Walking Catbells with children

Catbells is often considered a good first mountain for children. I think this implies it’s an easy fell to walk. It’s really not; but it’s a short climb, easy to navigate and easily accessible. And if you (and your children) are up for the challenge, it’s both beautiful and rewarding, with fun scrambles and fantastic views.

The OS Explorer map covering this area is OL4/ The English Lakes- North Western Area 👉OS Explorer OL4 The English Lakes – North Western area (OS Explorer Map) (Amazon affiliate link)

The walk starts Hawes End. There is a small car park which we used (get there early if this is your intention) or for even more excitement, take the Keswick Launch to Hawes End Landing Stage.

The usual direction is to walk over the fell from the North (anticlockwise). This means you climb up the scrambles and then descend down stone steps. The scrambles are very do-able for children (but probably a little harder for the parents watching their three year old navigating a rock face!).

Just remember if you are carrying a baby like I was, your balance is definitely impacted, so you need to be confident! I found it easier with a back carrier so I could see my footing a little better. Our daughter loved these parts, and her small feet found footholds that weren’t much use for us!

After the first steep ascent/ scramble (Skelgill Bank) it is difficult to turn back, so you need to be sure that young children are up to completing the whole walk. If you find that you often need to carry your children on your shoulders for much of your walk, this might not be for you; until you’re back on the bridlepath they’re going to have to do it alone (unless of course you’ve got a proper carrier).

Check weather conditions before you go; you want children to enjoy it, which they’re less likely to do if it’s freezing cold or blowing a gale. In summer be mindful that the ascent has no shade, so hats and lots of fluids are a must.

It’s really not a walk children should be attempting in wellies or other casual footwear; make sure they’ve got something sturdy with a good grip. After a bit of a hunt we bought these Gelert Walking Boots for Jess, which we thought were great value for little feet growing so quickly!

👉 Gelert Kids Horizon Mid Waterproof Infants Walking Boots Lace Up Breathable Charcoal/Blue UK C8 (26)

The top of Catbells rewards you with glorious views over Derwentwater and down Borrowdale. Try to walk on a clear day so you can get the best of them!

The great views continue as you descend on the stone steps down, just be careful on rainy days as they can be slippy!

You have a choice of routes that you can follow here, if you wanted something a little shorter (just over 5km in total), take the bridleway that forks left (towards the coniferous woodland), and hugs the side of the fell back to the start of the walk. Where the track drops to the road there is also an option to drop down to the Lakeside path and take that route back. This gives good views all the way.

The path forks ahead, where you can turn left to take the shorter route.

With children in good spirits, as our daughter was on this walk, you may fancy the longer route (10km), and continue the descent towards Manesty. After a brief walk along the road, you turn left towards the Lake and follow the path back all the way to Hawse End and the start of the walk.

Unless you fancy a detour heading into Grange, there are no facilities along the route. So you’ll need to take a picnic and/ or snacks with you. We found a great picnic stop on the side of Derwentwater, and enjoyed watching the launch pass us.

The path that returns to Hawes End is truly beautiful, winding through woodland along the Lake shore, with good prospects of the climb you’ve just completed. It’s fantastic. If you did get the launch to start the walk you could even pick it up earlier if little legs were getting tired!

Of course if the weather (or indeed the prospect of scrambling with an under 5) phases you, a great alternative is to take the bridle path half way up the fell and walk back along the shore line. You miss out on some of the fun but still get some great views.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you spend time enjoying this truly fabulous area of the Lakes. It’s popular for a reason!!

👉Nearby in the area you could also visit Whinlatter.

A day enjoying Bolton Abbey

It is difficult to identify a more picture perfect place to enjoy the winter sunshine! There are walks for all abilities here… and on this beautiful sunny day we enjoyed two of them!

Firstly some key info:

  • A map of the estate can be found here.
  • Parking was £10 all day. With a ticket you can visit different car parks, but we based ourselves at the Riverside carpark. Entry is otherwise free.
  • At each of the car parks, toilet facilities are available.
  • Many paths are gravel or surfaced, but there are definitely muddy parts, particularly across fields towards the Abbey.
  • Pushchairs are certainly possible in many places, but you need to be brave on the steeper paths. If you prefer to keep it safe, a good option might be to the Astrid and back from the Riverside carpark.
  • There are no traditional play areas, but there is a sandpit, and at certain times of year there are activities on the main paths… including Easter and Christmas trails.

