First of all I want to start by banging on about the health benefits of being outside and having gentle exercise as a positive way to manage your mental health. Benefits include releasing endorphins which can improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety, its such a good way to manage mental health. You can read more about the benefits here.
My personal feelings after being on a ramble with my children is that my head is clearer, I have rosey cheeks and a spring in my step, and the biggest bonus is that my children sleep like, well babies, actually not babies as they don’t sleep well at all, they sleep like logs.
It’s completely free, apart from the travel cost, there’s often little to spend money on, not even a cafe, so you have to take a packed lunch, and get your children round to the idea that to have fun, doesn’t have to cost money or be in front of a screen.
I also find in incredibly mindful, really being absorbed in your surroundings, noticing small bugs, trees, flowers, muddy puddles. Really being able to pay attention and appreciate stopping at every small thing, as that’s the adventure that you’re on. You’re not just walking through to get somewhere, the walking is the somewhere. What a riddle!
It also gets the kid’s imagination going wild. Look mum this log is a train and this leaf is a ticket, all aboard the wooden train, choo choo. Just me?
Going on a ramble is the favourite thing that I do with my children, and I truly enjoy it aswell. I feel so lucky to live somewhere where all of this is on my doorstep or just a short drive away.
So have I convinced you? Yes? Well try one of, all of these corkers of a ramble below. All of them are pushchair friendly (apart from the Wenalt, where I did manage it with pushchair so it is doable but parts you do need a hand), have a car park, are free and you could spend all day there.
These are all in Cardiff or the Vale but let me know if there are any cracking ramble routes where you live in Wales, I’d love to hear from you.
Forest Fawr Sculpture Trail, Tonygwynlais CF15 7JR.
This little gem is not far from Castle Coch, this is an enchanted woodlands, with lots to explore.
You are greeted by red wooden dragon and wizard, and then through the walk you can find various other hidden treasures, such as a cauldron, treasure chest books and a chair and , all carved out of wood.
If you can manage right to the end, which does get a bit traitorous with a pram, then there are the three bears’ caves. But if not just do a loop when you get to the awesome view at the end, and even some horses.
Coed y Wenalt, Rhiwbina, Cardiff, CF14.
The Wentalt has 44 hectares of glorious woods, with plenty to explore and find. It has bluebells in bluebell season, which is a sight to behold, and it is quite sheltered, so if it does rain, you’ll stay fairly dry. But if it doesn’t rain, which happens sometimes in Wales, then there is a picnic area.
Bits are down hill and up hill, and you will need a hand with a pushchair, but we managed it with a few pushchairs and helpers.
There are also wooden dens to spot, made from sticks and branches.
Porthkerry Country Park, Park Road, Rhoose, Barry, CF62 6NX
220 acres of woodlands and meadows. This one is all nostalgic for me as I remember running wild and free as a little girl here. There is a huge field, a lovely wooden playground, a pond to spot some tad poles and other weird and wonderful things. A woods, with over 100 steps to get the top AND a pebble beach. There are often planes flying quite low over head as well, to add for the children’s entertainment, oh and a 12 hole golf course!! There are lovely streams all the way to the beach that your children can jump to either side of, or ‘treasure hunt.’ for stones and pass you things that you pray isn’t poo.
This one is perfect with a pram, apart from the pebble beach, but if you don’t mind either avoiding that or getting the baby out at the beach then you’ll have a great day out here. There is car park and a lovely cafe, plus a picnic area.
Cosmeston Lakes, Lavernock Road, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, CF64 5UY.
I am lucky to have this quite near to where I live, and this is a lovely walk to blow away the cob webs with the children. It is all pushchair friendly, with bridges to explore and play pooh sticks, wooden board walks and woodland areas. There is a lush cafe and always a great place to feed the swans, and pesky seagulls. If it’s spring time you can see lots of frogs and other creatures coming to life.
There is a part where there are a lot of squirrels, once we were surrounded by at least 15-20 squirrels and I wasn’t sure what they all wanted from us, apart from world domination and our obedience. There is also a little bird hide where you can spot magnificent birds showing off, drying their wings, and generally being beautiful.
At the back there is an amazing playground, that is all wooden and is something to aim for and have your picnic in. There are also BBQ areas that you can hire and make a day/ night of it.
Taff Trail, starting at Llandaff Fields and Bute Parks (squeezed 3 in here), Cathedral Road, CF11 9HZ.
This is a bit of a mammoth ramble, as it does technically go all the way to Brecon. BUT you can just choose sections to do, or if you’re feeling adventurous you can hire a bike from Pedal Power, and do a bit of long distance exploring. they have great little carry carts or a seat to go on the back.
I like to start at Llandaff fields to have a cuppa at the cafe, and have a quick play in the park before embarking on the ramble. You basically just follow the river, and go over some wobbly bridges, which can lead onto exploring the lovely Bute Park where there are 56 hectares grass and woodland areas. There are beautiful flowers, wooden carvings, love a wooden carving, and lots of wildlife to spot. It is all pushchair friendly and I love absorbing it all, and taking mini breaks, to find different bits to explore every time. Although it can get quite crowded on a weekend, it still feels like a good open space.