Eccup Reservoir, North Leeds (4.5 miles)

If you’re living in North Leeds, you’ve no doubt tried this walk before… it’s perfect if you want to feel that you’ve escaped from the bustle but don’t want to travel too far. It’s not pushchair friendly and might be a tad long for little legs, but is good for older children and is fairly flat.

Route: A good description on this site.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Accessibility: Not suitable for pushchairs. Fairly flat, but can get muddy and a few stiles.

Facilities: None. The Dexter is a decent pub a short drive away if you’re looking for food and drinks afterwards.

Parking: Park on Lakeland Drive or Alwoodley Lane.

I recently walked this with the baby walking group, and enjoyed some gorgeous Autumn sunshine.

After walking down Lakeland Drive, take the path on the left to walk round the reservoir in a clockwise direction. Whilst this walk doesn’t provide access to the waterfront itself, you are provided with lovely views through the trees during the first part of the walk.

The route should be fairly clear through the fields on this well walked route, watch out for lots of mud after wet weather!

After leaving the fields, there’s a fairly chunky walk along the road. Luckily it’s pretty quiet, but bare this in mind if you’re taking children with you.

The final part of the walk is along a path between the woodland surrounding the reservoir and the golf course. It is deceptively long, but this time of year it’s great to enjoy all these colours.

Be warned the climb back up Goodrick Lane to the cars feels a lot steeper than it actually is, especially if your legs are tired!

Overall, a lovely walk to enjoy if you need to stay close to Leeds or don’t want to venture too far away.

Skipwith Common, York

Another new discovery for us! This is a lovely nature reserve and one of the last remaining areas of lowland heath in England. It used to be a bomber training airfield in WW2, and signs of this modern history add to the interest. Today we followed the 2 mile marked route, which was on tarmac path all the way, meaning we could take James in the covered pushchair to shelter him from the downpours!

Website: https://www.friendsofskipwithcommon.org.uk

Parking: Free, we parked on King Rudding Lane.

Facilities: Picnic benches and benches dotted around, but no toilets (nearby villages do have some good pubs!)

Pushchairs: Everywhere is pretty flat, and our route was great for pushchairs (as long as you don’t mind puddles!). The longer routes are largely unsurfaced.

Route: We followed the red route from this map, and the Friends of Skipwith Common websites provides this accompanying information.

Dogs: Are welcome but as this is access land MUST be kept on a short lead.

When we first arrived at the carpark it was absolutely TIPPING it down and we questioned our sanity at getting out the car (even Jess, lover of puddles, suggested she could just stay in the car). But, we had two hours before we had to be at our friends house in a neighbouring village, and it is #getoutsideday, so on went the waterproofs and off we went. I’m so pleased we did, the rain actually lightened as we went round- definitely did it at the right time of the day.

The walk starts on a little loop through woodland past a picturesque pond, and despite initial reservations, Jess was immediately onside with the puddles… at least she was until she suffered a mini Dawn French moment and jumped into puddle capable of housing the Loch Ness Monster. Water over wellies, wet feet and wet leggings. Good start to the walk!!!

The pond we passed had a little viewing platform, and information sign.

It’s access land, and there were loads of brown sheep wandering around. It’s a bit surreal really, I’m used to seeing sheep roaming around fields so it was a bit odd to see them appearing from behind the trees!

There are a few viewing platforms dotted about, and on a drier day I could imagine enjoying a picnic or taking some quiet time to enjoy the view.

The remains of the bombers training camp are so interesting to see, and whilst Jess didn’t have a clue what we were trying to tell her about, we found it pretty impressive! There’s a memorial there too, again not something easy to explain to a three year old.

It’s a great place to explore, and we’re looking forward to returning to do some of the longer walks! If you struggle to keep little ones motivated whilst you do walks, read this blog post for ideas on keeping them entertained!

Rachel xx

Pateley Bridge and Fishpond Wood (2 miles)

We were looking for a short walk suitable for my three year old, and came across a set of suggested walks by The Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership. This first route takes you through the pretty village of Bewerley into ancient woodland, round the fishpond (where we picnicked) and down the hillside back to Bewerley. At just 2 miles my daughter walked it without complaint.

