“Where are we going today, Mummy?” is nearly always one of the first questions Jessica asks each day. Sometimes I can give her a definite answer: “preschool”, “Legoland”, “to the shops”. Some days the answer is simply “I don’t know yet” or the disappointing “nowhere”. This time though, I had plans for the day. “We’re going on an adventure!” was my response. An adventure that required puddlesuits and wellies. An adventure finding the clues on a winter treasure trail at Denham Country Park.
This adventure would bring a little milestone moment – the first time going for a significant walk without taking the buggy just in case. I knew our walk would take us along muddy paths and next to rivers and that trying to steer the buggy whilst holding two little hands would make it too difficult. I was fairly confident the girls would manage – and we could always stop for a rest now and then if little legs were getting tired.
We picked up our maps and clues from the visitor centre and headed out to follow the trail. There were pictures of baubles along the route, with arrows to show the way and Jessica enjoyed looking out for them, and the pictures of Christmas stockings that we needed to count along the way.
The first clue – a Santa hat – was found hanging off a signpost near the Roman Well and the next – a snowflake hanging in a tree, a short distance ahead. Some of the clues related to plants that could be spotted along the trail; others, such as candy canes, bells and presents, were found hanging in the trees. Jessica loved trying to find them all and managed to spot a few of them before I did!
Sophie mostly just enjoyed the walk. There were muddy puddles to jump in, sticks to pick up, leaves to kick, stones to collect and gates to go through. She did get caught up in her sister’s excitement every time we spotted a clue but was fairly oblivious to following the trail otherwise!
My favourite moment of our walk came when we took a slight detour off the trail to head to Denham deep lock, just as a boat was going through. Jessica is now at an age where she is more interested in what is happening and I enjoyed telling her about how locks work, describing it as being like a big bath which is filled or emptied to help the boat go up or down a hill. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to share some family stories – stories about the narrowboat that Grandma and Grandad owned when Daddy was Jessica’s age and the holidays they went on, as well as the narrowboat holidays that Mummy and Daddy enjoyed later on. It was so lovely to be able to share some of those stories with the girls and to see Jessica really taking an interest in it.
After helping open the lock gates for the boat to go through, we then headed back to the trail and a walk along the river, stopping for a brief rest along the way as Jessica was starting to get tired and a little out of breath. Thankfully, we were almost at the end of the walk with just a few more clues left to find before we could hand in our completed treasure trail forms at the visitor centre. The girls got a chocolate each for finishing the treasure trail which they were very happy with!
I was pleased that Sophie coped so well with the walk. Towards the end though, she was clearly tired and looked like she was almost sleep-walking, so it wasn’t a surprise when she fell asleep before we’d even left the car park. She didn’t even stir when we stopped off at the office to see Daddy on our way home.
It was definitely the right decision to leave the buggy in the car for our walk – the area around the lock especially would have been almost impossible to navigate as the mud was so thick. Knowing that we can now go on longer walks without it is quite liberating – it opens up a lot more opportunities for exploring different places and going on adventures together in the future.