Given how much we enjoy Horrible Histories and our love of castles, we weren’t going to let a trip to London pass by without visiting the infamous Tower.
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether you actually remember something, or your memory is based on looking at old photos. As a kid, whilst on holiday in Devon, we visited the Golden Hinde. I’ve seen photos of me wearing my Coca-Cola T-shirt, exploring the ship with my sister – climbing the steep steps to the fore deck and wondering if I could climb the rigging. Fast forward around 40 years, and on a visit to London, I knew Rowan would really enjoy the replica of this historic ship, berthed at St Mary Overie Dock, not far from London Bridge.
Something a bit different. We normally plan some outdoor adventures during the school holidays but, after watching Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures when he was small, then Night at the Museum and with his general love of animals and dinosaurs, Rowan had wanted to visit the Natural History Museum in London. With February half term being a bit unpredictable on the weather front, we opted for a city break in the Old Smoke.
It seems like such a long time ago, especially having been working from home due to coronavirus for a year now, but I sitting at my desk at work, I happened to mention I fancied going wild camping. I work with plenty of brilliant people, two of whom are Angela and Beth. As it turned out, they also fancied a bit of wild camping and so we had the start of a plan! After synchronising diaries, and geeking out over the OS Maps app (ok, that was mostly me), we had a date and location in mind. Now it was time to prepare.
Standing at 2,866 feet, Goat Fell is the highest mountain on Arran. On our first visit to the island, we decided against trying to reach the summit. It would have been by far the furthest and highest Rowan had walked, so we didn’t want to over-do it and potentially put him off days out in the mountains. But for our latest visit, and with Birkhouse Moor under his belt, we decided he would probably be ok. We just needed a decent mountain forecast during the week – and we were in luck.
Long summer days mean it’s possible to really make the most of where you are visiting on holiday. After chilling on the beach by the Preaching Cave in Kilpatrick, we drove round the southern edge of the island to Sandbraes, just past Whiting Bay. Parking alongside some playing fields in front of the Whiting Bay and Kildonan Church (postcode KA27 8RE) just off the A841, we bundled out of the car for our second stroll of the day, this time, to Kingscross Point.
In 2018, our honeymoon took us to the Isle of Arran, off the west coast of Scotland. We fell in love with the place. So much so, we were back again the following year, this time bringing along my Mum, Dad and sister, Karen. Whilst driving around during our prior visit, I kept noticing a path running alongside a river in the mountainous north of the island. It was so inviting, and it was now time to see where it led.
For eighteen miles between Whitby and Pickering, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs steam and diesel locomotives through the gorgeous North York Moors National Park. But to Rowan, a steam train can only mean one thing – the Hogwarts Express. I was really looking forward to our day out with a difference.