Ribble Valley Walk: Hodder Bridges

 

Last weekend we were incredibly lucky to have beautiful weather, and with a new book full of walks we haven’t yet tried we were champing at the bit to get out and explore. I found this book in Clitheroe Books, a shop in town which sells second hand books. Recycling at its best. It’s written by Paul Hannon and still easy to find online if you can’t find any more in the book shop or in the Oxfam book shop on the high street. We decided to do the Hodder Bridges walk as it was short enough for Kitty to come along without getting bored in her sling and had sections she could join in on.

We started at Higher Hodder Bridge and headed past the houses opposite Hodder Court and through the fields. It takes you so a little bridge and a path along a stream.

We popped out at a road and needed to follow this for about half a mile. It’s the only stretch of road on the walk but does need care with little ones. There’s a grass verge for the most part. We then entered back into open fields. Cue some posing by Rick:

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Casually reviewing the route!

We cut diagonally across a few fields which had amazing views of a hazy Pendle Hill to the left. The photos didn’t do this justice so we left them out and you can go and see for yourself! We eventually dropped down to Lower Hodder Bridge which has views across to Cromwell’s Bridge. If you follow us on Instagram you’ll have seen this. It was built in the 16th Century by the Shireburn family and now has a really organic feel to is as grass and moss have grown over it.

 

We headed up stream to the river bank for a little snack stop, essential with a toddler. Kitty was ready at this stage to come out and explore. It was brilliant, the river banks had little coves which Kitty loved exploring and looking for the fairy king/Gruffalo/monsters and spiders. It was fabulous seeing how nature inspired her. We threw stones in the river and sat listening to the water flow. It was very relaxing. There was a fisherman further upstream also enjoying the beauty.

The walk then took us past the stunning Hodder Place and up into woodland. We reached some lovely wooden steps which took us further into the woods.

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Rick having a little mince up the steps

The smell of wild garlic was almost overwhelming! It had completely covered the ground making it look like we were walking on carpet.

The walk then takes you along a very pretty path over lots of little bridges with the Hodder River to the right. This took us a while as Kitty was insistent she wanted to lead the way and walk over every bridge without any help. She is quite the independent explorer!

This was a really lovely walk with really varied terrain and views. Definitely recommended. Have you taken this path before? Feel inspired to have a go? As always we’d love to hear from you!

K

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Ribble Valley Walk: Mitton Loop

We used to live in Whalley and this loop was on our doorstep so we walked it frequently. It’s a lovely walk which can take as little as an hour to do if you’re quick. With a toddler in tow and a few stops we took two! It’s a great loop to fit in after work during the longer days. I’d advise against trying it after a lot of rain as it gets pretty muddy and in the height of summer the insects are a bit of a chore. For our crisp spring evening however, it was perfect.

We parked at Mitton Hall and headed right along the road for about half a mile towards Whalley. On the left you come to a footpath sign which takes you into a wooded area.

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Look carefully for this on a bend in the road- easy to miss!

Follow this path trough the trees, to a bridge over a pretty little stream. Kitty of course wanted to throw stones in as we went over.

You come out into an open field with stunning views of Pendle Hill to the right, it was particularly gorgeous in the evening we went. Continuing through the field you  reach a kissing gate and if, like us, you’ve got a child on your back my tip is to reverse in! Following this path onward you come to a wooded area known as Standen Hey Community Woodland. There’s a path throught the grass that takes you to another fence, to the left of this is a path which leads to a step over gate  and you enter an open field.

Cue more stunning views of Pendle Hill to the right. There’s often cows in this field so make sure your dog is on a lead here. Go straight on until you get to the farm and follow the path to the left. You’ll come out at the River Ribble. This is a highlight for Kitty who loves nothing more than to throw stones into the river. Sunset is a truly beautiful time to come here.

You then cut diagonally across the field with the farm behind you and you’ll arrive at a bridge crossing a stream. Follow the field ahead and you’ll see the Aspinall Arms Pub come into view to the right. Head down the hill and you can either turn left along the road to get back to Mitton Hall or turn right for some refreshments at the pub!

As you can see from the photos it’s a lovely little walk which has stunning views and is short enough that it’s achievable after work or if you are unable to walk long distances. It’s also great with little ones as longer walks can sometimes be a challenge for them. Do you have any short walks you frequently enjoy? Have you done this loop before? Do you have any suggestions of routes we should write about?

As always we’d love to hear from you.

K

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Eco-Exchange: Week 2

Detergent to Soap Nuts

Welcome to the second week in our 52 week eco-exchange challenge. This week we’ve turned our attentions to household products. There are many possibilities for exchange here and we started with something we do very often with a toddler in the house- laundry. We previously used liquid detergent capsules as they seem to work well with our A++ eco washing machine at 30 degrees.

