If you go Down to the Woods Today
Our regular walk in the woods has been a favourite since we first discovered it a year ago. We were introduced to Mill Pond (not to be confused with its more urban namesake 2.5 miles directly North West) by the book Kiddiwalks in Berkshire. This is a fantastic book. My only gripe is the distance estimate on this walk – it is twice the distance stated. Anyway, that aside, our Mill Pond walk is a shortened version and at 2.5 miles is an easy stroll on a Sunday afternoon.
|Normally, we would walk this route, but today were cagouled into taking the boys’ bikes. As with any sunny weekend, the Look Out car park was heaving. However, we set off down the track past Go Ape and with the boys on their bikes we were quickly away from the crowds. Once past Bracknell Road (an unpaved road in the woods) we usually have the place to ourselves. It could have been because it was the only sunny day for weeks, or perhaps it was just the smell of spring in the air, but today was the busiest I’d seen this area. Of course, the runners competing in their forest race certainly didn’t help.|
It was actually nice to see others sharing this area that we thought was a well kept secret. In our 12 years in the area, I can’t believe it took us so long to find this place.
We reached the Mill Pond sign (which takes you off the beaten track) quicker than usual. For a change we were limited only by the walking pace of the adults! The boys were instructed to dismount as at some points it could be quite easy to go hurtling towards the lake. Negotiating roots and mud, it was perhaps just as well – they were already muddy enough. As the sun shines on the lake you realise what a gem this little place is, so near to the hustle of the Look Out and a stone’s throw from the busy Bagshot Road. Everything slows down and it’s quite easy to forget we all have work and school tomorrow. This would be the perfect place to bring a picnic and spend a hot summer’s afternoon. The water looks very inviting, so you’d have to watch out for little ones. Mine can spend hours here climbing the trees by the water’s edge and playing in the bushes. If we didn’t have the bikes we would have continued around the lake (over fallen trees) to the little footbridge. Wellies at the ready, another hour can be whiled away damming and undamming the stream, and usually leaving me worrying whether we’ve actually left the stream flowing more freely than when we arrived and that we may be responsible for emptying the lake!
There are some shallow clear spots perfect for pond dipping and we spotted plenty of tadpoles on this visit. We’ll be back in a few weeks to see if many survive into frog-hood.
Returning to the main path by the same route (roughly!), we turned left and soon realised why horses and cycles are actually prohibited on this track. Oops! We had walked this route before and with a little care had managed to avoid the worst of the mud. However, we hadn’t banked on the combination of 6 and 8 year old boys, thick gooey mud and bikes! Needless to say, they both had to strip to their underwear before stepping foot in the car!
Once we were back on Bracknell Road, the route back to the Look Out was pretty straight forward. Somehow we managed to avoid most of the day’s rain – although DS3 did go through 4 sets of clothes! I’m not in the habit of carrying spare clothes but luckily when he fell headlong into the first puddle, I did have a fleece zipper in my bag which he wore on its own. This was soon covered with a waterproof jacket and then stripped right back to nothing and then his army gilet which was worn as a vest. It would be lovely to go on a walk where the weather is consistent. But, this doesn’t happen often in Britain, especially in April! And we are, of course, grateful that the heavens only truly opened once we were safely back home.