We weren’t going to let a freezing cold morning stop us having an adventure last week during half term. Monkey and I wrapped up warm and headed off to his happy place ready to do some detective work. It was time to test his observation skills with the Animal Tracks trail at Stowe Landscape Gardens.
It’s always worth checking out what activities your local National Trust property is running during school holidays, some are available for a few pounds but the Animal Tracks trail was totally free. Our National Trust membership is worth every penny in my opinion. So many of their properties have wonderful outside spaces with areas set up with children in mind.
Monkey collected his Animal Tracks Trail map and identification fact sheet and off we went. It’s worth noting that Stowe has a Children’s Activity table within the main entrance complex, close to the tills. This is where we found all the information for the Animal Tracks Trail and Tracker sheets. I’m not sure that the information would have been so easily found by others less familiar with the property.
We know the various routes around the grounds well and the track that had been devised was perfect for children of all ages to complete as it’s on the shortest route. Monkey loves the walk from the entrance complex down to the main gardens.
We always have a little adventure on the way and look out for sheep and rusting combine harvesters. I do know that younger children sometimes seem rather daunted by this first part of the walk, it would be great if there were a few activities along the path to keep them amused.
But my detective was already hard at work, no animal track was going to pass him by!
No trip to Stowe is complete without a bell ringing stop. According to Monkey you can’t actually gain access to the grounds without ringing the bell. That’s his excuse and he’s sticking to it.
With map in hand he set off in search of his first animal track. We weren’t sure what to expect but these tracks were easy to find as they were laminated sheets stuck up in various locations.
A little bit of map reading got us to each point and then good observation skills led Monkey to decide which animal had left his mark.
All of the stops had a handy bench close by to make it easier for children to complete their trail sheet.
Monkey even wrote some of his answers himself. Regular readers will know what a triumph that is!
Although the ground was frozen we did get to add dog tracks and horse shoe marks as extra spots along the trail.
Although my eager beaver was making quite a lot of noise, we also spotted a squirrel, blackbirds, robins and blue tits along the way. Monkey even spotted a few butterflies – far easier to persuade to sit still in this instance.
The Animal Tracks Trail at Stowe Landscape Gardens finishes on the Palladian Bridge, so we decided to follow Monkeys favourite walk around the lake, across the wooden bridge and around, back in a loop.
We were both amazed to see the lake frozen in places, I love this shot of the sunshine against the ice.
The photo is actually in colour, although you wouldn’t believe it. The Canada Geese were deep in conversation and they appeared to decide to go on their own adventure.
A firm favourite for us when visiting Stowe is to find and watch the swans. There are a few pairs and they always make us stop in our tracks and just admire their beauty.
By this time of cause Monkey had found a stick or two and looked like a boy on a mission.
He’d heard there was hot chocolate and cake waiting at the end of our adventure. Apparently so had the sheep!
A few breaks along the way were called for. Time to find more sticks, time to sit and watch the world go by.
Once we’d stopped to admire the views we headed back to the cafe to warm up with a well deserved treat. He had to show his completed trail sheet to be rewarded with a Trackers certificate to end off another exciting adventure. Monkey really enjoyed Animal tracks trail at Stowe Landscape Gardens. The activity made him stop and take note of things, and talk about the animal tracks we found. Never once did he complain about the cold, and trust me it was very cold. He had a great time.
If you go on the National Trust website it’s easy to find your nearest site and to see what activities they are running. We’re coming to Stowe over Easter to complete their Easter Egg Trail (small fee applies) and to introduce a friend and her son to Monkey’s happy place.
What outdoor adventures have you been on recently?