Saturday was by far one of our favourite family days out, and possibly one of the most memorable of this year too. We finally got to properly celebrate Megan’s 5th birthday, and headed up to Go Ape Tree Top Junior at Dalby forest for a massive adventure to do so!

 

For ages she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do on her 5th Birthday as this year was a day out and no parties, but she soon got over that and expressed an interest in climbing or tree top nets. I asked if she fancied zip wires in there too, and as it was a resounding “Yes” she was completely sold on the idea of Tree Top Junior!

I myself have fond memories of fun times at Go Ape from my early 20’s and knew it would be something we would all enjoy together (which we did), however on Saturday I wasn’t particularly feeling it! It would seem that these days I have developed a fear for heights and an inability to free fall on the zip wires. And so whilst I screamed my way round course one and froze at the top of the zip wire (Yes on the Junior course) My kids were running rings around me and loving life. They effortlessly strolled through treetop obstacle’s and flew down the zip wires with Daddy like no other, whilst I stood firmly on the ground with baby Alice after awkwardly being escorted down by an instructor!!!

 

Go Ape Tree Top Junior is the perfect activity for kids who are filled with energy and love scary and exciting things just like Megan. Both our kids are thrill seekers, well coordinated, love a good challenge, and being outdoors, therefore everything about it appealed to them. The sun was shining, they were out in nature, high up in the trees and wearing harnesses – it was a dream come true and they absolutely loved every second.

They started off by getting fitted with a harness, going through a safety brief and then hooked on to a cable and head up some wooden stairs on to course one. They stay attached to the cable through out, as well as having handles for extra support and then of course the harness. The first course consisted of various nets, balancing beams, stepping stones and bridges, all of which are up in the trees. At the end they jump off the platform and fly down the zip wire (or in Ethan’s case are given a quick nudge off the platform) and love their life right to the end… before doing it all over again or tackling course 2.

Course 2 of Tree Top Junior is a little longer and has a lot more challenging bridges and stepping stones (It’s also higher), but again ends at the zip wire platform.

It was wonderful to see both kids take it in their stride and jump in with both feet. Megan at one point was heckling some older kids in front “Come on slow coaches I’m only 5”, and thus was then disappointed to find out later that she was too small to go tackle the Adult course, and would have to wait until she was 10 (It was pretty funny)! Within the hour session we had they had about 3 turns round the 2 courses but could have gone all day if allowed.

All the staff are so amazing, well trained and especially with the kids, they really know how to get on well with them and bring out their brave sides! The kids had an absolute blast and it was definitely the perfect way to celebrate Megan this year – fun, adventurous and keeps you on your toes! We will surely be back each summer in the school holidays to have some more treetop fun and adventures as they haven’t stopped talking about it…

 

*Thank you so much to Go Ape for giving our family a complimentary visit on Saturday for Megan’s Birthday, in return for a review. All thoughts and pictures are my own. 

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On Saturday we headed up to Dalby forest in North Yorkshire for a lovely family walk with a twist, as it was also a chance to try out the latest App from The Forestery commission “Gruffalo Spotters“!

Whilst the sun was shining and we were looking forward to a lovely walk, the fact we were taking the ipad out just felt so weird to me and I wasn’t sure if I really liked that.

When I first heard about the App I thought it was a brilliant idea, but then the more I thought about it, I kinda felt like it defeated the object of taking your kids outside (to chase nature and get off screens). But it surprisingly worked well together and the kids loved it, and it made for a lot of family fun. Because in reality the Ipad only briefly came out about 5 times around the trail to spot the character whose prints we had found on the boards. It then brought to life the creature in a magical way that gave the forest a whole new feel for the kids, and as they watched the little performance on screen (but couldn’t see it in real life), it became a real imagination builder and fascinating for us all. The excitement fuelled them to run and discover who else was hiding in the deep dark wood..

We are not particularly an App kind of family, and our kids don’t have their own devices. In some ways that made this adventure all the more fun because they were allowed to use the Ipad and also had to share and work together too. Because it was something so different to our usual outdoor adventures, it was exciting for them and as I say magical too. It didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the outdoors and we still came away feeling refreshed and very muddy.

I would recommend you check it out soon at your local forest as being Gruffalo spotters is so much fun to do together and makes for a magical Gruffalo/forest adventure.

Watch our video to see more about it and how we got on.

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As a family we love to be outside together and enjoy nice views, feel invigorated and see the kids going nuts whilst we stroll hand in hand chatting about life. They are moments that please us all and that make us feel connected as a family, have fun and make memories, so at the end of 2015 when the forestry commission sent us some things and passes to the forest and we were super excited.

We decided to use them at Yorkshire’s great forest “Dalby” not far from us in North Yorkshire, over the holidays and whilst with the extended fam. And the weather couldn’t have been better, it was a lovely day and great to meander along chatting all together and exploring the “Stick man Trail”.
WP_20151229_13_34_37_ProThe kids loved it, they had seen the film on TV over Christmas and were mesmerized by seeing pictures and “real stick men” in these “magical woods” -They loved the opportunity to walk grandma’s doggies and run off all of that chocolate!! I love moments like these when characters come to life for them, and that they can let their imaginations flow, and it was an added bonus that there was also a Gruffalo and Gruffolo’s child model towards the end of the trail, which filled them with excitement to see their favourite stories become reality. It made me so happy to see their joy over nature, the outdoors and book characters, and being silly with their Granddad.
WP_20151229_14_17_02_Pro WP_20151229_14_05_41_Pro WP_20151229_14_02_12_Pro WP_20151229_14_02_06_ProShare2015-12-29-eac8353533660f4b917121805b7e724324dc67f1f6c6bc29691cc139e469d7a5-PictureShare2015-12-29-2069f120bc075a035beb05414fb3b976a30e06c3e81a312d681501fd4e230fa8-PictureIt seems like ages since we were out and about like this together, and even longer since we were with my youngest sister and parents all together doing something outdoors. As a child and growing up, my dad often planned walks, bike rides and ‘outdoorsey’ stuff for us to do, and whilst I moaned at times I look back fondly on those ordinary moments of a Saturday hike in North Yorkshire! Now as we drive and go to these places with our own kids it makes me happy to see the beauties of the forest, little English villages and lovely valleys and miles of scenery. I enjoy the same banter on walks, snacks and sweets as we go and seeing the kids getting stuck in the mud, falling over and playing imaginative games with all of the resources that nature has to offer!
WP_20151229_15_19_01_Pro WP_20151229_14_18_05_ProSticky, muddy hands and boots are certainly the sign of an Ordinary part of childhood adventures in the woods and I hope throughout 2016 we can stop being so busy on a weekend and have many more of these Ordinary moments together appreciating the world around us and one another.
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