Free Family Fun: A great day out in Gelt Woods


WHEN the weekend arrives, writer and workaholic CAT PARK winds down in the best way possible. In this regular blog, the Cumbrian mum of two seeks out the finest free family days out our fair county has to offer

LIKE most parents, summer was spent trying to juggle work, sneak a few days off to go on adventures and generally feel guilty for not being able to fill every day with action packed memories for the kids.

Still, as we all know, there’s bills to pay and it’s all about making it work and finding a balance, plus everything costs a bloody fortune! As the last day of the summer holidays loomed over us though, with that mixture of excitement and nerves bubbling inside, we thought we’d better get out and make the most of it.

Having recently returned from a sunny and dry holiday on the island of Kos, which seemed a distant memory as soon as the plane opened its doors to the fresh Glasgow air on our return, we decided to stay close by and go on a fairy hunt - plus Roman wanted to find some creepy crawlies too.

With a break in the rain (yes, rain in Cumbria, can you believe?), we took to Gelt Woods for a bit of shelter and to breathe in the fresh smells of the woodland - one of my favourite things.

Surprisingly it wasn’t too wet underfoot and there were lots of people out and about with their dogs, families or out for a run that had the same idea for a Sunday afternoon. I took the backpack for Roman in case his little legs got tired - a wise move, otherwise we’d still have been there now.

We parked at Lower Gelt and the first thing we had to do was navigate the gate. Roman and I simply walked around it, as any normal person would but we took our friend Phil, who is A) not a normal person, and B) a farmer born and bred. He then proceeded to teach Coco how a farmer would jump over the gate and before we had even walked 10 metres, we were at a stand still for the next 15 minutes as Coco repeatedly flung herself over the gate and on to the floor until she got the grasp of it all and could finally swing herself over it and land on two feet.

Following our farmer's demonstration, we were back to the task in hand and had a walk along through the wood by the river. Roman was eager to pick up big sticks and carry them along and Coco wanted to find even bigger ones to make him jealous with, so would find tree branches that were laying on the floor and try her hardest to casually bring them along until they got too heavy. As we walked along we spotted toadstools, clearly a sign that fairies were close by, and beetles and slugs scurrying around on the floor. Roman was amazed by them until Coco would pick one up and bring it close by and he’d pull away sharply remarking “THAT’S DIS-GUSTING!”

He was, however, quite impressed by the little black beetles and the colours they were on the underside as they shone bright purple in the light.

We ambled along by the Roman quarry and took a look up at the rock face where the eery branch roots from the trees above loom over the edge.

It is possible to see the markings in the stone face from where Roman Engineers chiselled away the rock in order to use it within Hadrian’s Wall itself, some 1,800 years ago.

It is quite hard to imagine how such a scale of an operation was completed without the machinery we have now.

We stopped off by the river and found our way down to the stony bank where Roman demanded to get out of the rucksack. It was then time to learn how to skim stones and Phil quickly got to work with showing Coco how to choose the best shape of stone for the job.

After a few fails and some direction of how to throw, she started to get it and was quite proud of herself to see her pebble bounce along the top of the water. Roman on the other hand went all out for the huge stones and just fired them in to the water with a giant ‘PLOP’ as they sunk down, much to his amusement.

We continued on and headed all the way up to Middle Gelt, where Phil and Coco then decided to have a caber toss contest! Choosing fallen logs they were quite happy to lark around in the clearing trying to chuck them up high or balance them in their hands as they walked. Roman was quite happy to hold on to one of them and replace his now redundant small stick with one somewhat bigger!

We decided it was time to turn back and head home to sort out uniforms and dinner before a busy fresh week ahead. As we walked along, we could hear the cries of a buzzard and through the branches above we’d spot it every now and then as it circled overhead. Roman, back in the backpack was whispering to me in my ear as we walked along, talking to me about mice, which we all joined in with as we imagined all of the magical and amazing things that lived in the forest. Coco then grabbed his leg as she crept up behind him and scared the living daylights out of him, to which he told her off!

As we got back to the car, Coco showed us all her new gate jumping skills and then we wrapped up muddy boots and packed ourselves back in the car.

It was an enchanting day and funnily enough, until I started writing this and recalling all of the silly things we’d done I didn’t realise quite how lovely it was just to get away and spend a few hours together, being daft and having another of our adventures.

Top Tips:

Don’t forget a bag for muddy boots at this time of year!

Keep up with the latest from Cat on Twitter and Instagram, via @cattipark

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 6:08PM
Comment on this article

Generate a new code
Comments not OK? Click here to let us know