We’ve just come back home from the firework display at the Olde Coach House at Ashby St Ledgers. A little late for the children, considering it is a school night, but worth it.
We live a few miles away from the village of Ashby St Ledgers, which was the command centre for the Gunpowder plot of 1605!
Yes, you’ve read that right. The manor house in the village, owned by the Catesby family for over 250 years, was where Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes and fellow conspirators met to plan blowing up the Houses of Parliament.
Ashby St. Ledgers also became a repository for the arms, munitions and gunpowder that the plotters were amassing. For more information, visit http://www.gunpowder-plot.org/
The webite helped us give our children a shortened explanation of the history behind why every 5th of November we celebrate the Gunpowder plot by having a bonfire and a firework display.
Autumn is well and truly here and whilst camping may not be to everyone’s taste this time of year, there are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the changing of the seasons. This weekend we ventured out to Salcey Forest .
Here are my top 10 tried and tested family walks for Autumn in the UK :
1. Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire
My personal favourite! The six-mile circular trail follows the edge of the Salcey forest, a medieval hunting forest known for its ancient oaks and beeches. A series of trailside art sculptures have been installed and a short cut that takes walkers to the Treetop Walk, a skywalk that elevates to 70ft in the air and gives views across the forest and surrounding Northamptonshire countryside. They are also in the middle of creating a super Tree Ninja Adventure playground for kids and adults alike.
2. Kings Wood, Cornwall
Near St Austell is a richly varied spread of oak, beech, ash, birch and spruce on the slopes of the Pentewan valley – popular with walkers and riders. A primary path runs through the middle of the wood, with less formal paths branching off either towards the valley top, for views over the area, or down to the wet woodlands – wear your wellies along the banks of the St Austell river!
3. Sea Palling, Norfolk
A family-friendly walk that takes walkers along the beach from Sea Palling along to Winterton on Sea. It is not a circular walk, so not ideal in that respect, however, if you have young children it is worth following the beach south towards the Great Barn at Waxham and turn back. Those that want to carry on will get a real opportunity to really let the wind blow the cobwebs and enjoy spectacular views across the North Sea.
4. Derwent Valley Walk, Derbyshire
Starting from Fairholmes, this 11-mile circular walk follows a marked route round the famous ‘Dambuster’ reservoirs. The walk is set in heather moorland peppered with beech, rowan, silver birch, spruce and oak trees, which amongst other factors attract a large array of birds, including ravens, crossbills and ospreys.
5. Pepper Wood, West Midlands
There’s an excellent network of walks, ranging from 20 minutes up to 2 hours with young children. Pepper Wood, is the remant of the ancient Forest of Feckenham, and lies close to Wyre Forest near Bromsgrove. The 150 acre site offers a woodland setting in the midst of great oaks, birch and lime. Alders line the valley floor.
6. Pass of Killiecrankie, Perthshire, Scotland
Perthshire is believed to be the area where you will find some of Scotland’s finest woodlands. The Pass of Killiecrankie walk, a four mile walk set in oak woodland along the River Garry, is possible one of the finest. The riverside trail, which starts at the visitor centre leads to the shores of Loch Faskally. You can end your walk at Pitlochry, or continue along the circular Bealach walk, which brings you back to Killiecrankie. The birch, rowan, aspen and ash trees that adorn the walk will certainly give you a taste of autumn.
7. Ullswater, Lake District
This is one for the families with children aged 11 and upwards, it is easier than the walk at Scafell Pike, but still offers a challenge. Starting at church near Howton, this 10-mile circular walk takes you along the shores of Ullswater for part of the way and up in woodland sorrounding the 657m, Place Fell peak. Follow paths and narrow roads to Martindale, then bear right towards Patterdale, before heading towards the shores of Ullswater and following the twisting path to Sandwick and then back to Martindale.
8. Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire
Another family-friendly nature reserve near Nottingham was opened in the 1960′s by Sir David Attenborough. The walk is nearly 4 miles long, has wide paths and can even accommodate pushchairs. It takes visitors from pond to pond for nearly two hours and is perfect for bird watching in Autumn and Winter, including, according to the visitor centre, two fish-eating birds, the goosander and the merganser.
9. Ystwyth Valley, near Aberystwyth
This walk is set in the grounds of Hafod Uchtryd and occupies 500 acres of the Ystwyth valley. There are many huge beeches, red oaks and larches (the only ‘conifer’ to change colour) that line the walks. My favourite is the short(ish) Gentleman’s walk, which climbs to offer great views over the valley. Much work has been carried out in recent years to restore the many of original walks, which date back to the 18th century. Start your walk at the Church car park.
10. Dove Crag walk, Northumberland
Another 4-mile circular walk at Holystone that will take you through stunning Autumn scenery. The walk is set in the Northumberland National Park and follows a path through oak woodland before climbing to moorland. Here you will find oak, birchwoods and larches. Also look out for birds of prey and red squirrels.
