I find it so Idyllic in the Autumn and Winter to pop on our coats and boots, and ride on a steam train! The tooting of the train, the rolling green hills lined with orange leaves or winter frosts, and the smell of steam and soot hitting you as you take a sneaky peak out of the window whilst the train chugs down its track – it is both enriching and beautiful, and oh so quintessentially English!

Riding Steam trains has been a traditional adventure in our family since the kids were tiny (thanks to Grandpa Smith) and whilst this often takes place over this way on the NYMR, last weekend we spent our Saturday riding on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway over in West Yorkshire, and it was quite the adventure for us all.

The keighley and Worth Valley Railway

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway oozes with charm, British history and many a claim to fame. Opened in 1867 (and briefly closing in the 60’s), it originally served the Wool mills that towered above it. It’s scenery and spirit attracted many to use it for films like “The Railway Children”, and it has long since been the inspiration for writers such as the Bronte sisters.

Whether you are visiting for nature walks, exploring the museums, a Yorkshire treat, or generally just to embrace the love of travelling via a steam train, you will not be disappointed by the views and excitement you see and feel as you meander down the tracks of this beautiful little railway. I believe that whatever the season or weather you choose to visit, you will certainly expect to find something to charm and interest everyone, as each little station holds activities and interests to fill your day!

 

We started our journey from Keighley as we had to be back there in the late afternoon for a family event! We rode 20 minutes up to Haworth, where we spent a couple of hours wandering its picturesque main street and eating lunch from a rustic yorkshire bakery! I love Haworth because it has a reet good yorkshire feel to it!

Haworth does have a rather steep trek uphill from the train station, but it is very much worth it, as here you will find the Bronte Museum, panoramic views over the hills, little cafes and tea rooms, an array of independent gift shops to peruse and a lovely little park.

We each enjoyed its charm (and baked goods!).

From Haworth we hopped back on the line for about 10 minutes before jumping off at Ingrow West station where we explored the engine shed museum and the museum of rail travel. These were small, but interesting nonetheless, and whilst they have tried to be child friendly, they are not the most interactive for kids!

A small train table and a host of carriages to explore, saw that the kids were entertained and their imaginations ignited whilst we were there, but our visit was sort lived (unfortunately)!

I did however (when I could) enjoyed reading about all of the films that the engines and carriages were used in. It was rather exciting to be sat in a carriage where film stars have been and cameras captured!

Before we knew it we had reached the end of our adventure, and as the steam train appeared out of the tunnel at Ingrow West, we hopped aboard and made our way back down the line to keighley station, where we watched them swapping engines and breathed in that smell of the steam train one last time!

We had a lovely family day out, and Keighley and worth Valley railway is a great Yorkshire adventure for any family this October half term (or any weekend really). It can quite easily fill a day with history, nature and adventure, and whether you visit for the sheer joy of a steam train experience, or as a means to access a world of nature walks and film set exploration, the railway is sure to be a real treat for all – opening up a world of curiosity!

They also have a Halloween Special and Santa experience coming up too which is always popular. So whatever your reason or motivation, there is certainly plenty of magic and adventure awaiting you as you hop aboard these exciting and beautiful steam engines!

I personally would love to take a walk in the Summer around the areas featured in “The Railway Children” (I loved it as a kid), and pass on this classic to my kids, but for now we have loved creating such special and beautiful memories to kick of Autumn on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway – (amidst the mayhem of family life of course!).

Things to Note…

For unlimited travel and access to the museums, then you will want to consider a Rover Ticket:
Adults: £18
Concessions: £15
Children 5 to 15 inclusive: £9

If you are travelling as ONE adult and ONE kid, then you can qualify for a “Small Family Ticket”, which has the same benefits as a Rover Ticket  – This is £22

Finally, when purchasing two ‘Small Family Tickets’ for 2 adults and 2 children, a third child can travel free. A family of 5 can take advantage of 1 free children’s rover ticket to add to their ‘Small Family’ rover ticket purchase.

Make sure you check the website to see which timetable they are using, as it changes depending on the day and season! 

*Thank you to KWVR for our complimentary tickets in return for an honest review. All thoughts and images are my own!

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Reading is one of life’s great pleasures. Opening the page of a new book can be so exciting and with each page turn, you open up a world of possibilities that transport you to places you’ve never even dreamed of visiting! I adore reading to my children – snuggled up together and changing the voices for each character – I certainly hope that they’ll grow to share my passion for the written word.

