Going Wild in Suffolk
There’s nothing more I love than going wild with my two daughters.
I’m talking about enjoying nature, exploring the great outdoors and helping them understand the world around them.
Of course they love playgrounds and soft play, but they always enjoy a wild walk and get so much from them.
Since lockdown, I’ve gained confidence in taking them to places off the beaten track, with few facilities and nothing to ‘entertain’ them. The great thing about children is how they always seem to amuse themselves with very little. A walk in a woods becomes a magical adventure, searching for fairies and trolls. A countryside jaunt turns into a giant playground, with nature providing all the fun they need, from tree climbing to hide and seek games.
It was with this in mind that set up my Instagram account, @minisuffolkadventures. I document outings with my daughters, aged 4 and 7, and share ideas for family friendly spots in Suffolk, from wild woods to coastal gems.
Like many parents nowadays, I’m a lot more conscious of the environment and try to make informed choices about the products we buy, the businesses we support and the activities we do. I’m not perfect but I think the main thing is to do as much as you can.
Here are my top five eco-friendly activities to do in Suffolk*:
- Take them to a garden centre. This may not sound like the most obvious activity to do with children, but trust me, it works. As well as checking out the quirky ornaments (who doesn’t love a gnome!), it is a chance to get them involved in gardening from the beginning and create a green space at home. From deciding which flower seeds to buy to seeing how vegetables and fruit are grown, it is a real education. The Notcutts Garden Centre in Woodbridge has a wonderful boarded walk at the back of the site, which is really child-friendly. It is full of wooden sculptures and information boards about the wildlife and it’s free!
-Go litter picking at a beach. We started doing litter picking around our local area during lockdown, which my children loved. Now we keep a litter picker in the car for when we go out on adventures and it particularly comes in handy when we head to a beach at low tide. The amount of plastic and rubbish on the beach can be depressing but it’s also a really good way of showing children how our small actions can make a difference. At Felixstowe beach, they have litter pickers for the public to use for a 2-minute beach clean.
- Enjoy a family bike ride. We are blessed with many good cycling trails in Suffolk. For a bit of adventure for older ones, you could try out the paths in Rendlesham Forest and learn about the UFO sightings along the way.
-Head to a Wildlife Trust site. There are many Suffolk Wildlife Trust sites around the county, which host activities for children to help them embrace nature. Sessions range from nature inspired play for toddlers to teaching bushcraft skills for older ones. One of my favourites is Foxburrow Farm in Melton, where we have done scavenger hunts and pond dipping.
-Spark their interest in birds. We are fortunate to live in this part of the country, which attracts so many fascinating species of birds. At RSPB’s Minsmere Reserve, near Dunwich there is so much for children to do and they will come away with a love for these creatures. As well as a play area, including giant nests, there is also den building to try, bird hides to explore and nature trails. It is really family friendly, with interactive displays and pushchair/wheelchair accessible paths.
*Check all the websites for booking information and prices. (links in green)