This annual event is part of Boston Spa’s village festival. Although it was one of the only elements to go ahead this year due to Covid, the trail is still amazing, featuring superheroes and Disney characters executed very well.
There are around 100 scarecrows across Boston Spa, Clifford and Thorp Arch, so it might be best to choose one area per day! Track them down with a map from Doug Yeadon’s or Costcutter in the village.
Walking through the village, you can stop for an ice cream sundae at the lovely Hart’s, enjoy a beer outside the Stew or even have a wander down by the river. There was some great live music on the square, as well as a few street food stands for tapas and Indian treats.
You get to discover many hidden corners of the villages and admire all the handiwork, though watch out for a fright or two!
It was all a bit hot and sticky after a while, so I took shelter in a bush to hide from the sun and the scary scarecrows!
All in all, this is definitely a great day out! The Boston Spa Festival usually takes place in mid-July.
Staying at Mason’s campsite is one of the highlights of our year. Due to Covid last year, this is also Merlin’s first visit! The joy of camping so close to the river, but with great facilities, makes it one of the best sites in the UK.
Setting off on foot from Mason’s campsite, we saw gorgeous woods and river views instantly; you’ll find lots of stone skimming and paddling opportunities there as well.
Walking towards How Gill Farm, we headed through some farmer’s fields which had every different type of stile going. Merlin had lots of fun tackling each one!
Bending round to be greeted by an open expanse and views up to Simon’s Seat, we found that the climb got a bit steeper here. We then veered off up a farm lane to hunt down Brownies.
This was a real find – it offers a gorgeous setting and views, great brownies and coffee too.
We then headed into the woods again and to the stepping stones which are well worth a visit.
We then had lunch in the nearby field, with Merlin fetching the ball on a loop and getting in on a family portrait too!
Heading back to the trail, we curved back round the farm and onto a little road to return to the campsite. We paused at the Craven Arms pub beer garden for a swift refreshment, of course.
Coming into the Swinsty Reservoir car park, you’re immediately into this glorious view – a sandy beach area and the start of the circular walk. We usually go all the way around this reservoir but work is going on at the moment, so we did half of it and then continued all the way around Fewston.
These walks are the woods and water family heaven type. They feature loads of den building opportunities, logs to walk along, tree stumps to leap off and bridges to cross. There are lots of benches dotted along the route and plenty of dog swimming opportunities – for Merlin that is!
Picnic spots are plentiful and the blue sky and tall trees reflecting in the water make for an amazing backdrop.
The large bridge crossing Swinsty gives you a great view of the scale of the reservoir.
You can see the walk mapped out below- it’s also really well signposted and easy to follow. Dogs can be off lead almost all of the walk, with just an occasional road to cross.
You can put Swinsty Reservoir HG3 1SU in the sat nav and park in the main car park.
The treat at the end of the walk was a glorious ice cream from the Dales Van – sat by the side of the reservoir obviously!
For more of Merlin’s adventures, follow him on Instagram:
This is one of our favourite walks, with lots of routes you could take. You enter from Tenter Hill Lane and at the bottom of this lane you turn right and follow the path through the woods, continuing to the side of a farmer’s field.
You cross a small road and then enter Hetchell Woods and follow the lane.
This is a great place for playing hide and seek, capture the flag, having a picnic and playing tig! Kids, dogs and grown-ups love it! We describe it as Teletubby land and it is often covered with purple heather.
As you come over the top of Pompocali you enter the old railway path and go under gorgeous stone arches – it is often very muddy here however!
We looped back round, walking back through Terry Lug Wood by the river into the tall tree forest.
This is a great mixed landscape walk which is perfect for families and dogs and you can go as far as you want to.
Merlin was walked responsibly throughout this walk in line with the countryside code and specific site recommendations. Merlin supports walking with his two legged friend in a way which takes into account other walkers, wildlife and the natural environment.
Be a responsible dog owner and supervise your canine companion at all times.