Literary themed days out can be a great way to fuel their imaginations as well as having a fun adventure together. With half term on the horizon, here are my top five book themed days out.

The Making of Harry Potter – Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Fans of the boy wizard Harry won’t want to miss this fantastic Warner Brothers Studio Tour, where you can walk in the footsteps of Harry Potter and explore all the wonders of the wizarding world. Step into the magnificent great hall, make your way through the Forbidden Forest and check out Diagon Alley.

You can book tickets here and enjoy all of this magic themed fun, plus a collection of iconic props and original costumes at The making of Harry Potter – Warner Brothers Studio Tour.

Shaw’s Corner – National Trust

Fans of Pygmalion writer George Bernard Shaw should add Shaw’s Corner to their literary day out hit-list. This beautiful National Trust site was once the country home of the great British playwright, and is a delightful place to explore with beautiful gardens and a house filled with fascinating artefacts (including a bust of him by Rodin). There are thousands of books as well as his writing desk.

Regular outdoor performances are held in the gardens each summer, so you can book a ticket, bring a picnic and enjoy some al fresco theatrics while you eat!

The Highway Rat Activity Trail – Various Locations

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s book “The Highway Rat”, is one of our favourites and so, I was thrilled to discover that this year the Forestry Commission are hosting themed trails across the country. Find a location close to you and you can join the Highway Rat on his forest adventure, whilst completing lots of fun activities and spotting characters along the way.

If you’re after a great family day out then it’s definitely worth doing and you’ll get some fresh air as well as a bargainous day of literary fun.

Sherlock Holmes Museum – Baker Street, London

Whether you’re a fan of the books or of the recent popular TV series Sherlock, a trip to The Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street is always a fun experience. With costumed guides waiting to transport you into the mythical world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s world-famous detective, this is a great day out for all the family. There’s also a gift shop filled with themed items and quirky memorabilia.

The World of Beatrix Potter – Windermere

Fans of Peter Rabbit may want to relive childhood memories at The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-On-Windermere. The experience begins with a 5-minute film introducing you to the author and her work and it takes around 45 minutes to enjoy this whimsical walk through the exhibition and gardens. Along the way you’ll see Jemima Puddle-Duck’s woodland glade, The Peter Rabbit garden and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s kitchen. Round off your trip with a visit to the themed tea room which is stocked with delicious homemade cakes and savoury treats – how Idyllic! 

Why not put down the devices this Autumn/Half term and head off for a book themed day out with the kids. You’ll be creating magical memories that will hopefully form part of their very own unfolding story.

*This is a collaborative post 

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This Summer has been wonderful, and great for the days we’ve been able to spend with our friends from the village! Our lifestyle is very different these days and we spend a lot more time with the people we live around (which is lovely). I love that the our neighbours and the kids my kids go to school with are not only our friends now, but also the people we socialise with and go on adventures with!

I have loved having the time to talk and laugh with my new pals whilst the kids spend all day playing and getting along.

On Monday we walked 4 miles locally (it took all morning) and the week before that we spent a whole day on the beach in Hunmanby. Then Thursday we had a day out to Scarborough! These trips have been pretty nuts, but a lot of fun too, and they have made Summer more memorable. The great part is that they have also all been FREE!!

Whilst there is still a good week or so of the summer holidays left, I thought I’d share with my Yorkshire readers especially, a few free ideas we have enjoyed with our friends in big groups – just in case you have hit desperation mode and need a couple more ideas to see you through til September!

1. A beach day 

2 weeks ago we went to Hunmanby Gap which lies between Bempton and Filey on East Yorkshire Coast. The day wasn’t super warm, but dry and sunny enough to be able to spend a good 6 hours on the beach digging with friends and chasing the tide (and a seal!). There were about 8 families that came and we built a little base on the beach, where the kids played non stop around us all day and we enjoyed banter and picnics!

I swam in the sea with one of my friends and we all generally just chilled and had fun with one another. I realised on this day that seemingly ordinary days, and things we would usually do over the Summer anyway, were enhanced 10 fold by being in a big group of great friends!

  

Just up the coast is filey brigg and we have also been there twice this Summer for rock pooling with family and extended family. If you want another idea then know that it makes for a real adventurous free day too even with wellies and raincoats on!

