10 ways to entertain kids on walks

We’re doing our best to get Jess used to walking. When she was little she joined us in a carrier, first on the front then on the back. And now she’s getting really good at walking longer distances, but at the end of the day she’s only three, and so whilst we might be entertained by the scenery alone, she needs a little more to keep her going. Here are 10 things that we do on our walks to keep her entertained.

1. Pack a picnic

Jess LOVES eating outdoors, so stopping for a ‘snic-snic’ is a key part of our walk. She helps us choose where to eat and before she goes she helps make up the bag. Even on short walks we stop for a snack… she loves finding places with a pretty view for us. Make sure to pop a waterproof rug in your bag in case there’s no benches.

2. Spotting and word games

The easiest game is good-old I-Spy. Jess isn’t great at letters yet, so we do colours with her. I’ve seen loads of games and spotting sheets for when she gets a little older, such as spotting different tree types, birds, insects. In a field of sheep, how many can you see? How many trees on a path? Get creative.

I still remember I-Spy books from my childhood, there are loads to choose from and they’re pretty cheap! This one, for the countryside could be a great one for walks.

πŸ‘‰i-SPY In the countryside: What can you spot? (Collins Michelin i-SPY Guides)

If they’re a little older word games could work well, you could play ‘Who am I?’, related word games, games beginning with a letter of the alphabet (can you find something that you can see on your walk for each letter of the alphabet), or memory games (I went on a walk to XXX and I took with me…….). The possibilities are endless!

3. Games-on-the-Go

When Jess inevitably starts saying that she’s tired, we keep her going with races to fixed points ahead. These don’t just have to be running races, they can be skipping, jumping and hopping.

Follow the Leader is super easy, just create actions for little legs to copy (singing I’m following the leader if you feel like it).

Playing hide and seek is another winner, with her running ahead to hide behind a big tree or rock.

And then there’s the good old reliable peg game, try and peg it on each other without the, noticing (or in our case pretending not to notice πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚).

4. Finding nature’s treasures

Sometimes when I’m super-organised I make a little scavenger hunt sheet up in advance with little pictures of what Jess has to find or see. It works well on walks that you’ve been on before so you know what might be likely. If you’re feeling time-rich you could even create bingo cards for all the family that you can re-use.

You can also buy a treasure hunt game like this one, which can fit in a pocket and can provide hours of entertainment!

πŸ‘‰gofindit – outdoor nature treasure hunt card game for families

If I want to keep it simple, I pass her a little bag and she has to collect treasures. She’s only allowed ten, so has to decide which ones she wants to keep. Woodland walks are great for this, often she’ll just collect pine cones and choose which ones she likes, the last one she found a baby pine cone, a Mummy one, a grandad one… you get the picture!

You could also set a challenge of collecting different types of things, perhaps different colours, or make it more educational and collect different types of seeds. Collecting sticks is also a favourite game, which she can then use as drumsticks on various things that we pass!

If you’re feeling creative, you could use the things you find to create some wild art too.

If you’re short of time, wait until you get home for some nature creations, your outing could keep them entertained all day!

5. Singing

Jess is at the age where she loves to sing, particularly nursery rhymes, which works for me as that’s about the limit of my singing ability. From my days working in summer camps I feel I’ve got a good selection of songs for when she’s older too (no doubt the type you might sing at Guide/Scout camps), but there’s also the option to play favourite songs from your phone. Anyone who’s been to a kids disco in Europe over the past few years might remember the classic ‘chu chu wa’ which also keeps her going!

6. Jumps and balancing

A one for the little ones really! Balancing on logs and roots and doing jumps off rocks and stones is always fun. She loves jumping over anything; small puddles, twigs, lines on paved paths!

Wet weather is perfect for puddle jumping, and as long as Jess is wrapped up warm we’re happy for her to splash away. Her puddle suit from Mountain Warehouse is fleece lined so keeps her nice and cosy in Autumn (link below if you fancy something similar).

πŸ‘‰Mountain Warehouse Spright Printed Rain Suit – Breathable Autumn Suit, Waterproof Coat, Quick Dry, Taped Seams Kids Raincoat, Fleece Lined, High Viz – for Travelling Pink 18-24 Months

7. What’s that shape?

Shapes and pictures can be seen everywhere you look! Look at the clouds, puddles, bark on the trees, patches of mud, piles of leaves!