Starting our morning walk at the Cavendish Pavillion, we decided to take advantage of the glorious sunshine and walk on the far side of the river towards the Strid, crossing at the Aqueduct and returning on the near side. We’d packed a picnic so we’re looking out for a good spot for lunch!

This path can get steep in parts, and be careful with a youngster as the path does have some serious drops in places! Jess is (usually) pretty sensible so we were confident she’d be fine. I can’t say for definite how far this route is, stupidly forgetting to start my tracker, but looking at the estate map I think a little over three miles. If you’re after something a little longer you could also walk up to Barden Bridge (previously done on this blog post).

Walking back was a bit colder in the shade! Luckily Jess was refuelled after her sandwich and the draw of ice cream (!?!) at the Cavendish Pavillion kept her going. I had an amazing chocolate brownie with my cuppa, which kept me pretty happy too!

After warming up we crossed back over the bridge, this time taking the river path to the abbey. This path is also steep in places, but there’s lots to keep children engaged including crossing a ford (although you can also avoid it), as well as a money tree!

Be warned, the field on the approach to the Abbey can get VERY muddy… the path along the side of the river (rather than cutting through the field) is a bit better, and also provides the opportunity for stone skimming!

To cross to the Abbey you have the choice of a footbridge or if you’re feeling brave, the infamous Stepping Stones!

After exploring the Abbey, we took the path alongside the road that takes you back down to the Riverside carpark.

Both children were fast asleep by the time we got to the road, a sure sign of a cracking day out!

I wonder what your favourite walks are there?

Great walks for Christmas with a country pub!

Amidst all the craziness of shopping, nativities, wrapping and parties it’s easy to lose sight of what we should be treasuring over Christmas; families! What better way to enjoy time with families than with a festive walk… finishing with a mulled wine at a country pub.

We love a good Christmas Day walk, it’s a great way to spend time after breakfast and presents… and helps you build up an appetite for Christmas Dinner!! And if you want to avoid the chaos of Boxing Day shopping, take the opportunity to get out and into the fresh air- and walk off all the stodge!

Here’s some suggestions of good walks around Leeds with a pub (although mulled wine is not guaranteed 🤣)! Most pubs are open Boxing Day, Christmas Day hours are given below.

A walk around a park The superb Roundhay Park has surfaced paths (perfect for pushchairs), two lakes, play grounds and woodland! For a quieter stroll, head up the Secret Gorge for a picturesque path along a stream. Finish for a drink at the atmospheric Roundhay Fox, open on Christmas Day 11.30am- 6pm.

Along a canal The beautiful canal stretch between Woodlesford and Methley has a path both sides for a circular walk. There are no stiles, but it can be really muddy on the stretch between Lemonroyd Marina and Methley, so make sure if you take a buggy it’s suitable for off-road paths! The Boundary House in Methley is just a little walk off the canal, and is one of my favourite pubs, open for drinks 12-7pm on Christmas Day.

Around a lake Newmillerdam Country Park is absolutely beautiful anytime of year, but in winter if you’re lucky the frosty views are spectacular! The paths through the woodland and around the lake are mostly buggy friendly, and the cosy Fox & Hounds is a great way to warm up after (open 11am-2/2.30pm on Christmas Day).

Exploring woodland Hackfall Woods in Nidderdale are a great place to explore with little ones, be careful if it’s icy because paths are narrow and could be slippy! Warm up with a drink at the nearby Crown Inn at Grewelthorpe- there’s a path next to the pub that leads straight to the pub.

Away from it all One of Yorkshire’s favourite walks has got to be the Burnsall to Grassington route, about 3.5 miles each way. Maybe a little far for little legs, but it could be a good choice if you’re lucky enough to have a baby in a carrier! The Red Lion at Burnsall is famous for its warm welcome, great food and good atmosphere.

Something longer For a full day walk, there is a great moor from Ilkley across Ilkley Moor and over to Addingham. You can take the return leg along the River Wharfe, it’s about 11km in total so not a one for little walkers! We did this a few years ago on New Years Day- the perfect way to walk of those festive drinks and a great way to start the New Year! The Fleece in Addingham has just been given a new lease of life, and perfect for a mid-way lunch!

This year we’re spending Christmas up in Newcastle, and are planning to head to the truly fabulous Cragside for our Boxing Day outing! What are your plans? Do you have a favourite walk at Christmas time?

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 up in 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 fab 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!

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!!

👉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!