A year of travel and making memories?
New Years Eve seems like a distant memory right now – it might have had something to do with the amount of prosecco we drank – but as the clock chimed midnight, we committed to a year of travel and adventure, stepping away from the grid as often as possible and reminding the children of the world beyond Minecraft mansions and Instagram squares. A year of as many family days out as possible.
We also committed to making memories for our children that were firmly lodged in the memory banks of our own childhoods, so, when the opportunity arose to revisit the stomping ground of my youth, the fabulous Yorkshire Dales to visit Scar House Reservoir, it seemed too perfect to miss!
A day of family fun
Armed with a slightly below-par picnic and boundless enthusiasm, I tried to raise my slumbering children early on a Sunday morning. For those of you who know my family well, you will know that sleep is not a strong point for my kids; they prefer to wake me at some ungodly hour, full of bounce and mischief. Not this weekend. I harangued them for the next 20 minutes to get dressed and to please, if they did nothing else…to remember a warm coat.
With a six year old complaining of a tummy ache, a grumpy eleven year old moaning about a stiff neck and a 10 year old squashed betwixt his mardy sisters, we set off for a day of family fun. Huge mugs of coffee and a radio station belting out tunes from our teenage years made us feel better and the kids feel worse. The journey up the A1 consisted mostly of back seat jostling and arguing over whether the daschund in Hairy Maclary was Schnitzel Von Krumm with the very low tum or with the very low….I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!
The Beauty of the Yorkshire Dales
But as we left the motorway, and the undulating beginnings of the Yorkshire Dales came into view, an almost tangible sense of calm descended over the car. We wound our way through the quaint town of Knaresborough, relaxing as the bends in the road became tighter and the hills steeper, the wildlife more abundant at every turn . Pheasants and bunny rabbits, baby lambs with their skittery charm and ‘funny socks’ and even a wild hare. Yorkshire isn’t called God’s chosen county for no reason.
Pateley Bridge and Scar House
As we meandered into the delightful village of Pateley Bridge, we wondered again whether we should consider moving back to the Yorkshire hills – it really is such a beautiful part of the world. My husband stopped at the village shop to restock our picnic, already demolished by my ever hungry kids. By the time he returned some 15 minutes later, he had already been greeted like an old friend by half the population of the village and the lady in the shop had cautioned us to wrap up warm if we were ‘off up there, as it’ll be cold as charity’. At this point my son decided to tell me he’d forgotten his coat.
Approaching Scar House Reservoir
The steep climb on the road to Scar House reservoir is nothing short of spectacular, passing the sister reservoirs of Angram and Gouthwaite on the way. The wild moorland rises to greet you and is resplendent in its beauty whether in glorious sunshine or torrential rain. We experienced both during our visit.
As you park in the small car park and look out at the moorland, you could be forgiven for thinking, as my children did, that the reservoir is just like any other ‘big lake’. But as you exit the car park and turn the corner, the full magnificence of Victorian architecture at its very best takes your breath away. I am married to a structural engineer who takes his chosen profession very seriously indeed, the spectacular Spillways and gated bridge enthralled him for longer than most would think possible but there is no denying their beauty.
Opening up land to the public
Scar House Reservoir is one of the many attractions in the 72,000 acres owned and maintained by Yorkshire Water and opening up their land to the public is part of an ambitious and well planned ‘Blueprint for Yorkshire’. There are dozens of cycle routes (next on our adventure list) walking paths for people of all abilities including sites with great accessibility for wheelchair users and even sites that offer pony trekking.
As a family it is so important for us to get our children outside and exploring the natural environment, and this increased access to some of the most stunning spots in the UK is fantastic.
A Comfortable Circular Walk
We followed the Nidderdale circular walk. At 3.5 miles it is short enough for a young family to complete easily (just don’t forget the snacks) with various stopping points along the way. There are more ambitious routes for those with more time or better footwear and a warm coat! We have already planned a return trip.
My younger children loved the activity pack provided for those visiting reservoirs and ticked off lots of bird species and plants. We really must remember to take the binoculars next time. Even my oldest child, the one with the stiff neck, climbed to the top of the highest hills, delighted in how much better she felt in the fresh air and spent a long while sitting solo on ‘Minerva’s Seat’ to take in the stunning views.
A Great Family Day Out
So, if you are looking for a great family day out in the fresh air, a walk with spectacular views and friendly Yorkshire folk to give you advice on the way, pack your picnic and your binoculars, decent footwear and a sense of humour. Oh, and don’t forget your coat.
This trip was a review opportunity in collaboration with Yorkshire Water. All opinions are my own.