8. Stone throwing

Stones, acorns, pine cones or conkers, we see who can throw them the furthest (obviously in a safe space!!). Sometimes we go a bit crazy (ahem) and do kicking instead! If you’re headed on a path with a stream or river you could play Pooh sticks, or find things that you think could float (which lasts the longest?).

9. Storytelling

Adventures are EVERYWHERE when you go on a walk, and you can let your imagination run wild. In the woods can we see the three bears? What about the fairies? If we can’t why not? What are they doing, where must they be? Near a river we hunt for crocodiles, over a bridge Jess checks that there are no trolls underneath. Have some trees been pushed over? Maybe it’s bears in the woods… we’d better try and hide!

Some family walks have trails and activities as you walk, so we make the most of them and add stuff as we go along.

10. Tree hugging

Jess randomly started doing this herself one day at Golden Acre Park, we try to find trees that she can reach round herself, and then bigger ones we try it if we hold hands.

Other ideas

So there are our top 10 things, but there are loads of other things you could try, how about taking paper and crayons for interesting rubbings? Or if they’re a little older stopping to draw a picture of something interesting they can see?

Weather can also help with entertainment, rain provides puddle jumping, sun provides shadow tag, and if you’re lucky, snow creates snowballs!!

What else do you do on walks to keep little ones entertained?

*I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Beach holidays with a baby and pre-schooler

How we make holidays to Sunny Spain work!

A bit of an unusual (and rather long) blog post for me, but after walking, I suppose my next favourite hobby is holidays! I just love being in the sun, eating all that fabulous food, relaxing by the pool, and at three, Jess is currently on her 10th beach holiday (all mainland Spain or the canaries). ‘Holiday chat’ is the sort of thing that comes up when talking to other mums, so I thought I’d share some of our top tips for enjoying holidays! Obviously every child is different, and so is every family, so what works for us won’t necessarily work for you, but here it is anyway in the hope it’s of some use to someone .

Accommodation

We’ve stayed in a variety of places abroad with our little ones, from hotels and apartments, to villas. I think in reality this will come down to where you can afford, but I’d try to get as much space as you can. One room in a hotel is definitely do-able, but you’ll find yourself overflowing with ‘stuff’, and after bedtime it restricts where you can sit and enjoy a drink in peace (hope for a good balcony). We’d rather pay for a bigger room in more basic accommodation rather than be cramped somewhere swish. Again, that might be preference. On this most recent holiday we got a two bedroom apartment, so Jess had her own room, we could put James in the travel cot in our room and enjoy using the kitchen and dining room, and living area to make drinks! If you’ve got a really little one try to stay somewhere with kitchen facilities so you’ve got a proper fridge and sink.

Another recommendation if you’ve got a walker is staying somewhere with a splash park. Chances are you’ll be enjoying your holidays outside of school holiday time whilst you can, so we’ve always found these places relatively quiet when we go. The splash park of where we’ve regularly visited is really shallow and separate to the pools, so you can watch your children play in the fountains from the safety of your sunbed. In other places it’s deeper, it still keeps them entertained more than a pool would but you need to stay next to them.

Baby and child equipment

Firstly, don’t stress about this. I suspect you’re not planning on visiting a third world country. So most places will have most of what you need. Travel cots will be available from pretty much everywhere that you would want to stay. Hotels will have high chairs in their restaurants (as will restaurants when you eat out), and the villas we’ve stayed in have often had highchairs, toys and even stair gates. So whatever you think you might need, make sure that you ask before you go. Our apartments even have a stash of pushchairs that people have left behind.

If you don’t mind spending the money, we also regularly rent equipment. The places we’ve stayed in Spain have always had pretty hairy stairs so we’ve rented stair gates for our stay. When Jess was first out of a travel cot we rented a bed guard. This time round we hired a bouncer for James so we had somewhere to put him down in the apartment, as well as hiring a double buggy (we didn’t think we could fit cases, us and a buggy in the hire car!). Just google baby equipment hire and the name of your resort. We’ve found these companies are often run by expats and it’s quite an informal system, but we’ve never had any problems.

Nappies. Available in all supermarkets, but we’ve found are pretty pricey abroad so have tended to take a big pack with us, then we can just top up if needed when we’re out there.

