A 6km walk around RSPB Fairburn Ings, Castleford

This is a perfect walk if you want to feel away from it all without actually getting away from it all! There are lovely views and there are good paths, so great for a pram and a pooch.

Route: I followed the green trail on this map before dropping down and following the blue trail back along the river. It’s about 6km in total.

Facilities: At the visitor centre there are toilets, refreshments and a nature play area (so no slides, more about exploring). Along the walk there are plenty of benches to stop and enjoy a snack or picnic along with the views!

Parking: £4 all day or free for RSPB members.

Accessibility: Grit paths, suitable for a pram. A little uphill at the start but then flat or downhill the rest of the way round.

We’ve previously walked through Fairburn Ings when we did a circular route from Fairburn to Ledsham, but we’d not ventured to the west side before. It was much prettier than I realised, with great views.

I started by walking up the coal tips path- I turned right at the top of the hill to walk round the ponds. These pictures really don’t do the views justice!

Rather than doing the full route I continued along the path south west towards the river, then turning round just before the old bridge to follow the river path back. Truly gorgeous!

If you have little ones, you could try some of the activities closer to the vistor centre, read our previous blog post here.

Walks nearby; RSPB St Aiden’s.

Harewood Estate Circular, 4.8 miles

This lovely walk is around the estate perimeter, with lovely views over the house, through the deer park and across to Almscliffe Crag.

Route: We followed this route from the Walking Englishman website.

Accessibility: Muddy in places but generally fine with a buggy. There is one set of steps in Harewood when you leave the path adjacent to the A61.

Parking: there’s free parking at the junction of Wike Lane and A61 (where the walk starts)

Facilities: None, and limited places to picnic other than the field you start in and the deer park. The route passes the Muddy Boots cafe which has a children’s menu, high chairs and changing facilities.

This is a relatively easy route, with a couple of hills but nothing too strenuous. It’s just enough to let you feel that you’ve done a decent walk! Great if you don’t want to travel too far out of Leeds.

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!

Chester Zoo

On Monday we visited Chester Zoo; it made sense to break up our return journey from Wales and we’ve never taken Jess before. It was a lovely day for it, but even if the weather hadn’t been as good there’s lots of shelter around, making this a great day out all year round.

It’s an impressive start; the elephants are the first thing you come to and so Jess was on side from the moment that we arrived.

There are plenty of ‘big’ animals about; lions and tigers, chimps and orangutans, rhinos and giraffes. But plenty of smaller animals too- particularly inside the huge buildings like the Tropical Realm. And best of all there’s LOADS of information; loads of stats and interesting stats to read. We were having such a good time I took barely any photos!

When we’d been previously we’d never made it to the ‘Islands’ area, but this time we did, and enjoyed the boat trip. James wasn’t allowed on (children have to be able to walk unaided) so I went on with Jess who gave a running commentary to the whole boat 😂

There are picnic benches everywhere if you plan on taking food with you, but also lots of choices to buy things dotted about. We just had burgers from the food court, but MASSIVELY regretted our choice when we saw the street food kitchen in the islands area. The food isn’t priced too badly, but drinks ramp it up, and we were surprised that water bottles could only be filled at certain food areas; the smaller snack vans sent you elsewhere. On such a hot day we would have liked more options for warmer fountains etc.

Other things we didn’t do but want to, are a trip on the monorail and a go on the treetop challenge (both have a supplementary cost), as well as visit the free nature reserve that you can get to from the car park.

It’s a big site, and so there’s lots of walking. Jess was shattered by the end! You can hire buggies (single and double) at the entrance if you need it.

Overall a really good day out with LOADS to see; which you’d expect from the admission price. It’s definitely worth it, but do go prepared- think about the amount of walking, take more drinks and snacks than you would do usually and perhaps plan your route and must-see animals before you go. If you want to see any of the animal talks they’re on the website so you can plan this into your day too.

Damflask Reservoir walk with a great cafe stop! (3.5 miles)

This is another lovely walk courtesy of Yorkshire Water; it’s buggy friendly, and with the option to stop at the fab licensed cafe in Low Bradfield, it’s a great choice for families.

Route: Download the route here; https://www.yorkshirewater.com/things-to-do/walks/damflask

Facilities: In Low Bradfield a local family friendly cafe open Wednesday to Sunday has great food, a small play area and good toilets 👍 Plenty of benches around the route.

Accessibility: Pretty flat with decent paths (small sections on the road), suitable for buggies

Parking: Lots of roadside free parking. We parked on the damn.

The route is really clear and there is no need for a map- just follow the side of the reservoir. We went in a clockwise direction starting at the damn. There are loads of spots to stop for a picnic by the waterside, or benches on the path.

The advantage of starting at the damn means that the half way point is Low Bradfield, a short detour from the path takes you into this pretty village, where we found an ice cream van as well as The School Rooms, a massive find!! We’d had a picnic, but stopped in for drinks when Jess caught sight of the bouncy castle! The food looked awesome, next time we’re definitely stopping for lunch!

I love that this reservoir has boats! The walk back passes the boathouse giving Jess another point of interest. After the walks there are lots of pubs nearby for further refreshments and toilets (I sound bloody obsessed with toilets but given 4 weeks ago I gave birth that’s allowed).

Overall, it’s a fab little walk, I was so impressed that Jess managed most of it and was cheery throughout (although the ice cream van helped her spirits). A massive thumbs up!

Stanley Ferry & Southern Washlands Nature Reserve, Wakefield (4.6 km)

Wakefield Council have some AMAZING resources for walking, and this route is based on one of their suggested Health Walks. It’s a lovely flat route, with lots to see and some well positioned benches for picnics. Although James was in the carrier today (his first time!) it would be fine for most buggies, although it was a little muddy in places.

Route: http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Longer%20Walks/Walks_Leaflet_09_Stanley.pdf

Facilities: None, other than benches dotted about for picnics. BUT the Stanley Ferry pub (where you can start/finish) is well set up for families.

Accessibility: Paths are pretty decent and flat so would be fine for most buggies or little bikes!

You Tube Vlog: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HFjrw4QsarM&feature=youtu.be

The walk starts along the canal, where there are lots of boats to look at. Walking through the nature reserve is mostly woodland and extremely peaceful; I didn’t pass a single person on the path! The sound of water brings instant relaxation (much needed in my case as all morning I’d had the sound of nothing but screaming).

My favourite part of the walk was the path between the Lake and the River Calder, it was really beautiful.

It finished back at the canal, with a path from Broadreach Lock, following the Transpennine Trail back to the start.

So in all a hugely enjoyable walk, especially in the sunshine… I’ll be back!

If you’re looking for other walks in the area, this route around Heath Common is a great choice.

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!

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!