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Holly's Festive Feast Christmas Trail, Tatton Park

1 December 2020

14 comments
We have begun our Christmas Festivities with a trip to Tatton Park to enjoy the Christmas Garden Trail, Holly's Festive Feast. 

holly's festive feast sign



boy with rabbit statue



What To Expect At A Christmas Trail: Holly's Festive Feast, Tatton Park, WA16 6QN (Sat Nav WA16 6SG)
Holly the Hare needs your help, she’s been invited to a festive garden feast with Tatton Park’s other woodland friends, but she’s mislaid her invitation! Journey through the Gardens and help solve the puzzles to find her friends at their Christmas party.

Holly Festive Feast party pack


The trail begins at The Gardens entrance where you can pick up your party pack. Inside you will find an animal mask, candy cane, pencils, pencil, sticker, tag for the wish tree and a question sheet and map. 

boy looking at an arrow sign


Next you need to follow the arrows to find the clues to help Holly The Hare get to the party in time. 

Holly's Festive Feast clue

man and boy writing


There are 6 clues in total which take you all around the gardens. You can also head off on different paths to explore if you wish but make sure you get back on track as you don't want to miss the party.

Each clue is easy to solve although younger ones may need a little help from a grown up. Just below each clue is a beautiful stature of Holly The Hare. 

Once you have worked out the clues, pop your answer on the sheet and then head off to find the next clue. 

Two boys looking at a clue

Boy looking at a sign


When you find clue number 6 you then have to find Holly's invitation which will then tell you where the party is. 

Holly's Festive Feast

Holly's Festive Feast

Holly's Festive Feast


Once you have found the party venue join the queue and wait your turn to head inside and see the animals enjoying their party. 

Holly's Festive Feast wish tree

Holly's Festive Feast wish tree

Holly's Festive Feast wish tree




wish tree

Although Holly The Hare made it to her party in time there is still more to do. Next head to the wish tree to put on your own wish.

Roasting marshmallows

Roasting marshmallows

Eating a roasted marshmallow

Eating a roasted marshmallow


Last but not least follow your nose to find Pat the jolly Gardener whose job it is to care for the gardens and wildlife. Pat’s keeping warm by the fire roasting chestnuts.You can even enjoy a chestnut or roast your own marshmallow before heading to the exit as your trail comes to an end.

Anything Else?
Holly's Festive Feast Christmas Trail is available on selected dates
Sat 28th - Sun 29th November
Tues 1st  - Sun 6th December
Tues 8th - Sun 13th December
Tues 15th - Thurs 24th December (including 21 Monday Dec)
Sat 26th December - Sun 3rd January (including 28 Monday Dec)

The trail opens at 10am - 4pm (with the last entry being 3pm). The trail took us well over 2 hours as we explored around the gardens and woodlands so entering at 3pm may cut your time short as it closes at 4pm.

Entry to the mid-winter gardens this festive season is £8 an adult, £6 a child and free for National Trust members.

To experience the full trail experience you may want to the purchase the party pack mentioned above. This costs an extra £2.

There are no toilets inside the garden area so make sure you head to the toilets before you enter which are just outside the gardens entrance. 

Refreshments are available for take away only at Stable Restaurant plus there are snacks, ice creams and drinks available in the gift shop. 

There are lots of picnic benches and tables available to enjoy a picnic for takeaway at with some being under a marquee. 

Head to the Stables Restaurant for festive food and drink and browse pop up Christmas stalls in the stableyard - a mini market of local traders selling homeware, Christmas gifts and more.  This is available to enjoy 11am-4pm
Fri 4, Sat 5 and Sun 6 December
Fri  11, Sat 12 and Sun 13 December 

The cosy Gardener's Cottage this Christmas is inviting you to experience the delights of a Festive Afternoon Tea – and great news for little ones -  they can feel special too with their own limited edition mini festive tea with choice of sandwiches, crisps, hot chocolate or juice and a Christmas tree cookie. Available to enjoy Tuesday - Sunday from 2 Dec until 3 Jan 2021 

Parkland is closed Mondays and open Tuesdays - Sundays 10am – 5pm (last entry 4pm)
Farm and Mansion are currently closed. 

