HF Holidays’ Membership manager, Linda Hickey, took her two grandsons on a Family Adventure at Malhamdale. Here she tells her tale:
“To entertain my two grandsons when it was my turn to mind them in the summer holidays, I thought it would be a great idea to take them on holiday.
Not just any holiday, I took Daniel 8 and Jamie 5 on an HF Holidays’ Family Adventure holiday to Malhamdale in the Yorkshire Dales.
I thought they would baulk at the idea of taking long walks in the countryside, but I thought it would be a good idea to give them an opportunity to learn a little about the countryside and get in touch with nature.
I wistfully imagined what it would be like for them to wake up each morning in the midst of a rural setting where sheep grazed within view of their bedroom window. I told them we were going on holiday but I didn’t tell them where or what we might get up to, fearing their dread at the very idea.
I’d recently got hold of the box set of Enid Blyton’s the Magnificent Seven, but we hadn’t started to read them yet so I wasn’t sure their imaginations would stretch in the direction of what an adventure this holiday could be – basically, they weren’t quite ready for it."
The journey to Malham was uneventful. Although they wondered why we hadn’t packed the bucket and spade, they were excited nonetheless.
As we pulled up to Newfield Hall, they asked where the beach was, a question that was ignored while we unpacked the car.
After settling in to our rooms, the boys joined in with other children and made friends easily, so much so that within a few days, Daniel rarely sat with us for dinner, preferring the company of the ‘more interesting’ families he’d met.
By the end of the first day, the cat was out of the bag and the boys learned they’d be going out on walks over the next few days. Surprisingly they weren’t devastated at all, and after an evening of field games and getting to know the others, they were positively looking forward to going out the next day.
Each day, the boys bustled on to the coach with their rucksacks, over-weighed with their hand-picked picnic lunches, mainly consisting of all things chocolate.
Each walk ended up with me carrying either one or both their rucksacks, brimming with collections of heavy rocks, leafy branches, masses of sheep’s’ wool and insects which never survived long enough to study when they got back to Newfield Hall.
Our first walk of the week on Sunday was the Family Walk Around Malham.
After a short coach journey, we got into our groups, a pattern that would follow each day, and set off on our way to the pretty Janet’s Foss waterfall.
The boys looked like they’d discovered an enchanted wood with magical tree trunks studded with hundreds of coins, making the tree log resemble a wet shiny crocodile. They slid their way down to the water’s edge and hopped and jumped around just a few metres from the waterfall.
They made daring attempts to get as close to the water without getting wet, balancing on tiny stones and giving each other playful shoves. I made futile attempts to warn them not to get wet, worrying the poor little mites would suffer for the rest of their trek in cold wet clothes but I soon gave up competing with the roaring sound of the waterfall as it rushed to meet the pool below it.
The children’s delight was obvious, so what if they got a bit dirty!
The boys got fascinating geology facts as we climbed the limestone steps of Malham Cove, all 409 of them as counted by one of the others in the group.
What would the sight of water cascading over the top of the steep Malham Cove have looked and sounded like all those thousands of years ago? We reached the top despite the force of the wind slowing us down and the arrows of rain darting at our faces.
The view from the top made climbing the steps well worth the effort and we sat for a while to take it all in before taking up our next challenge.
Crossing the limestone pavement looked easy on the face of it but the stones (Clints) got smaller, the crevices (Gyrkes) got deeper, and the wind caused my waterproof coat to swell up like a balloon, so I proceeded with caution while everyone else breezed by me as if being wafted across on a magic carpet.
It took all I had to stop myself from being blown over!
After a welcome stop for lunch, amidst the gales and rain, we headed off to Gordale Scar.
It’s a spectacular gorge, 100 metres in height with two waterfalls. The children and I were agog as we watched a couple with three small children scramble up the lower waterfall.
During the rest of the week, we visited the Clapham Show Cave marvelling the dramatic stalagmites and stalactites; hopped 57 stepping stones across the River Wharfe to the ruins of Bolton Abbey Priory.
We were also entertained by Gonzo the vulture and other birds of prey at the Yorkshire Dales Falconry at Feizor.
Daniel challenged himself, taking on two of the medium walks. On Tuesday around 7 miles to Gaping Gill and on Friday around 10 miles, joining the Dales Way to Grassington from Conistone village.
In the evenings, team games were organised for the children in the extensive grounds of Newfield Hall; rounders, cricket, Frisbee. They used the indoor pool and undertook craft projects using their ‘nature finds’.
This was a fantastic family, memory building adventure holiday filled with fun, laughter, friendships, challenges, great food and good company.
The experience has broadened the children’s outlook, built confidence and given them an insight into the geology and nature of our beautiful countryside.
We returned from holiday exhilarated and proud of our achievements. Daniel clocked up almost 30 miles of walking and Jamie, who apparently doesn’t like to walk anywhere, clocked up over 18 miles.
To those who would say it was a shame about the weather, I’d say that it positively added to the whole adventure and great sense of achievement.
Next year, we’re keen to take a Cycling Adventure holiday, combining cycling and guided walking.”