This September, Rowan started school. Despite being really exciting times for all of us, in all honesty, I also felt quite aggrieved. No longer could I just take a day of work and go off exploring with him. And our Friday adventure days are no more. Rowan really loves school though, and has settled into his routine far quicker than I have. Weekends suddenly seemed really full, with no time to do anything. By the end of September, I had reached the stage where, no matter what, we WERE going to get outside and enjoy being in nature. Beacon Fell, on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, near Preston was to be our destination. Not only is there a sculpture trail to follow, but it is also a dark skies location and I wanted to have a look around before we make our way up for a night time excursion at some point in the future.
Upon arriving, the sky was heavy with clouds and there was drizzle in the air, so we kitted up in our waterproofs. A lovely man in the car park took a picture of us all before we set off, managing to cut out the little brown present Pebble produced for us while he was taking the first photo.
After paying the bargain parking fee of one whole pound we called in the visitor centre to pick up a trial map then set off to find our first sculpture. The stone face of Orme Sight, created by Thompson Dagnall, overlooks the car park and is immediately visible. On a clear day, you are able to stand behind the face and peer through the eye to see the Great Orme in North Wales. On this occasion, we mostly saw clouds.
From here, rather than following the trials, we head straight into the trees and a den building area. After finding piles of branches and sticks left for this purpose, Rowan and Rick made themselves busy adding to a shelter that had already been started, while Rocky and Pebble took advantage of some time off the lead, darting in and out of the branches. Not content with just a den, Rowan also included a kitchen complete with fire, chairs round the fire and stick knives and forks. The potential of imaginative play and fun in these den building areas is boundless. I love them.
We could have lingered much longer, but governed by our stomachs, we decided to look around a little further before we were to stop for our picnic. Following a well-made path, we passed a pond with a wooden sculpture of a bird before heading out of the trees on to the side of Beacon Fell. This part of the path was suitable for pushchairs and for people of limited mobility, it is also possible to use one of the sites trampers by booking in advance.
It was starting to get a bit drizzly, so when we came to copse of fir trees, we left the path again to make the most of the shelter while we ate our picnic. The trees here were smaller in height, but much closer together so it felt very secluded and peaceful as we found a spot on the soft floor to settle down. And it was so green. Moss grew on the floor and up the tree trunks giving the place a mythical feel.
Relaxing on our rubble sacks (they make brilliant, easily tucked away waterproof seats), I began to notice a familiar smell. It wasn’t pine needles, but mushrooms. There was a distinct mushroom smell, so after we’d eaten, we looked around and found at least three different varieties. I am no fungi expert, so we made sure that we didn’t touch any, but they really are beautiful things to look at.
After soaking up the atmosphere in the woods, we relocated the path to help find our way to the summit trig point. Along the way, we found another one of the sculptures and a tree just asking to be climbed.
The trig point was easily located by briefly following a path uphill and despite the cloud, we managed to get a view of the surrounding countryside.
As we left the top, it started to rain heavily. In our waterproofs, we were absolutely fine, so we continued to explore the forest, finding a brilliant wooden owl just off the summit.
There is something special about this place. Maybe it was because the weather wasn’t great so we often felt like we had the place to ourselves. The greenery was everywhere – nature sprouting up all over the forest floor and trees. It is a lovely place to really immerse yourself in your surroundings and feel the stresses of day to day life wash away.
Pretty soon, we were playing hide and seek, barely noticing the rain, and I can confirm that Pebble cheats and gives away your hiding place to those looking for you!
After a bit more wandering around the trees, hunting for mushrooms and re-enacting Billy Goats Gruff on one of the streams, we decided to look for one more sculptures whilst making our way back to the car. There are several sculptures on Beacon Fell, but we were looking for the tiger. He must have been hiding though as we didn’t find him – instead we wandered about the forest, watching the mist in the trees and eventually found the path back to the car park.
Despite our soggy appearances, I can confirm that our waterproofs are indeed waterproof. I felt invigorated and happy that we had made the time to get back out for our adventures again, and long may it continue. Hopefully we will be back here again for a night time adventure very soon. If you’d like to visit, you can find more information here, and if you don’t have time to make butties, there is a little cafe which smelled delicious.