Back in the summer we spent a beautiful sunny day at Hawkstone Park Follies in Shropshire.
“Set in 100 acres of Parkland The Follies is a range of dramatic and rugged natural sandstone hills that were developed to include gullies, caves, towers and bridges, becoming one of the most visited landscapes in Britain during the 19th Century.”
To make it child friendly, the team at Hawkstone have devised a fantastic quest to rescue the princess, which leads a family friendly trail through the follies and gives kids that extra motivation on what can be quite a long walk. This was a fantastic opportunity for the girls to practice their map reading skills and added a sense of mystery and imagination to the day.
The trail took us through mystical doorways:
…and into a fairy tale land of adventure and wonderment. Through watching forests with tangled roots and branches picked straight from a Grimm’s Tale.
To unbelievable Redwoods, the type that make you feel dizzy to look up at.
Up rocky sandstone cliffs, steep and exhilarating…
And onto the beautiful monument standing tall and proud, overlooking the vast and beautiful Shropshire landscape. As I’m phobic of heights I only made it halfway up the stone spiral staircase that leads to the top of the monument, before my legs turned to jelly and I had to come back down. Stu and the girls, however are made of stronger stuff and made it all the way to the top to appreciate the magnificent views.
I did, however, I’m proud to say, make it over the Swiss Bridge, a narrow wooden bridge that stretches across two steep rock faces around 80ft off the ground. My heart was pumping and my head felt light and dizzy but I was so happy to have done it and the views from the other side were absolutely worth it! It all adds to the fairy tale charm of this place, and I almost expected a fire breathing dragon to emerge from below us at any moment!
We were rewarded at the top with a rest stop at Gingerbread Hall, “originally known as the Temple of Patience where visitors would wait for their guide and have refreshments.” And I can see why, after a steep walk, we were more than ready to sit and quench our thirst while the girls played with the mud kitchen, placed there by some genius who obviously knew that the adults would need a quick rest!
Next, you head down the Cleft which is a narrow walkway between two sheer rock faces. Keeping a careful eye out for trolls at all times of course!
As we made our way back up to towards the Grotto, the girls tried out the Giant’s seat for size and sat and looked out from what felt like the top of the world.
Finally, we made it to our final destination, The Grotto. This is a network of caves and passages that lead through the rock. They are dark and mysterious and the girls were a little apprehensive. It was well worth it however, because once inside we found the treasure at the end of the rainbow and were able to lift the curse of entrapment to finally rescue the Princess.
And the views from the other side of the caves, across the valley, are utterly spectacular. As it was such a clear day, we could see for miles across the Shropshire landscape.
It was getting late, however, and the park was due to shut for the day soon. It’s around a 45 minute walk to the exit and we were all exhausted already. Trying to motivate the kids to walk back and at a reasonable pace so that we weren’t locked in for the night was not fun and was the only low point of the day. We did eventually make it back though and the girls received their certificates for rescuing the Princess which cheered them up.
Overall it was a brilliant day out and one that i’d highly recommend if you’re ever in Shropshire or Staffordshire. With an entry price of £25 for a family of 4, it was fairly reasonable, but make sure you leave yourselves plenty of time to get around the whole park and back again!