We carried out some research on detergents and their potential impact on the environment and found a few areas where they cause problems. The list below is by no means exhaustive but gives a flavour of the issues with most detergents;

Ok, time to science…

1. Large Carbon Footprint

Production of detergents has a massive carbon footprint due to transport of many of the ingredients and other manufacturing processes. They vary from 0.6kg to 0.9kg per load, which in perspective according to Howstuffworks.com is equivalent to driving your car 1 or 2 miles for every load of washing. This doesn’t include the additional usage for running the machine.

2. Water pollutants

A bit more science here, cast you mind back to GCSE science: There is a process known as hypertrophication (or eutrophication), a process in which there is enrichment of nutrients water systems such as lakes and ponds which causes plants to grow rapidly. The rapid growth of plants and algae uses up the supply of oxygen in the water leading to the death of the aquatic life. The algae also block the sunlight from getting to the bottom of the water thus causing many other photosynthesising plants to die, plants which would normally replenish the oxygen supply. The algae then also die off leaving a stagnant body or water or a bog with no life in it. Eutrophication is almost always induced by pollution with phosphate-containing detergents, fertilizers, or sewage, into an aquatic system and it is estimated that 50-70% (depending on your source) of all phosphates in the water systems come from detergent. A pretty big problem!

3. Plastic Packaging

Not much we need to explain here- detergents usually come in plastic packaging which uses oil and a lot of water to make, doesn’t biodegrade and is generally an environmental nightmare.

With all of this in mind we sought on an alternative and found it in Soap Nuts. Incredibly they are simply nuts which grow on trees, are dried and ready to go! They help to clean clothes free from dirt and grime due to a naturally occurring chemical called saponin. They are compostable once used up and importantly contain none of those nasty phosphates we’ve been talking about. As they are simply sun dried nuts which grown on trees, their carbon footprint is significantly less than detergents.

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We tried the Living Naturally soap nuts which came packaging that was mostly bidegradable but did have a plastic lid. If you buy the bulk packs they come in much more eco-friendly cloth sacks. It was £7.99 for enough nuts for 75 washes, or 108 washes if you make the washing liquid from them, which is pretty comparable to what we spent on detergent.

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4-5 nuts go into each wash and can be re-used up to four times. They do certainly clean and freshen our clothes but won’t give that bright look to our whites. This is because they don’t contain poorly bio-degradable blue dyes like detergents but we can live with clean but not glowing clothes! We’ve been using them at 30 and are very happy with the results overall. I do find I need to soak some stained garments in a bit of lemon juice and water before hand but this works a treat!

The other important thing we have recognised in researching this article is that we as a society need to wash our clothes less. Sales of detergents are going up every year because we are all washing our clothes more. Not only does this wear them out thus increase waste, it also costs extra energy to do so. So think twice before you put those jeans you’ve worn only once into the wash, or that jumper that still looks and smells fresh, we certainly will.

We’re really happy with this exchange and what we have learned from it. Are you using soap nuts for your laundry? Many people use them for general household cleaning too- have you tried them for this? Do you fancy joining us in become eco-warrior washers? Are we missing something we should have mentioned? Feel free to get in touch with the comments below or on the contacts page.

K

 

 

 

Upcycling: Pots

Rick and I are fairly into interior design in addition to our outdoor activities and interest in the environment. These aren’t often considered together but we very much like to bring the outdoors in when it comes to accessorizing, and we’ve also managed to recycle something old in order to do this, great for our green credentials!

Mum had a ton of old terracotta pots she’d acquired over the years which she no longer used. They’d been sitting in her potting shed for years.

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We gladly took them off her hands and gave them a lick of paint. We used left over bits of emulsion from painting our house, again with recycling in mind. Kitty loved “helping” us to decorate the pots but loved painting mummy’s knees more through the whole in her ripped jeans! We loved the character the cracks and not so perfect paint job gave to them. We were really pleased with how they turned out and they looked even better when filled with lots of air cleaning plants and succulents. We think they look pretty smart what do you think?

They fitted into our home perfectly along side the many other plants we have…

This isn’t even all the plants we have, it’s possibly getting out of hand! Have you up-cycled anything in your home? Do you have a house plant, cactus and succulent habit that’s escelating like ours? As always we’d love to hear from you so please drop us a line.

K

Rushcliffe Country Park – Nottingham

Hi y’all! I hope you all had a good weekend? This past weekend we were visiting close friends who live in Nottingham. We did some research and found that Rushcliffe Country Park wasn’t very far away at all. Not knowing what to expect apart from drizzle we packed for all eventualities.

