As you know, I love to walk and even more so at the weekend, with the whole family. Last month I said I wanted to try to find new places for our walks, and I haven’t really stuck to this. We’ve just found the one place, Dare Valley Country Park, but we’ve really fallen in love with it.
We’ve been twice already, and the weather has been absolutely dreadful both times. If there’s one thing this family know how to do it’s to have fun even when the rain is pouring. We’ve had plenty of opportunity to practice here in Wales. Did you see how wet our camping holiday was?
The first time we visited Dare Valley we didn’t have the big kiddos and it was late in the day after a trip to a Ikea. I looked up the place on my phone on the way there and found out that there are three signposted walks. One easy, one medium, one difficult. Each with colour codes arrows to guide the way. We picked the medium difficulty route, and set off following the blue arrows. We took the exact same route a week later with the kids.
First the path follows a track, and then crosses a field. On our first visit there was one lonely sheep hanging around here, looking for his buddies. It’s a perfect spot for a game of fetch!
The blue arrows then leads through a kissing gate (where the big kids insist on actually doing kissing as we pass through) and into a little wooded area. We spotted squirrels here, but crossing the little stream is probably everybody’s favourite bit.
Next you head out of the wood and onto a hillside. The grass is long and wild here, Seb’s favourite kind of grass! A lot of the time all that you can see is the tip of his tail. Usually Seb loses his ball in long grass then spends the rest of the walk looking at us like we’re hiding it from him.
On our first visit (when it was absolutely pouring with rain) we saw rainbows from here that appeared to end among the houses below, piercing straight through a tiny rooftop.
The steady incline gets slightly steeper from here, and the walkway climbs along an edge. There’s a gravel and stone path to follow, that is clearly used by animals too. The just-turned-9-year-old started a conversation with me about the differences between sheep poo and horse poo that lasted a good 10 minutes. Aren’t kids lovely?
This is where the blue arrows ended for us. They point right, down the steep hillside, and we turned to follow on our first trip. I don’t like walking downhill much when babywearing. It’s hard when you can’t see your feet. A man with a very large Basset Hound warned us not to go that way. Mud up to your waist, apparently! We stopped for a nice chat that ended abruptly when his dog pulled him over into the mud because he was trying to sniff Seb’s bottom.
So we joined the yellow path heading upwards into the hills instead. I’m still curious about the blue route though. On our first trip the rain got heavier around this point and the sky was turning dark. A shame because I’m told you can see the Brecon Beacons from there on a clear day. On our second trip it had stopped raining but was very grey. The girls climbed on rocks and chased Seb but never caught him.
Further up and round a bend we found some ruins. Sheep pens or old cottages? We weren’t sure. The view from this point is pretty amazing, even in pouring rain. I love living where this stuff is on my doorstep!
On both trips we turned back at this point. We were high enough! Plus you can never be outdoors very long before kids start saying “I’m hungry” every two minutes. Not Iris though. She slept right through both visits. Back near the visitor centre there’s a play area. Strangely the kids weren’t too hungry to play! There was a pretty cool big slide I wish I could have tested! The facilities were great. Lovely clean loos and great baby changing facilities. Although the changing area is in the disabled loo, which always bothers me a bit. I came out from dealing with a ‘poo-splosion’ to find somebody in a wheelchair waiting to use the loo and felt terribly guilty.
We went home for lunch with the kids but the smells from the cafe were very appealing. We definitely want to check it out one day after a walk. I can picture us going back regularly in all weathers, and hopefully one day it’ll be dry enough to follow the blue path. We’ve borrowed one of those backpacks you sit a baby in the top of, so once Iris can sit unaided I’m insisting Trev carries her up there!
*Nobody asked me to write this and I wasn’t compensated in any way*