Denham Country Park is one of my favourite places to explore. It’s a great place for learning more about nature and they often have sessions for children, such as river dipping and minibeast hunts. It’s part of the Colne Valley Regional Park which stretches from Staines to Rickmansworth. This week there are various free sessions running across the Colne Valley as part of volunteers’ week to help people learn more about the wildlife and the conservation work taking place across the park. I signed up for the guided nature walk at Denham County Park. As it was an inset day, Sophie was able to come along too.
There are three rivers running through Denham Country Park – the Misbourne, the Colne and the Frays. The route for the walk took us through the woods, across Misbourne Meadow, along the Grand Union canal and through some more woods before returning back to the visitor centre. We passed each of the three rivers along the way.
We started off in the woods looking for trout in the Misbourne. It took a little while for Sophie to spot one. Trying to describe where to look and pointing out where the trout was wasn’t all that easy! Eventually she did spot the trout in the water and watched as it followed us for a little way as we walked along the riverbank.
We stopped to look at a nuthatch up in the trees making its way down the tree trunk. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one before – although I wouldn’t have known that’s what it was if I had. We also heard a woodpecker but couldn’t quite manage to spot where it was.
I wasn’t sure how buggy-friendly the route would be so I had Thomas in the wrap. I always find myself making a mental note of how accessible places are – not so much because of whether I can put Thomas in his buggy. but because I still find myself thinking about how manageable a walk would have been for Jessica and whether we could have done it with her in her buggy.
There are lots of memories at Denham Country Park of days out with my girls. I often picture Jessica at various places there – getting soaked in the river on a summer’s day; playing in the sandpit in the play area; doing a trail. I hadn’t said anything, but Sophie was obviously remembering those times too as she turned to me and said, “I miss Jessica. I wish she was on this walk too.”
A pretty damselfly fluttered past us at that moment. Dragonflies and damselflies always make me think of Jessica. Maybe that was her way of reminding us that she is still with us.
We saw lots of damselflies throughout the walk. They don’t tend to stay still long enough for me to get good photographs. I did manage to get a couple of shots though.
Along the canal, we saw a mandarin duck with six ducklings and coots with their babies. Another first for us as I don’t think we’ve seen coot chicks before either. It was a shame I didn’t have my zoom lens. They were too far away to get a photo of them without it.
Sophie enjoyed looking for mini beasts as we walked along. We saw lots of ladybirds, hoverflies, spiders, a speckled wood butterfly and what we thought was a caterpillar, but turned out to be a hoverfly larva. Sophie loved trying to look at things with her toy binoculars. I think it’s time to get her a proper pair!
I’d packed some snacks and water in Sophie’s backpack which were good for helping keep her going along the walk. It wasn’t a very long walk – probably about a couple of miles – but sometimes little legs need some extra encouragement! I’d also packed the nature I-Spy book so that Sophie could tick off some of the things she spotted along the way.
As we crossed the Colne, Sophie couldn’t resist grabbing the opportunity for a quick game of Pooh sticks. The water was really flowing too slowly for it but she was quite happy waiting and watching for our sticks to reappear.
Thomas slept in the sling for most of the walk but woke up as we arrived back at the visitor centre. We stopped for lunch at the café and finished off with some time in the play area before heading home. It was a perfect way to end the half-term holidays.
#30DaysWild is a challenge from the Wildlife Trusts to get outside each day in June, do something wild and connect with nature.