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.

A Day in Rydal, Lake District

With friends over from Holland, this weekend we needed to find a good spot that both showed a glimpse of the beauty of the Lakes, as well as providing easy paths for the three little walkers we had with us. Rydal proved to be the perfect choice… and if you fancy a day here, let me suggest a good itinerary.

Spend the morning discovering Rydal Hall

Brochure: https://rydalhall.org/cms/resources/rydal-hall-2019.pdf

We had read about Rydal Hall from the rather brilliant Family Walks and Pubs in the Lake District blog and decided we should give it a go! We parked in the gardens, you are able to leave your car all day for Β£5 with a permit from the Main Hall. The grounds aren’t huge, but that suited us fine, and we followed the little route suggested on the brochure. We loved reading the little informative signs dotted about to learn about the trees, and there were plenty of things of interest to keep our young children entertained, including waterfalls and sculptures. In the centre, behind the cafe, are toilets and a baby change.

Enjoy lunch in beautiful surroundings

There are a few options for lunch; the cafe at Rydal Hall is pleasant but doesn’t have the best options for children. You could enjoy a picnic, there are plenty of picnic benches in the grounds or you could head down to the Lakeside and find a spot.

The Old School Room tea shop is also a short walk away and is in stunning surroundings too!

Walk up to Rydal Caves

Another fantastic suggestion on the Family Walks and Pubs in the Lake District blog. We used to walk around here frequently pre-children, so it was great to spot a walk in the area that was suitable for our three year old. We crossed the road from Rydal and across the little footbridge to take the path that joined the White Moss footpath. It’s not suitable for pushchairs, but a relatively short distance.

Remember when you get to them, that the first cave isn’t the main one. Keep going round the corner and climb to see the huge mouth of the cave. Entry is by stepping stones, or scrambling over the stones at the side of the cave- which was our choice with me and the baby carrier and our little one. We were massively lucky to find a choir in the cave itself, and enjoyed the music for a little bit. Just up from the cave was a great viewpoint over Rydal Water, and we took obligatory family photos before heading down.

Finish the day with a wander around Grasmere or Ambleside.

Grasmere is much smaller than Ambleside but has gift shops and cafes to mooch around, whereas Ambleside is much larger with more choice. There is a wide range of cuisines and many leisure activities to choose from.

If you’re in the Lakes for a few days you might wish to visit Grizedale, a fantastic forest with lots to enjoy. There are so many walks to enjoy around the area, if you have difficulty getting your child motivated, read this blog post for tips to keep them going!

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.

Quite often ducks need feeding too! Now we’re told not to take bread, you might want to buy a bag (or a few bags) or wild duck food like this one πŸ‘‰ Mr Johnson’s Wild Life Swan Duck Food, 750 g One bag will last a good few visits!

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.

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

Damflask Reservoir walk with a great cafe stop! (3.5 miles)

This is another lovely walk courtesy of Yorkshire Water; it’s buggy friendly, and with the option to stop at the fab licensed cafe in Low Bradfield, it’s a great choice for families.

Route: Download the route here; https://www.yorkshirewater.com/things-to-do/walks/damflask

Facilities: In Low Bradfield a local family friendly cafe open Wednesday to Sunday has great food, a small play area and good toilets πŸ‘ Plenty of benches around the route.

Accessibility: Pretty flat with decent paths (small sections on the road), suitable for buggies

Parking: Lots of roadside free parking. We parked on the damn.

The route is really clear and there is no need for a map- just follow the side of the reservoir. We went in a clockwise direction starting at the damn. There are loads of spots to stop for a picnic by the waterside, or benches on the path.

The advantage of starting at the damn means that the half way point is Low Bradfield, a short detour from the path takes you into this pretty village, where we found an ice cream van as well as The School Rooms, a massive find!! We’d had a picnic, but stopped in for drinks when Jess caught sight of the bouncy castle! The food looked awesome, next time we’re definitely stopping for lunch!

I love that this reservoir has boats! The walk back passes the boathouse giving Jess another point of interest. After the walks there are lots of pubs nearby for further refreshments and toilets (I sound bloody obsessed with toilets but given 4 weeks ago I gave birth that’s allowed).

Overall, it’s a fab little walk, I was so impressed that Jess managed most of it and was cheery throughout (although the ice cream van helped her spirits). A massive thumbs up!

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.

Plumpton Rocks, Harrogate

If you’re looking for a stunning picnic spot with lots of opportunities for little ones to explore, Plumpton Rocks should be top of your list! With a short lakeside walk and plenty of rocks for scrambling around its a great destination to create some real family adventures.

Website: http://plumptonrocks.com

Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies- be prepared for steps, slopes and scrambling.

Cost: It was Β£3.50 an adult and Β£2.50 a child on our visit- but check website for up to date pricing

Opening: Weekends only in season, 11am-6pm.

Facilities: None, parking included in entry cost.

If you’re looking for a decent walk, this probably isn’t the place for you. It’s barely a kilometre to walk around the lake. BUT if you’re looking to spend a few hours adventuring and exploring in some incredible scenery then this is the perfect place. I can’t believe we hadn’t been before!

I’m not sure what we were expecting, after looking at the website I could see it was a pretty picturesque area. But I was completely unprepared for the beauty we found there.

After looking at the information board, we decided to do a rough circuit of the lake. From the car park, moving in a clockwise direction it’s a steep descent down to the lake for little legs, but straight away it captured Jessica’s imagination. The path of the west side of the lake gave pretty views and a walk through some bluebells.