2. A country walk 

As we live in a village now, we are fortunate enough to be able to walk 5 minutes out of our door and be in beautiful fields and open countryside. We took advantage of this on Monday and had a spontaneous group trek with dogs and kids! We did just shy of 4 miles on a circular walk that brought us home again. The weather was dry and I enjoyed the exercise and chat with my friends. It always makes me smile to see my kids running through fields and embracing nature – especially when surrounded by their best friends from school (or cousins too).

You may not live as close as us, but a local nature walk of any description with friends, makes for easy exercise and a lovely time!

3. Scarborough open air theatre 

On Thursday a group of us headed to Scarborough in convoy and had a walk around peasholm park and a picnic overlooking the lake.

From there we walked over the road to the open air theatre where they had a 2 hour family friendly show. This was a free event that runs throughout the summer and was so feel good and chilled. There was singing, dancing, “Double Trouble”, magic, puppets and laugh out loud Comedy! The kids absolutely loved it and it was nice to sit in the sun and be entertained together. I was really impressed with what a great day it was and will certainly be keeping it on my radar for next Summer!

Sadly on this trip some of the mums were working but it was great to be with the ones that could come!

 

These little outings and local adventures have made our summer holidays extra special, more fun and adventurous, and they have meant we have spent less whilst still making lots of lovely memories! I love our new friends… they make the ordinary extraordinary!

 I love that we have found wonderful friends amongst our neighbours and that we have found people with like minded interests and outlooks on life. I enjoy hanging out with them, not just because they are lovely people and friends but because there is a high chance our kids are all going to grow up together and end up in the same high school too, and that makes me a little bit excited (and scared) that these potentially could be more than neighbours and school mates – but friends for life!!

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On Saturday, after camping over for the night just outside of Bakewell in the Peak District, we enjoyed a wonderful family day out at Chatsworth House. I have wanted to visit for such a long time (since first seeing Pride and Prejudice) and have known since then that if I went to Chatsworth house, I would simply love it (and I did)! This post however, isn’t about how much I loved it – that’s a given as I have such a fondness for stately homes! No, this post is a review on how much I loved it as a location for a family day out and how it was to visit with kids. And, in that regard I can already tell you that it was great –  we had a lovely day!

The house 

Chatsworth house has an incredible history. It is currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. The house is open to the public, but you only walk around a portion of it – which is enough to appreciate its history and grandeur. It took us about 90 mins or maybe more to take a tour, which led us through the main hall, gallery’s, bedrooms, Library, dining room, hallways and staircase.

It is impressive as soon as you enter the gates and the kids loved the architecture and majesty of the house. They noticed the statues and small carvings in the stone, were interested in how it was made, and then once inside loved looking around at the grand ceilings, staircase and rooms. I love visiting places like this with the kids because they always notice and find fascination in things we tend to overlook. And it was these small things that made the visit more enjoyable, interesting and exciting for them too.

For Ethan it was the grandfather clock in the corner of a hallways that people rushed passed, and a small set of cutlery in a case in front of the piano, that contained so much detail that he said it “was so fancy”!

Megan on the other hand took great interest in the key art and stood for ages looking at the intricate details of the various keys. She also enjoyed walking the stairs like a queen and seeing the thrones that were given to the family from the monarchy.

We all loved the ceiling paintings which adorned most rooms, and hearing the amazing stories from those who worked there – like the one about the bed that Charles II was placed in after his death (would you stay there?!), and the one about how they found all of the signatures of the people that worked in the house on the walls when they started renovating ( 2 of many that make it such an exciting place to spend some time)!

The kids also spent a lot of time in the courtyard where they also have a fun foam building activity that helps them recreate some of the pottery they have seen in the house. They liked this part, and we enjoyed sitting out by the fountain and observing!

The House caters really well for kids – the staff are lovely and were eager to chat to them and help history come alive. Our kids enjoyed these little nuggets of information, as well as looking at the information cards in each room and going around to find out what they needed to know about the different people from history (that had some kind of influence), in order to collect all of the pocket cards that they have which is part of the experience for kids!

It is a beautiful, extremely interesting and exciting place to visit as a family!

* Please note that Chatsworth do not allow prams, pushchairs or rucksack style baby carriers in the house!

