Pugneys and Sandal Castle

This is a great walk to start little legs off on hills! It’s a lovely walk round the lake and the walk up to Sandal Castle gives fab views over the surrounding countryside.

Route: http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Longer%20Walks/Walks_Leaflet_12_Sandal.pdf

Distance: 3-4 miles depending on the path you take.

Accessibility: Whilst the path round the lake is perfect for buggies, the path up to the castle is not!

Parking: Pay and display car park

Facilities: The visitor centre has a cafe and toilets. There are lots of picnic benches and a great playground.

We did this route in an anti-clockwise direction. There is a signposted path away from the lake to take you onto a tree lined path.

You can’t really go too wrong on this walk- you can always see the castle or lake so know which direction you should be going in! Heading up the hill there are great views of the castle and lake.

At the top you’re rewarded with great views.

The walk back is lovely, and you rejoin the lake path.

For a shorter route, the lakeside path is extremely child- friendly, read this blog.

Transpennine Trail, Woodlesford to Leeds City Centre, 10km

This great section of the trail takes you on a path between the canal and River Aire past Thwaite Mills. From here you can take a train back to the start. There is a bridge that has stairs up, so be prepared to carry your pram if you take it!

Route: Start at Woodlesford Lock and follow the marked path towards the city centre.

Parking: Free carpark at Woodlesford Lock.

Facilities: There are no services that you pass on route, so make sure you head to the loo before you leave! Otherwise it’s a fair way until you hit the Royal Armouries.

Accessibility: The path is mostly grit or tarmac but there are muddy stretches in the middle, so maybe avoid after rainy periods! There is one set of steep stairs, so if you do take a pram you might need two people or some big muscles!!

Alternative: You could park atThwaite Mills and join the path there to walk to and back from the city centre. This part of the path is very easy.

Starting the walk at Woodlesford lock gives you plenty to look at with the canal boats. When you get to the next lock (Fishpond Lock) you need to cross to the other side.

You’ll be on this side for a while, the path passes under the M1 and through the woodland that sits between the canal and river.

Next up comes the difficult part of the walk if you have a pram (if not- crack on!).

You need to cross back across the canal via this bridge. The steep steps on the top picture below need climbing. At the other side of the bridge the path is the picture in the bottom left, but on the other side of the road (bottom right picture) there are no steps so an easier option with a pram.

The path passes Thwaites Mills here, before once again crossing the canal and joining the new path of the route.

From here you start to see the residences surrounding the city centre, and you can see the improvements that are being made to the area. Stick to the side of the canal and you can’t go wrong!

The trains from the city centre to Woodlesford usually run every half hour, but check before you go!

Other walks from Woodlesford;

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.

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!

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.

The Gnome Roam, Newmillerdam, Wakefield

This has fast made it to one of my favourite ever family walks. We’ve walked round Newmillerdam a few times and on this sunny day the car park was full and lots of people were out enjoying the circuit round the lake. But once off the lakeside we only passed a couple of people and were able to soak in the fantastic woodland walk in peace.

Location: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/sport-and-leisure/parks-and-countryside/gnome-roam

Route: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Documents/sports-leisure/parks-countryside/gnome-roam-leaflet.pdf It starts in the car park and is well signposted all in way round in both directions.

Parking: Coin only pay and display

Facilities: Toilets at far side of lake. There’s a couple of pubs and cafes too, we went to Lakeside for a gorgeous Antipasti Platter.

Distance: 1.8 miles

Accessibility: Most of the route is surfaced and fairly flat, but it’s steep in places. There’s also a short grassy section. At the start avoid the steps by taking the track to the left and then cutting up to the right. I’d recommend either ditching the buggy OR taking the reverse route- there’s still a steep part but it’s much clearer and more manageable.

This is a lovely family walk, where you find the gnomes and complete the various activities as you go round. My favourite activity had magnifying glasses to look at some bugs, genius!

Whilst we’ve walked round the lake before we’ve never ventured up into the country park, and so I’m so pleased this takes you up there it’s gorgeous ❤️ The bear is in a particularly impressive area of woodland!

The route is well signposted throughout, so easy to do without a copy the downloadable route!

It was a superb walk, and we finished it by popping across to the other side of the lake to the Lakeside cafe where I had a fab antipasti platter!

Please give this gorgeous walk a go, I cannot wait to go back with Jess do it with her, let me know how you get on!

The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

These gardens are just GORGEOUS. On a sunny day, grab a picnic and head there to enjoy the stunning surroundings. Even better, if you picked up a copy of Gardner’s World back in May you can get in on the 2 for 1 offer.

On entering the ticketed area you see the superb cascading fountains. They are spectacular, and provide lots of entertainment watching people getting caught out and soaked! In front of the fountains are mini diggers that our three year old enjoyed using to collect water and dump it over my feet!

