Finding Boggarts at Longshaw (NT)

Another weekend, another National Trust Trail!!

Longshaw, in the Peaks is an absolutely fantastic place to head to for gorgeous walking trails and outdoor adventures for children.

The Boggarts trail is based on one of the main walking routes that can be seen on the property map. Whilst the main path itself is suitable for robust pushchairs (some parts can get muddy), be warned the activities and exploring areas are largely set off the path.

The trail starts at the main car park, where you can pick up a trail guide for just a pound from the welcome building. Alternatively, you can follow the orange marked walking route and look out for Boggart signs!

One of the first discoveries is the little Boggart hamlet of Boggart Rise! All the little dwellings have doors that you can open and try to catch sight of one!

Other favourite activities were balancing at Boggart View and exploring Boggart Burrow.

There’s also a great viewpoint over the valley (although its largely obscured by our selfie)!

The Boggart trail’s final activity is found just off the orange route, on the path leading towards Padley Gorge, with more little magic dwellings.

If you’ve got a buggy, you’ll need to return to the orange route, it’s 1.7 miles in total. If you take a picnic it’s great for little ones!

However, if you’re buggy free you have the luxury of heading down to picnic or snack at the truly beautiful Padley Gorge. On warm sunny days you’ll find loads of families enjoying this wonderful spot, and there’s often an ice cream van parked on the road that you cross.

Without a buggy, you have another option to return to the car park. You can extend your walk by picking up the pink route, this brings the total length of the walk to 4.5km.

The pink route follows the stream, and whilst there’s no Boggarts to find there’s lots of fun to be had throwing in sticks and grass playing Pooh sticks! This path can get extremely muddy here, you have been warned!!

After crossing a footbridge the path leads up through woodland back to the car park. If you have older children there are some good boulders to climb on the way back.

It’s a lovely family walk, but if you fancy something a little more challenging then you might enjoy the fantastic 3 mile circular route of Mam Tor!

Mam Tor Circular Walk

If you’re looking for a challenge that young children will find manageable, climbing Mam Tor (the Shivering Mountain) from a car park only 50m from the summit could be the ideal choice!

Distance: 3 miles

Accessibility: The Walk starts with lots of steps… some muddy slopes can make for tricky walking in wet weather.

Route: The National have provided this route guide; https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kinder-edale-and-the-dark-peak/trails/mam-tor-circular-walk

Parking: National Trust Mam Nick Car Park

The walk is easy to follow and the steepest climb starts from the car park, so it is over nice and early on!

The initial climb is on stone steps (can your little ones count how many?). There is a trig point at the top of Mam Tor, so it’s great for photos, with a beautiful 360 degree view. If you do this walk in finer weather you’ll likely see the masses of hand gliders taking flight from the top.

From here it’s a straight walk along the ridge to Hollins Cross, a cross roads in the dip of the ridge, and another great spot for 360 views. Be warned, it can get pretty windy along the ridge so if you’re walking in winter make sure you’ve got lots of layers! I think being so accessible there were many families who had come unprepared; it might be a family walk, but it is still a peak at over 500m so don’t get caught out!

The return walk passes under the Mam Tor peak, where the lovely views over Castletown continue. If it’s a colder day, you may prefer to choose this path for a picnic/ snack stop as it tends to be a little more sheltered than the ridge. Until you meet the road, and the path from the caverns back to the car park can get pretty muddy and slippy, so make sure you have appropriate footwear, especially in wetter weather. Whilst there is some uphill it’s not as steep as the start, and being on the way back to the start helps spur on reluctant walkers! If you need some ideas on how to encourage little ones to walk read this blog.

Back at the car park there’s often a catering van offering hot drinks, or you can drive down to Castleton with its excellent variety of pubs and cafes! We also like the Cheshire Cheese Inn in Hope, which does great food.

For future walks, or if you’re after a more challenging walk, the 61/2 mile circular from Castleton is a great one, taking in much more of the ridge and the glorious views!!

Five Reasons that I love Cragside (National Trust)

Or reasons to make a visit to Cragside in 2020 a priority.

Cragside is, in my humble opinion, the greatest National Trust property in the country. And I’ve been to loads of them. Let me explain why.

1. The Family Friendly Walking Trails

Our favourite family walk here is Nelly’s Moss Lakes Walk, which is just 1.5 miles long. It’s flat and is just perfect for picnics, with loads of benches on the way round! It’s a circular walk that starts at the playground, so a great bribe for little ones. Keep your eyes peeled as you walk, red squirrels can be found in this area. If you need to take a buggy or chair, there’s an accessible version of the route.

