I don’t know about you, but we love getting outdoors and playing in nature, come rain or shine.
But, as it turns out, a Government-funded report by Natural England published February this year, found that more than 10% of children in England have not been to a natural environment such as a forest, beach or park in the past 12 months. I suppose the unpredictable weather and growing climate of concern around children’s safety plays a part, but where there’s a will to have fun in nature, there’s always a way!
To promote the importance of getting outdoors and experiencing nature, Butterkist recently sent us a#GetCoated backpack crammed with kit to help us head out on an adventure, and that kit came with a challenge: to complete one of the Stick Man Trails created by the Forestry Commission and dotted all over the UK.
Our nearest trail turned out to be at Hicks Lodge in Leicestershire, just A 40 minute drive away.
It’s a spot we’re never visited before, so armed with our kits, a picnic lunch, Jay’s Easter bonnet (no, it wasn’t Easter, but she really wanted to wear it!) and plenty of refuelling snacks in the form of Butterkist’s new Yogurt Coated popcorn, we took a short drive and set off!
The Stick Trail is based, of course, on the famous picture book by Julia Donaldson and illustrations by Axel Scheffler. It’s a firm favourite in our house, so the children were excited from the get go.
At each numbered stop, there’s a board bearing facts about nature as well as challenges that correspond with further instructions in the trail packs.
The challenges are relatively simple, but require concentration, writing and a little bit of maths, so they’re perfect for primary or early secondary school age children. As Miss J hasn’t started school just yet, she really enjoyed the chance to put her new-found writing skills into action at some stops, and simply drew the answer at others!
Here’s our attempt to build a stick tower. Ok, not very high (!) but it was good fun.
Stopping for a quick snack amongst the grass every now and then, we adored just walking, talking and exploring in the beautiful Leicestershire countryside, spotting the occasional local resident along the way.
Along the way, we also spotted and ticked off the symbols dotted along the bank of the lake or nestled in the undergrowth. We loved that some weren’t so easily reachable, meaning that the kids had to drive through the long grass, flowers and tangles of weeds to get close to them. A real adventure!
The final stop saw us find Stick Man’s family tree at last! There, we took bark rubbings before making our own Stick Men using the pipe cleaners supplied in our kits. After telling stories of their adventures to each other, we balancing our Stick People in the tree, allowing them to join their many Stick Brothers and Sisters.
We’d only walked 1 mile, but it too two hours to get all the way round, because we’d be playing, laughing and completing challenges the whole way.
After triumphing on our trail, we stopped at the café and rewarded ourselves with ice creams, before playing in the activity area until the sun started to fade and it was time to drive home. What a perfect day!
This is a commissioned post for Butterkist