Set in the beautiful countryside about half a mile south of Ruddington, Rushcliffe Country Park is an ideal place to get away from it all – With a network of over 8 kilometres of footpaths, grassland, conservation and landscaped areas, the park is excellent for walking, jogging, cycling, spotting wildlife and exercising your dog.

There is a large lake with water fowl of many varieties and an open woodland area to explore. This was really impressive, it was filled with learning opportunities and musical instruments made from junk…I loved the plastic pipes, they made a great sound when given a whack!

This really fits our ethos of being eco friendly and recycling and reusing and whilst the Bear is too young to understand the concept, she loved making a lot of noise with traffic cones, bin lids, pipes, woks, car suspension springs and a whole plethora of noisy goodness. Older kids would be able to understand and appreciate the concept with a little more depth.

The park of course has a very large play area suitable for all ages made up of a large climbing frame with a few slides, swings to suite all size of kids including less able bodied children, a rope climbing frame and a sand covered are with wobbly bridge. There is a coffee hut which also sells snacks and an ice cream hut.

We didn’t voyage as far as the visitor centre as rain stopped play and Kitty was becoming quite worn out.

Overall Rushcliffe Country park is a park which people of all ages can enjoy, there really is something for everyone, and whether you want to sit and watch the world and the birds go by or follow the 10km jogging route around the park, I’m sure you won’t come away disappointed. There was so much more we could have explored and enjoyed if we had more time. I’m sure we will go back one day.

If you have ever been here please tell me what we missed!

R

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Eco-Exchange: Week 1

Plastic Toothbrushes to Bamboo Toothbrushes

Welcome to our very first eco-exchange. You’ll find more detail about the challenge here. We had a good think about what to do for our first challenge and ran through our average day and realised we should start at the beginning with our start to the day- brushing teeth.
If you think about it every bit of plastic you’ll ever use will be around for about 500 years. A toothy issue I’m sure you agree. This means every toothbrush I’ve ever used will end up in landfill for a long time, that’s a lot of plastic.

One year’s worth of toothbrushes in our house

We wondered if there was a greener alternative, there is. So here it is; our first exchange is plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones.

Both brushes use MOSO-BAMBOO which is panda friendly. They do have nylon bristles which are made from oil, not perfect but significantly less plastic that the standard toothbrush. There are claims that the nylon6 in the bristles is biodegradable but there is some debate about this!

We bought Kitty the Humble Brush because  we love the ethos behind this one- “buy 1 give 1”. For every toothbrush bought the company provides a toothbrush to child in need.  The packaging is made from completely recycled materials and is also biodegradable. You can find their website here.


For ourselves we opted for The Original Environmental Toothbrush, their website is here. They are designed by an Australian dentist and are roughly the same price as our current plastic toothbrush (£2.17 each) but with not nearly as much cost to our planet. Again the packaging is biodegradable and the products they use are fair trade.




Could you make this eco-exchange? Join us in our challenge and let’s see how small changes can become big ones! Do you have some exchange ideas? Please do get in touch via the contacts page or using the comments box below.

Join us in brightening our smiles even more!

K

Ribble Valley Walk: Pendle Hill

On Mother’s Day we were very lucky to have beautiful sunshine so we decided to head up Pendle hill for amazing views. You can find a short video of our walk here. Kitty was still very much in the throws of chickenpox so in the interest of public safety we headed out early morning to avoid the crowds! We approached from Pendle Road between Downham and Barley. This was to avoid the inevitable busieness of Barley and also we find this path a rather beautiful alternative.

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Pendle Hill in the distance
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Trees disguising the climb ahead!

It was so peaceful listening to the streams trickling and the sheep in the distance and sunshine made it all seem more beautiful. Kitty took great pleasure in saying hello to each and every sheep we encountered!

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The hike up offered amazing views as we started to climb, which are a perfect excuse to stop for a rest. As it starts to climb our path joins the one from Barley. It’s pretty steep in places so really gets the heart racing, especially with 15kg of daughter on your back. I’ll allow the views to speak for themselves:

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On the ascent, you HAVE to stop to admire the view several times..

 

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When the going gets tough; make daddy do the carrying!

 

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Hang on to your hat daddy

The views up Pendle Hill are incredible throughout the seasons and vary immensely making it a worthwhile hike to do again and again. From the clear views we had in spring with the buds appearing on the trees, to the beautiful purple heather in summer, to the golden leaves in autumn and finally to white crisp snow in winter; it’s always worth a trip.

