I only came across Risley Moss Wildlife and Nature recently, despite having lived in Warrington for nearly ten years.
My mother stumbled across it when she was looking for something to do with our toddler while we moved house.
She took some pictures and showed me on her return so I had to find out for myself what all the fuss was about.
As you enter through the gates you are met by a beautiful sculpture of Mother Nature, which sets the tone for the reserve. You can park your car among the trees so your vehicle will be concealed from the road during your visit.
Parking is free, so it’s a nice cheap and cheerful place to go during lockdown if you have little ones to get a bit of fresh air.
The Boggarts and Friends Trail is especially good for young ones as there are chainsaw sculptures dotted around the reserve for your toddler to find and even have a picture taken next to each one if they wish. With that said, at this time of year, the surrounding area is very muddy so wellies are a must.
If you don’t know (I didn’t) boggarts are mythical creatures that are said to inhabit peat bogs so they feature heavily around the trail.
I will admit, they aren’t the most attractive of beings but there are other woodland creatures that are more traditional such as an owl, a fox and a snake that are easier for your toddler to identify if you are encouraging those all important first words.
There is a leaflet you can pick up at the start of the walk if you want to make it structured, however you can easily spot all the sculptures from the path so you won’t miss anything if you want a more informal jaunt.
The trail itself is a loop and can be shortened if your toddler’s little legs can’t take the full walk as there is a cut through from the main path back to the visitor’s centre about half way round.
While the ground is a little uneven, I was able to take a pram around it when my little girl was at that in-between stage of walking and being pushed. So, don’t be put off if your child still needs the pushchair, you can still get around with ease.
There are also lots of picnic spots and wooden benches all the way around so you can stop for snacks when hunger strikes. You can even dine next to Ben the Bear!
I sat with my daughter on a bench that was set back a little from the main trail and we ate a snack while watching and feeding some very friendly robins. The wildlife there is clearly used to pinching titbits from people’s packed lunches and are curious enough to come close and find out what you have to offer.
There is a little nook up an incline towards the end of the walk that has a few picnic tables overlooking the peat bogs which is a nice stopping point if you want to make more of a day of it.
The last stretch of woodland is great for picking up acorns at the right time of year which my daughter took full advantage of to take back for the squirrel in our garden.
If you look after your child during the day, I strongly recommend visiting during the week when it’s quieter so you can let your little one run around at their leisure without worrying about bumping into too many other people.
The weekends do attract more families and dog walkers which is something to bear in mind if your toddler is afraid of dogs or larger crowds.
Overall, this is the ideal little haven for toddlers and parents for a fuss free walk on the flat. The sculptures add a bit of interest and if you’re lucky you might just spot some of the local wildlife hiding in the trees. It accommodates the stop-start nature of walking with a toddler as there are plenty of resting places so you can tailor it to the needs of your little one depending on their age and walking ability.
Finding things to do with a baby can be difficult and costly so I have decided to share with you the places that we’ve found to be the most accommodating for families and more specifically babies (on a budget). Today our focus is on Brockholes Nature Reserve... to read more click HERE
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