a few hours and burn off some toddler energy, a trip to Pugneys will be well worth a trip! Whilst the location near a major road system puts some people off, it retains its beauty and there is heaps to do & plenty to keep little ones entertained!

Website: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/sport-and-leisure/pugneys-country-park

Distance: A walk round the lake comes in at just under 3km but there are lovely ways to extend-including heading up to Sandal Castle

Route: Super simple- follow the path around the Lake.

Facilities: Basically everything. From toilets to a cafe, from picnic benches to a fantastic themed play area. There’s even a miniature train that runs at weekends.

Parking: Pay and display- change only. It’s £2.50 for up to 4 hours.

Access: Path round the lake is perfect for any buggy or pram.

There’s not much description needed for a walk around a Lake, so instead here’s a summary of the best bits!

1. The Play area

A sandy boat wreck sets the scene for this absolutely fab play area. Clockwise from this round the Lake is an Outdoor instrument area.

2. Activities for children all around the Lake

Starting at the visitor centre there’s the ‘Blown Away’ trail that you can follow as far as the path to Sandal Castle (activity sheet here). We haven’t tried it- but there’s also a pack to buy from the centre.

Otherwise, not exactly meant for children, but lots of interest in the Trim Trail exercise stations!

There were also stands for a ‘Room on the Broom’ scavenger hunt. I assume you can find out about this from the centre too- we didn’t, but Jess did the activities on the posts (such as hop across the path). It certainly doesn’t look as big as the one at Angler’s Country Park, but a welcome addition all the same!

The miniature railway is another bonus, there is a facebook page you can find from the Pugneys main website (above) for opening times. Nice and cheap too; £1 single, £2 return.

3. Standard Park Life

It’s got all the basics that a good country park should do- and more. Ducks and swans on the Lake to feed, plenty of picnic benches, a bird hide and nature reserve and lots of grass to settle down on with a rug and a ball. There’s lots going on a weekends to watch in the form of water sports and swimming, and you can even hire bikes here. The cafe looks pretty decent although we haven’t tried it.

All in all a wonderful park, perfect when you’ve got an afternoon to fill…. let me know your thoughts!

Rachel xxx

A family walk around Otley Chevin, North Leeds

The last time we went to Otley Chevin was 7th February 2016. I know this because an hour after returning home I went into labour with Jess- she was born a tiring 47 hours later. Perhaps this is the reason it’s taken so long to come back here.

So as I write this in the car drove home I’m hoping there’s no repeat of that outcome after a little walk at 31 weeks!

Distance: lots of different routes you could take, we did about 4K.

Access: if you have a buggy, stick to the Bridleways, whilst some of the footpaths are fine others are extremely steep/muddy/rocky. We tried a buggy today and I’m just pleased I had an excuse to leave all the pushing to the hubby! Would be fine to take little bikes around- as many families were doing.

Parking: various car parks, unmarked spaces so gets tight at times and busy on sunny days. See the car parks here; https://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/chevin%20map.pdf

Facilities: Not great to be honest, two cafes though so head there for toilets and food. Lots and lots of benches and a picnic/ ball games area.

Route: Lots, but today we kept it short. If you look at the link to the pdf map above, we parked opposite the Cheerful Chilli and tea room, and walked East straight towards Caley Wood. We then went straight ahead over the board walk and left at the end to turn back past the wetland. And then followed the path back to the car!

We had every intention of Jess walking this with us, but she had a total meltdown in the car, and after 20 minutes of repeated “I want to go in the pram”, we took the easy option.

After getting her own way, she was on good form on the way round, asking lots of questions about the things we spotted on the way round.

There’s some really good wooden sculptures and interesting things to do. If you fancy doing a ‘can you see’ style activity whilst you go round here are some ideas;

  • Baby elephant sculpture
  • A wooden bridge over wetlands
  • Wooden horse sculpture
  • Fallen tree
  • A rocky crag
  • Ruins of a cottage
  • An animal’s burrow
  • A newly planted tree
  • Surprise view
  • A den
  • (If you’re lucky!) A red kite

At some point I’ll upload an activity sheet for here!

There are some lovely views over Otley and Almscliffe Crag for a picnic stop (or as Jess says ‘snic-snic’), and plenty of benches around for snack stops and to enjoy the views.

If you have the time and inclination head up to Surprise View (or even drive up if you haven’t seen it)- really spectacular views and well worth the trip.

For lazy days there’s a picnic area with lots of space for ball games if it’s not too busy.

In all it’s a lovely place to spend a couple of hours wandering round- any longer and no doubt you’ll need a cafe trip to use the toilets, and little ones might start to lose interest. Have fun exploring!!

Rachel xxx

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!

Vlog of our Autumn trip to Woodlesford Lock: https://youtu.be/7YNwajueLMk

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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂

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 ☀️☀️ 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.

Anglers Country Park, WF4, 2 miles

What a gorgeous sunny day to try the Room on the Broom trail! It’s a 2 mile circular walk around the lake, with a £2 activity pack available to help you along your way!

http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/sport-and-leisure/parks-and-countryside/room-on-the-broom#rotb

Distance: 2 miles (9000 children steps!)

Facilities: Toilets, Visitor centre, Play area, Picnic areas, Drinks van, Bike hire. *Cafe set to open Spring 2919!

Access: Nice wide paths suitable for buggies and bikes

Parking: Charges do now apply- check website for current prices. http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/sport-and-leisure/parks-and-countryside/parks/anglers-country-park

We started the trail explaining to our excited three year old the characters to look out for- today she was going round on her bike as we walked behind her. It wasn’t long before we started to spot the wooden carvings- there are metal shapes dotted too for rubbings if you fancy it (there’s a sheet in the activity pack to use- unfortunately we didn’t spot it until we got home :-().

What would a lakeside walk be if not for an opportunity to feed the ducks? Bags of bird seed are available from the Discovery centre for 50p a bag.

There are lots of benches along the way to stop for snacks and to admire the view.

Back at the centre there’s a great playground for children- not a huge amount for toddlers, but a swing and a couple of slides are enough to keep our daughter happy!

The trail was a great chance to keep Jess engaged in being outdoors, she loved spotting characters and thoroughly enjoyed herself! Best of all she completely wore herself out and had a mammoth nap once back at home!!

Stainforth to Catrigg Force, Nr Settle

Distance: 2 miles.

Facilities: Car Park in Stainforth (machine takes card) wih public toilets. Nice looking pub with beer garden in village.

Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies

Route: http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/391880/walk-stainforth-and-catrigg-force.pdf

This is such a fantastic short walk, we’ve chosen a brilliant morning to do it; there’s a light covering of snow making everything incredibly beautiful. The sun’s out so not too cold and Jess is in a great mood. Prefect combination!

The length of this walk means it would be fine for younger ones- just be aware of quite a steep start. Once this is over you can enjoy the rest of it safe in the knowledge that any hard work is done.

After the initial climb it was great to see a bit more snow, and keeping Jess in the carrier was near impossible after playing with snowballs!

After taking time to appreciate the views over the three peaks we ventured down the rather slippy path to look at Catrigg Force, it was gorgeous and we can’t wait to get back here in the summer for a different view!

It’s an easy walk back down a lane to the village. If you’re on a tight schedule you could do this in a little over an hour, we took about two what with the excitement of playing in the snow, but in warmer weather would have taken a more leisurely pace and built in a lunch stop.

We drove over to Settle for lunch in front of the fire at the Golden Lion afterwards. Would thoroughly recommend it!

All in all a great short walk, one we’ll definitely be doing again!