When Jess was a baby we never took her baby bjorn away with us, and just used a pushchair. But this time we took it and it was SUCH a help. Firstly, we’ve always taken the pushchair around the airport and left it until the last minute to hand over. But actually it’s a lot easier without it. AND it means you have the carrier if you have any wait in customs before you get your pushchair back. Babies get heavy really quickly. It’s also come in handy on market day when you need to push your way through crowds!

Food and Drink

If you’re breastfeeding, brilliant! Super easy for you! Just be mindful that maxi dresses (my go to wardrobe on holiday) are not breastfeeding friendly so you might need alternatives. I’ve fed without any cover all over and no ones ever said anything.

If you’re still on formula the easiest thing to do (although not the most environmentally friendly) is to use the ready made bottles. These are not widely available in the rest of Europe, but you can order them in advance from Boots or Superdrug in the departure lounge before you go. Just make sure you’ve thought about how you’ll carry them on along with children and hand luggage. But we’ve ordered 30 bottles a time and a tub of formula for longer holidays!

If you’re happy on powder make sure you know how much you’ll need. You’ll probably need to buy bottled water to make up the formula which have a low sodium and sulphate content, but otherwise it’s the same as doing it in the UK. Whilst you can buy powdered formula abroad, the brands are different,so it depends how fussy your child is. That said, some brands are just operating under different names so might be worth doing a little research. Sterilising tablets are probably the easiest thing to use to sterilise bottles abroad, but be aware in some hotel rooms the sinks are quite shallow so you might find yourself out buying a mop bucket at 6am on the first morning (yes, that is the voice of experience there).

If your child is older than a year and on cow’s milk, this is readily available from supermarkets, either fresh or long life. If you’re in a hotel we’ve got it when down at breakfast, and in the evenings just asked a bar to fill her sippy cup.

Top tip; In Spain we’ve found most children’s menus offer pop or pure fruit juice to drink. Fruit shoots aren’t really a thing, so unless you’re happy giving your pre-schooler coke with every meal you’ll be ordering lots of still water. We fill up a small bottle with squash from the supermarket and just top it up (she’s not a massive fan of too much water).

Eating out? Expect to have a lot of children’s meals consisting of pizza, pasta and chips. I’d just say chill, it’s their holiday too. A quick trip to the supermarket can stock you up on fruit to make you feel better. We’ve found that pouches of fruits and yogurts are widely available in Spain and the Canaries. And if you’re self-catering you can usually find something healthy to make yourselves!

Right, prepare for what I imagine is a controversial comment. Often we eat our evening meals separately. Early evening we’ll go out with Jess, give her a kids meal and enjoy a drink. Then later we’ll either do a takeaway with her in bed, or choose a nicer restaurant where she just has a drink or snack. Obviously this only works if you’re self-catered. Whilst we’re eating we have tried to get James asleep and give Jess the iPad to keep her entertained (I know this isn’t for everyone- my thoughts on this are covered in this blog post earlier this year). It’s an altogether less painful experience- which is the point of holidays, right?!

Packing

If you’ve gone for a package holiday or scheduled flights you’ll probably have loads of luggage allowance, lucky you. Just don’t get too over excited, you’ll still need to move it, and a pushchair, car seat, hand luggage and children!

In the age of budget airlines this is our strategy. We have one big case. In there goes nappies, toiletries and kids clothes. We have a cabin bag each for our clothes and we pack light.

Hand luggage; one of us carries our personal possessions such as electronics, books and snacks. Another bag is the change bag. Jess’s bag (at three she now also pulls this herself) is for her toys, which means she gets them for the flight. I usually buy her something new for the flight too- a new book, stickers or magazine for example. And I download A LOT of episodes of Peppa and Blippi on the iPad.

If you’re considering a Trunki, make sure you’ve got spare arms to carry it if (when) they get bored of it.

Planning days out

Urgh. I hate the word planning on holidays! At home we don’t really do routines. But on holiday we absolutely do, we find it massively helps us get some much needed adult time!

Firstly, naps. An early afternoon nap is really important to us. Up until last year Jess was used to naps and would nap anywhere, so after she’d had her lunch we would strap her in the pushchair and she’d fall asleep whilst we walked to a nice restaurant and enjoyed a child free meal. Now, she doesn’t really do naps at home, but on holiday we let her stay up later if she goes for a nap. We put her down in the room whilst we sunbathe on the balcony with a glass of wine. I guess you take what you can get!