All vehicles will be charged £7 parking fee, this is half price for blue badge holders, cyclists and pedestrians are free to enter.

Please ensure you follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Face coverings are required in the cafe, gift shop and also the toilets for those aged 11+ (usual exemptions apply)  

Check for local lockdowns / travel restrictions before visiting anywhere. 

Always check with the venue direct as things may have changed after this post was published. 

What Is Close By?
Dunham Massey, WA14 4SJ - 15 Minute Drive
Dunham Massey is a green oasis nestled between the urban sprawl of Manchester and rural tranquillity of Cheshire.

Arley Hall and Gardens, CW9 6NA - 15 Minute Drive
Arley Hall & Gardens is a place of enormous character, charm and interest. Visitors are frequently struck by the warm and intimate atmosphere and the feeling that Arley is a much-cherished family home.

Further Away.
Dream, WA9 4BB - 30 Minute Drive
Dream is a huge sculpture of a child's face situated in the middle of Sutton Manor. You may have read our post recently about our visit to Dream. It's just a 30 Minute Drive from Tatton Park and nice easy walk to enjoy.

Speke Hall Estate and Gardens, L24 1XD - 40 Minute Drive
Speke Hall Gardens and Estate is a National Trust property just outside Liverpool with lots of walking trails, adventure playground and beautiful views of the River Mersey.

Holly's Festive Feast Christmas Trail at Tatton Park will definitely put you in a festive mood and ready for the big day. 

If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Have you been to Holly's Festive Trail? Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit.

Visit our Autumn Walks In The North West post for more walk ideas

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Michelle
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Visiting Speke Hall Estate and Gardens

25 November 2020

8 comments
As you all know we have been trying to head out at least once a week for a walk and we are trying to visit new places each week. This weekend the weather wasn't too good so we didn't want to go far. We chose Speke Hall Gardens and Estate. Speke Hall Gardens and Estate is a National Trust property just outside Liverpool and last weekend we visited for the first time since it reopened after lockdown.

Speke Hall


Due to current restrictions Speke Hall Gardens and Estate are asking their visitors to pre book your visit with tickets being released every Friday for the week ahead. You can purchase your tickets up to 3pm the day before your planned visit date if available. 

What To Expect At Speke Hall. L24 1XD
Unfortunately Speke Hall is not currently open however there is still plenty to do at the Estate to keep you busy. 

Boy overlooking a runway

airport runway

Boys overlooking the airport runway


Bund Walk
The Bund Walk starts just past the adventure playground and will take you up and around the estate. This huge earth embankment was built in 1967 to lessen the noise and sight of nearby aircraft, when Liverpool airport moved to the east side of Speke Hall. Enjoy the stunning views out across the River Mersey to Wirral and the Welsh hills. 

There are benches along this path where you can sit and if you are lucky you may see a plane take off or land on the very near runway. 

You continue around the Bund Walk until it brings you back round to the front of Speke Hall. 

Childe of Hale Trail

Childe of Hale Trail

Childe of Hale Trail


boy playing woodland instruments

Childe Of Hale Trail
The Childe of Hale Trail also begins just at the back of the adventure playground. Begin a woodland adventure with a sculptured play trail, based on the local legend of John Middleton who was supposedly 9'3" tall! It is even said that he slept with his feet sticking out of his bedroom window in nearby Hale village. Will you spot him on your way around? Remember to look out for giant buttons, optical illusions and some larger-than-life vegetable musical instruments that you can play.

This trail is suitable for all ages and pram-friendly.

woodland playground

woodland playground

woodland playground


Woodland Playground
After the Childe of Hale Trail you will come to a huge open plan area that is perfect for letting the kids go wild! 

