Dorset Holiday part 3

After a break for six on Saturday I’m returning to the write up of our Dorset holiday. Our third, and possibly my favourite day, took us to the Moors Valley Country Park and forest. The park is a joint venture between Dorset Council and the forestry commission. Any time I see the words forestry commission I equate it with expensive car park. We visit Dalby Forest up North fairly regularly and this is the same. They advertise as no entrance fee, which there isn’t. However they make up for this with a good parking charge. That said, it is money well spent as the areas they manage are beautiful with a rich diversity of species.

When we arrived it was very wet. Our waterproof trousers came in use again. One of the main reasons for wanting to come to the park, apart from the wildlife, was the Julia Donaldson walks. The parks have sculptures of all the key Gruffalo characters and a Highway Rat trail. Alice is currently loving the Julia Donaldson animated TV versions and will sit through the books. Her favourites are probably stickman and room on the broom currently. Room on the broom isn’t currently part of the forest, but still plenty for her to get excited by.

First she found the owl.

Then many excited cries of, “mouse”.

We paid for the Highway Rat activity pack in the visitor centre. The pack gives you some stickers, a mask and a few activities to do as you go round. It probably wasn’t worth the £3 for Alice as she’s too young for most of it, but never mind. The walk is marked without needing to get the pack should any of you want to do it. It was raining continually for the first part of the walk making the ground hard going for Alice. She lost her wellies a few times in the thick oozy mud. This wasn’t much fun for her, so she went in the howdah. The walk took us on a pleasant circular walk of about a mile. Just right for a little one.

On the way there are the Highway Rat characters and a few things to look out for. By the end the rain had stopped and it started to cheer up.

After finding the rat we returned to the visitors centre for a hot drink and to refuel Alice. With the weather improving and Alice looking a bit more cheerful we headed out again to the steam railway. Along the edge of the lake runs a miniature steam railway. Currently the lakes banks are overflowing into the surrounding fields with the ducks and swans roaming over a larger pool.

As well as being Julia Donaldson mad, Alice is also mad for Thomas the Tank engine at the moment. She was very excited to see the train dragging us to get on.

The train trip takes about twenty minutes with a stop off at the station at the other end. On the platform is a small cafe and a train shop. We treat Alice to a new Thomas toy, a rainbow Thomas. Alice has been over the moon with her Thomas refusing to part with him at bedtime, sleeping clutched on to it.

The park has a great play area split into different age appropriate areas. She adored the playhouse and slide.

The digging area was great fun. If we let her she’d have stayed there indefinitely.

However we wanted to find the Gruffalo, so on we went. She was excited to find the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s child pointing out the prickles and shouts of “nose” pointing to the wart.

Throughout the day I could hear plenty of bird song. Crows and other corvids weren’t put off by the weather. I spotted lots of tits: great, blue and long tailed. Then lots of robins.

Before we left we bought Alice two last treats with some money Granddad had given her for Easter; a stickman and a mouse. Almost all of Alice’s toys are second hand,from charity shops and facebook, so being on holiday we thought we’d treat her. Back at the house she played with her new toys.

A good amount of walking left her tired again.

A wonderful day! Every photo of Alice shows how much fun and enjoyment she got from the day. A great time was had.

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A trip on the trains

The last two days saw us taking Alice for her first trip staying away at another house. We got two tickets for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, as part of a teachers go free deal. As it’s a little bit of a journey in the orig to get there for the first train we asked Amy’s dad if we could stay the night before. His house in Robin Hood’s Bay is a bit closer to the railway start point making it easier getting Alice up and ready. We’ve visited the house with Alice last year, but not stayed yet. Loading the car was a military operation, being our first night away we didn’t know what to take. So in the end we probably had enough nappies for a week.

Alice was up early ready to go on train day. Alice wanted to make friends with the cats, but they were a bit more wary of her.

We got to the station in Pickering OK and sorted out tickets. We didn’t go down to look at the engine at this point, as we wanted to make sure we were comfortable on the train with Alice’s things.

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We got on the train and settled with a useful table.

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The railway takes you through the North Yorkshire Moors. You travel through a mixture of woodland, coniferous woodland and fields. We saw plenty of the larger farm animals.

 

Alice was initially quite interested in watching out the window with her eyes tracking along. She managed a little while before becoming more wriggly.

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Alice then settle down into grazing on some snacks for the journey, working her way through some carrot wotsits type snacks and a little bit of cherry bakewell flapjack.

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Refreshed with food Alice was ready to watch around again.

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We got out of the train at the end of line at Whitby and saw the engine.

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Whitby is famous for being the setting for some of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This weekend is the goth festival, so the shops were all set ready. So this area forms the setting to two of my favourite horror movies: American werewolf in London and Dracula. If movies have taught me anything I know not to go walking this area of the country at night. It’s a lovely old seaside town with lots of historic buildings going back to when the town made it’s fortune from fishing and whaling.

 

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The wind was quite strong along the piers, so Alice nattered away. Amy enjoyed a coconut ice cream and I had a toffee fudge. This area seems to of been developed more from our last trip with a better quality of food huts having emerged. Alice was travelling in the baby howdah as we thought the pram would be a hassle on the train and around Whitby.

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The train journey back we had a compartment to ourselves allowing Alice to wander a bit more, but was also lucky as Alice was grumpy and tired by this point. So much of the return journey was spent fractiously trying to get Alice to have a nap.

The sun had come out more though and the moors were looking stunning for it.

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The journey has tired Alice out and she fell asleep in the car. As she’d taken so much to get her to sleep I stayed in the car and read my new gardening book to give her a rest.

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We stopped off for tea at Amy’s dad before returning home. A few lessons learnt about what we need to take with for sleeping away. But a nice day out. Alice slept well last night after excitement, making it through to almost 6 o’clock, a good achievement for her.

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