The Muddy Boots 2020 Family Challenge

As the time to make some New Year resolutions nears, let me introduce you to a family challenge that gets you out walking at least once a month… as well as showing you some of the best family walks Yorkshire has to offer.

The concept is simple. 12 of my favourite Yorkshire family walks to complete in 12 months. I’ll be suggesting the months to do each walk on my social media, but feel free to mix them up if needed! Whilst some of these routes are buggy friendly, encourage your little ones to walk as much of the routes as possible (read this blog post for help).

You might be able to identify some of the walks from the pictures… but if not here we go!!

The Gnome Roam at Newmillerdam. At just under two miles with loads of activities on the route, this is a great starting walk to get little ones enthused about getting out and about. A pub at the end can get you warmed up from the cold.

Nature Trail at Oakwell Hall. This two mile route has two loops, so half way round you can stop off at the cafe to refuel… and the pull of the play area gets your little ones to restart!

Golden Acre and Paul’s Pond is 5.5km… and is suitable for buggies that don’t mind mud! Refuel and warm join the scrummy cafe.

Ilkley and Middleton woods is best done April/May to see the glorious bluebells. With views over Ilkley and a walk along the river, this has a little bit of everything…

Up in Nidderdale lies the fantastic Hackfall woods. You might catch the bluebells here in May, but if not take a picnic and allow yourself to explore this gorgeous woodland.

Aaaahhh Heath. A summer visit means picnics on Heath common or drinks in the lovely King’s Arms beer garden. So summer is the perfect time to try this short circular walk.

One of Wakefield’s most popular family walks is the Room on the Broom Trail at Angler’s Country Park. Pack a picnic and some bird seed and enjoy following the trail round the lake.

Bolton Abbey is just picture perfect all year round. But on a sunny day you can enjoy a leisurely picnic as well as the views!

May Beck and Falling Foss. Walk away those September blues with a trip to the coast. Combine a visit to Whitby with this amazing and magical walk. Waterfalls, woodland and probably the best tea garden on the planet.

Damflask Reservoir is a great circular route with a great cafe stop on the way round!

Stanley Ferry and Southern Washlands Nature Reserve combines a canal walk with woodland.The Stanley Ferry Pub is well placed for a family friendly meal afterwards, so you might want to keep this as a winter walk.

The National Trust always does Christmas well, so why not leave a walk in the beautiful Nostell parkland until then, before enjoying the Christmas spirit at the house and gardens.

So there you go! At the start of each month I’ll be sharing a bit more about these walks for you. Make sure to share any walks with #muddybootsfamilychallenge. Good luck!

Exploring Haw Park Wood

Maybe you’re like us; you’ve tried the Room on the Broom trail at Anglers, and perhaps have even seen the signs there for Haw Park Wood. But why try it when such a fantastic trail nearby? PLENTY of reasons. This woodland is amazing, gorgeous actually. The perfect place to go searching for a pixie village!

Facilities: The visitor centre has toilets, indoor crafts and games, and a new cafe with a good selection of hot and cold food. There’s a good play area too.

Waterton Countryside Discovery Centre

Route: There are a number of paths in the Wood (map here) but be warned that the signs in places have definitely fallen away so don’t rely on them.

Parking: Pay and display at the visitor centre.

Accessibility: The paths are flat with no stiles, but it can get muddy in places with really narrow paths.

From the car park turn right along the bridleway and eventually you’ll get to the woods (it’s a bit further than we anticipated but worth it, and Jess walked it all so don’t get put off).

There are a few things to see in these woods! Our purpose was to find the pixie village that is rumoured to be there! It isn’t signposted, so you have to hunt (but basically it’s behind this sign at the centre of the woods, where the five paths meet).

And let’s face it, it’s definitely more of a pixie hamlet than a village with only a couple of doors on trees. But we did spot a pixie swimming pool (water in a tree stump) and a pixie theatre (toadstools on a nearby tree).

There are other points of interest around the woods too… look out for the most picturesque of picnic benches, hidden toadstools and you could do follow a scavenger hunt.

We also played a few games on the way round. That old classic peg game was a huge hit with Jess, and we hid from the bears when we saw all the trees that they’d pushed over! For more ideas of activities whilst you walk, have a look at this blog post.

After we’d done all the exploring Jess could face, we headed back to the visitor centre to enjoy a luxury hot chocolate and a play.

If you want to make a full day of it, explore some of the other great walks in the area.

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!

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 and website: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/sport-health-and-leisure/leisure-centres-and-facilities/parks-and-countryside/gnome-roam

Route: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Documents/sports-leisure/parks-countryside/gnome-roam-leaflet.pdf It starts at the back of 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 on the steep path to the right. It’s a workout! But after this the rest is much more manageable.

You can avoid these steps at the start by taking the steep track to the left; be prepared to push!

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.

Winter visit pictures below!

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. And remember it is a Sculpture Park! There are loads to capture imaginations, as well as the great outdoors, nature’s playground! If you do struggle keeping your little ones entertained on walks, this post might help.