Route: Walk one from this page by the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership

Parking: Pay and display carparks in Pateley Bridge

Facilities: Public toilets in Pateley Bridge. Lots of choices for cafes and tearooms. Play area.

Pushchairs: Route is not suitable for buggies.

The walk starts following the road between Pateley Bridge and Bewerley, the path was quite narrow but there were few cars. We passed the auction house where sheep were being loaded onto a transporter. Interesting conversation about where they were going!! There were some lovely views from the road!

The woodland was pretty with benches to rest when needed. Before you get to the pond you can pop up the steps to see the 18th century icehouse.

At the pond there are a few benches to enjoy a break, and we stopped for a picnic, where some very tame ducks came over hoping for some of our sandwiches!

The path follows the edge of the pond and over a ‘trolly trolly’ Bridge (according to our daughter).

Leaving the woods you climb the Monks steps and are rewarded with great views, before walking down the fields and back to Bewerley.

Coming back into Pateley Bridge you pass the great play area, a perfect reward for any little legs! We finished the day with a trip to the nearby Brimham Rocks.

We’re looking forward to trying some of the other suggested walks so will be back soon!

Other blog posts on Nidderdale:

Swinsty (3 miles) & Fewston (4 miles) Reservoirs

These gorgeous reservoirs North of Otley are perfect for pram walks and give fab views. I’d say Fewston is more picturesque, but Swinsty is shorter with better views over the valley… or you could do them both!

Route: Yorkshire water provide routes for both the Swinsty route (3 miles) and for Fewston (4 miles).

Pushchairs: Both fine for prams; Swinsty a little easier.

Facilities: Park at the middle car park (Swinsty and Fewston carpark) where there is a toilet block, picnic benches and often an ice cream van.

Both reservoirs are extremely easy to navigate- after all, you’re walking round two massive bodies of water so it should be fairly clear where to go!

Walking round Swinsty is mainly on wider tracks, it can be a little muddy approaching the car park from a clockwise direction. Fewston is on gritted paths.

Bramley Fall, 1 mile

This might only be a short walk, but it’s got lots to explore along the way!

Route: Found on the following website: http://west-leeds-country-park-and-green-gateways.webplus.net/doorstep_walk2_bramley_fall.html. The paths are signposted at key points.

Accessibility: Along the canal path is fine, and you can get down and back up other ways, but this route itself would be difficult with a buggy.

Parking: Car park on Leeds & Bradford Road

Facilities: There’s a basic playground and picnic area. It’s a short drive to Kirkstall Morrison’s with a cafe and toilets, but there are none in the park itself.

This lovely route takes you down through pretty woodland (quite steep and uneven surface) onto the canal, crossing over a lock that we were lucky enough to see in use.

It’s a flat and easy walk along the canal- with the added bonus of a train line to the other side.

Crossing back over another stepped lock takes you back through the woodland. Before the playground you also pass outdoor equipment from a ‘Trim Trail’ that adds a little fun.

Northwood Fairy Trail, York

There’s a little magic in these woods, if you listen closely and stay very still you might just find a fairy!

Website:https://www.northwoodtrail.co.uk

Northwood Trail is a 1.5km path through some gorgeous woodland. You get the distinct feeling that you’re not alone, and can find lots of evidence that fairies are around, from the toadstool fairy rings, to the overhead fairy bridges, to the fairy doors on the trees. You’ll even see the thrones of the fairy king and queen!

Jess was disappointed not to see a fairy (she’d hoped dressing like a fairy might encourage them to show themselves), but reliably informed us that they were sleeping, and was happy that she’d seen where they live!

The path passes a bamboo maze to find a fairy ring! Be warned, it’s not an easy one and you may be in there longer than you think!

Towards the end of the trail is an area for children to play, with plenty of chopped logs to climb over and a den building area.

Back at the start we enjoyed tea and cake at the GORGEOUS cafe (I imagine in winter it’s even more awesome) and visited the fairy museum.

We really enjoyed this truly lovely walk (even in the rain) but be warned there’s limited places for stopping on the trails, and nowhere to picnic. As such it’s not a walk that you can spend a long time on, so take that into consideration when deciding whether to pay up! It could definitely do with some activities on the way round, perhaps some puzzles or nature spots and rubbings. Having said that it’s still relatively new, so perhaps these things are on the way!

