ADVENTURE PARENTING #2: ST THOMAS'S HEAD
Updated: Jun 29
Sharing adventures and ideas for story-orientated play around Bristol
The easing of lockdown has made it possible to exercise and explore a little further from home and we've been making the most of it! It's no secret that we spend our lives outside at every opportunity, but we also love sharing the adventures whenever possible as the kids find the wild outside all the more exciting when shared with friends. Recent events make this tricky - spending time with other families isn't an easy option at the moment. So, we've decided to share ideas about where to go and what to try out via my blog - providing fellow parents with information that can help them plan their next adventure and offer ideas about what to get up to when there!
Keeping it clean
Before I begin, I ought to mention that we always endeavor to keep our adventuring as unobtrusive as possible. The countryside communities who are lucky enough to live in our favourite exploration spots have suffered enough from inconsiderate parking, thoughtless toilet habits and the leaving of a lot of litter. In order to counter this mindless exploitation of beautiful places we've been doing the following and I know many others are approaching their exercise from home in the same way:
Timing: visit at times when the area is quiet - avoid weekends and instead go for dawn or dusk during the week (the light it inevitably better and we're all convinced we spot more fairies - or at the very least deer - at these times of day!
Parking: read up on where best to park - local communities are keen to direct people away from hot spots that cause them problems and welcome questions about where it is better to leave your vehicle. Fellow walking bloggers, community Facebook groups can all be helpful for this.
Toilet: a lot of these spots don't have toilet facilities. I'm spoilt because I have one in our van, but if we're ever caught short - which is often the case with small offspring - I pick it up with a dog poo bag, place whatever wiping material happens to be the choice of the day (hazel leaf, tissue, sphagnum moss etc) and put that in the bag also. We bag it, take it home and bin it. It's pretty stinky if you get down wind of me, but the kids have learnt to walk ahead when this happens and we proceed without making a mess of the place we're visiting.
Litter: My girls have been horrified at the increase in litter we're finding. To combat this, they requested a family set of litter pickers so now we can collect and clean each time we visit an adventure area. To maximise their sense of superhero, add a high vis vest and bike gloves.
Dogs: We have one and he stays on the lead if there is livestock at large in the field. He's trained to ignore whatever animal is about, but the signs request compliance and we do as they ask. His poo comes home too. Simple.
ADVENTURE #2: ST THOMAS'S HEAD, KEWSTOKE
So this is what it's all about - sharing adventures and ideas for story-orientated play outdoors - and we've chosen another favourite to share with you today: St Thomas's Head, Kewstoke.
This area is all part of the very beautiful Sand Point and Middle Hope - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_Point_and_Middle_Hope but the St Thomas's Head end is the quieter bit!
When we visit at the weekend, we do it in a similar style to our Ubley Warren expeditions...roll out of bed, grab bags, boots and food, jump in van and get there before most people's day has even begun! But visits during the week can definitely be a more leisurely affair. The National Trust carpark (BS22 9YU) is just up the track on the right just before the gate to Woodspring Priory (https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/news-and-events/visiting-landmarks/visiting-woodspring-priory/) - it's quite small but if the carpark is full you can return to use the spaces up the lane.
PHASE 1: LOOKING AND LISTENING. In the summer months the girls love to spot the swifts that whizz about above the reeds and grasses along the path from the carpark. There is also a lovely view of the estuary, boats to notice and puddles to splash about in if the weather has been wet! Once past the pond (where you obviously have to sit 'fishing' with stick and reeds) and through the metal gate onto the old, abandoned MOD site, we start listening for sheep and competing with each other to find the biggest thistles on the heath.
PHASE 2: WATCHING AND WONDERING. Once you are up and into the meadow you can pretty much explore anywhere - it's full of wildflowers and there's plenty of hawthorn to hide in (if you don't mind being spiked) as you work your way up the gentle slope. We even found fairy doors along the path to the right! Eventually, you'll see a fenced off area which you can actually access - this is an old MOD testing area; the remnants of a minor military installation used during the Cold War for trialing explosive weapons technology in the Bristol Channel. Here's a bit of info for those who are interested - https://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/military-sites/31371-st-thomas-head-weston-super-mare.html#.XvTBOShKjD4. The kids love the rusted remains of the testing rails that now lie semi-submerged in the sea and it's fun to sit wondering what it was like when it was all in operation!
PHASE 3: STORY PROMPTING. It's usually about now that we hop down onto the rocks and start spinning some stories. Our characters are clams and crabshells, the seaweed will start talking and the pools in which we play are brought to life with tales of mermaids and underwater monsters.
PHASE 4: TIME TO CLIMB. You can't keep my kids off rocks and after a spot of lunch they are up and about - scrambling, slipping and sliding around looking for fossils and returning with all manner of exciting finds! If you head back up the hill and walk westwards along the edge by the sea, you'll even find a path down to a secret beach (there's a small path with a bit of a steep drop but it's manageable and extremely exciting for all small adventurers!
PHASE 5: HEADING HOME. When that sea air starts to make everyone feel sleepy, it's time to turn home. If we're really tired then I often tell a fairy tale as we're walking and before you know it, we're back to the van!
So, why not try out this little adventure for yourselves and send us some pictures! Feel free to add to the comment box and let us know what you got up to, and join me next week for the sharing of another adventure!