History and mini-beast hunting at Ankerwycke

Ankerwycke is just across the river from Runnymede and home to the ancient Ankerwycke Yew – a 2500 year old tree which is said to be where Henry VIII wooed Anne Boleyn and possibly also the site where the Magna Carta itself was signed.  It’s also a lovely peaceful spot for a walk on a beautiful sunny spring afternoon.

Exploring the ruins of St Mary's Priory and the 2500 year old yew said to be the spot where Henry VIII wooed Anne Boleyn

We set out to follow the Park circular walk which takes you through the meadows, along the river and past the ruins of St Mary’s Priory and the Ankerwycke Yew.  The walk is about a kilometre long – just about the right length to be able to leave the buggy behind (which was just as well – we would have really struggled to get through all the kissing gates with the buggy in tow!)

The girls setting out on a walk across the meadow - and picking up sticks along the way

The sun was shining, it was warm enough to leave the coats in the car and the girls were in the mood for exploring.  Within seconds, Sophie had found herself a nice big stick to carry along – her current favourite thing – whereas Jessica was just happy to explore and look out for any fairies that might be hiding in the meadows.  It was a bit boggy underfoot in places and I was glad we were all in wellies!

Dandelion clocks, lying down and watching the aeroplanes ahead and hunting for mini-beasts in the long grass

There were so many little things to see along the way.  Dandelion clocks to blow, aeroplanes flying overhead which obviously best viewed whilst lying in the long grass and looking upwards and so many bugs to spot.

“Look, Mummy!” said Jessica, “the ladybird is giving his friend a piggy-back!”


Ladybirds having "a piggy back"

We got a little bit lost trying to follow the walk – the “naturally made trail in the grass” that the directions said we should follow was not very easy to see.  With my phone battery running low, I did wonder if we should just retrace our steps back to the car but thankfully I did eventually manage to locate the kissing gate and find the path that led along the river.

Walking along the river at Ankerwycke

Picking up sticks and walking along a tree-lined avenue at Ankerwycke

Along the river, through another meadow and a path through the woods and we finally found ourselves at the priory – which naturally in Jessica’s imagination became an enchanted castle where a princess had once lived.  There might not have been any princesses at the priority but a queen had once walked through these woods – although perhaps it would have been better for Anne Boleyn if she hadn’t done!

Standing outside the ruins of St Mary's Priory at Ankerwycke

The girls were getting tired by this point in the walk and were keen to stop for a snack and a sit-down on one of the benches in front of the yew.

Sitting down for a rest on a bench in front of the Ankerwycke Yew

The last part of the walk back towards the car was taken at a much slower pace.  The path we took back – along the avenue of trees – would have been a much quicker route to the yew and priory and I suspect we’ll take this route the next time we visit.

Taking a slower pace on the walk back to the car

For the girls the walk was a wonderful opportunity to explore nature and go hunting for mini-beasts, whereas for me, it was interesting to see the yew and the priory knowing a little of the history behind it.


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

16 thoughts on “History and mini-beast hunting at Ankerwycke

  1. Oh my! What a beautiful place for a walk and learning the history behind it. Your girls are so adorable and proper mini explorers. xx

  2. If that Yew tree could talk it would have some amazing tales to tell! Just imagine sitting underneath it and listening to a story from Anne Boleyn’s time, that would sort of the myths from the facts! I’m with Jessica, the Priory makes an excellent princess castle, plenty of magical adventures to be had there and how wonderful to be coat free and buggy free for the whole walk. It looks so beautiful and very summery. Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    1. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could hear the stories in that way? Love places like this that have scope for imagination and lots of history behind them 🙂

  3. I love this kind of walk. So many interesting discoveries and stories to imagine, that it always feels shorter than the given miles. The photo of the two girls setting off for their hike, stick in hand, is priceless. There had to be an adventure. #CountryKids

  4. What a beautiful and interesting walk this was. I really like how you incorporated a bit of history into it too. Haha I couldn’t help but have a little giggle at Jessica’s comment about the ladybird giving his friend a piggyback.xx #CountryKids

    1. It’s a beautiful spot for a walk. The ladybird having a piggyback made me laugh – am sure the turtles probably had a similar response! 🙂

    1. Thank you Helena – I do love seeing them using their imagination when we’re out and about on an adventure 🙂

  5. What a gorgeous location and a 2,500 year old tree! WOW! Looks like you had a lovely time walking around and he he, seeing some ladybugs in action 😀

    1. Thank you – it’s quite amazing to think of how much things have changed since that yew first appeared! The ladybirds did make me chuckle and I loved the innocence behind Jessica’s comment about them having piggyback 🙂

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