The grassy area soon filled up with picnic rugs and deck chairs as families set up for the day. There are some provided, but got snapped up quickly so I think you need to get in fast! The cafe does do really good food, but expect to pay high prices… no doubt partly the reason for the number of picnickers!

Before we arrived we downloaded the free app; A Giant Adventure. This was fantastic – you can see the giant asleep in the Lake outside, and then follow the trail inside. The app uses augmented reality and is really good fun. Jess LOVED it, although it completely baffled her 😂😂

Inside the garden we all loved the different fountains and water features, lots of fun. Lots of children were playing in them in the scorching weather, although there were signs around warning against this. A few surprise water spurts soaked some over eager parents… great laughs.

The gardens are perfect to explore and wander around. Covered walkways take you up the side of the cascade fountains to a gorgeous flower garden, brimming with colour!

There are further surprises dotted about the gardens that kept Jess engaged!

We didn’t enter the Poison Garden on this visit, but it does seem a firm favourite for many, with tours every 20 minutes.

At the gardens you can also play golf and go on a woodland walk.

Overall it’s a really good day out, particularly when you can take advantage of the weather. If you’re visiting the area its somewhere you should try to fit into your itinerary- particularly if it’s a sunny day! If you’re not staying in the area, its right next to Alnwick Castle so you could combine the two to make the most of a day trip.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

To a certain extent I consider this place my old stomping ground; back when I was a Leeds Uni student I switched electives in Law for Dance (the natural choice) and so regularly travelled to the Bretton Hall campus for classes. It still brings back happy memories when I see the old buildings 😍 We came here on an EXTREMELY wet Monday, Steve’s last day of his paternity leave. Jess may have been less than impressed with our rainy walk, but we were still impressed with the beautiful grounds and variety of sculptures.

Whilst there’s not your usual family attractions here (namely no play area), there are activities that children can engage in; the website is a good starting point. It has a number of resources that can be used.

The essentials

  • Location: https://ysp.org.uk/visit/getting-here
  • Parking: It’s pricey; over 2 hours is £12. BUT with no entrance fee it still means a relatively cheap family day out.
  • Facilities: Plenty of benches if you want packed lunches. A few cafes with good toilets and change facilities.
  • Accessibility: Mixed. There are definitely flat paths suitable for buggies, but not all of them are, so choose the route of your visit carefully. If it’s your first visit it might be worth checking at the visitor centre so you don’t get stuck. Parts of the grounds are also closed off for renovations which also doesn’t help.

This place is gorgeous, and is a great place to take children exploring! Here’s some pictures from our visit, we’ll have to head back in the sunshine when Jess is a bit happier to be outdoors!

There were some smiles!!

Jess was less than impressed with the rain!

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!

Adventure Valley, Durham

Don’t go expecting bells and whistles, this place is refreshingly all about good old-fashioned family fun!

We’re up in Newcastle introducing James to family, so thought we’d take advantage of the trip to squeeze in a visit to Adventure Valley. We’ve not been before, and after seeing mixed reviews on the internet weren’t quite sure what to expect but I’m pleased to say that we had a great day, with lots of fun and laughs!

I’m not sure what you can compare Adventure Valley to; it’s great mix of farm, play areas and soft play. As with any of these places, on a sunny day it would be fantastic- particularly for slightly older children where you could set up a picnic base and let them explore the masses of outdoor play areas.

We were impressed with the selection of animals, particularly in creature corner which housed the world’s fastest tortoise (who didn’t move) and a variety of reptiles. There are regular petting experiences- even on a week day (although no pony rides through the week). Goat mountain gave you the chance to pull food up to the goats by a train!

The play areas are fab. In the bottom field there are loads of things to explore; slides, forts, sandpits, pirate ships, zip wire… with lots of picnic tables dotted about.

The Dragon Slide was a hit…. the first time Jess went down. Second time she fell out on the way down, not quite so successful! Think maybe for a little older ones.

The Bouncing Pillows were fun, and there was a separate one for over 5s which reduced the worry of bigger children jumping all over Jess!

As well as petting activities through the day, there are tractor rides and at weekends goat racing.

Other things to enjoy;

  • The indoor soft play area (including an area for under 5s) next to the cafe, which we thought was reasonably priced. There’s also an Indoor Wild West Area.
  • Pedal Go karting track for older children and pedal tractors for those too little
  • The Runaway Races for over 4s- like a huge slide in inflatable rings

I’m sure there’s more- you can pay extra to do adventure golf too. In the summer it looks like a Maize Maze will be open.

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

We bought tickets the day before online; as it was a weekday we paid £7.95 each (under twos free in). Personally I thought this was well worth the money. I’m not sure we’d make the trip from Yorkshire specifically for a day out here, but would certainly come again if we’re up this way and looking for a fun day out.