Hidden away in the magical woodland, there are lots of exciting challenges for them to take on including a hair-raising zip line, a hill of stepping stones and outdoor balancing obstacles. Will you conquer the wobbly wooden and chain bridge? There's hours of fun to be had in our woods.

Dotted around are huge sticks and branches of fallen trees that are perfect to put together for a den building session. 

Hedge Maze (currently closed)
Will you find your way out of the giant hedge maze? Designed by the world’s leading expert in maze construction, Adrian Fisher, there are 12 gates, 5 bridges, 4 finger mazes, 3 weather vanes and a viewing platform waiting to be discovered. You can even catch a wonderful view of the River Mersey from the platform as a rewarding surprise.

Adventure Playground
The playground is a great place for  the kids to burn off some energy and for the adults to sit and enjoy a takeaway hot drink from the nearby cafe. 

takeaway at speke hall

takeaway at speke hall


Enjoy a Takeaway
At the moment is cafe is open and is offering a selection of hot and cold drinks and snacks to takeaway.

Anything Else?
If you are not a National Trust member then you do need to pay to enter Speke Hall Estate and Gardens. 
Tickets cost £5 per adult and £2.50 per child. There are family ticket options available too. 

Opening Times - Gardens are open 10 - 4 and the cafe is open 10-3.30 every day. 
There are toilets open at the Estate.

There are plenty of car parking spaces all within a very short walk to the main entrance. 

Most of the routes and trails are one way at the moment so keep an eye out for green arrow signposts. 

There are hand sanitiser stations dotted around especially near attractions that require you to use your hands such as the Woodland playground. 

Please ensure you follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Face coverings are required the cafe and also the toilets for those aged 11+ (usual exemptions apply)  

Check for local lockdowns / travel restrictions before visiting anywhere. 

Always check with the venue direct as things may have changed after this post was published. 

What Is Close By?
If you are looking to make a day out of your visit to Speke Hall then there are a few places you could also visit close by. 

Dobbies, L24 1UX
Dobbies Garden Centre is approx 5 minutes from Speke Hall and is decorated for Christmas.

Royal Albert Dock, L3 4AA
Take a walk along the waterfront just a 15 minute drive from Speke Hall.

There are lots of parks close to Speke Hall including the closest, Calderstones Park and Sefton Park.

Further Away
Dream, WA9 4BB 
Dream is a huge sculpture of a child's face situated in the middle of Sutton Manor. You may have read our post recently about our visit to Dream. It's just a 20 Minute Drive from Speke Hall and nice easy walk to enjoy.

Antony Gormleys Another Place (The Iron Men), L22 1RR
Another Place is a piece of modern sculpture by Sir Antony Gormley located at Crosby Beach in Merseyside, England. It consists of 100 cast iron figures facing towards the sea

If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit 

Visit our Autumn Walks In The North West post for more walk ideas

Like us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Share This Post With Friends Who May Also Find It Useful. 

I really hope this post helps you plan your day at Speke Hall Estate and Gardens. 

Michelle
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Visiting Formby and The Red Squirrel Nature Reserve

24 November 2020

19 comments
We have been trying to make the most of lockdown by making sure that we get out at the weekend for some much-needed fresh air. We have a huge list of places that we want to visit in the North West For some scenic walks. A few weeks ago we decided to head to Freshfields which is also known as Formby National Trust Red Squirrel Reserve.

boys walking through the woods


It’s been a while since we visited the squirrel reserve but it's probably one of our favourites and we have been visiting since both John and I were little.  It was once home to lots and lots of red squirrels but as the years have gone on there are less and less and unfortunately we didn't see any on our visit this time. It's a nice scenic walk and perfect for some fresh sea air. 

