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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.

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Michelle
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Our Top Five Things To Do When Visiting The Lake District

29 October 2020

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Disclosure In collaboration with Hotels.com, but all views and photographs are our own.

Although we haven't done a lot of travelling this year we have had some very nice days out and overnight stays and I think that has helped us get through this very strange year. One of our favourite places is The Lake District and whilst following local guidance it's been perfect to visit as there is plenty of open space to enjoy and no matter what the weather it's a beautiful place to explore. Here are our top five things to do and see when visiting The Lake District. 

Bowness on Windermere

Enjoy A Boat Trip On Windermere
Taking a boat trip on Windermere never gets old and we have been enjoying it for as long as I can remember. You can enjoy the stunning views of Windermere from a cruise that departs from either Bowness. Ambleside or Lakeside.

Red Cruise
Sail from Bowness to Ambleside or vice versa, and enjoy this 70-75 minutes round trip cruise.

Blue Cruise
A 45 minute circular cruise from Bowness, enjoy contrasting scenery of mountains, wooded shorelines and lovely tranquil bays.

Yellow Cruise
This cruise sails from Bowness to Lakeside or vice versa. The round trip takes 90 minutes.

Due to Covid-19 all cruises now have allocated seating and you can book up to between 7-10 days in advance. A face covering must be worn on board all cruises and it's advised to check the website before you travel for any updated information.

Grizedale Forest


Visit To Grizedale Forest
The Grizedale Visitor centre is a great base if you are planning one of the walking trails as it has plenty of parking, facilities including toilets and washing area, picnic tables to enjoy lunch or snack 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.

Railway Sign


Take A Steam Train Ride
You can enjoy the scenic views of the Lakes from the comfort of a Steam Train on the heritage railway. You can combine the yellow river cruise from Bowness and enjoy a 2 hour round trip. 

Your boat cruise will take you to Lakeside where you will then board the steam train to Haverthwaite Station.

Once at Haverthwaite you can enjoy a take away snack from the tea room, browse the gift shop, take a woodland walk and the children can enjoy the large playground area.

Due to Covid-19 all visitors on board must wear a face covering and as always make sure you check out the website for up to date information regarding your visit.

Walking through the woods

Walk Through Fell Foot Park
Fell Foot Park is a huge open space where you can enjoy walks around the parkland, meadow and lake. There is cafe open inside the park and they are working hard to not only provide takeaway snacks and drinks but to offer indoor seating too. 

There is a downloadable activity sheet available from the Fell Foot Park website including a tree trail and bird spotter challenge. 

The car park is open however parking spaces are limited and at the moment there are just two toilets open. 

Please do continue to check the website before your visit.

Vegetable patch at Hill Top

Hill Top - A Visit Beatrix Potter's Home
A visit to Hill Top is a must for Beatrix Potter fans. Although the house is currently closed due to Covid-19 the gardens, shop and cafe are open. 

The gardens are beautiful all year round but in Autumn they are busting with vegetables, fruit and pretty colours. 

If you want to explore the area you can enjoy the Beatrix Potter Moss Eccles Tarn Walk. This is a gentle walk taking from Hill Top to Moss Eccles Tarn, one of Beatrix Potters favourite places to paint while her husband fished. 

Please do continue to check the website before your visit.

The lakes




The Lake District is a beautiful place to visit with so many attractions and things to see and do and we never get tired of visiting and exploring. 

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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.

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.

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John


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Eleven Tips For Visiting Tatton Park

24 June 2020

13 comments
Two boys sitting on a log

For the past few weeks we have been wanting to plan a day out rather than just brief visits to the park or waterfront. As the lockdown has eased a little, going somewhere a little further is now acceptable however we are still nervous about heading out to more public places. Obviously the further you travel the more you have to plan as you aren't just around the corner from home.

I think for us trying to get back to some kind of normality is going to help us get over this anxiousness we all have about public spaces. After a lot of searching online I hit a brick wall. Everywhere looked so busy on Social Media and I didn't really want to travel somewhere only to find it was overcrowded and we all felt uncomfortable and had to come home.

Boy playing with a frisbee

Last week Tatton Park popped up confirming it was open. We love Tatton Park and the first thing I think of is 'lots of space'. Tatton Park is huge and I felt pretty confident that even if it was extremely busy we would be able to social distance and enjoy it.

To help you plan your visit I wanted to share with you some tips and thoughts about Tatton Park.

1. Tatton Park opens at 10am but we didn't arrive till about 11:30am and the queue to enter the park was very busy. We entered the park via the Knutsford Gate and we had to queue for about 10 - 15 mins on the road outside before turning in to the park. Throughout our visit there was a steady flow of cars entering so I think it will be generally busy no matter what time of day depending on the weather.

2. There is an entry fee for cars and motorbikes of £8 even if you are a National Trust Member. Blue badge holders get 50% discount on parking. Walkers and Cyclists enter for free.

3. The car park was very busy but there were two members of staff directing cars to available spaces.

picnic on the grass

4. Take a picnic. We took along our picnic and picnic blanket to enjoy our lunch on the grass. The Stables restaurant is open Weds-Sunday for take away only between 10-30-4:30 however it closes between 1:30-2:30pm for cleaning. It looked very busy with people waiting outside as I assume only so many are allowed in at each time. Taking a picnic would save you queuing.

5. The grounds are huge and there is so much space to be socially distanced from others however you may struggle to find a spot that isn't covered in sheep poo! I'm guessing as they have been closed for so long the animals have just had all the fields and grass area to themselves so the amount of poo on the grass was crazy. We did manage to find a poo free spot big enough for our blanket but not much else.

6. The toilets are open which is one of the reasons we chose Tatton Park.  For the ladies 6 women can be inside the toilets at any one time and the mens is 4. It is a one in one out system with a door to enter and another to leave. There is plenty of hand gel outside and lots of staff instructing you when you can enter and reminding you to put on hand gel. Inside the ladies there was a toilet then the next two were closed off and so on, the same for the sinks. Knowing you can go the toilet obviously makes it much more enjoyable for a day out especially with the kids.

boy eating Ice Cream

7. Enjoy an ice cream. Inside the courtyard there is a tuck shop that was open selling ice creams. Everyone queued leaving the 2m apart and there was a nice selection of lolly ices and ice creams to choose from.

8. The garden shop and gift shop were open when we visited and had a social distance queuing system outside.

9. Just to add the farm, hall and adventure play area are closed at the moment. This may change in coming weeks so keep an eye on the website for updates.

10. Check out the 'What's On' section of the website as there are lots of trail and family friendly activities to get involved in throughout the year. Percy The Park Keep - Secret Path Trail is available until 13th June 2021 in the Gardens. 

11. Have fun.

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

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Michelle


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