The 2 mile Armstrong Trail is another family friendly route, which takes in the main sights of this side of the estate and is a good choice if you don’t want to do the drive (even though you should, you definitely should).Other walks at Cragside can be found here.

2. Driving your car is amazing

Yep, you read that right! Who knew I’d be encouraging you to drive!! The 6 mile drive around the estate starts by going through the impressive arches of the house, and then shows you the best that Cragside has to offer. If you park at the Crozier car park to try the playground, you’ll end up doing this route on the one way drive.

3. Family fun a-plenty!

As well as a good sized play area, there are a number of fun activities under the 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4. My favourite activity is the barefoot trail (again, up by the playground), definitely fun for the whole family!

If you’re a fan of mazes, Cragside has one with a difference; Labyrinth is a network of paths and tunnels in a rhododendron forest!

4. The House and Gardens are spectacular

National Trust homes tend to be rather beautiful… but this is really something else. It’s position on a crag makes the house look breathtaking, and inside each room is a pleasure to see.

The gardens, that in many places we pass over in favour of parkland or the wider estate, are a true highlight here. The stream that runs from Tumbleton Lake through the gardens provide’s interest from the Achimedes Screw and Pump House (Cragside was the first home in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity), a picturesque setting for the Iron Bridge, and a pretty accompaniment to a walk through woodland in the garden. Absolutely gorgeous.

5. Enjoy the views from outside the tea rooms

Obviously, even if you take a picnic you’ll want to need to stop for a piece of cake. There’s not many tea rooms that will have better outdoor seating, either in the courtyard with the crags towering above,or take out your treats to the picnic benches overlooking the lake.

And there’s so much more!

This lists my favourite things… but there’s tons more to do, you really can spend hours here exploring. If it’s your first visit you might want to start at the visitor centre to help you plan.Our most common itinerary is to start at the Crozier carpark for the play ground and walk around the Lakes, before driving the rest of the estate drive back to the main carpark to explore the house and gardens.I really, really hope you get a chance to visit here because it’s just awesome!!!

**Other NT properties that we enjoy in the North East are;

Wentworth Castle Gardens (NT)

This has been popping up on my news feed since it re-opened and I’ve been dying to see it! Absolutely did not disappoint. There really is a bit of everything; beautiful gardens, fantastic views, a sun monument, a castle to explore, and of course all the great facilities that you’d usually expect from a National Trust property.

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wentworth-castle-gardens

Facilities: Everything you’d expect! Toilets, cafe and play area. Lots of benches dotted about.

Pushchairs: The gardens are fine for a pushchair, although I’d imagine parts would get muddy on wet days. The whole property is on a hill, so it might be difficult for scooters etc for little ones.

Dogs: Are definitely welcome!

Technically, this is our second visit. The first was a bit of a disaster….We decided to take Jess’s new bike which she decided she didn’t want after about two minutes. They’re pretttttty heavy now she’s bigger! So Steve started carrying it. James started having a meltdown. The heavens opened. We all got soaked. Jess fell over cutting both knees and screaming until she was having a meltdown too…. and we abandoned the day in favour of a (well needed) drink at the amazing Strafford Arms down the road.

This time round the sun was beaming down on us when we arrived which is always a good omen. First stop was obviously the play area; not only because Jess LOVES them, but because it’s the first thing you come to! Being a Monday it was nice and quiet so Jess had the place to herself. Absolutely fantastic space, with a toddler area as well as a fort and zip wire! There are a couple of picnic benches there too if you want to set up for a while.

With the weather so perfect, we skipped the cafe in favour of a picnic. I mean why wouldn’t you with these fabulous views!

We were told at the entrance the walk to the castle would be half an hour to 45 minutes, and I was a little worried because Jess was sooooo impatient to see it (are we nearly there yet? IS an actual thing). She kept telling me she was the Queen and wanted to see her home. But I need not have worried, there’s absolutely LOADS to see on the walk up. Firstly passing the temple (with a big hill to roll down- after the downpours over the last few days we skipped this), and then up to the gardens.

The Victorian flower garden is gorgeous and FULL of colour, and there are two sets of stairs to (almost- not sure what to call them) viewing platforms that give more great views.

I’d seen a sign for the sun monument, and naively thought it would be some sort of glorified sundial but nope… that really is a proper monument there!!!

And then the castle itself. Simply glorious. Now I’m not really a person with a problem with heights; skydiving, bungee jumping, climbing peaks, never been a problem. But I HONESTLY NEARLY CRIED with Jess when we climbed the spiral steps to the top of the tower. Having James strapped to my front probably didn’t help, but I nearly stopped circulation on her arm as we walked backdown I was squeezing so tight!! But Jess had lots of fun, and I enjoyed it more with her running around (at ground level!!!!) and exploring the other remains.

