Considering that I live 10 minutes away from some beautiful forestry and countryside, it’s funny how I have only managed a handful of visits in 7 years.
Until the last 3 weeks that is – when I have taken the kids up there not once, not twice but three times.
I’m talking about a place called the Birches Valley Forestry Centre. It’s a lovely day out and there is just so much for the family to do. For a start, there is the adventure playground. Full of wooden climbing frames, saucer swings and an obstacle course, the kids can spend hours in there alone. And – this may sound a bit weird considering it’s outdoors and covered in mud, leaves and general woodsy type dirt – it’s clean. Yes, it is clean outdoors.
I think I outdid myself with that one!
What I mean is, there is no litter. There’s no dog muck either, because dogs are not allowed in the playground. And for some reason, this is one of those places where the public actually obeys!
So we took a trip up to play in the great outdoors.
Of course, after that we had to go for a walk through the woods, which is filled with wonderful, bizarre and sometimes just plain odd statues and artwork. To name just a few, there are wooden animals, metal statues representing Mother Earth, the three bears chairs and one huge trainer.
Outside of the playground dogs are welcome. So we took the puppy with us on an adventure through Fairy Wood.
If you are quiet, and you are good, the fairies welcome you into their wood.
After some looking about we found a fairy tree. Lots of little doors and windows open up into the tree itself, where we saw the fairies homes. There were even little washing lines hanging up, full of clothes.
Further on past the wood we saw the fairy queen’s throne and a mushroom fairy ring. Of course, my little elves had to go sit on the throne before dashing off to explore the picture maze behind it.
From there we went on to den building in the woods. Luckily, being slightly worn out by then, we found some nice handy big ones already made, so we all squeezed in to warm up around the fire – Granny and Bagel too.
Birches Valley has other things to offer too. Mr G and I went some years ago for a few hours tree climbing, swinging around amongst the branches and speeding along zip lines on the Go Ape course. We plan to go again soon.
Last week we took MM1 on her brand new birthday bike. Birches Valley has a number of difficult courses for the serious riders – we took the basic family path. MM1 did great, getting used to gears, brakes, hills and crossing streams with only a few tumbles. MM2 was serene, sitting in his chair on the back of my bike and waving happily at passers by.
In fact I think it was Mr G who had the worst time, since he was trying to stay upright whilst being pulled sideways by the puppy. Who, by the way, was ecstatic at a good run through the woods, if a little miffed at not being able to wander off willy nilly after every new smell. Beagles are not good at concentrating on one thing for long!
And every trip ends up the cafe, where they sell the most decadent creamy ice creams!
Definitely a great place for a family day out. It got us all up and moving without complaints, and as a generally indoor gadget focused family, I was pretty impressed with that!