The Bluebells of Ilkley’s Middleton Woods

This Mother’s Day, finding a beautiful spring walk is high on every mummy’s agenda (well, that and breakfast in bed, which I’m still waiting for five years into my motherhood journey).

If you’re local to Ilkley, you are EXTREMELY lucky to have my absolutely FAVOURITE display of bluebells on your doorstep. In fact, the circular walk along the river bank and up through Middleton Woods is probably my favourite spring walk in Yorkshire! With fantastic views across the Wharfe Valley, beautiful woodland to explore, a pretty riverside and the chance of seeing lambs, what’s not to love?

The walk is only 4-5km, so it’s a great walk for children too (though it’s not buggy friendly). Starting at Riverside Gardens, follow the river before reaching the leisure centre and the bottom entrance to Middleton Woods. Continue uphill and in a north-westerly direction, passing behind the monastery, then head back downhill to join the river path. The bonus is that children can be bribed to the end with a fab play area (and an ice cream). Read the full walk description on the Muddy Boots Mummy site here. If your children need a little encouragement, perhaps you could try this Spring Walk Bingo!

This is actually one of the first walks I did on Muddy Boots Mummy. I launched the blog whilst I was pregnant with my son to motivate me to get out and about. It’s become a go-to resource for families across West Yorkshire to find child-friendly walks and places to enjoy the outdoors. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to discover more places as we venture further afield in the upcoming months!

park in the sunshine grass flowers

Valley Gardens, Harrogate to RHS Harlow Carr

One of the most popular walks in Harrogate takes you from the Royal Pump Room Museum to RHS Harlow Carr. The draw is twofold. Firstly, flower lovers will delight in the majestic Valley Gardens, with their seasonal displays of colourful blooms, as well as the 58-acre showcase of RHS splendour to be found at Harlow Carr. Secondly, the walk features a Betty’s Tea Room and Café at each end and we know of no other walk that makes this delicious claim!

Bettys café and tea room in Harrogate
The iconic Bettys Café and Tea Rooms in Harrogate

Before you start your walk, make sure to visit Bettys on Parliament Street in Harrogate, if only to gaze upon the incredible treats in the sumptuous window displays. From there, head down the hill past the Turkish Baths and the Winter Gardens building. From the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill, you’ll see the Royal Hall diagonally to your right. Take a left and pop into the Tourist Information Office. Here you can pick up a map for this route which includes a discount for entrance to RHS Harlow Carr. Ahead, you’ll find the Royal Pump Room Museum. Here, you can discover the history of the spa town, learning how the Victorian gentry took in the strongest sulphur waters in Europe.

From the Royal Pump Room Museum, use the pedestrian crossing to enter Valley Gardens. Here the walk begins in earnest, at the main entrance to 17 acres of award-winning English Heritage Grade II-listed parkland. You can explore immaculate floral displays and intriguing themed gardens, while the park also features a children’s play area and sporting activities.

Of the three paths in front of you, take the left hand option and walk alongside the stream. We stopped several times to watch ducks in the water and squirrels racing up the trees to our right.

You’ll soon reach the Magnesia Well café serving refreshments inside and out. You could even treat yourself to an ice cream to take with you on your walk. Check out the circular feature where the pathways meet- this area is known as Bogs Field and contains several capped wells. You can find a total of 36 mineral wells within Valley Gardens.

flowers and grass in the park. people sat outside having drinks and snacks. sunshine café
The Magnesia Well Café in Valley Gardens, Harrogate

To explore the gardens further, you can wander through the Japanese Garden, visit the play park or even enjoy a game of pitch and putt. Whatever you choose to do, just return to this circular meeting of paths to continue the walk.

Japanese ornament, path and trees with red branches in a Japanese style park
The Japanese Garden in Valley Gardens

From here, roughly opposite the path that brought you to the Magnesia Well, you’ll find a bench-lined path passing the tennis courts with a grassed area to your left. This part of the walk is slightly uphill. At the fork of the paths, follow the right hand dirt path into the pine woods.

path leading into pine woods information board
Track into the pine woods

Now all you need to do is follow this one path towards the west. Look out for an abundance of wildlife amongst the trees. Keep any dogs and young children close to you as you’ll need to cross a road en route.

A small brown dog running towards the camera along a path through a woods

Approximately 10 minutes after crossing the road, you’ll reach an information point with binoculars offering panoramic views of the countryside. To the other side of the path, a feeding station brings a wide a variety of birds into close range. Once you’ve enjoyed this special spot, you’re on the home straight. Your destination of RHS Harlow Carr is now within sight, with its stunning gardens, beautifully stocked garden centre and homeware shop. There’s also, of course, another Betty’s Tea Room.

Manicured lawns and stunning flowerbeds blue sky
RHS Harlow Carr

www.visitharrogate.co.uk/

Merlin the Chocolate Wizard’s Sandsend Walk

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!

chocolate labrador beach

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.

beach friends dogs
Merlin met a new very furry friend – they ran and ran; its a real dog’s paradise on this walk with so much space for playful wrestling!

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.

The pebbles on the beach make a great stone stack and are great to play the stone rainbow game – collect one of each colour!
The swimming here is awesome – the waves are frothy and you can go wave diving to fetch your ball!

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?!).

sandsend 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!

Catching some air on my ball leaps – it’s my favourite thing to do
A doggie mince pie to celebrate the end of the walk – wrapped up in my ruff and tumble dog towel

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…

https://www.instagram.com/merlinthechocolatewizard/