If You Go Down To The Woods Today...
(not a sponsored post)
I've never been a big one for wanders in the woods. Too many camouflaged dog turds and ninja spiders for my liking. Not to mention flat-on-your-back-before-you-know-it-muddy-patches. But you know, my life story goes something like this:
Have children. Change mind about everything. The end.
And so that is why I am now a fully fledged signed up member to the (very unofficial) wood and forest walks club. Always accompanied by two small children and an even smaller dog, all running riot. But poop and wildlife aside woodland walks actually tick a lot of boxes when it comes to ways to entertain kids. Hot day? Head to some cool and shady woods. Damp day? Pull on your wellies and get mud stomping in the woods. Springtime? Bluebell season hits before the full woodland canopy is out, and it's not to be missed. Autumn? Leaves in every shade from green to brown, enough conkers to burst pocket seams and the remnants of a warm summer sun breaking through thinning branches. It's almost enough to make you forget about the spiders, huh? But there is something really lovely about an afternoon lost to aimless wanderings amongst decades and centuries of nature doing what it does best - flourishing. So with the perfect season for woodland walks quickly incoming, here are a few of our favourite places in or near West Lancashire to head to, and what we like to do in each...
Ruff Wood (ormskirk, lancashire)
A lovely little wood that is perfect for smaller explorers aka toddlers and younger kids. It's fairly well maintained and most paths are suitable for pushchairs (not side by side doubles). There is a circular path just over half a mile long, and wooden sculptures to spot along the way. Watch the littlies though! In the middle of the wood is an old quarry and there are some sudden drops, nothing to be majorly concerned about but definitely something to warn small nature adventurers of before they head off. There is car parking along Vicarage Lane, although not much and at peak dog walking time it can involve some intense parallel parking skills. After a good stomp through the woods pop into nearby Ormskirk (a ten minute or so walk away) for some market town charm.
Fairy Glen (Appley bridge, lancashire)
This place has SO much going for it. But wear wellies. Even on a warm August day you can find mud. Also do-able with a pushchair (not as easy to navigate as Ruff Wood though), but the most fun here is found by going off the beaten path. So to speak. There are plenty of scrambling opportunities, hidden cascades (mini waterfalls) and - most excitingly of all - evidence of real life fairies. The place is genuinely called Fairy Glen and some kindly locals (I assume...?) have been round and sprinkled fairy dust at the bases of trees, on fallen tree trunks and other spots at small child height. There's something so calm and magical about the place that with the sun glistening through the leaves and twinkling fairy dust catching your eye it's hard not to lose track of time. A fairly good amount of car parking is available in a (very pot holed) lay-by across the busy main road. Not ideal running the gauntlet with small children and dogs, but visibility to cross is good.
Formby Pine Woods & Red Squirrel Reserve (Formby, Merseyside)
If you've ever met someone from around here they've probably talked to you about red squirrels with an impassioned rant about how the dastardly greys are killing off our reds. We just really like our squirrels, what can I say? And this spot is why. Also infamous as the place Colleen Rooney apparently chucked her massive diamond engagement ring after finding out about Wayne's indiscretions with someones nan. But don't let that put you off. It is a National Trust area, but there is free parking available by parking along Larkhill Lane if you're not a NT member. We love the sandy pinewoods, especially running wild instead of following the (very well maintained) pathways through the reserve area. Outside of the reserve dogs can be off their lead, but please pop them back on a lead and keep our squirrels safe where the signs ask, okay? Also, a couple of additional very important deciding factors, there is usually an ice cream van in the NT car park and there are proper toilets.
Find Woodlands Near You
Not local to West Lancashire? Sorry! If you're in the UK and want to get out into your local woods then a good place to start would be to check out The Woodland Trust