I’m currently trying to push the benefits of a good walk on my two young scallywags with, it has to be said, mixed results. It may be because of their obsession with playing Lego or just the fact that they are always out of the house doing one thing or another and need a bit of downtime, but mention the w-a-l-k word and a strop of Kevin the Teenager proportions is brewing beneath the surface.
Now mention a ‘nature trial’ as an alternative and that is a very different proposition. Cue excitement and unbridled joy from the childlings! Because, if you didn’t know (and if you didn’t what have you been doing with your life), a nature trail and a nice long walk are completely different activities!
This was our story and we stuck to it during a Saturday morning walk around a cold, sunny and autumnal Upper Derwent Valley – a nature trail of epic proportions (at least in terms of how tired their legs will be) and something that they can write and draw all about once they get back home (a secondary bargaining chip!).
And if they were really lucky, they may even see the church spire in the water (cue more excitement laced with more than a little bewilderment and intrigue).
The Upper Derwent Valley is the most picturesque of places. Surrounded by the seasonally colourful hills of the Pennines and aided by the large areas of water that fill the valley floor, there is a photograph opportunity on offer for every budding snapper around its long (longer than I remembered anyway!) and winding footpaths.
The valley wasn’t always so wet however, and to add a bit more interest into the expedition we were happy to regale how there was once a village in the basin which was flooded in order to make another reservoir due to demand, and that now, when the water is relatively low, you can see the peak of the church spire protrude out of the water. This too raised some interest amongst the young explorers…interest we were hoping would wain slightly during the first 5 minutes of our journey with the constant pestering about whether we could see it yet! There is only so many times you can say ‘No!’ through clenched teeth.
The large car-park and respite area where we started our nature adventure is surrounded by pine forests and wildlife and the little ones were thrilled to spot the ducks, robins, blue tits and snails dotted about the place – not to mention the numerous domestic dogs, each on their own little expedition with owners firmly in tow. Sheep were the main source of nature spotting throughout the remainder of our jaunt but babbling brooks, large dams and Horse Chesnut tree’s that were continuing to shed their autumn wares (resulting in pockets full of conkers!) kept their interest peaked throughout the majority of the 5km around the reservoir.
We tried to rally the troops for the remainder of the walk with promises of possible sightings of disused railways and more of those wonderful scenic views but their race was already run. They were spent and just about ready for a sit-in protest at the side of the road until I agreed to go and fetch the car!
If you ask the kids, they will tell you that they would still have preferred to do something else – they’re getting clever like that, but I believe that they secretly enjoyed it! Even if they did genuinely want to be somewhere else, I hope that in years to come, in a world becoming increasingly busy with long working hours and driven by things that are not nearly as simple, they can look upon a morning spent walking with the family is a time well spent. Mrs. Hangry and I will definitely keep trying to instill it that way.