For the last few years, we have looked forward to, and very much enjoyed our day on the railway! By tradition, we go up to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway sometime between Christmas and New year with as many of Nathan’s family that are able to, and have a lovely steam train adventure in North Yorkshire!

I love to see everyone, catch up and laugh, and generally just chill out on the steam trains, and see the kids loving this ordinary and yet special moment that comes around each year.

This year we went on New years day. It was a challenge to get to Grandma’s for 9am (especially when we slept in til 8.30!), but like always, we needed to catch the mini coach that had been hired to get us there for the 11am train from Pickering up to Grosmont. And so like a scene from Home Alone, we dashed too and fro to get out the door and on the bus, with all the kids… and with a quick head count we were off!

Just so you know, having 11 kids, a handful of in laws and (at the moment) 12 grand-kids; a mini coach is the only way to travel en mass for a family day out in the Smith Family!

The Railway was quiet on the way up, and the kids not too crazy. The hills were scattered in patches of snow and the sun shone brightly. It was the perfect day to have gone, and as we trudged up the track we gazed out of the windows and chatted back and forth to one another about the lovely Christmas we had enjoyed, things we want to change and improve on and plans for the coming year.

We did our usual walk around Grosmont…exploring the quaint little station, cute shops, and walking through the long tunnel to the engine sheds. All before hopping aboard the steam train and heading back to Pickering! It was a fantastic day with everyone and each other, and a great start to our year!

Nathan’s dad was a great lover of the railway, as Ethan kept reminding us of, and so it is always sad to not have him there enjoying his favourite moments with us and his eager GrandKids! It is however always a special moment just to be together making memories, and having the opportunity to have him at the forefront of out minds and in conversation whilst we explore a place rich in his memory.

I love to see the rolling Yorkshire hills, be with family and enjoy North Yorkshire from the steam railway! Our day on the Railway is an ordinary moment we all look forward to and love… so much so, that this year we hope to take the kids again and head to Whitby on it, because it is THAT great!


The Ordinary Moments

What do you do when you grow up on a farm with nature all around you? When you live in a place where you can climb trees, paddle, build dens and explore with your friends til your hearts content? Well if you are Tor and Christian Carver, then you grow up and recreate it for the masses in the form of Williams Den of course – a place of adventure, exploring, and a place where you will struggle to get your kids home!

Located in East Yorkshire and just off the M62 in North Cave (very convenient), you will discover a play centre far different from the norm! Wood, sand, water, tree houses, a zip wire, mud and more combine with children’s imaginations to create the “best play place ever” and we had “the best day out” last Thursday there!

My 3 were certainly in their elements with Alice clambering over rocks to splash in the little rivers, and Megan playing spider over the nets. Ethan spent literally hours pumping water and damming it up before conquering all levels of the den. They climbed, splashed, played all day and each loved it for different reasons. But mostly they loved it for the reason it was intended – the freedom of being able to explore and do pretty much anything as they would outdoors all day long!

The Den itself is built of responsibly sourced wood, and housed inside a huge barn. It has various levels and platforms that are connected by nets, beams and bridges. At one end you will find a large sand pit and slide, to the other a little river running through the bottom and ending under a waterfall. Kids can play on, in and around any of it, provided they are being kind and careful.

Outside you are greeted with panoramic views of the Yorkshire Wolds and hand crafted picnic benches all around to enjoy lunch or sit with an ice cream. Here the adventure continues as kids can enjoy climbing on slabs of stone, nets and beams or crawling through tunnels in the mole hills. There are mud kitchens, grass hills, more sand and water play, and a couple of zip wires too.

Taking kids tree climbing, river paddling and scrambling over logs and rocks isn’t everyone’s scene or even available in close proximity, but it’s something we love to do. Irrelevant of where you live though or how comfortable you are with those things, Williams Den gives all kids and parents the opportunity to be more free range in a safer and more controlled environment. You can give your kids those experiences without venturing too far.

What we Loved the most –

 * Water play and hand pump

 * That you can take your own food in – such a bonus (though the wood pizza’s are very delish and reasonable too)

 * That the toilets are family friendly (most have an adult and child toilet in each cubical and are not gender specific!)

 * The gorgeous views and scenery

 * The nets and “spider webs to climb in”

 * That waterfall (more water!)

 * “Everything – its just the best place ever mummy!” (Ethan).

Williams Den is open every day but til 7pm Thursdays through Saturdays, and would certainly be an investment with a “Friends of the Den Pass”. We will most definitely be returning again and again as I know its a place they will get a lot out of for many more years. And it has the bonus of being only 20 minutes away!

 So whether you have a tot or young teen, and whether they daring and risky like my kids or more cautious and curious, Williams Den seriously has something for everyone at each level and age – it really is designed for the growing child. The steps are high enough that toddlers can’t get up unaided but small enough to be the start of a great adventure for older kids. Mine are very quick and co-ordinated and so shot up all over and loved every second they were there (especially the 10 mins when they scoffed the yummy ice cream!). So take a few pairs of dry clothes and towels, perhaps a picnic or money for a yummy lunch, and get exploring and clambering down at Williams Den this Summer!

* Thank you to William’s Den for inviting us to review the Den Free of charge in return for an honest review. All thoughts and pictures are my own. Interesting to note that whilst there the rain poured and despite easily 200 people being inside it didn’t feel too claustrophobic or overly crazy. All Kids seemed chilled and laid back…