Adventures in the woods are, without doubt, one of our favourites.
If you were to ask Henry for his top 3 adventure days out I am certain this would feature… In fact more often than not if I say we have a free day and give him free choice, or ask him for ideas on where to meet friends, it is often ‘up to the woods’.
I have been thinking about this, and I think there are some pretty significant reasons why this is a favourite of all our adventures…
- It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Good thing given the British weather’s tendency to rain in June. Storms and major winds aside, you can always go to the woods. We went in the rain in half term and spent 4 hours building dens, making pretend camp fires and rescuing Ralph when he fell over tree roots (this happened A LOT) It is also great in the sunshine – long days enjoying the shade of the forest canopy and picnics with friends. One of my absolute favourite memories of time in the woods with friends was a half term trip when H was 4… It had poured with rain before we met and the children were snug in all of their wet weather gear (couldn’t be adventurers without an all in one!) and I promise you now I have never seen mud like it – they were covered by the end of the trip, but my goodness were they happy. Running, building, chasing and laughing…a lot.
- It is free. Aside from, sometimes, some parking in one of favourite woodland spots…and the cafe that sells, and I have official confirmation from Henry on this, the ‘best iced biscuits in the world’. But honestly a day out in the woods is such a brilliantly easy and cheap day out. Rucksack, picnic, water bottle, wellies… find a stick and run around like a loon. No entrance tickets, no souvenir store, no queues, no arguments. Honestly, I don’t think we ever argue in the woods. This is quite remarkable now I think about it. Let’s go to the woods boys???
- It is a brilliant day out for the whole family and all ages. For Henry’s 7th Birthday this year (also my husband’s birthday – how cool is that? Although Henry says it is his birthday first and Daddy’s 2nd!) he said he wanted a day at the woods. Dicey as it was the end of February… and last year we were actually snowed in. Unheard of in Exeter. But his wish was our command, so the entire family, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunties and children all had a day in the woods. I have to say we were insanely lucky with the weather. It was blue skies and sunshine – the total opposite, ironically, to the wind and rain I am looking at today in June. We walked, we completed the Zog trail (super cute), we collected sticks, we ran, we hid, we did impressions of animals – Penny made an exceptionally good elephant and Henry was a master Tiger, we ate cake and drank hot chocolate. It was awesome. Manageable for all as we chose a flat circular route, and full of adventure and freedom for the little adventure beans. It had something for everyone; fresh air and time together. We have so many memories of time with the family in the woods, and I really love that this is the case.
- It is a wonderful place to meet friends with children. I don’t know about you but I sometimes find it hard to think about the best place to meet friends with children – there are lots of layers of things you want out of that time. You want the children to have quality time together, you want them to be able to play, ideally you want them to have some fresh air and exercise, you want it to be easy and fuss free (well as much as this is possible with children!), you want it to last a good chunk of time, but you also want proper time with your friends, a chance to chat, a chance to walk together or sit together. I think the woods does all of these things. And since Henry was a baby we have met friends there and had the most wonderful time. I can think of several of our closest friends, who we have met in our ‘go to choice of woods’ time and time again since our little adventure boys and girls were little. I have such special memories of all of those times now.
- That leads me on nicely now I think of it. The woods are just the most wonderful place to make memories and capture special times. When Ralph was just a few weeks old one of our first proper little adventures was to the woods, and the photos we have of the newly formed 4 of us all wrapped up and exploring on a sunny winters day are just magical. Precious. Makes for awesome photos too. And I have a bit of a thing for a good photo.
- It encourages independence and creativity. What I notice when we are in the woods is the spirit it creates amongst children. They love it! You can do quite a lengthy walk without any moaning because along the way they are building, exploring, playing, creating, discovering, collecting and role playing. They don’t even realise they are walking. Major win. Because walking is, apparently, a bit annoying. Henry and friends at different times have drawn pictures, done brass rubbings, built houses, pretended to roast marshmallows on a make-believe camp fire, travelled to different parts of the world, been pirates, been on safari… all in the woods. And all with smiles on their faces.
This weekend? Might go to the woods. Exercise, fresh air, limited moaning, no arguments. Plus Ralph walking about in the woods picking up sticks and giving them to his brother with a ‘ta’ every time is probably one of the cutest things I have ever seen. I am in.
Just FYI. We are in beautiful Exeter and quite spoilt for lovely local woods. Our favourites because they are so easy are Haldon Forest – great for walking and cycling, and with lots of facilities. And Ashclyst Forest. Beautiful and so peaceful.
Happy woodland adventuring! xx