Bedtimes. When Jess was younger we used to get her pjs on normal time, give her milk in the pushchair and then have an evening out with her asleep next to us. Again, now she’s older this has changed. We go out earlier with her and, if we’re not in a villa etc, are back in time for the kids disco. We put her to bed after this then sit out with a takeaway if we’ve not eaten and a drink. Back to the earlier point about making sure you’ve got the right accommodation.

Contingencies. One of the problems with beach holidays is that if it’s not sunny the resort comes to a standstill. Sure, if it’s still warm you can still play on the beach, but if it’s rainy you can’t just go and get drunk like we did pre-children πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Make sure you do your research before you go and have a few places to visit in your back pocket if the weather turns. Animal parks and city visits have always worked well for us.

So there you have it. A pretty good description of how we’ve made our holidays work for us. We love them and have our next ones booked already πŸ‘πŸ‘ Any other advice and good ideas? Please share them! I’ll add them onto the bottom of this blog (obviously will credit them to you!)

Rachel xxx

Ponderosa, Heckmondwike

This was one of the best surprises I’ve had in a long time. For a small zoo, there is loads to keep you entertained, and it’s got great facilities. It’s been miserable weather today and I almost caved to Jess’s pleas of soft play this morning, but I held strong and it was the best decision ever… even better there was a soft play there which we had to ourselves so Jess got her wish too!!

Website: http://ponderosa-centre.co.uk

Facilities: Excellent; lots of toilets and hand wash stations. Play areas indoor and out. Coffee shop and restaurant. Even a welly wash.

Pushchairs: Excellent for access, all entrances are level. So perfect for pushchairs. We only came across one set of steps all day, with ramp alternative!

The animals

It’s a small zoo, but it’s got great variety.

Indoors there’s a reptile house and small mammals. On a weekday there were two encounters. Despite Jess being happy in the past to stroke snakes, spiders, you name it, today she had the fear of stroking a tortoise shell πŸ˜‚. So no pictures, sorry. Interesting fact- they can feel the touch on their shell!! Mind. Blown.

Outdoors we struggled to spot some of the animals, I think the wet weather was forcing them inside, but those that we did were interesting and well kept. Jess liked seeing the ‘kitty’ aka the serval, and couldn’t understand why she couldn’t stroke it!

The Play Areas

On a dry day I think there would be enough here to keep you entertained for a full day. There are two fab play areas as well as a giant ‘beach’ that would be perfect for picnics. The play barn is an indoor soft play area, which I thought was great,but signs are up saying it’ll be closed from November so I’m excited to see what it’ll have in its place!

Food and Drink

There are picnic benches around all the outdoor play areas, as well as a covered area near the outdoor handling area, so plenty of space for you to bring your own. There is also a coffee shop on site (offering disposable cups for you so I could take my drink into the play barn) which sells a great variety of ice creams. The Lakeside restaurant is happily situated, see pics below, and although we didn’t go in looked to have a decent menu.

I think one of the best things about this place is that despite it being a really quiet day, everything was open and available. It’s one of my biggest frustrations when you head somewhere and half the facilities are closed off.

So try it, I’d really recommend a visit. I can’t wait to see what’s coming to replace the play barn and I’m looking forward to returning on a drier day to take full advantage of the play areas!

Sundown Adventureland, Retford

We had THE BEST day at this amazing theme park for the under 10s! We’d been last year, and had a great day but left feeling the park was a little tired in places and needed some tlc. Since then there’s been some updates and improvements.

Given it was a sunny Sunday in July, it was great the park was busy but queues remained small and fast moving.

The park consists of a number of areas with themed rides and play areas. There are also small towns, with lots to explore and buttons to press! With a couple of indoor soft play areas there is lots to do in all weather πŸ‘πŸ‘

At three, Jess was able to go on all but one of the attractions, and I was able to take James (7 weeks) on most things too.

The rides were definitely the highlight for Jess, her favourite was the water ride which was a pirate themed raft ride which squirted you as you went past! She liked driving the tractors on that ride; great that with four seats our whole little family could get on. Tip: the tractor ride has been the one with the longest queue on both visits so get there early.

My personal favourites were the flying pigs and ostrich ride!

