It was an epic day out and dare I say it with all the other amazing stuff we’ve done this summer, it was one of the best days out we’ve had! We enjoyed every second of it.
Hicks Lodge is located near to Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire and was a 40 minute easy drive down the A444 for Littebit, Granny and I. It’s not somewhere I had heard of before so when we were invited to be a Forestry Commission Blogger and go along for an action packed day we weren’t going to refuse.
From their own website:
“Hicks Lodge is a former coal mining site that has been totally transformed by new plantings and creating exciting new trails for you to enjoy. From tearaway toddlers getting their first taste of cycling to young teens perfecting their skills or families walking the dog, we’ve got a great day out just waiting for you…”
10am – Meet and greet. Sallie the Ranger will meet you in front of the Hicks Lodge café at 10am.
10:30 – 12.30 – Nature trail and Scavenger Hunt. Some fun activities with Ranger Sallie whilst you explore the Hicks Lodge walking trail and see some of the wildlife that lives here.
12.30 – Lunch. You will have lunch together and sample the refreshments the onsite café has to offer.
1:30 – 3pm – Cycling. Bikes and associated equipment will be provided so that you can go off and enjoy the Family Cycle Trail.
3pm – Event ends. You are free to stay and use our play areas if you wish.
We are an outdoor loving family and spend lots of time at our local country parks and small local playgrounds. Littlebit is nearly 3 now and is just starting to take an interest in wildlife and bugs and creatures so I knew the scavenger hunt and nature trail would interest her. The fact that her best mate Babyzoid and her blogger Mum Beadzoid were coming along too was the icing on the cake.
After we managed to entice the girls away from the playground with a promise of a treat we started our day proper with a cup of coffee in the fabulous café (more about that later). I was dead impressed when Beadzoid asked if they had soy milk, to which they responded positively and made her a soy latte. For a small (ish) café I thought that was really good. I’ve known large chains not have soy milk.
Once little tummies were satiated by drinks and snacks, Sallie the ranger showed us a card, and told us there were 10 cards dotted around the café and visitor centre area and playground for us to find and answer the questions. The first letter of each answer would give us an anagram of something we might see on our nature trail later that morning.
Henry from 9 to 3.30 blog was able to take the lead on this one, being a little bit older at 6 years old he helped our two girls to find the cards and with the answers. With a bit of adult help they worked the word out to be Woodpecker. I hoped we would see one on our nature trail as I’ve never seen one in real life before.
After this short little hunt we collected our scavenger hunt packs from Sallie and set off around the nature trail with the rest of the group. Two rangers Sallie and Jacqui, Jaime and Joshua from The Oliver’s Madhouse, Erica and Henry from 9 to 3.30 blog and Beadzoid and Babyzoid.
Babyzoid and Littlebit were barely apart on the 1.5 mile walk. They had so much fun hunting for evidence a bird has been here, leaves from 5 different plants, evidence a mammal has been here, something beautiful, a ‘Y’ shaped twig and more.
They had so much fun, made especially special by the break in proceedings for a mini beast hunt!
And of course all of this is in addition to the regular fantastic nature trail.
After all this excitement we were all ready for lunch back at the eco-friendly visitor centre and café. This is your one stop shop whilst at Hicks Lodge, as well as the information points and café there is bike hire and a repair shop, well looked after toilets, showers and a wood-burning stove in the café for chilly days. Fab choice of scrummy food, lovely accommodating staff and delicious cakes. It was really good. Nuff said!
Once lunch had gone down we were supplied with bikes and trailers to go off and enjoy one of the amazing bike trails. Myself and my Mum hadn’t ridden bikes in a very long time (Mum thought it may have been over 20 years for her) so we weren’t all that keen on this bit, but we saddled up nevertheless and do you know, we both REALLY enjoyed it. We were aiming for the easy yellow route at 1.5 miles. But a few wrong turns later we had got a bit lost and ended up doing a bit of yellow, a bit of green and a bit of the blue route. Cycling around 4 miles in all. No mean feat when you’re pulling a trailer full of toddler. Exhausted was an understatement but we both really enjoyed it. So much so we are booking in a date to go back and do it again.
We really did have a brilliant, fun packed day at Hicks Lodge. For somewhere I didn’t even know existed we will definitely be back.
I’m aware this post is VERY photo heavy but I wanted to show you all the fun we had, and there was a lot of that. You can see all of the photos we took in our Google+ album.
This is a review post. We were supplied with free parking, drinks, lunch and bike hire and our very own ranger for the morning for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.
Linking up to Country Kids outdoor fun from Coombe Mill Blog…