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!

Stanley Ferry & Southern Washlands Nature Reserve, Wakefield (4.6 km)

Wakefield Council have some AMAZING resources for walking, and this route is based on one of their suggested Health Walks. It’s a lovely flat route, with lots to see and some well positioned benches for picnics. Although James was in the carrier today (his first time!) it would be fine for most buggies, although it was a little muddy in places.

Route: http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Longer%20Walks/Walks_Leaflet_09_Stanley.pdf

Facilities: None, other than benches dotted about for picnics. BUT the Stanley Ferry pub (where you can start/finish) is well set up for families.

Accessibility: Paths are pretty decent and flat so would be fine for most buggies or little bikes!

You Tube Vlog: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HFjrw4QsarM&feature=youtu.be

The walk starts along the canal, where there are lots of boats to look at. Walking through the nature reserve is mostly woodland and extremely peaceful; I didn’t pass a single person on the path! The sound of water brings instant relaxation (much needed in my case as all morning I’d had the sound of nothing but screaming).

My favourite part of the walk was the path between the Lake and the River Calder, it was really beautiful.

It finished back at the canal, with a path from Broadreach Lock, following the Transpennine Trail back to the start.

So in all a hugely enjoyable walk, especially in the sunshine… I’ll be back!

If you’re looking for other walks in the area, this route around Heath Common is a great choice.

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 walk from Heath Common, Wakefield (2.5 miles)

We first discovered Heath a couple of years ago, when searching for a ‘cosy pub’. We found the delightful King’s Arms, and have returned on numerous occasions; both to enjoy the pub itself, but also as a starting point for walks around the Southern Washlands Nature Reserve. Today we tried a new route, from a document provided by. Wakefield Council.

Heath

Route: We completed the short walk on this page provided by Wakefield Council, 2.5 miles starting in Heath. Parking is free.

Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies;

muddy in places/ paths through fields

Facilities: The King’s Arms has good food (with children’s menu) and a lovely beer garden.

I think (I know) that I’ve fallen in love with the gorgeous Heath, and on a sunny day like today it really shows off the village to its best.

After looking at some of the many ponies that are kept on Heath Common, the walk starts down a little path from the back of the village covered by trees; truly picture perfect.

The path then opens out onto some lovely fields. You could be anywhere, you really can’t believe how close this is to the centre of Wakefield, it’s such a pretty area! We didn’t pass anyone at all on this part of the route, making it incredibly peaceful.

On the Bridleway between the road and Kirkthorpe we passed a field of bullocks and goats who seemed pretty interested in us (maybe it was the mooing noises Jess was making). She kept herself entertained blowing dandelion clocks and playing with sticky grass.

After passing through Kirkthorpe we joined back onto the path that forms part of the longer route past the Half Moon Lake. Once the Lake came into view, we spotted some steps down towards it, and came across a little bench where we set up for a picnic stop.

Before long we were back in Heath. The access land on which Heath sits is perfect for running around and burning off any remaining energy!

Obviously we finished the walk with a drink at the King’s Arms. The beer garden is lovely. Jess loved watching some horse riders stop for refreshments, their riders enjoying a glass of wine in the saddle!

This was a lovely short walk, nice and flat and easy to navigate; perfect for the 38 week pregnant walker! We’re looking forward to returning and trying the longer route.

Rachel xxx

Ardsley Reservoir, 2.5km

This is lovely little reservoir, and although I probably wouldn’t go out my way to visit here for such a short route, it’s a good one if you’re in the area or want a breath of fresh air after a White Rose trip!

Location: A small (free car park) is located on Haigh Moor Road, Tingley, WF3 1 EE

Route: From the car park turn left towards the reservoir and then choose the direction round you want to walk! It’s a super easy path.

Accessibility: Flat and surfaced paths are perfect for buggies.

Facilities: None

With just over 3 weeks until my due date, hubby’s banned me from walking too far on my own. Maybe he knows something I don’t, because baby doesn’t feel like it’s coming out anytime soon!

So I decided to visit this small reservoir which had cropped up a few times on social media from people I follow. It was a lovely short walk, with good views, so a good one if you’re nearby and want to squeeze in a walk. It seemed a popular walk, I passed quite a few dog walkers and mums with buggies!

The West Ardsley website suggests there are reservoir rocks around that will help keep little ones entertained. To be fair I didn’t spot any- although I wasn’t really looking and there’s nothing to say new ones aren’t brought.

There are pebble beaches around the perimeter of the reservoir, but bathing is prohibited. That doesn’t stop good opportunities for stone skimming!

There are lovely views on the South side of the reservoir to appreciate too 😍

It took me just over half an hour to walk round this route, and I got an extra boost of smugness when I returned to the car about 30 seconds before it started raining. Love it 👍

There’s not a lot more to say, so I’ll leave you with a few pics of the moody weather!

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 £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; £1 single, £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