For my husbands birthday we decided to have an intentionally rainy day of fun up Beacon Fell! You might think we are mad, but for the most part there is plenty of cover in the woods (and who doesn’t love the sound of rain in the woods?) and we thought it might give a different perspective of the things to do up there (like using the dens for actual shelter rather than for fun, or sliding in the mud on the hill). So with the promise of lots of rain we headed up there with waterproofs, a picnic and a birthday cake complete with candles.
We were meeting my Mum and Step Dad up there so the kids were extra excited, when we got there, there was a bit of faffing around to do so we headed straight for the cafe to have a brew and get the kids a drink and something to fuel the little climb. They put on their waterproof over trousers (which worked a treat at keeping mud and wet off) and Tom checked the pond by the visitor centre for frogs which he didn’t see, but was over the moon as he saw the biggest water boatman ever!
Anyway we headed up the path into the woods. Tom decided to walk in the woods rather than along the path as he was an explorer which was fine as it meant he was about 2 feet higher up but only about 5 feet away from us on an incline. Charlotte was being a bit sulky and walking with my Mum. There were lots of fallen trees and much talk of there having been a Gruffalo through this part which cheered her up quite a bit. Tom and his Dad spotted a den and went to find an entrance for it while Charlotte and I found some perfect trees for little ones to scramble up. It wasn’t long before Tom joined us to show us what he had learned in Forest School (Something his nursery does as they have one of their nurses trained in forest skills and own woods at the back of the premises-it’s amazing).
After a bit we were out of the woods and back on the path, this is where you will find an abundance of bilberries, blackberries and even some wild raspberries (you need a really keen eye for those). We were hoping to pick some while we were up here but no sooner had we started, Charlotte had decided she no longer wanted to walk and wanted to go on Bobs shoulders, which soon put a stop to foraging, but it was only an opportunistic forage. As you walk around Beacon Fell there are wooden animal sculptures for you to find, something the little ones love doing. We have never done them all as we tend to stick to a similar route each time we visit (something we need to rectify on our next trip I think). As you pass this section, you start to head up to the summit and meet the lizard sculpture, one that the kids love climbing on! From here we made our way to the top which you can do in two main ways, continue on a more gentle incline spiraling around which will take a little longer, or you can walk up a fairly steep hill which takes less time. Normally we walk round but Tom really wanted his picnic so we took the hill. I completely forgot how steep it was (and how unfit we are). Bob still had Charlotte on his shoulders and I was feeding him bilberries as we went (they are particularly good this year he said). Then we were at the top! Despite the clouds, the view was lovely especially where the sun was breaking through, but the wind was bitter, people were putting on gloves and hats, you’d never believe it was August! Tom decided he wanted to take some photos (only the second time he has shown interest since our trip to Swallow Falls), so I gave him my phone and he took pictures of everyone. I love his view of us all!
After a quick drink we started back down and headed towards the owl, a highlight for Charlotte, where the little ones played for a while and then the snake. It’s a massive wooden snake sculpture that all children (And some adults) love to walk along! This is the first visit where Tom has done it unaided and although he never walked, he found his own way. I am amazed at how much his confidence has grown since he has adopted this identity as an explorer and adventurer. He is challenging himself more physically and mentally whereas before (although he is a really outgoing child) he would have been more nervous about something like a climbing frame, now he is attacking them with gusto. It’s amazing to see!
After the snake we headed down passed the heron and towards the other pond to see if we could see some frogs.
The pond is really overgrown which is a lovely thing to see because there was all sorts of wildlife there including dragonflies and Tom’s current favourite insects, water boatmen. We saw plenty of tadpoles and as we were about to give up we saw some tiny frogs too much to the little ones delight. We wandered through the last of the woods and grabbed our picnics. We ate, we talked and we sang happy birthday! While the grown ups finished eating, I took the little ones to the grassy hill to roll down it, something not only on their 50 things list, but also something that I thought would round off their day nicely.
Fun had (according to the kids): 4/10 (when asked while tired) 9/10 (when asked after a sleep)
Tantrum level: 2/10 During the actual day out, only a few little ones… (I’ll not include the major one that was had before we left the house)
Worth it? Beacon Fell is always worth it
Worth knowing: Beacon Fell is open 356 days a year and has a cafe and toilets on site.
50 things achievement: 1. Climb a tree, 2. Roll down a really big hill, 4. Build a den, 12. Make a trail with sticks, 21. Pick blackberries growing in the wild, 40. Go on a nature walk at night, and 44. Go bird watching
Cost: Parking £1