On the walk back we saw more of the gardens, they’re honestly beautiful and THE TREES!!! Oooooooh!! I do think the weather helped but it’s just gorgeous.

Jess was getting tired and James was getting cranky (he had his third set of jabs earlier which might have explained it) so after another turn on the play area we decided to head home.

I’m looking forward to returning and trying the walk around the Parkland, I imagine there are even more spectacular views!!

If you do make it over there, let me know how you get on… I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Rachel xxxx

Brimham Rocks, Summerbridge (NT)

This is probably one of the most iconic places to visit in Yorkshire. It’s the dream playground for adventurous kids, and, let’s face it, us adults too! If you haven’t been (errrrrr why not?!), in a nutshell this National Trust site is a collection of rocks which are millions of years old, sculpted into weird and wonderful shapes… with fantastic views over this amazing county. Pictures (especially mine!!) simply do not do it justice.

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brimham-rocks

Parking: Pay and display car park, free for NT members. Entry to the site itself is free.

Pushchairs: Whilst you can take pushchairs on the main paths, the main appeal of this place is to explore. I’d recommend a carrier for non-walkers.

Facilities: a ten minute walk from the car park is the visitor centre, toilets and refreshments. There’s an indoor area for picnics in bad weather, and lots of picnic benches outside, but no proper cafe.

We visited Brimham after doing a short walk in the area, and I was a little unsure on how much there would be for Jess (3) to do… memories pre-children consisted of heady heights and steep drops, but there really is something for everyone; and you can do as little or as much as you like.

Nothing here seems off limits, literally anything goes so you can scramble and explore to your hearts content. In this world of health and safety it’s massively refreshing to be able to test your boundaries, although we had to keep a close eye on Jess and there is always the scope for idiot behaviour (the horrendously sad episode of last year case and point).

There are plenty of photo opportunities, and for even more entertainment watch the hoards of selfie takers with their multiple pictures of various expressions in EXACTLY the same pose. I realise this might be an ironic observation, given the fact I’ve included a number of pictures in this blog but HONESTLY….

A previous visit with friends!

The views are spectacular, and at the visitor centre there’s a great picture that not only shows you the names of various rock formations, but also points out key locations on the distance such as York Minster!

To make sure you see everything check out the property map, but you may be like us and just go where your feet take you!

We love a good trig point!! The one at this site is just behind the visitor centre.

Whilst we let Jess pretty much dictate our visit by pointing to which rocks she wanted to climb (and us saying no to 90%!), the National Trust website suggests some good ideas for a more structured visit;

  • A Spot the Rocks trail, taking you on a guided walk of the key formations
  • Picking up an explorer backpack from the visitor centre which teaches children about wildlife and geology on the site
  • Geocaching; there is a series of seven easy to find which are perfect for children.
  • Child friendly events– look at the What’s On page to discover Storytelling and Nature Explorer dates.

So to summarise; if you haven’t been, or it’s been a while, make it a priority. I definitely had left it too long (although not sure if my heart could take Jess climbing at a younger age). It’s much better in dry weather when the rocks aren’t slippy and you can enjoy your lunch taking in the views. If you’re planning a full day there perhaps check out one of the activities they have for children. Enjoy!!

Nostell Parkland Walk, 2.5 miles

We’ve been to Nostell lots of times, but have stuck to the gardens and house on our explorations. Today I thought a visit to the parkland was much overdue. I’m so pleased I tried it, it was so beautiful there and a great place if you only have an hour to spare!

Parking: Plenty in the NT carpark, free to members or £7 all day.

Facilities: Cafe and toilets at the house (do not need to pay to access). Within the gardens is a good play area, free entry to NT members.

Route: Available on property map https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/documents/maps/1431729758418-nostell.pdf

Pushchairs: Technically it’s not classed as buggy friendly but I’d be confident with a robust buggy on a dry day, some of the paths are grassy. Not suitable for scooters, small bikes etc.

Dogs: There were plenty of dog walkers about, but you might want to detour in places where cows are grazing.

The route takes you past the lake and through fields up to Obelisk lodge.

The route back includes a path through grazing land where you got close and personal with the livestock!

It’s a great little walk and I’ll definitely be back with my little one!

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

A family walk to explore the riverside at Hardcastle Crags

This walk is perfect for little legs who enjoy exploring woodland, climbing and balancing! Jess loved it (despite a mishap in the stream!) and it’s perfectly placed for a stop in Hebden Bridge for a cheeky cake stop!