At the top of the lake was a great grassy area perfect for picnics and a run around. Following the path round the rocks start and the exploring begins!

There are loads of little trails and climbs for children; surprises round every corner! No areas seemed off limits, so you can explore to your hearts content, and easily get lost amongst the rocks! I loved that there were benches situated in the most surprising of places.

Obviously the scenery continued to delight too! In the woodland behind the lakeside rocks there was more fun to be had with den building and even more climbing!

If you haven’t been before, get that picnic packed and prepare to see some serious energy getting burned off. An absolute treat to find.

Studfold’s Fairy Trail, Nidderdale

Our last visit here was pre-child Gorge Scrambling with friends, so following a fairy trail with our daughter wearing wings and a tutu was somewhat of a change of pace, but no less enjoyable. In fact, seeing Jess getting involved in all the activities was absolutely brilliant (just as well, since she’s been excited all week about seeing the fairies!) It’s a great trail, and if you’re looking for something to do in Nidderdale, an activity that I’d thoroughly recommend.

Website: http://studfoldtrails.co.uk/adventure_trail/fairy_trail/

Trail: Β£6.50 for adults and Β£5.50 for children. There were different difficulty levels of the trail activity booklet depending on ages, but the activities around the trail itself could be for various ages.

Time: We took just under 2.5 hours to go round (including snack stop). If it had been a little warmer and drier we could have spent longer. With older children it might also have taken a bit longer as they would have spent longer at some of the activities (although would be walking faster so who knows?!)

Facilities: Everything you need; toilets, cafe (who can also provide picnics), and free parking. You can camp here and do lots of other activities too!

Accessibility: Technically there were no stiles and steps could be avoided, so a robust buggy could have probably done it, but to be honest I wouldn’t recommend taking one.

As soon as we told Jess we were going to find the fairies today she’s been super excited to don her fairy wings (they’re encouraged!) and fairy skirt and start her fairy walk! At the start we ‘briefed’ her with the basics; she had to spot stone bunnies and find the next marker on the trail. She was terrible at finding the rabbits, but better at finding the pictured markers. As we went round there were loads of activities, most of which would have suited slightly older children better but she liked looking in them and enjoyed the ones she did do.

Some of the parts of the trail had special interest; firstly the ‘Go kart’ track (pedal tractors of different sizes). We loved seeing a biking fairy, and Jess loved that there was a pink helmet!

The den building area was also fab.

For an extra 50p you could also purchase a badge and wish set at the start. There was a fairy house here where you could write your wish on seed paper and plant it in the fairy garden. We did a wishing ‘spell’ but Jess wanted to keep the seeds to take home.

Of course we were here to see the fairies!! πŸ§šβ€β™€οΈπŸ§šβ€β™€οΈ Unfortunately they were all asleep as we walked round, but we saw lots of fairy homes and tried to wake them up. They’re clearly heavy sleepers – I think most of Nidderdale heard Jess hollering!!

There was also a treasure box in the Magical Woods where you can take an unwanted toy from home and swap it for something that you might want in there- a lovely idea!

Towards the end of trail is the play area and barn. There are fantastic views from here, as well as facilities to stop and lunch. There are eco toilets and drinks facilities with an honesty box. If you don’t want to carry your picnic round (or want to order one), you can have yours brought up here and delivered to the barn! In the barn itself are colouring pencils where you can colour in the paper circle from the 50p set (at the end you watch this get turned into the badge). The play area includes sandpit, diggers and tractors and a junior obstacle course.

It’s a pretty short walk overall- Jess had no problems walking all the way round. Mainly because you could usually see the next activity ahead (so incentives to keep going). It’s quite a drive up there from where we are (Leeds) so if you can I’d try to tie it in with something else up that way- maybe a trip to Brimham Rocks or Pately Bridge on the way home. Or next time I think we’ll stay at the campsite and do some of the other activities, make a weekend of it. Regardless of how you plan it- if you’ve got a young child with an interest in fairies it’s definitely worth a trip!

Xx

A buggy walk around Temple Newsam, Leeds

Temple Newsam Estate has loads of different walks and woodland to explore, which is lucky as it’s on our doorstep! This route takes in some of the highlights.

Distance: Approximately 3.5km

Route: Use the estate map here, our route is highlighted below in yellow. Walking in an anti-clockwise direction means the uphills are on smoother paths nearer the house. This route is suitable for buggies, but it is steep in places and be warned in wet weather can get extremely muddy in places!

Parking: Free, we usually park at the playground

Facilities: Head to the stable courtyard for toilets and cafe. Home Farm is just brilliant and extremely reasonable.

Starting the walk from the house gives you gorgeous views of what’s to come! Pass by the entrance to join the pretty tree lined avenue to start the walk.

When the path forks, take the left path (Bridleway) to start the circular route. It’s a lovely view on the way down this hill, a bit at odds with the sounds of the motorway and glimpses of trucks!

Top tip: Look out for the gate on the right out of some woodland (16 on the map) for a pretty part of the nature trail to glimpse at. There are also some picnic benches in here if you want a quiet and picturesque spot! Be warned there are a few (small steps).

We were surprised to be able to see Little Temple as we passed below it- in the past the shrubbery has obscured the view but it’s all been cut back.

Following the route shown takes you on a quiet path to the back of Lakes, and you can follow this back to the popular Rhododendron walk up to the house and cut through the farm to the playground!

There are so many variations of this route and new places to explore in this fabulous estate! Keep your eyes open for the next adventure there!

Rachel xx

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