What To Expect At The Red Squirrel Reserve, L37 1LJ
There are some walking trails to enjoy at The Red Squirrel Reserve including

woodland

boy on a rope swing




woodland

Formby Red Squirrel Walk
​Explore beautiful woodlands surrounding Formby in Merseyside, home to the rare native red squirrel. This walk is mostly covered by trees so if you choose to visit on a wet and rainy day like we did you won’t feel the rain at all.

There is lots of ground to cover and so much for little ones to explore. There are lots of hills to climb and run down and large open spaces perfect for den building.  We even found a tree swing someone had made which was lots of fun. 

woodland space

tree carvings

Formby Asparagus

Formby Asparagus


Asparagus Walk
Have a wander through the crop fields and discover how a spring vegetable helped shaped Formby as it is today. There are lots of information points along the way to read about Formby Asparagus.

boys walking over Sand Dunes

beach

beach


Over The Dunes
The Squirrel Reserve is a short walk away from the coastline and just over the dunes you will find Formby beach which is perfect for a nice stroll or even a paddle in the sea.

Anything Else?
The National Trust Squirrel Reserve can be reached on foot or by car. If you choose to use the National Trust carpark you will be asked to pay £7.50 if you are not a National Trust member.

Toilet facilities are open every day till  3pm however they are closed at 12:30 for a 30 minute deep clean.

There is an ice cream van selling ice cream and refreshments just located by the toilets. Card is accepted however due to poor wifi signal I would recommend taking cash too. There is also a pop-up trailer serving hot and cold drinks and some light snacks including cakes.

If you are heading to the beach upon arrival please take note of the tide times as it can come in very quickly and you do not want to be surrounded by water.

The Red Squirrel Reserve is very popular with local schools so there are lots of picnic benches and family friendly areas situated around the reserve and clearly signposted.  

Please ensure you follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines and if the reserve is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Check for local lockdowns / travel restrictions before visiting anywhere. 

Always check with the venue direct as things may have changed after this post was published. 

What Is Close By?
Antony Gormleys Another Place (The Iron Men), L22 1RR
Another Place is a piece of modern sculpture by Sir Antony Gormley located at Crosby Beach in Merseyside, England. It consists of 100 cast iron figures facing towards the sea.

Southport Pier, PR8 1QX
Not only does Southport have 22 miles of coast but also boasts the Grade II listed Southport Pier, the oldest iron pier in the country, standing for over 150 years.

Further Away
Blackpool Promenade, FY1 5BB
There’s nothing quite like a day at the seaside, and Blackpool is one of the best beach resorts you will find in the UK.

Speke Hall Estate and Gardens, L24 1XD
Speke Hall Gardens and Estate is a National Trust property just outside Liverpool with lots of walking trails, adventure playground and beautiful views of the River Mersey.

If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit 

Visit our Autumn Walks In The North West post for more walk ideas

Like us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


Share This Post With Friends Who May Also Find It Useful. 

I really hope this post helps you plan your day to Formby and The Red Squirrel Reserve.

Michelle
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Family Walk From Grizedale Visitor Centre

24 August 2020

16 comments
dad and son at the top of Carron Crag

Last weekend we decided to attempt a family walk in one of our favourite places to visit, The Lake District. There are so many walks to choose from, and also so many guides that the choice was actually quite difficult, with different sites giving the same walk different ratings in terms of gradient, accessibility and overall difficulty. 

We have visited the Lake District many times, and usually opt for the most popular tourist attractions such as the boat trip from Bowness-On-Windermere to Ambleside, or the lovely walk around Tarn Hows, however this time we wanted to have a bit more adventure and find something new, something with a rewarding view and a sense of achievement at the end.

After lots of research we decided to set out from Grizedale Visitor Centre. The visitor centre is a great base as it has plenty of parking, facilities including toilets and washing area, picnic tables for lunch before you set off.