There are several routes up Pendle Hill  you can take and our favourite is from the picturesque Barley. You can find more details of this route here. What is your favourite time of the year to go? Do you have a hike near to your home you enjoy retuning to like we do? We’d love to hear from you so do get in touch using the contacts page or the comments below.

K

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Eco-Exchange Challenge #52weeks

As you may already know we’re keen as a family to live with consideration to the environment. We want to do more than we’re already doing and thought a great way to continue to drive change is to set ourselves a challenge – an eco-exchange Challenge over 52 weeks.

We intend to exchange something we use in our every day lives for something which is more environmentally friendly. Each week we will post about a new exchange which will then be a permanent change in our lives. Please subscribe using the link below to see how we get on. By the end of the year we’ll have made 52 changes, 52 ways we are doing less to harm or more to help the environment.

What would be even better is if we manage to recruit some of our readers to join in. You may wish to make the same changes as us or may have your own ideas. What changes come to mind to you? Or do you have a product that is a greener option for a household? Are you game for the eco-exchange challenge? We’d love to hear from you!

#52weeks

K & R

Guerrilla Gardening

So, as a family we like to a spread positivity to our fellow person, help the environment and have fun. We have dabbled a few times in guerrilla gardening which helps us to address all of these goals.

So what is guerrilla gardening? Essentially planting seeds or bulbs in a patch of land that is otherwise unloved. This provides the beauty of flowers and nature to pretty much anywhere you could think of.

One little project of ours was guerrilla daffodil planting on a round-about near our house. It is lawned which is usually kept short by the council and offers little in the way of visual appeal, inspiration or support to the environment. Armed with some small spades and 6kg of daffodil bulbs we went out and got planting in January.

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Gruffalo gardening tools- essential guerrilla gardening equipment

 

 

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“I found a wiggly worm”

 

Now in March we’re really pleased to see they’re growing. The round-about is exposed to wind and cold so these daffs are late starters! But now they provide early pollen for insects such as butterflies and bees and we’ve heard many of our neighbours comment on the flowers and speculate as to where they’ve come from. Pretty satisfying.

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The first daffs coming through

 

Anyone can get involved, simply find a patch of land that isn’t privately owned and get planting. You can even throw wild flower seeds onto any patch of rough soil and watch them go – poor quality soil is where wild flowers thrive best. Some examples of good spots include road sides (as long as it is safe to do so) and the edge of car parks.

Have you been involved in any projects in your area? Have you done your own guerrilla gardening? Where would you like to see some more flowers? We’d love to hear from you so please get in touch!

K & R

Ribble Valley Walk: Brungerly Bridge

We had the luxury of a sunny spring Friday off work so the baby bear and I headed out for a walk along the River Ribble. We usually plan short walks under 5 miles as Kitty likes to get out and explore and this can add a lot of time to a walk! It is a truly beautiful route as the pictures attest but nothing compares to being there in person.


We started near Low Moor and headed along Ribble Way past several small holdings. These brings a lot of entertainment to a 2 year old.

“Where are the horses mummy?”
“I found them!”
“Chickens!”
The loudest donkey I’ve ever encountered

 

We then headed down the path past the river which was really high due to the recent storms. The trail is really picturesque.

Kitty was keen to explore the woods and we took our time winding through the trees and splashing in the steams created by the recent downpours.


The views at Brungerly bridge were breath taking. We sat and enjoyed them for quite some time before throwing stones in the river.



It was so peaceful and had everything a toddler could wish for from animals to muddy puddles. We’d highly recommend it.

You can find our route on the Lancashire Telegraph website here.

Do you live in the Ribble Valley? What are your favourite spots? What about if you live elsewhere in the U.K? Is there somewhere you’d recommend us to visit? We’d love to hear from you so feel free to comment or get in touch via our contacts page.

 

 

Gisburn Forest: Gruffalo Trail

A couple of weeks ago the bear and I headed out on a Gruffalo hunt. Forestry Commission England has set up interactive trails across the UK targeted at under five’s based on the Gruffalo story.

The trail was about a mile in  total including the walk from the car. Wellies are a must and there’s no access for prams or wheelchairs.

We followed the trail into the woods and there were clues along the way as to which character you would encounter. I’d also downloaded the Gruffalo app before going which meant we could bring the characters to life on the route. Some people may even manage a snap with their favourite character, not us though.

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Behind…

 

 

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Pushing past…

 

 

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Close enough!

Kitty loved the excitement of watching the animals on the app but loved the forest trail even more. I can’t blame her it was beautiful!

For more information about the Gruffalo trails please see the Forestry Commision England website.

K