During the blustery, wet days of autumn and winter, it comes as little surprise that parents turn their attention to indoor play with their toddlers. But why overlook the Great Outdoors when this is a season to be celebrated and enjoyed? Leaves crunch, mud squelches, rivers rumble and foam balls tumble along the shore. Have you ever seen a smile bigger than that on a child splashing in puddles? A waterproof suit and a pair of wellies is cheaper than a season ticket to the soft play park, and guaranteed to pave the way to many more lasting memories.
When the rainy, windswept beaches are a tad too wild for a toddler and baby to have fun, we head to the woodland for our outdoor kicks. Tehidy Woods is our nearest and dearest, with walking and biking trails, a wildlife pond, rope swings and plenty of trees to climb. Most of the trails are buggy friendly and are ideal terrain for those early bike rides – not too steep, nice and wide, and soft enough to cushion falls. Dogs are welcome in much of the estate, although there is a strict no hound policy in the designated wildlife area.
However old your kids and however energetic (or not) your mood, Tehidy serves up the perfect level of activity. At the very least you can have coffee in the shelter of the café while the kids feed the ducks. If your children are toddling you can opt for a short loop that takes in rope swings, fallen trees to climb, the fairy circle for a picnic and a bit of squirrel spotting. If you need to let off steam just pop them in the buggy and stomp around the longer circuit (follow the red arrows) or freewheel along the cycle trails with them in a bike trailer.
Build dens, forage for mushrooms, climb trees, jump in puddles, crunch in the leaves… do whatever you want, just get away from the germ infested play zones, get outside and enjoy the season.
If you’re stuck for inspiration in Cornwall, here are few other gems for wintry days outdoors:
Glendurgan Garden, nr Falmouth
One of my favourite National Trust gardens for kids, with a maze and fairytale trails that wend under lush canopies all the way to a beautiful beach on the Helford.
Penrose Estate, nr Helston
Walk and cycle along easy trails that zigzag around Loe Pool and the country estate, or pop tots in backpacks and tramp along a stunning stretch of coast path from Loe Bar to Gunwalloe.
Coast to Coast Trail, Portreath–Devoran
Get on your bike and freewheel along this flat, disused mining trail. Easy for kids, tag-alongs and bike trailers, there’s a café in the middle and pubs at each end.
Cardinham Woods, nr Bodmin
Family friendly walking and biking trails, sprawling woodland, awesome views and a picnic area complete with barbecues (okay, so it’s not the weather for it but there’s a lovely café too).
Trevarno Estate and Gardens, nr Helston
Roaming peacocks, an outdoor woodland play area and stunning grounds to run wild and picnic in.