The centre also has a fantastic childrens play area, and a cafe area with outside and inside seating (although inside isn't available at the moment) serving food, drinks and ice creams throughout the day.  There is also a Go Ape centre here with climbing options in the forest and Segway routes if you would prefer this to a walk.

two boys walking up a steep hill

There are several routes you can choose from, starting at Grizedale. The benefit of starting from the centre is that each route is signposted and there are coloured indicators throughout the walk to let you know you are still on track. These are brilliant for inexperienced walkers and those who want the safety net of markers to avoid getting lost. With this in mind, we chose the Red Route to Carron Crag. This is described as a steep circular route with panoramic views, being 314 metres above sea level at the summit.

As we set off from the centre, we noted the walk length as 5km and estimated a walk time of around 2 hours. This will obviously depend on your walking ability, as we found out!

The start of the walk takes you up a steep bank to the right of a small stream and sets you up well for what is ahead. Walkers go off to the right and bikers go off to the left at this point, although once you reach the top of the bank after a short climb both roads meet again.

Here you turn right and head along the road noting the red markers indicating you are going the right way. After a short walk you come to the first of two red markers. The first one heads off left and looks steep. We chose to avoid this marker and head for the second red marker, again going off to the left, but going up a little stream. These are the beginning and end markers of the circular route. You can go either way, however I recommend you follow our route, as coming down a stream, especially if its raining could be challenging for some.

A boy walking up a steep hill

Walking Boots

Up the stream we headed. The path is rocky, with outcrops sticking out here and there. You will definitely need your walking boots here. This section of the walk seem to go on for some time, and is steep, however after some time, you will notice the forest begin to clear and you can start to appreciate the views from the top of the forest. There is a lot of logging going on towards the top of this section and there are some areas with warning signs not to enter too.

As you reach the top of the stream, turn sharp left and head along the road, which is wide and not as steep as the stream, giving your feet a rest on a flat surface.  Follow the road for some time and you will come to another red marker, this time on the right. This is the path to the top of Carron Crag.

This is the steepest part of the walk, and the ground is made up of pebbles that have been put down to help you grip up the slopes. This is a short, sharp climb to the summit, and although you don't need to scramble or climb, it could be difficult for less able walkers.

Man and Woman with the lake district in the background

A boy looking up

Once at the top, there is a small climb to the Trig. This is the marker indicating you have made it to the top. The views here are great. Whilst there aren't any lakes in sight, you can see some of the Fells, including Coniston Old Man, and you can also see all the way to Morecambe Bay and beyond.  There are some rocks that you can sit on and have a drink and a break, before it's time to head back down to the forest centre.

There are choices to make for your descent. One way is to continue past the top and follow some more red markers back down a steep path through the forest. We opted to head back the way we came, back to the road and the marker towards the top of the Crag.

A boy at the top of a mountain

View over the lake district

man standing over the lake district

At this point instead of retracing our steps (as we didnt want to attempt walking back down the stream) we turned right, following the road as if we had passed the Carron Crag route.  This takes you to the right of the forest valley and after a kilometre or so brings you to a crossroads where you meet your red markers again. From here turn left and head back down the path to the first red marker you went past on the first road. You then turn right back along the road and then turn left back down the steep bank you started on.

boy playing on a swing

boy playing on a slide

The walk took us around 4 hours in total. This included a stop for lunch, however a lot of this time was walking. The distance we walked seemed further than the 5km indicated, however for much of the time we followed the route. The walk was very enjoyable however, and we all felt really good when we made it to the end and celebrated with an ice cream outside the cafe.

Somehow Little J still had energy to burn on the play area, and he loved the size of the structure, made of wood, with the biggest slide he has been on for some time. The area was quite quiet as it was around 4.30pm by now, however I could imagine it could get very busy at lunchtime.

If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit 

Visit our Walks In The North West post for more walk ideas

Like us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


Share This Post With Friends Who May Also Find It Useful. 

We had planned to head to Coniston or Bowness afterwards however we decided instead to head home and save that for another trip. We will also head back to Grizedale soon as I am sure we will want to try out some of the other trails that are all easier than the Carron Crag trail.

John


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