The play areas are fab; we loved the fort with all the slides and Captain Sandy’s Play Cove which is based on a huge sandpit.

There are picnic areas all over, but there are plenty of food places too (if a little pricey). There’s a great ice cream shop!

If you have small children I honestly can’t recommend this place enough! We spent the full day here and still didn’t cover everything. I think the ticket prices are great value compared to other days out, particularly if you pay in advance!

o

4km circular walk along Ilkley riverbank and through Middleton Woods

The bluebells of Middleton Woods have been calling me since the first pictures started appearing on Instagram! So today we combined this with a visit to Ilkley Riverside Gardens (mainly to include the play area).

Distance: We shortened the suggested route (below), and map my walk recorded over 4km, but the full route is down as 4.8km so either we walked a bit less or their’s is a bit further.

Parking: If you haven’t been this way on a sunny day, be warned it gets really busy to park. The good news is it’s free- we parked outside Ilkley Riverside Hotel (and it was fairly quiet).

Facilities: We started at Riverside gardens which has a playarea and public toilets. Be warned the toilets in the hotel are customer only and they’re pretty strict about it. Riverside cabin does hot and cold takeaway food and drink.

Route: We followed the route πŸ‘‰here, BUT we did it anticlockwise (so heading towards the lido first), and after exiting the Woods came straight back down to the river path along Harding’s lane. We also started and finished at the hotel (where I had a hot chocolate with marshmallows mmmmm).

Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies

We started by a quick stop at the play area. Rightly or wrongly if one’s available I find it’s an excellent bribe to keep Jess motivated to get round the walk for when we return! It’s a decent one with a good selection of activities and equipment.

From here we walked through the gardens to climb the stone steps up to the bridge, after crossing we dropped down onto the path that passes the skatepark and skirts the rugby club. We briefly stopped to skim stones in the river, always fun!!

The path climbed past the lido and we crossed Curly Hill to enter the woods. If you’d followed the route provided, this would all be downhill… but we find Jess walks better uphill when there’s lots to keep her interested!

I’m not convinced we took the right track up through the woods, but we knew to head in a North East direction and eventually met up with the path I think we were meant to have taken. It’s probably easier in this since sense coming from the other way. The bluebells were just magnificent. Truly gorgeous… I think I took close to a million photos!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Jess kept herself entertained with her usual stick collections and playing hide and seek.

On leaving the woods we passed through a field with great views over Ilkley… and even more excitement; lambs in the field!

Rather than continuing along the route past the monastery we decided to head back along the road (Harding’s Lane) to rejoin the river. At just over 3 weeks until my due date I don’t want to push it too much with walking distance! If you decide to do the same be warned there’s no path for most of this road- but only three cars passed us and it’s a pretty road down with good views.

We picked the route up where the electricity sub-station is marked on the map, and followed the pretty path back along the river to where we started.

I think this was one of my favourite walks that we’ve done- maybe because of the bluebells which are such a treat to see! But as with all woods, every season brings something new to look out for, so I’m sure it would be special anytime!

Rachel xx

Thorp Perrow Arboretum, near Bedale

Easter Saturday was our first time to visit here- and what a visit it was! Absolutely gorgeous woodland to explore and there was loads to keep Jess entertained. The weather showed it at its best, with brilliant colours and sparkling water, we were so glad we tried it!

Website: https://www.thorpperrow.com

Facilities: cafe, toilets, gift shop which also sells drinks and ice cream, adventure playground

Access: paths are decent, there were lots of buggies and wheelchairs around.

Despite it being sunny and the Easter weekend, we found it lacking the hoards of people you sometimes find on holidays. There was a sense of tranquility as soon as you walked through the gates, which is saying something given we were there with a three year old.

On entering, you meet the tea room- looked nice although we didn’t eat there. There is a picturesque beck, which does have a designated area that you can paddle in and lots of picnic benches.

A short walk from the entrance is the adventure playground. It was a fabulous space- and we were the first ones there, winner! There’s a sandpit and zip line in addition to the usual equipment, so certainly enough to keep little ones happy!

We headed towards the Birds of Prey and Mammal centre, with some gorgeous spots along our way- including the incredibly pretty lake.

We timed it well to watch an Owl display- half an hour long which worked well for the children watching, and totally captured our interest. The birds on display around the centre were pretty spectacular in their cages, there was a fantastic range of birds.