Gardens

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the gardens/park itself – it was a very hot day and the kids were eager to get up to the farm and have lunch. I am a little disappointed as they have very beautiful landscaping and statues that would be wonderful for any kid (or adult) to explore.

Later on though, Ethan and I returned to explore the green houses, a place he was eager to see! He is a budding gardener with his Grandma and enjoys looking at plants and how things work and the green houses were most impressive and certainly a little piece of adventure for him. I enjoyed exploring this tranquil part of the estate with my biggest boy and we both were impressed!

Farm/Playground

The farm was lovely and all of the animals were well cared for and happy. They have goats, pigs, horses and donkeys, sheep, cows, rabbits and guinea pigs and chickens. Whilst we were there they also had some newly born chicks and piglets; both of which were absolutely adorable and very exciting for the kids!

The farm really caters for little visitors, with a vintage tractor to climb on, to a tractor land for under 6’s and tractor tours for a couple of pounds! They have regular petting sessions in the Oak barn (like every 20-30 mins) and an opportunity to go into Guinea pig town and sit with the guinea pigs! It is a small farm but very happening!

You have to pay entry to the farm to access the playground and a family ticket for both of these costs £23, which is for 2 adults and 3 kids (thank you Chatsworth for being aware that some families have more than 2 kids!). Having had visited and seen all they have, I find this a really reasonable price for a family day out. Obviously if you choose to do the house and gardens, as well as the farm and playground, then you are looking at £65 for a family ticket (again 2 adults and 3 kids). Either way the farm and playground alone would make for a fantastic day out with a picnic.

The playground was definitely a favourite and was very welcomed by the kids after a morning around the house. It is unbelievable and was fantastic for them to run, jump and climb on after being so sensible! I was impressed by the size of it and how well planned out it was. It easily caters for tiny tots right up to young teens and has so many amazing things to it – you have to see it to believe it!

They have ropes and rope bridges, they have courses through the woods, multilevel frames that are mega high and teeny frames for the little ones. There is a trampoline and lots of slides.

We loved the sand and water area and the kids spent a chunk of time in there building with the sand and drawing water from the stream. The weather was lush and it was a beautiful part of the grounds that catered so well for younger visitors. I thinks its great that you can go to Chatsworth for the day and take the kids just to the farm and playground and that in itself would fill a whole day too!

Food!

There is a great array of food available at Chatsworth (and some rather classy dishes too!). They have a snack bar in the grounds of the house, 2 restaurants near the gift shop, and a cafe in the farm. They have a wide range on offer (including lots of local produce) and a kids lunch bag is £5 (you can choose 4 items – A sandwich, Drink, Crisps, Fruit or Yogurt). They also sell Ice creams in all of these places, as well as in the gift shops too.

I personally would stick to taking a picnic. They have several lovely assigned areas where you can eat it and as we were so busy with so much to see, it would have been cheaper and way more convenient to just nibble as we went or set up at a table in the playground so they could graze all afternoon whilst they play!

I think sometimes as parents we may look at the grandeur of a place like Chatsworth House and feel like taking our wild little ones wouldn’t be the best place or more stress than its worth to give them a cultural and historical experience. But having been with my 3 this last weekend, I cannot tell you enough what a great location it is for a family day out. It is full of wide open spaces, a house that becomes a treasure trove for kids – building imagination and takesing them into a different world. The whole place helps them appreciate history and offers a fun family adventure in the farm, gardens and playground.

If you are looking for somewhere special to take the kids this Summer then this would be first on my list! If you would like to plan a visit this Summer, then click here to see what they have on!

I really want to take them back again – perhaps when they are slightly older and don’t tire so easily in the heat! We didn’t see all we wanted to and even then we were there for the whole day!

I also want to go back to Chatsworth for the house and Gardens at Christmas time for myself. I have seen pictures and heard about it from friends and it looks incredible. I want to go without kids so that I can stroll round the Christmas market they have and do some shopping, as well as taking my time in the house to notice all of the festive details. But yes, we will definitely go back again as a family. If you are looking for an exciting adventure filled with outdoor fun and animals, a bit of history and imagination, then you should totally check it out this Summer. Its popular and a little busy but it was also totally fine. We spent 6 hours there and only left because we were so tired! But it gets 2 thumbs up from us all!

*We received complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review! Our visit was fantastic and all images and thoughts are our own! Thanks to Chatsworth for a wonderful family day out. 

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