A long weekend in Anglesey

A couple of weeks ago we visited the beautiful Welsh Island of Anglesey for a long weekend. I think it was a little smaller than I had realised, so you can travel around easily and we got more done than I anticipated. The weather was superb, which obviously helped with our enjoyment! The only negative? Jess couldn’t understand why we didn’t see any whales haha. Here are our highlights!

1. Newborough Forest (with stunning beach)

We visited here a few times because it was SO gorgeous! There are lots of amazing forest trails for walks and bikes, including an activity trail for small children. The sandy beach is beautiful and we spent a full day collecting shells and making sandcastles.

2. Beaumaris Castle

One of the best castles I’ve ever visited! It’s a fantastic location, very picturesque. There’s lots to explore, although my heart did skip a little seeing Jess so high up. There is a little activity trail for children and an app to download and play (although we couldn’t seem to find anything).

Beaumaris itself is a lovely town too to explore, and if crabbing is your thing, there’s lots going on off the pier.

3. Plas Newydd House & Gardens

The House is huge and great to look around; there are fab views over Snowdonia and inside Whistler’s mural is a highlight (although Jess didn’t stay entertained too long).

Outside gives you the opportunity to spot red squirrels… Jess saw one first (well she thought it was a fox but I’ll still let her have it). As expected of National Trust properties, there is a large woodland adventure playground.

4. Red Dwarf Bay

We visited two places I’d recommend here; The Ship with a beer garden right on the shoreline (pictured), and the Tavern, which has beautiful views over the bay.

Overall, a gorgeous weekend- severely lacking in photos as we spent so much time on the beach!

A trip to Wallington Hall, Northumberland

A weekend at my parents gives us the perfect opportunity to visit some of the fab National Trust properties in the North East. The gorgeous sunshine drove us outdoors today, so we revisited one of our favourites; Wallington Hall.

This must be one of the most child-friendly NT properties around with three great play areas on the estate; an adventure playground, a fort and a Train stop.

There’s loads of things of interest as you wander round the extensive gardens… including a fairy tree!

Today we headed down to the walled garden, just 10 minutes from the house so perfect for little legs and a great place to play hide and seek as you go!

There are some lovely views of the lakes as you walk, and you can even spot some ducks to feed.

There’s a small cafe in the far corner of the garden for a little cuppa and cake before you head back.

The house itself has lots of different things to see, it’s one of those places that I fondly remember from my own childhood.

There are also some lovely walks that you can do here- see the NT webpage for more details.

The River Walk is just two miles, so a nice choice for families, I’d maybe go clockwise (towards the walled garden first) which means you don’t need to pass the play areas until the end of the walk (and so can use them as a bribe if needed!)

Being a National Trust property means that there’s the usual high standard of facilities including food services, but if you did want to take a picnic there are plenty of pretty benches dotted about the estate.

We haven’t tried cycling, but there is a place to hire bikes if you fancy it too.

It’s a really great place to visit, and you could easily spend the day here. It’s over a two hour drive from or home in Leeds, so I probably would save a visit until I was in the area, but definitely give it a try if you can!

Rachel xxx

Grizedale, nr Hawkshead, Lake District

I’ve always loved the Lakes. When I was growing up, my parents had a static in Keswick, and for three consecutive summers post-uni, I worked in children’s summer camps, including one at Hawkshead. In my previous career as a teacher, I relished the outdoor trips there and since I first met my husband we go as often as we can. It’s safe to say the Lakes hold a special place in my heart, and the walking that I have enjoyed there has not been beaten anywhere in the world.

But for the last three years the choice of walks has been difficult, and much more planning is needed to make sure the walks are child friendly. To be honest I think we didn’t realise how lucky we were on our first family trip away when Jess was just 6 weeks old. In a carrier she was no heavier than a normal rucksack, and we didn’t appreciate that the walking we did in Langdale would be the last of its kind for a good few years!

But today we visited Grizedale. Walking map below;

https://www.forestryengland.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Walking%20interior%20%28A3%29%20VIS.pdf

We’ve been here a few times in our previous life (before Jess) for the superb bike riding, but today was the first time we went just for the trails. We were soooo impressed with the whole set up for children. If you’re looking for somewhere that’s easy to get your bambinos excited about the outdoors there can’t be many places that match this place.

One thing that I will say is that other than the short blue route, and the shortest of the yellow routes, it isn’t particularly buggy friendly. Not that that’s a particular problem if you’re not planning on walking far.

We naively set off on the 2.5mile yellow route with Jess on her balance bike. Naively because it soon became apparent that the path was exactly what it claimed, a walking path and totally unsuitable for toddler attempts at biking. She ended up on hubby’s shoulders for much of the first half, but was eager to get down wherever possible. It was a lovely short circular walk with plenty to see, and finished at the visitor centre, complete with one of the best play areas we’ve tried.

The best thing is the access to all parts of the play area- if you did have a buggy you’d be able to watch your children from the top of the slides- something pretty rare!

There’s also a GoApe centre there (banked that knowledge for future years) and a comfortable cafe.

Once Jess had worn herself out we were able to get her up in the carrier and try out one of the other trails, but with my pregnant belly & achy back stopping me going too far, we stuck to a shorter route (Bogle Crag). Still, another great route through this amazing forest.

If you can make it further than us there are some fantastic viewpoints, so make sure to have a look on what’s on offer!

We finished off our trip with a snack stop up at the picnic area at Moor Top, with the winter sun shining through the trees I couldn’t ask for a more picturesque place to end our visit ❤️❤️❤️

Gibside (National Trust, Newcastle), A Day Out

Whenever we’re in Newcastle – which is pretty often as my parents still live there- we take the opportunity to visit some of the National Trust sites. Gibside is a favourite of ours, particularly at key events such as Easter when there’s a really good hunt to follow!

Today was another visit, a fairly mild winter’s day meant that we could enjoy some of the paths (there’s plenty of exploring to do), as well as spend some time in the pretty extensive (but usually busy) playground. The hall itself is in ruins- so this is definitely one for families who like the outdoors. There’s a great Nature room that teaches children about all the wildlife they can find around the estate, as well as a room to eat those packed lunches on rainy days. You can pick up worksheets for bird spotting too!

The main paths to the key locations in the estate are buggy friendly, and if your little ones don’t walk much yet they will be needed as there’s quite a lot of ground to cover- but most of the walking routes are unsuitable for wheels!

If you’re in the area and are National Trust members I’d definitely give it a try- perhaps a little too far for a stand-alone visit, and if you’re paying for your trip I’d wait until there’s something on. Having said that, if your children are a little older and enjoy walking there’s plenty to do, so no need to wait!

Rachel xx