So, now we can enjoy being on foot and with the better weather, we've been out exploring and discovered two new places to add to our favourites list.
The first is Forestry Commission Fineshade Woods, between Corby and Stamford - we've been several times in recent weeks, alone and with friends. There's a multitude of reasons why this place is worth a visit - or several. To say it's a new discovery is a lie - we had been once when we first moved back here but had forgotten about it.
The forest has multiple walks of different lengths and some are more accessible on others. But there's one that is completely buggy/wheelchair etc friendly, and it's not too long, so small legs can do it (and it's not too far for a piggy back if you get tired). It's also dog friendly, and well behaved dogs needn't be on a lead. There's also paths for cyclists and you can hire cycle equipment on site.
There's also a play area with plenty of things to do for the younger kids. Effy absolutely adores the little hut and likes to have imaginary dinner parties in there with her friends! And right next to the play area is a lovely cafe, with delicious paninis and cake, that's reasonably priced and worth going back to. There's a number of little shops on the complex. So you can definitely make a day out of it, or a shorter visit if you wish.
The only downside is having to pay for parking - £3 for the day, which isn't astronomical but arguably there are other places to walk and play for free. That said, if it's somewhere you want to visit regularly, we we do, the Forestry Commission do Discovery Passes for each forest, that make parking free, so we've invested (it applies to both our cars too) for the year - we only have to go 9 times for it to pay for itself and that's definitely doable.
Yesterday we popped down to explore the Gruffalo Trail, part of the 15th anniversary of the Gruffalo celebrations. Lots to do for children of all ages, we were a smidge disappointed that there was no Gruffalo at the end, and that he doesn't arrive until June... Worth noting if you had planned to visit your local forest for a similar event, as I didn't think the literature available was very clear!
Our second find is Stanwick Lakes, not far from Wellingborough. We've been meaning to go for years, but it's a bit out of our way. However when we had friends staying recently, we took the multiple geochaching opportunities at the lakes as a challenge and went to see what was there.
In a nutshell, it's beautiful there. Calm and serene, with lots of nature to see, particularly waterfowl. It's big enough for you to walk for a while without seeing anyone, but not too far back to the car! There's also an amazing adventure play area, although we didn't get to explore as it started hailing and I had forgotten the rain cover... But it's definitely on the list of places to return to! The cake in the cafe was really quite exquisite too... A word of warning, geocachers; lots of caches were not there, or not what they were listed as. It's definitely worth reading recent logs before looking!
It's easy to get stuck in a rut of heading to the places you know all the time, and sometimes I forget there's more to explore. However, both Fineshade and Stanwick have so much to do, I don't feel like we ever experience the same stuff on our visits... And I can't see any of us getting bored of either in a hurry!