There’s nothing better than suddenly deciding to go out, cobbling a few very random picnic items together and jumping in the car (ha, who am I kidding? It takes at least 5 trips to the car to get us all packed and strapped in) and heading out. Which is exactly what we did today!
After a grey morning, the weather picked up and it seemed a waste of the day to stay in…so we set off to RSPB Coombes Valley which is less than 3 miles away from home. The boys were wearing their wellies and I had also packed their sun hats, so we were fully prepared for any kind of weather.
After parking, I sent Stanley over to the donations box to pay our parking fee (£4.00 for non members). We had a vote and the boys decided that their tummies couldn’t wait so we went straight over to the picnic benches which are handily next to the carpark. Within the picnic area there is also a mud kitchen set up which kept the boys happy while I ate my lunch in peace – bliss!
Picnic over, we headed into the reserve. Entry is free. The path down into the valley is fairly steep and rough underfoot so I wore Eli in a hiking carrier on my back. We took our time and James’s little legs managed just fine.
From the main path Stanley spotted a huge den and piles of logs to add to it. So naturally we had to go and investigate.
Both boys added a log to the den and played inside for around 10 minutes while I took in the scenery.
A bit further down the path and we saw the signpost for the canopy walkway. Up another small but steep incline and we were at the gate.
Walking a netted suspended walkway between the trees is pretty magical, esp if you’re 4 and 2 years old.
There was lots of running, jumping to make the walkway bounce and pretending to be birds. Even Eli cheered up!
Once out of the canopy we headed further up the path until we found another sign, this time for a treetop lookout.
By looking through the cut outs in the lookout (shaped as birds, butterflies and insects) you could see over the valley but at this time of year we were also looking at a carpet of bluebells which was just beautiful.
Back on to the path and we came across some buckets suspended on a pulley system running between the trees.
The boys just loved this. We played a game where one of them closed their eyes and the other put some natural goodies into the bucket…think along the lines of bracken, a twig, a stone and a snailshell. Then they opened their eyes and pulled the bucket along them had to feel inside the bucket and guess what was in there! While they took it in turns to guess, I fed Eli on a nearby bench.
Once Eli had settled we carried on our adventure and found a fairy village and then a giant spiders web to play on.
THEY both had great fun on the spiders web and I even managed to snap a reasonable photo of the four of us!
On the way back we visited the canopy walk again before slowly walking back up out of the valley.
We are an outdoorsy family and love anything with nature at its heart, but I really feel like RSPB Coombes Valley have gone above and beyond to make the reserve a fun place for children while engaging them with their natural surroundings. Stanley’s verdict in the car on the way home, BEST DAY EVER!!
As a Wiki Mama for North Staffordshire, I’ve added this Wiki place to wikiplacesforkids.com, your go to website for finding amazing places to go with your littles. Whether that be for an epic adventure or a much NEEDED hour out of the house!
All images are my own unless otherwise credited.
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