ADVENTURE PARENTING #5: BEDMINSTER DOWN
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 #5: BEDMINSTER DOWN
So this is what it's all about - sharing adventures and ideas for story-orientated play outdoors - and we've chosen a fab one to share with you today - Bedminster Down and the countryside between the South Bristol Crematorium and the railway line! This hidden gem is really close to home - we'd never have discovered if not for lockdown! To get an idea of where I mean, see below:
You can pull into a parking area along the A38 where you can see the end of the word 'Down' on the map above. Lots of people picnic on Bedminster Down and it's a nice flat grassy area. But this isn't where I'm suggesting you explore...it's much more exciting than that!
From the parking area, you can either walk along the tarmac road that is sunken beside the green to get to a kissing gate that opens up into the meadows, or enter the field just next to where you've parked and run off down the hill into the wildflower meadows! There is a river right at the bottom, lined with enormous trees and there are plenty of places to explore. If you work your way through the meadows to the west, you'll eventually find a path that takes you down and along behind the cemetery. It's pretty obvious where you go, and eventually (if you can tear the kids away from the rope swing which is accessible but slightly hidden in a little wooded bit next to the metal fence) you will find yourselves right in the middle of rolling green fields full of elderflower, dandelions and daisies galore! There's also the added bonus of being able to shout 'train' whenever it zooms past!
We actually managed to walk all the way to Hanging Hill Wood - you just need to cross under the rind road - which we did with lots of whoops and shouts because there's a great echo! Plus, the stream runs under the road so we obviously had to remove our shoes and splash about!
You can actually keep going for miles - but little legs needed to turn about here.
PHASE 1: LOOKING AND LISTENING. See how many insects, bees and butterflies you can spot flying about the meadow - this is best achieved by lying on your tummy and watching the tops of the glasses waving in the wind!
PHASE 2: STORY PROMPTING. We had a lot of fun making goose grass crowns when we visited. Experiment with the huge burdock leaves to make baskets. There are also plenty of sticks by the river to make swords! Very soon, someone was a queen, another of us was a knight and so the story began...
PHASE 3: SPLASH ABOUT. The little stream you'll visit at points along the walk varies in 'splashability' - but we'd definitely recommend taking some sandals so you don't spike your feet on sharp stones or stray wire!
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!