This weekend we enjoyed another Woodland Adventure this time exploring Haldon Forest in Exeter. The last time I visited here was quite a few years ago when I attempted ‘Go Ape’ which is a Tree Top Adventure course, now, why I attempted this I have no idea, within two minutes I got told off for swearing and only just made it through the first set of obstacles without having a full blow meltdown. To say I was scared poopless would be an understatement, needless to say I didn’t finish the course, instead I spent a few hours wandering the forest on my own whilst the rest of my family fearlessly hung themselves from trees.
This weeks plan was a much less adrenaline fuelled adventure, instead just a nice chilled exploration with the whole family. We first went for brunch at Route 5 where I stuffed myself silly with pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, hash browns and most importantly maple syrup. If you’re ever in the South West, specifically Devon or Cornwall I would highly recommend popping into one of the Route Restaurants for a bite to eat. I was so excited about my food that I completely forgot to take a photo but I can assure you there was a LOT of food. I must add this was an early Birthday day out for me so eating lots of naughty foods was totally allowed.
Of course the first thing Willow did was to locate a stick for both herself and her Grandma, they can’t manage a woodland adventure without a walking stick.
There are a lot of different trails to take at Haldon Forest for all different abilities, they also have bike trails with bike hire on site and segway trail tours- which I think is a must for a future day out. What we hadn’t realised before we set off is that they are currently hosting a ‘Stick Man’ Activity Trail and you can collect an activity pack from the Rangers Office. Luckily there are signs along the trail so if you did want to follow along you still could without the activity pack. We decided to follow this trail at first and came across some pretty wonderful shelters that have been left by previous explorers.
I think I have the best Mum ever, look how happy she is in her little wooden den!
Collecting sticks as a souvenir, unfortunately she then realised her outfit didn’t have any pockets (rookie mum mistake) but luckily Grandma saved the day and offered to keep the items safely in her pockets.
After completing the Stick Man Activity Trail (it was pretty short) we had a quick ganders at the amazing wood carved Gruffalo before heading off on some random unmarked trails that took us beneath the ‘Go Ape’ course.
Didn’t I say I have the best Mum, don’t they just look like the best of friends.
Tot slept for the majority of the walk- I must add it was so lovely to spend the day in a T-Shirt!! I’d started to forget what fresh air felt like on my arms.
We decided to join one of the marked trails, having now looked online we actually took one of the ‘moderate’ trails, specifically the Raptor Trail, so I now feel even more chuffed with Willow for making it the whole way round with only a few minutes of being carried (I do think the lolly she got at the Restaurant did help a little though). When we first arrived the car park was full so I was pleasantly surprised when we rarely came across anybody on our wander.
Playing ‘Peek-A-Boo’ with Grandad.
There is also a little Cafe on site so we were able to indulge in a mandatory and much needed ice cream at the end of our adventure, they also had a selection of food and drinks on offer but we were all still pretty full from brunch.
Although I carried Allana, most of the trails probably would have been suitable for a pushchair, especially if you chose to stick to the ‘easy’ trails. There are of course harder trails for those that fancy a bit of a challenge and want to head deeper into the forest too. You do have to pay for parking but after seeing how beautifully well the forest is kept by the Forestry Commission I was actually quite happy to have parted with some money.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it a million more times but for me there is nothing more magical than exploring a Forest or Woodland. I always imagine there to be Fairies and Pixies living and hiding amongst the trees and greenery, I will never tire of the stunning way the woodland is lit up by the sunshine but equally as beautiful and eery on a cloudy wet day.
Where is your favourite place to explore?