Now summer is nearing it’s hopefully gloriously hot head, I’m plotting picnics in the sunshine, ice lollies in the paddling pool, football in the park, barbecues and alfresco summer parties : super fun times for my little family, retracing my own happy steps as a child in Yorkshire.
That’s what’s so wonderful about living back in Leeds, I get to re-visit the poignant places of my childhood, reminiscing the good ol’ days while making magical memories for my own children in the process.
I was lucky to grow up in the tiny, quaint and picturesque town of Ilkley in Yorkshire, a charmed childhood really, spent climbing trees, picking wildflowers, exploring woodland by our beautiful family home and eating soft scoop ice cream by the river adjacent to a playground, I now take my own kids, to.
One of our most favourite stomping grounds, then, and now, is Bolton Abbey, set in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales not far from Ilkley, by the banks of the River Wharf with just under 30,000 acres of cinematic countryside within the estate, which takes its name from the ruins of the 12th-century Augustinian monastery.
What a beauty to behold.
Beneath the shade of the trees overlooking the ruins of the Priory (a moment in history preserved for all to enjoy), we relish fresh, seasonal salads (nicoise, homemade coleslaw, potato and chives), gluten-free thick cut sandwiches brimming with brie, others with lashings of Stilton and juicy red grapes, before tucking into fresh fruit and homemade vanilla slices (for a treat).
These were taken when Xander was a baby and Oliver, a toddler!
We’ve returned again recently, despite the weather not being warm enough for a picnic, choosing to just take in the countryside, and meander, making footprints on the river banks…
There, holding little hands, my husband and I found ourselves helping our sons balance on rocks by the shallow end of the river as dogs rushed by wagging their tails with glee and birds chirped overhead.
It really is Disney-worthy and no place on earth compares.
With 80 miles of footpaths and ample space to run, my kids never feel more free (nor do I) on the days we spend in Bolton Abbey.
I can’t recommend it enough
…The fab folks at Higgidy have a wonderful picnic guide I’m honoured to have contributed to about our time at Bolton Abbey. The online guide is positively bursting with tips to making your summer picnics perfect. You can download it HERE.