We’re an outdoorsy family. Choosing to spend time outside whatever the weather. We always go for long child friendly walks on weekends and when we aren’t working and have done for years. For a while we had to limit what walks we were doing due to pushchair use and when Spike stopped using the pushchair longer walks were harder. But even then, we still went out when we could.
Walking in Lancashire and Cumbria
The North West has some fantastic walking routes so we are lucky where we live. Lancashire has loads of walks across its 1,000 square miles. The Lake District in Cumbria is only a half hour drive for us now too. So since we’ve moved we’ve been keen to explore there. Lockdown had it’s affect though and we haven’t done as much as we wanted to in the Lakes. But we know there are a lot of places that offer child friendly walks up there.
Tarn Hows is a National Trust owned space close to Coniston and Windermere. I was recommended it by my work colleague and sister as soon as we moved to Lancaster as it only takes about 40 minutes to get to from home. Me and T went on our first visit there in November 2019, sans Spike. We walked from Coniston itself to the Tarn and back. It was a hefty 6 mile walk. One not to be done with Spike! But we then took Spike directly to the Tarn itself and walked round it in March. That totalled around 3 miles including the detour to the waterfalls. She loved it and was amazed by the views and the wandering highland cows in the woods.
This Lancashire based walk is just 10 minutes drive from our house and it gorgeous. There are a few routes you can take from the Crook O’Lune picnic site, and you can also park in Caton and follow the Riverside Pathway down to Crook O’Lune. The reason its called that is that the River Lune does a u turn like a shepherd’s crook and it makes for a really nice picnic area. You can see the river from loads of different points and come across some beautiful bridges and art installations, like the one of the otters that Spike adores. We followed the popular riverside pathway the first time we went and there were a lot of people around. After that we went the opposite direction, through the picnic site and into the woods near Greys Seat and back over another bridge at the other side of the crook. The Riverside walk is the route you want to take if you have young, young kids and pushchairs can go on the majority of the route (some of it is over fields though). But Spike at 4 really loved the woods.
The Forestry Commission do a great job on their big forest trails and Grizedale is no exception. We’ve only been once but my word, its awesome and we’ll be going back soon. There are loads of different trails of varying difficulty. We did the white Grizedale Tarn Trail which was 3.5 miles and Spike enjoyed it because of the sculptures on the way round. You can also see some of the Go Ape bits from it but as it was New Years Day when we went, no one was doing those. We’ll be heading back to Grizedale soon, probably to tackle the red Carron Crag Trail but only when we’ve got some proper walking boots for Spike. Its definitely a great place to visit with kids when staying in the Lake District.
Pendle Sculpture Trail
The Pendle Sculpture Trail in Barley is breathtakingly beautiful. Its another thats full of amazing sculptures for the kids to marvel at and even climb on. We went for New Years Day (Can you sense a theme here?) in 2018 and I want to return soon. Its probably a 3- 4 mile route as the trail itself is just over a mile round, but you have to walk there from the nearest car park. This is the only part of the walk Spike didn’t enjoy. But me and T still did. There are a few other routes in Pendle that we didn’t get walked which I’m hoping to go back and do.
Nature reserve and Fairfield Orchard in Lancaster
So this one is probably my favourite as we can do this from our house, no driving required. We walked it a lot during lockdown because of this. The nature reserve is located just next to the canal on the way out of Lancaster on the south side of the city. You can do a big loop and get back to some decent parking spots next to the canal and enjoy a bit of a walk down the canal too. The loop includes Fairfield Orchard, where Spike’s school take them a lot. Its a little orchard full of fruit trees with willow sculptures and a little sewing area designed for outdoor lessons. Definitely check it out if you are local to Lancaster or are visiting for the weekend and want a cute stroll.
Devil’s Bridge and Ruskin’s View, Kirkby Lonsdale
This is a recent one for me. Spike and I went to meet one of my work friends here for a socially distanced walk during lockdown and I fell in love. Devil’s Bridge is gorgeous, theres free parking and an ice cream van. Plus lots of places to splash about in shallow parts of the river on the stony beaches under the bridge. We went on the riverside walk along from Devil’s Bridge and up to Ruskin’s View. This is a gorgeous view across the Cumbrian countryside which inspired the poet John Ruskin to write “I do not know in all my country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine.” I’m not sure its that amazing but me and Spike enjoyed the walk and came across a tree so old, it had grown through, and swallowed, a metal fence next to it!
Brock Bottom Picnic Site
This place is beautiful in the spring. I wanted to go back this year for the bluebells but alas, lockdown didn’t allow that. Brock Bottom is located on the river Brock, just north of Preston in Lancashire. Part of Beacon Fell, its a lovely place to visit. Its a picnic area with woodland walks, and stony beaches where you can safely go into the river at all ages. Spike fell in when we wandered across some stepping stones which was hilarious. We went for a walk into the woods and found lots of magical places to explore. We didn’t follow any official trail but I’m fairly sure there are a few from this bit of the river and it would make for a lovely family day out.
Fairy Glen, Wigan
This magical place is worth a visit for anyone with kids. You can honestly believe that fairies live in this place as soon as you step foot into it. Theres a circular route around the glen and there are trees with ‘fairy doors’ in them so be sure to try and spot them! Me, Spike and T met up with our friend here and had a lovely walk together. There are little bits of the glen where the kids can walk through the water safely. Plus, there’s a gorgeous waterfall that you can climb right up to.
Nicky Nook, Scorton
So this is a very new addition to our list of cool family friendly walks in Lancashire. We’ve been to Scorton before but never attempted the hill there, Nicky Nook. But last weekend we decided to go and check it out finally. We parked nearby and did a 3.5 mile round route that took us up to the summit of the hill, then back down to Grizdale Reservoir an along the brook there. We then headed to Wyresdale Park for a bite to eat now that cafes have reopened and that was lovely too!