Sunday was my nephew’s 1st birthday party. My favourite memories from the day? Knowing my 2 year old niece called for me and sought me out in the middle of the party play chaos, and going for a walk in the woods after with Honey, my nephew, and his parents.
On our walk, I helped him explore the smell of the tall rhododendrons, watch the tadpoles in the pond (and the floating sticks in the other!), enter into a found den and feel the soft bark on the logs, and spot the green leaves waving overhead in the sunshine.
It was also really nice to just wander along chatting with my brother in law and his partner.
I really enjoy family time in the woods.
This weekend, my family is headed to Ricketts Glen State Park to camp. Some, like my parents and uncle, are staying all week while others including cousins and sister are staying the weekend. They’ll be hiking the Falls Trail. One of the family highlights of visiting Ricketts Glen has always been this trail and several members of the camping party have never walked it before.
The trail loop is 7.2 miles for the full trail and 3.2 miles for a smaller loop. The longer loop takes you past 21 waterfalls which range from 11-94ft tall. We’ve walked it as a nuclear family many times and have taken nieces and nephews, friends, and dogs along the path. As a child, the steep and narrow paths, the seemingly endless views, and the humidity and rushing water made the Falls Trail seem like a high adventure. It remains one of my favourite hikes anywhere. I can say with 100% certainly that this trail is why I love waterfalls so much.
In 2014 (sadly, the last time that both Honey and I were over in the US), we spent the day ‘at the Glen’. The last set of falls on the trail is just a short and easy walk from the carpark, so we walked with my mom-just over 6 months after her kidney transplant- to those falls and admired the view. Then, Honey, my dad and I walked the trail for the day.
On Saturday, we headed to Bracklinn Falls. It’s a loop trail that gets steep and is a hike, but the falls are visible just 1/3 of the way in. We stayed in that area and Honey geocached while I photographed the water, then we sat by the falls for a while. As I sat on the rocks with the steady stream rushing by me and bringing by thoughts here, to the present, I felt safe on my island surrounded by trees and hills and reflected that this is the type of setting where I feel most at home*. I can’t wait to visit with the littles of the family- none of the youngest 5 have ever been!
*Maybe I’m really a dobsonfly, meant to live by the wooded streams. Their larval stages, hellgramites, prefer the highly oxegenated waters of quickly flowing and rocky areas, the same areas that soothe my senses.
Ever since the Eden Project opened in the 1990s, I’ve wanted to visit. Honey and I visited in August 2013. I was disappointed that my photos didn’t capture its beauty and I couldn’t describe how happy the experience made me, so I didn’t blog about it. It’s time to fix that.
The Eden Project is worth all the hype. Every single drop. It’s amazing. Truly.
While camping in Devon, we headed to a Cornish beach for the day. Bude had great reviews and was a quick drive. While it’s not the type of beach that you’d go to in order to sit on the sand and wade into the waves (it’s a surf beach and when the tide is out it’s about a half-mile walk between the dry sand and the water, it’s a nice place for a seaside walk.
We geocached around town and the library housed a book geocache. My favourite thing about Bude though was the Victorian sea pool that they have. It’s beautiful.
On our trip to Devon in July 2016, we went for a hike in Dartmoor National Park. We were going to head there for a full day’s hike in a few days, but decided late one morning to head there for a bit of a meander.
We never did make it back for our long hike because our vacation was cut a bit short, but we did have a nice walk in the woods and saw some stone circles.
My absolute favourite part of the Lost Gardens of Heligan was the actual garden area. The walled garden and greenhouses were impressively productive and I imagined just pitching a yurt in the grass in the walled garden and living there. I wanted to share these images in their own post.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan have been on our list of places to visit since 2013 when we didn’t manage to squeeze in a visit during our trip to Cornwall. We went this summer while camping in Devon. They’re brilliant and a great day out. I cannot put into words the varied zones and experiences of the place. All I can say is that you can find wild, cultured, adventure, learning, relaxing, and meditation there.
Honey and I like to take our summer vacation in July, usually camping for the 4th of July and our anniversary. While we had a wonderful time camping in Scotland on our summer vacation in 2015, the heavy rain inspired us to plan our summer 2016 vacation elsewhere. We had a brilliant time in Cornwall in 2013 and thought about heading back. Looking for a campsite in the woods where we could have a campfire (this is harder to find in the UK than you’d expect!), Honey discovered that our best bet was just over the border in Northwest Devon’s ‘Ruby Country’.
We stayed at a small campsite (no hiking trails, but a great base for day trips) in Highampton called Hole Station, built on the land around a former train station that had closed in the 1960s. Things I loved about the place: camping in the trees (obviously), we felt very tucked back from the path in our campsite and the site already had a lean-to and bench set up by the fire circle, the staff were very nice and extremely helpful, an on-site food truck/outdoor dining area was open at meal times (with gluten free and vegetarian options) and perfect for a quick morning’s meal before heading out on an adventure, books and maps were available to read and plan day trips, and there was a charging station in an old phone box. They also had a lovely vegetable garden, chickens (providing the eggs for the food truck), and two goats. For me, it was a luxury campsite considering the quick walk to the car, composting toilets, or boiled water for dishes. The squirrels in the area are a mean gang, so each campsite has a filing cabinet for storing your food. This is great for tins, glass jars, etcetera, but mice can go anywhere they dig so store your perishables in the car or an airtight plastic storage bin (…with some cayenne rubbed around the edges once they start to gnaw away at it)!
The nearest town is the old market town of Hatherleigh. Hatherleigh is a small place with a supermarket, restaurants, and cafes, but it also has a weekly market. We went to the weekly market and then discovered that the Ruby Country Market (which only takes place about 3 times a year) was on that week so we headed back. The Ruby Country Market made the standard market a festive place, with live music and a huge number of indoor and outdoor food, craft, and goods stalls. I was impressed by the number of gluten free stalls there. One thing that Honey and I have seemed to make a tradition of is going to the local market while on holiday, loading up with local goods, and going for a picnic!