Over Hill and Vale
Now the little legs are longer, we’ve loved setting out mini adventure days and just building in time for a hike, explore, discover and anything else that happens enroute – such as a handy pub stop!
With the sun shining, clear blue skies but a strong wind charging, it was definitely a day for such an adventure. The kids and I headed towards Exoor, with an eye for Countisbury. We started at Watersmeet (see a previous post for this area), down, down, down by the rivers and set our gazes on up, up, up through the opposite woodlands, tearing Eomer away from the water for once. Picking up Ramona’s bag, it was ridiculously heavy! Old school binoculars, bird books, and a pile of ‘just-in-case’ extras made me realise (a) she needs some light weight binos for day trips (b) she is just like me with my ‘what-if’ bag of curious objects – hilarious!
The first long climb up through the trees got hot out of the wind and we had our first whines of “I’m tired”. This was suddenly forgotten by the first major discovery of the day – shiny beetle with spiny feet, wow! Followed quickly by beautiful unfurling of new bracken stems and an adventurous clamber over the scree slope. Such concentration of scrambling over rock distracted from the effort of climbing. I simply stuck to the easy grass path next to it!
All efforts were rewarded at the top and both children dived into their nature books, as there was a glorious spring filled pond, with bugs and birds scattering and clattering as we rested. Packed up and moving on, we stopped briefly at the Blue Ball Inn just over the hill for a “Cheers” clinking apple juice moment then followed Countisbury Hill up, over and around. Such clear skies and we were so high up!
As we began the descent to riverside, Eomer decided to explore the gorse – so pretty and yellow: “is it spiky?” Then he touched it, stumbled back (Yes, it was!), tripped and tumbled right into an old gnarly gorse bush! He looked like a little porcupine! Definitely a discovery time and found out the memorable way!
We came to rest by the tree tops on a collection of wonderful elf pillows (those awesome grassy tussocks) for another requested bird watching and bug hunting stop and Eomer pulled out his enormous metal magnifying glass for super close up exploring.
We also played the age old sun spot burning trick of magnifying light on each other’s hands; this still never fails to wow, even me – it’s so clever and so instantly painful! – but also discussed the dangers and safety of wild fires. Sky gazing followed and as the sun soaked into skin, bodies and minds relaxed. Definitely great to get to ground level and look at the world around you from a different perspective. Feeling the weather, hearing the surroundings, taking a breath and time to settle into your space around you.
Both children were asking to camp out and pointed out different places we could sleep. Eomer’s weren’t quite so practical (in the trees…) but nothing a hammock and bivvy bag resolve surely?! Hmm, ideas for wild camping places, please…we’re willing, able and up for it, yippee!
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.