This is my favourite daily walk- you can see me jumping for joy even though I get to do it pretty much every day at the moment!
As you travel through the village of Boston Spa towards Newton Kyme, you’ll find the entry to the spa baths walk on your left just as the shops start to disappear. If you look closely, you can see the original spa baths sign engraved into the wall here.
Following this path through the middle of some lovely houses, you’ll reach a hill descending towards the site of the original baths.
Still jumping for joy as Daddy gets ready to release my ball- my favourite thing ever!!
As you travel down the hill (chasing the ball in Merlin’s case!), you can either continue straight ahead towards Newton Kyme or make a sharp left towards our river walk. The river is down a sloped bank and as you walk along, you’ll spot the bridge below in the distance, with its beautiful arches.
This is my favourite kind of peril- dropping my ball down a slope and chasing it- then crying for Daddy to rescue me!!
As you pass under the bridge (which has great echoes by the way!), you’ll arrive at Merlin’s daily ball chasing patch. He enjoys running the length of it and skidding through the mud to grab his ball!
From here, the path to the right leads to a great swimming spot. It’s always a joy to watch Merlin dive in for his ball- he’s such a strong swimmer. It’s far enough away from the weir to avoid the drift, while the reflection in the still river is glorious with a bright blue sky above.
Continuing with the river on your right, you’ll reach a narrow path, from which you can spot Stick Man in the river on a low water day. The steps leading upwards are breath-taking for another reason: you’ll need to prepare yourself for the climb (and watch out for flying chocolate Labradors rushing back down again in pursuit of the ball)!
At the top of the climb, turn left to complete this circular walk and you’ll see a relatively new housing estate on the right. The fields and grounds around the estate are a great place for a picnic, sledging session, coffee stop and of course another ball throwing session!
There is a lovely bug hotel here too to check out, built by local joiner Tom Brothwell. You can see the beautiful church from here as well.
As you go back into the woods, head right down some much more gradual steps and back to the ball throwing open space. You can turn to the right just before or just after this to enter the gorgeous village of Boston Spa. Here you’ll find some lovely coffee and gift shops, as well as a few bars and restaurants for a lunch or tea stop (when we’re out of lockdown!).
Try Harts for the best ice cream sundaes, tiffin and hot chocolates on the block (their hatch is open throughout lockdown!).
It’s a great end to a lovely walk and even Merlin gets the last bits – yum!
This gorgeous beach always seems to have a micro climate of it’s own – and this walk was no different. Merlin the Chocolate Wizard, a 1 year old chocolate labrador, shares his adventures in Yorkshire with you – this month it’s Sandsend Beach near Whitby.
One of our favourite ever places to visit – and Merlin, our chocolate wizard, thinks this is the best end of Whitby for him. On the A174 past Whitby and parking at the Sandsend Car Park, you can walk from the car park straight onto the beach in a minute.
There are also a few cafes on the beach front, which are great and sell beach essentials. The pub is lovely for a beer garden stop off too at any time of the year.
As you meander along the beach, the distant cliffs make for a stunning backdrop, and on this crisp, clear day in January, the blue sky was reflecting on the flat sands.
Merlin, however, just saw the vast space as a playground for a game of throw and retrieve. It is sooooo amazing here – the flat sands are great for exercise and if he could, he’d run all day!
Another benefit of January at the beach means it isn’t crowded, yet you do get to meet other dogs who are in the know and clued in to this lesser-known gem of a destination.
Further along the beach, away from the car park, any danger from traffic on the road is avoided with a steep slope There are steps all along the face that are fun to run up and down and walk along.
As you come to the edge of the beach, the mini cliff is a good scramble for the kids and the dog, (can you spot Merlin in the rocks?!).
Up and over the rocks, after a short stroll you enter Whitby near the theatre and the whale bones – Magpie Cafe is the place to go for fish and chips!
For more of Merlin’s adventures follow him on Instagram along with over 13,000 other fans, and look out for next month’s dog walk…