Adventures at Arlington
Near to us is Arlington Court. An impressive old stately home run by the National Trust; the history is interesting and there are the usual impressive buildings, chapel and stables but I’ve never really been tempted to take the kids. Until we discovered the GROUNDS!
Amazing gardens, meadow and woods stretch for miles around and although we had dabbled on the edges for various FS activities over the years, somehow we’d never actually explored properly. And, wow, what a pleasure it was!
We began with a picnic at the Monkey Puzzle play zone and I reckon the kids would have been happy even if that had been the only place we visited. Surrounded by enormous monkey puzzle trees, every part was full of risky play climbs and balancing beams, suitable for young and old (ok, never too old!), ropes and ginormous fallen trunks. Den building was actively encouraged with scavenged branches and a giant sized noughts and crosses game marked out the floor. Hours of fun!
We had no map so just wandered blindly around the marked trails having no idea what we would stumble on next, quite the adventure! We discovered a beautifully concealed bird hide within a willow tunnel, with binos, information and even buttons to press to hear sample bird calls – a pure haven for the tiny twitchers in the family. We were lucky enough to even watch a spotted woodpecker at the feeding table, ducks, chaffinches, great tits and blue tits – a positive bird mecca, right in front of our noses!
Heading away from the lake, we opened up into a huge meadow with amazing tree truck skeletons and low slung branches and it was all we could do to keep the little explorers moving along the path with so many tempting climbing/ hiding places. A short grassy sky gaze brought us back down to earth.
The finale of the day was the ‘Wilderness Area’ – a deep valley full of exciting rope swings, rope clambers and balancing beams, all on the edge of a tiny stream. Just this alone could have filled a day’s activity and any semblance of clean clothes vanished with mudslides and stream scrambles, echoed with excited squeals and shouts of new discoveries! Of course, the rope swing wasn’t just for children. Every dad passing had to have a go and of course a few mums too. I quickly found out my gut feeling of heights hadn’t gone away as I dangled over the edge of the valley a moment too long to the hilarity of all the watchers down below but Eomer and Ramona swung like the monkeys they love, full of exhilaration and growing confidence with each further swing.
We found out today that some of the most amazing places are right under your nose, how many times had we passed Arlington by for another day? We’ll definitely be back although posh and stately isn’t really us…give us the wild adventures and open skies any day!
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Having lived in N. Devon for the last 12 years, we recently moved across to the other side of the world and now live in New Zealand on the North Island. Our adventurous family includes my husband Phil and 2 small cheeky children: Ramona 8½ and Eomer 5½. I have a wonderful day job as Lead teacher in the sensory unit of an SEN school and spend as much time as possible outside, exploring nature and environments both on our doorstep and further afield.
Favourite place in the world:
Hmm, that's really tough! I loved the west coast forests of British Columbia in Canada, such a humbling, incredible place - tall trees right down to the big ocean waves. There's a whole lot of other places I'd love to explore though...moving to New Zealand has opened up a whole world of new adventures and we’re slowly finding new favourites to add to the list.
Sea, mountains and forests in any combination please!
Favourite things to do outdoors:
Again, lots of favourites. Definitely a mix between walking, cycling, surfing, camping and exploring, combined with taking time to notice detail of a place, hear the sounds and absorb the changes over time and seasons. Active and quiet times are both invigorating for different reasons.