Our sister site Ripon and Nidderdale Mumbler recently visited the Studfold Adventure Nature Trail near Harrogate, somewhere that has been on my list for this summer! After reading this review we will definitely be making a trip.
Nestled in the surrounding hills, Studfold Farm offers visitors all they could possibly want for a fun day out with the kids. You can also extend your stay with their camping and glamping options, all set in the beautiful, unspoilt countryside of Upper Nidderdale, a dedicated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and it’s not hard to see why.
We started our visit, (two mums, with four kids ranging in age from about 2 to 9) with a picnic before heading into the reception to pick up our adventure trail sheets, a badge to colour in along the way and (of course) some fairy wings or an elf hat to wear around the trail if we wanted. Once we had our trail sheets and directions to the start, we set out, heading along the track towards the fields and straight through a huge, metal fox mouth which set the scene perfectly for the experience that was to come, combining the wonder of nature with a little magic and mystery along the way.
What really stood out for us was that the trail really did offer something for everyone. There were stone rabbits hidden away that the younger ones enjoyed finding, beautiful fairy houses to discover and fields and woodland to run through (perfect for a toddler looking for freedom) and as you go around the trail you also collect clues along the way to help you find the treasure swap box.
For the older ones, the trail sheets were challenging enough to hold their interest – pitched by age they offered the chance to hunt out the answers to the nature-themed questions in the purpose-built wooden information points along the trail. Some of the questions for the older ones were really quite hard and we really had to search to find the answers to a couple of the questions that the oldest had and there are no options to google the answer or ‘phone a friend’ as mobile reception is pretty non-existent up at Studfold which, we thought, added to its charm; the chance to get away from it all and connect with the kids and the beautiful surroundings without the distractions of everyday life.
Along the trail there are some fun places to visit, such as the tractor maze in the wildflower meadow, where there were more grown-ups on the big tractors than kids; the bird hide, where children are encouraged to look for birds, draw their observations and stick them up for other visitors to see; den building; fairy houses and a giant hedgehog to climb on.
All this culminates at the Two Stone Wish Trail through the woods. Following the story of Daniel and the Messles, written by Steve Leach and presented on large boards throughout the woodland (also now available to buy from reception), we set out to find out if Daniel can save the fairies from the Messles (little flying creatures). We stopped to make a ‘Two Stone Wish’ and to sit in the giant’s story chair, where you can take a rest and tell your favourite story or make up a new one of your own, and then on towards the fairy house where the toy exchange treasure box was hidden. The younger ones thought this was a great idea and spent ages (apologies to the family behind us) excitedly deciding what to swap their toys for.
Once we left the woodland we went up the track (challenging for pushchairs) to the barn and play area. Refreshment facilities on an honesty box system are available for you to make yourself a drink and while we had a welcome cuppa, the kids played in the barn on the straw bales and on the playground, coloured in their badges and explored the old barn with old-fashioned tractors and information on the history of the farm and farming in the area.
On completion of the trail, the kids presented their trail cards back to the staff at reception where they were offered a prize. We finished our day with an ice cream and a chat with the calves on the way back to the car with requests from the kids to come again. We certainly will.
The drive up there once you leave Pateley Bridge is along a narrow, winding road. A special note for any kids who might suffer from travel sickness to take your medication as you don’t want to miss out on such a great adventure just because you’re not feeling well.
When it comes to picnics you can either order one from the Nidderdale Way Cafe to collect on-site or, if you do take your own, staff can drop it off at the barn so you can pick it up and eat at the playground once you’ve finished your adventure.
Bring an old (small) toy your child no longer plays with to exchange at the treasure box nestled in a fairy house in the woods.
Some of the paths are difficult to navigate with a pushchair. If you have a sling or backpack our advice is to bring that instead – though it is possible to get all the way round if you have some help where needed.
In order to explore everything and get the most of your day out leave at least 2.5 – 3 hours to complete the trail and factor in extra time if you want to spend longer at the playground or on the tractor maze.
Cost: £6 for adults, £5 for children. Under 3s FREE. Parking FREE.
Summer Opening Hours: 10.30am-5pm with last admission 3.30pm
A little message from Anne Chalis and Ian Walker, owners of Studfold:
Studfold Adventure Trail is all about giving children countryside memories that will last a lifetime. It is a magical adventure leading to the woodland fairy village of ‘Two Stone Wishes’. Discovering nature themed clues and a secret treasure box engages children, from preschool to primary. Ride on tractors, go-carts, sand pits and den building are a big hit too! Intriguing, challenging and delightful Studfold gives children a greater understanding of the countryside and hopefully childhood memories and a lasting respect of their own environments. Just straight off the press… we have now received the published book of the Studfold Fairy Story ‘Daniel and the Messles’ this enables children to continue the magical Studfold Adventure at home. This is the first Two Stone Wishes Story Book, but is the intention that there will be more to follow!!