The camping pods at Bryn Dwr at Llandegla in Wales are an excellent choice for anyone, like us, looking for a place to go camping with young children near Snowdonia.
We went for a weekend break in April this year when it was too cold at night for the kids to sleep in our tent, the attraction of the pods, at least for my wife, being the electric heater inside the pod providing warmth. It was our first time in a pod and at Bryn Dwr and impressed by both.
The two camping pods they have are of standard size and could fit all 4 of us sleeping on individual blow-up beds, with some room at the bottom of the pod for luggage and access to exit the pod via the double doors. As well as heating you get lighting via a lamp. Outside, there is a porch and decking area with tables and chairs and a BBQ. The camping pods at Anita’s (see my Anita’s Caravan Park post) includes 1 family-sized pod, which are longer than the standard we stayed and will give you more space inside the pod.
The Bryn Dwr pods are set within the grounds of the home belonging to owner Julie, who welcomed us and showed us around. There is plenty of space for the children to run around, there is also the attraction of the stream which runs alongside the pods and is a great feature to sit back and relax next to in the evening or whilst having breakfast al fresco.
Snowdon, where we were heading for, is around 45 mins drive from the Llandegla, with the town of Betws-y-coed around 30mins away. It is also well located for a trip to the north welsh coast a little further south to Llangollen and, our children’s favourite, Snake Pass.
For more information on Bryn Dwr call 07984 613534 or 01978 790612 or e-mail: email@example.com
‘Scotland! Isn’t that really far away?’ questioned my 6 year old when I told him we were going camping for a few days there.
Yes, it is a long drive, from us it is approximately 7 hours to Fort William, but it is definately worth it. We stayed at the Red Squirrel campsite in the heart of Glencoe, 10 miles south of Fort William.
Hagrid’s hut from the Harry Potter films was filmed about 2 minutes walk from the campsite, so if you can remember the films, you will have a good idea of the landscape surrounding us. We went mid-August and temperatures during the 5 days we were there soared to near 30 degrees, which made it very warm in the tent during the day.
Around Glencoe there are plenty of places to visit and walks to go on, our children are reasonably adventurous, but still young, so we kept to the easier walks. To buy groceries, local shops are available in Glencoe Village and a small supermarket at Ballacullish. There are plenty places to visit and explore near Glencoe, including Inchree Waterfalls. If you are looking for something a little different try Canyoning at Inchree Waterfalls, near Onich. We only discovered this by chance on a walk to see the waterfalls and the guys at Vertical Decents were taking a group Canyoning down the waterfalls – maybe next time!
Further afield you have Fort William, the provincial capital of the highlands and major fishing port, which is worth a visit. Heading north, you have a choice of either going further west towards Mallaig and onto the Isle of Skye by boat or further north towards Loch Ness and Inverness. Both offer stunning drives and plenty of places to stop and admire in awe of the place.
The road towards Mallaig from Fort William is peppered with mountains and lochs, including many with salmon fisheries. If are planning to head towards Mallaig, and the weather is reasonable, take your swimming kits. 10 minutes south of Mallaig is Silver Sands, a sandy beach that gently slopes into an inlet of Loch Morar with its fresh crystal clear water is perfect for everyone to go swimming.
Heading north towards Inverness on the A82, you will come across Fort Augustus, a popular tourist spot. It’s a nice small town positioned at Loch Ness’ most southerly point and referred to as the Gateway to the world famous Loch. The heart of the town features a number of pubs and restaurants that adorn the three-boat wide locks that continue vessels along the Caledonian canal into Loch Ness.
Further afield you have the Nessie Monster museum at Drumnadrochit, and just before you get into the town, you will pass Urquhart Castle, which is believed to date back to the 13th century and has played an important role in Scotland’s history. If you have time, it is well worth a visit.
We have been a number of times to the Scottish Highlands and still discovering new places and routes.
Can you help? Where would you recommend others to visit?
(Feature Photo: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs taken from the village of Tarbet during our journey north)
Those who looked at the night sky yesterday were treated to a ‘brilliant’ show of stars and I was in the perfect place to take advantage of the clear night – I was camping near Ashbourne in the Peak District.
As the temperatures fell to close to 3 degrees, I should have been in my tent making use of the everything I bought with me to keep warm, but instead I was out on my tent’s small porch looking up – I am sure I am not the only one to stare up at the night’s sky in utter amazement.
Of course you don’t have to go camping to enjoy the night sky, but it helps! I remember discovering, through a friend, the Carre d’Etoile – accommodation specifically designed for its dwellers to enjoy the sky at night. The Carre d’etoile was designed by french couple, Louis and Nathalie Blanco and features a circular window above the bed that opens up the sky to those lying down.
The carre d’etoile, which would come under the umbrella of ‘glamping’, is offered in a number of locations across France and is perfect for a short break. For more information, please visit the Carre d’etoile website.