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!!

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!

There was plenty on this walk to keep Jess entertained, but if you need more (!!) try this post for ideas.

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 πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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.

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 πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ such a mum comment but so important!
  • The walled garden- with scarecrow!

For full details of Harewood visit their website; https://harewood.org

Enjoy!

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!

A day out at Lotherton Hall, Aberford, Leeds

It’s been a good year since we last visited Lotherton Hall, but after today’s visit I think it’ll be a lot sooner to our next visit! 😍

We usually only go for specific events; things like Christmas or Food Festivals. Today though, the Easter ‘Mad Hatter of an Easter Holiday’ trail around the grounds took a back seat to our enjoyment of just a really lovely day out. It’s got a great play area, little walking trails, animals to see and all standard facilities.

Website: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/lothertonhall

The entrance fee is just Β£8 for an adult, with reduced costs for Leeds card holders and free for under 5s. It’s brilliant value, particularly compared to costs of other days out (so thank you Leeds city council- it’s a cracker).

For the first time ever we actually tried the house; there’s no real reason we haven’t been in before; we just usually prefer the outdoors. But today we needed to count the Easter bunnies inside. So in we went and were instantly impressed by the layout of the rooms and all the things to look at, including toys in many of the rooms to keep little ones entertained.

Our favourite room though had to be the dress-up room, which we had to eventually drag Jess away from. Downstairs the Easter craft area also kept her interest, with my scissor skills being called into action with the creation of Easter masks.

After the house, next stop was the play area.. a great space and perfect for our three year old. She could climb even the highest slide without help. With a smaller climbing frame for the younger ones and a zip line, there’s lots to keep them entertained.

Adjacent to the play area is a picnic area with more play equipment for slightly older children; more zip lines, swings, see-saws and climbing frames.

We had a lovely picnic with some well-timed sunshine, and then headed to Wildlife World. If like us you haven’t been in a while I think you’ll get a huge shock! It’s completely transformed- and is just fab. I can’t get my head around the value!

After walking past the warty pigs and brilliant flamingos we walked through the shop to see the exceptionally inquisitive penguins, who came right up to us! Walking into Africa was another highlight, where you can walk into the enclosure.

Animals seen, after a quick ice cream stop we walked back past the picnic areas to join the boundary path. In the trees are some little obstacles such as balancing beams to keep interest, and Jess did her usual tree hugging πŸ‘

So we had a great day, and we didn’t even see everything (Jess was shattered). You can go to see the deer and there’s a hay maze for children to navigate through!

I’m so sure we’ll be returning regularly I think we’ll get the annual membership next time, at just Β£24 we only need three visits to make up the cost. If you’re a regular visitor please let me know your favourite spots, I’m sure there is lots more to see!

πŸ‘ Remember to like my Facebook page, Muddy Boots Mummy, to see my blog posts on walks and days out in Yorkshire https://m.facebook.com/muddybootsmummy/

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Rachel xx

A buggy walk from Bolton Abbey Cavendish Pavilion to Barden Bridge, 4.7 miles (circular)

Distance: 4.7 miles/ 7.5km; shorter & longer walks possible- check out their website!

Route: https://boltonabbey.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Cavendish_to_Barden_Bridge.pdf

Facilities: Parking a little pricey but worth it and plenty there. There’s a cafe at Cavendish Pavilion as well as a couple of spots in the village.

Access: The suggested route says it is suitable for pushchairs- and it’s surfaced paths so I’d tentatively agree. But be prepared for some steep climbs and narrow edges, there’s a couple of large stones to navigate too so probably would recommend two people!

My husband’s back has been playing up, and with my 6 month pregnant belly we thought a buggy walk would be the best way to enjoy today’s gorgeous weather! We settled on Bolton Abbey- a firm favourite of ours and decided to do this relatively easy route. It is steep in parts so don’t go prepared for a gentle saunter, but definitely do-able.

We decided to start at the Pavilion and walk up to Barden bridge up the east side of the river. You could also choose to walk to the bridge and back along the relatively flat west path, but then you’d miss out on some of the superb views you get!

We found a lovely spot for lunch by the river near the Aqueduct; another benefit of a buggy walk means we could pack up extra kit underneath so could spread out the picnic rug and take a ball to play with. When it’s not being used as a car park (it wasn’t today) the field at Barden Bridge would be another good choice.

We were delighted to find a Yorkshire Dales ice cream van parked up at the bridge, and happily wolfed them down as we turned back down the river.

Any desperate calls to the toilet or for food can be covered by a detour to the Strid facilities as you pass- luckily no need today for us.

The final stretch back to the Pavilion is on a flat and wide path, and is the part of the woods where there are often activities for the children to see, so it’s worth checking the events before you head there.

The Pavilion is the perfect place to end, it gets quite busy during peak times so prepare to queue for food!

Today was the sort of day where any type of walk would have been a total joy, but Bolton Abbey looked absolutely amazing in the winter sunshine, we had a fantastic day out!

Oakwell Hall Country Park, WF17, 2 miles

Facilities: cafe, toilets, play area, parking

Accessibility: the 2 mile nature trail itself is not suitable for buggies BUT there are lots of other paths to try out, just might be muddy in places. Use this map for access guidance.

Location:Nutter Lane,Batley,WF17 9LG

http://www.friendsofoakwellhall.org.uk/images/pdfs/oakwell_nature_trail.pdf

I love everything about sunny days β˜€οΈβ˜€οΈ it’s so lovely to see so many families out and about enjoying the fresh air! We weren’t planning on a walk today but this fabulous weather drove us here, a great decision even if I do say myself! We walked the superb two mile nature trail, before heading back to the centre to get ice cream and a trip to the play area. The sole ice cream van must’ve thought all his Christmases had come at once, massive queues in February!!

Oakwell Hall is a lovely place to spend a few hours- there’s plenty to do and see and well signposted trails. The play area has a good combination of activities for toddlers in a gated area, as well as larger obstacles for older children dotted about in the nearby woodland.

I think it’s the type of place that you can find something new every time you visit. Just be warned- unless there’s an easier way to get there that we haven’t found (highly likely) it’s a bit hidden away so make sure you have a navigator next to you on your first visit.