We shared our bench during the display!

The mammal centre is small but it’s often quality not quantity, and this held true as we walked into the Wallaby area and were able to pet and feed them (food available to buy in the gift shop).

We spent some time exploring the woodland and snacked at one of the many benches dotted about enjoying the beauty.

So, if you find yourself in search of somewhere to visit on a sunny day, you could do a lot worse than Thorp Perrow. I hope that I’ve encouraged you to visit, let me know how you get on if you do!

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 β€˜hide’

Our lunch spot was on the sandbank, a proper sandy beach!! Fantastic πŸ™‚ 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

This Green Moon, Swillington

The sunny weather has matched our sunny spirits this morning as we searched for Big Foot at This Green Moon. We had an amazing time, even better than last year’s trail- which was always going to be hard to beat! If you’re headed there tomorrow (Easter Monday) hold off reading- this may contain spoilers!!

This fantastic place is on our doorstep, and we discovered it on a bike ride to St Aiden’s. It’s not obvious to find if you’ve not been before- but you need to head past Swillington Organic Farm, which is signposted on Aberford Road.

At three years old, Jess sometimes finds trails difficult to follow when there are questions or activities to follow, but this was perfect for her. There is a map for those who can read it- but she was more than happy spotting the footprints and collecting the stickers on the route.

There is plenty to look at and do around the trail, including a visit to the mud kitchen, characters to keep us on track, and spotting homes of the ‘Swilligogs’.

If you haven’t been to This Green Moon before the set up is fantastic, with a fire pit central to the experience- as usual, marshmallow toasting was a highlight!

The hubby loves the bar here-today with Moonshine on draft. Ice cream and a Pizza stand were also on hand to keep us fed. My Creme Egg Ice cream was amazing- the full Creme Egg on the top helped!

There was a craft tent for Jess to make her own drum (related to the trail theme) which she was super proud of!

But the best bit of our trip was summoning Big Foot itself… watching 30 odd children excitedly banging their drums was an absolute joy to watch (even if Jess was a bit scared to see Big Foot himself). The whole story had been so well thought out, with an overriding theme of acceptance and love, such a lovely message to share at Easter.

So thank you those who hosted and planned this event. If you can’t make it tomorrow, keep your eyes peeled for their events throughout the year here. We can’t recommend this place any more highly, everything we’ve been to has just been a joy!

Travelling β€˜oop’ North? Three child-friendly alternatives to A1 services between Yorkshire and the Borders.

It’s always nice to break up longer journeys for kids. But services are usually lacking their need for fun and fresh air! Here are three suggestions of places we like to stop off the A1 to make travelling a bit more interesting.

1. Switch Scotch Corner for Cross Lanes Organic Farm.

Ok, so this is a bit of a detour… but don’t let the fact it’s 12 miles off the A1 put you off. Really it’s only 15 minutes from Scotch Corner services where you can fill up with petrol, and SURELY it’s worth it?

Website: http://www.crosslanesorganics.co.uk

What’s it got? A fantastic farm shop, which to be fair is worth the visit itself! It’s organic restaurant has a great menu, and with outdoor seating much more preferable than a motorway meal. There’s a decent play area, and being a farm there will be animals around to spot.

2. Passing Newcastle? A few minutes from the Cramlington services joining the A1 and A19 is the rather unusual but spectacular Northumberlandia

If you’re going past this way there’s really no reason not to stop at the world’s largest human landform sculpture (which is also a lovely country park).

Website: https://www.northumberlandia.com/

What’s it got? A visitor centre with cafe (closed Mondays) means toilets! Car parking is free, and there are even spaces for electric car charging. Walk through the smaller woodland area (spot animal homes in the trees and you could follow the woodland trail) to reach the sculpture itself. Decent paths and lots of climbing to wear out little legs. PLUS picnic benches if you’d rather sit out. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads.

3. Sunnyhills Farm shop in Belford is just 500m from the A1.

It might be a smaller farm shop than Cross Lanes, but its proximity to your route makes it an easy choice for a stop.

Website: https://sunnyhillsfarmshop.co.uk/

What’s it got? A play area, cafe with kids menu and delicious deli (amazing cake).

Hopefully these suggestions will help you on your travels! If you find them useful let me know and I can do some more on other well-travelled routes.

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 Β£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; Β£1 single, Β£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