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardcastle-crags

Distance: It’s a mile to the Mill from the car park on the Estate path, but in total my tracker recorded 4.5km.

Route: The Tree Trail on this map https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/documents/maps/1431729757435-hardcastle-crags.pdf, although we continued along the river path a little longer than suggested on here. We didn’t visit the crags themselves on this trip, but they’re about ten minutes further on past the mill if you fancy it.

Access: Only the main Estate path is suitable for buggies, so don’t try it if you follow this route.

Facilities: Cafe at the mill, also toilets (they’re not great though). Benches are dotted along the path and there’s a picnic area near the mill. There’s no play area but if you stop off in Hebden Bridge after the walk there’s a decent sized one near the canal. Shame there’s nothing at the main car park.

Parking: We parked at Midgehole car park, when we arrived we found a space no problem, but by the time we left it was pretty busy with some tight turns after dubious parking. There’s a smaller car park (Clough Hole) closer to the mill, but it looks a steep path down.

We set off along the estate path before cutting down towards the river when we saw a track. Along the path there was loads to keep Jess entertained, although perhaps most of her fun came from finding big sticks to hit together and make lots of noise! The tree trail has signs in front of a variety of trees for you to learn as you go. We collected different leaves to see if we could tell what they were.

There’s a great spot to cross the river on stepping stones, nice big ones that meant I could go across with Jess holding her hand as I went. So we went backwards and forwards no problem.

Unfortunately the paddling in the water after proved a problem. Cries of ‘not too deep Jess’ were to no avail as Jess went a step too far for her ankle wellies and promptly ended up sitting in the water. Thankfully the sun was out today, so despite her looking like she’d wet herself, and having totally sodden feet, she was quite happy continuing along the path herself (that’s not to say there wasn’t tears when she first came out!!). I suppose that just shows how engaged she was in her surroundings!!!

At the mill there’s a nice but busy cafe, we skipped this to take advantage of the spring sunshine at the picnic area. It overlooks more stepping stones and you can see the path at the other side, so definitely a good people watching spot.

Jess is barefoot on this picture as we unsuccessfully tried to dry out her wellies and socks! Rather than making her put back on cold wet things we returned to the car park by the estate path, with Jess on her daddy’s shoulders and some fleecy mittens on her feet to keep them warm. 🤣 It’s a pleasant enough path, just not quite as fun as the river path.

To finish our trip out we stopped off at Hebden Bridge for a cuppa and cake on the canal and a little play in the park (decent size but super busy). It’s a lovely place to spend a few hours, next time I’d probably try going on a less busy day to find a bit more peace!

Rachel xxx

Fountains Abbey, nr Ripon

On Monday I met up with NCT Helen (I love a good phone save name :-)) and her gorgeous son to use our beloved National Trust cards at Fountains Abbey. Now the last time I came here Jess couldn’t walk, and we did the standard route plus a stop off in the cafe in less than two hours. So on Monday I had totally expected to be home just after lunch. But pram pace is clearly not two-toddlers pace, and we were practically fighting rush hour by the time we left!

That’s not a bad thing- I just forgot how interesting everything is in the eyes of a three year old, and that exploration is a big time-eater!! I also couldn’t remember there being a play area (I suppose not needing it on our last visit it just went unnoticed), but the one here is awesome.

It’s the type of adventure playground that can keep Jess entertained for hours- usually I’m pulling my hair out after 5 minutes but there was SO much to do that it was a delight to see her play. Parking at the visitor centre (rather than Studley Royal) meant that we could visit at the start and end of our day (always useful for a good bribe).

The Abbey itself is truly amazing- it’s just fantastic to be able to walk around and enjoy the site. Lots of opportunities for hide and seek too! You’re free to wander around which is massively refreshing for a historic world heritage site like this.

We decided to head for lunch at the Studley Royal tea rooms and back again. From the Abbey to the tea rooms it’s a mile in distance, walking along the side of the stream and past the beautiful Water gardens.

We did a bit of a scavenger hunt on the way there and back with mixed success (!!) plenty of twigs and seeds to find though if you fancy choosing some shapes little ones need to find. There are pheasants galore too- good luck if you want to try counting them!!

The paths wind between woodland giving even more hiding and exploring opportunities! There are also lots of pretty benches for snack stops. The paths are good- so perfect if you’re taking a buggy round like me!

I’m so so pleased that we’ve returned to this fantastic place, and certainly won’t be leaving it so long to our next visit. It was great for Jess to visit with a friend, so it was great that we had company. No doubt we’ll be keeping an eye on events too (the Easter Treasure Hunt sounds a winner). If you make it there, or have been before I’d love to know what you thought!

Rachel xxx

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