So it’s not an all-day attraction, but would be a great stopping point to the coast or moors. The cafe itself is worth a stop, and I think we would on our next trip to Bridlington.

PS When looking back at our photos Jess was delighted to spot fairies!! They were invisible to our eyes, but the camera never lies, and we can see lots of fairy orbs flying around the fairy ring… see, they really do exist!!

πŸ‘‰Another Fairy Trail that you might enjoy is Studfold! This is more of an activity based trail, so you can make more of a day of it!

Rabbit Ings Country Park, Barnsley

This lovely little park has a number of short walks that would suit little legs and has masses of wildflowers to enjoy. There are a number of routes that can be followed by coloured markers, including a path up to a viewpoint.

Website and map: https://thelandtrust.org.uk/space/rabbit-ings-country-park/?doing_wp_cron=1563200285.8920269012451171875000

Parking: Free parking

Facilities: There were toilets at the visitor centre open when I visited, but they may not be open all the time. Benches around the park.

Accessibility: Good paths, steep in places. Fine for buggies and little bikes!

Whilst there are marked routes you can follow, I chose my own path, taking in most of the perimeter and viewpoint was about 4km. It was a beautiful morning, but the paths were quite quiet and I enjoyed the peace!

The walk up to the viewpoint was pretty, and there’s a well positioned bench to enjoy the view.

It’s a lovely park, and if you’re in the area a good place to spend a couple of hours!

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.

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

Discovering Wildlife at Fairburn Ings, Wakefield

We had planned on doing a walk today, but the weather was somewhat wetter than we expected, so instead we decided to spend the morning exploring and pond dipping at Fairburn Ings. We had a truly wonderful time, and with our newly acquired RSPB membership we cannot wait to return and do it all again!

Website: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/fairburn-ings

Parking: At the visitor centre. Free for RSPB members, Β£4 otherwise.

Facilities: Toilets and refreshments (not a cafe) at the visitor centre. Play area with den building and bug hotels! Pond dipping, mini beast explorer packs. Multiple trails.

Accessibility: The discovery trail here is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.

On arrival at the reserve we went straight to the visitor centre. The staff there were super friendly and really helpful! They showed us all the things we could get up to and talked us through the trail routes. However, with the wet weather (and my bump means I can’t fasten my waterproof!), we decided to stay close and take advantage of the activities we could do on the short family friendly discovery trail. The trail has lots of information around, and never mind Jess, I found a renewed sense of enthusiasm and learnt loads whilst walking round!

If you’re not a member, the Β£4 car charge enables you to access all the trails for free, but there are small charges to use the pond dipping (Β£2 per kit) and explorer backpack (Β£3 each).

Here’s some of the things we got up to;

Pond Dipping

The Pond Dipping Kit included a net, tub to examine any findings and a guide (that Jess proudly wore round her neck). I must admit we weren’t massively successful with our findings, but the dipping itself was a novelty and Jess happily kept trying!

Wildlife Explorer Backpack

After choosing the orange backpack (huge bonus points for the different colours!), we went off on our mini beast safari. There were a range of activities to do (rubbings, drawings as well as ‘discovery’ activities) and some really good resources included that helped us identify what we saw (a bird guide for example). Unfortunately the mini beasts we discovered got as exciting as a ladybird, but no doubt if we had longer we would have looked harder.

Jess was also excited to find a stethoscope in the pack, and took the opportunity to listen to the baby πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

The Play Area

The Play area is really well thought out, whilst it doesn’t have your traditional equipment (other than a swing) the activities are designed to engage children and kept Jess really entertained. After all, you can find slides anywhere- but how often do you get do climb on a dragon fly or build a den?!

The Hide

When the rain got a little heavier it was the perfect opportunity to take shelter in the hide. Jess enjoyed watching the ducks ‘having a bath’. There were pictures around the hide to help us identify what we saw (I’m far from knowledgeable and so found it really useful to help Jess).

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our morning here, and I was disappointed to leave (Jess is spending the afternoon with her grandparents so had to cut our trip short). In better weather we’ll definitely be returning for the full day- perhaps do the activities in the morning then take a picnic and do one of the trails in the afternoon.

If you go, let me know what you think, I hope you have as much fun as we did!