Wind in the Willows Trail at Hanningfield Reservoir-Days out in Essex

Wind in the Willows is a children’s classic novel about small animals who spend their summer days boating on quiet rivers, going on picnics with large hampers of food and being lost in the wild woods. It’s fun, adventurous and very British- A classic tale of river life and friendship.

The novels begin with Mole, a peace-loving little animal, who decides to leave his burrow after being bored with doing his spring cleaning. He ventures down to river bank and soon meets brave Ratty, grumpy Badger and an unruly Toad.

Children and adults love Wind in the Willows as it represents a quintessential British summer. We all want to stroll down by the river, picnic on the banks, sail down the river in a boat and set out on journeys full of fun and adventure.

At Hanningfield Reservoir you can follow in Mole’s footsteps, follow the trail and discover the characters from the Wind in the Willows.

The boys love a bit of excitement and anything that’s gets them out within nature. They love trekking through woods going on adventures.

With a map in one hand and a crayon in the other they were ready to go off and search for the wooden sculptures hidden within the woods of Hanningfield.

The maps and crayons are available at the visitors centre for £1.

As soon as we had left the car and headed on over to the visitors centre they were greeted by the beautiful wildlife garden, which is the home to Ratty’s boat and Toad’s caravan.

20170725_140938

Inside Toad's caravan
Inside Toad’s caravan

After a little stroll around the peaceful garden we headed on over to purchase our maps. We were given a crayon too as next to every wooden sculpture there is brass rubbing squares that you can create a rubbing from on the back of your map.

20170725_142214

The boys used their map reading skills to follow the trail and lead us to the fun, life-size characters that were numbered on the map. Teaching them navigation skills and direction.

20170725_143618

I love watching the boys working together as they are normally squabbling with each other.

They were so excited when they found the first one set within the trees. Once they found the character they could also read the description about each animal under the square that you used fort he rubbing. Not only were the children having fun but they were also learning facts about the animals as they went.

As we walked along we also made our way over to Lyster Hide, where we could look out over the reservoir and watch the birds fly over or swim on the water.

hanningfield reservoir

The first on the trail was Badger

20170725_142146

Second was The Weasels

20170725_143341

Third was Mole

20170725_143905

Fourth was Ratty

wiw ratty

And last was speedy Toad

wiw toad

There were also other sculptures to see that had mini beasts carved into them and picnic benches to sit down and eat your lunch at.

20170725_143920

The whole adventure took us just over an hour, we didn’t rush around and spent time just enjoying each others company and the woods that surrounded us.

It was a lovely day out and would definitely recommend it. Parking is free but no cycling or dogs are allowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Defending Londons River at Tilbury Fort

Looking for somewhere to visit in Essex?

Why not have a day out at the English Heritage site Tilbury Fort!

Tilbury Fort
Taken from English Heritage site

The great artillery Fort was built in the late 17th Century to prevent hostile ships from sailing up the Thames and to prevent land attack. The fort is one of England’s  finest surviving forts from the 17th century complete with its circuit of moats and bastioned outworks still surviving. During the First World War, the fort became an important supply base for field army equipment, accommodating and supplying troops destined for the trenches.

Although not all of the fort’s buildings survived there are still the Gunpowder magazines, Guard house, North east and west bastion and the officers barracks to look around which all group around the parade ground where the troops would have drilled, trained, inspected, exercised and sometimes were punished. On the parade ground now you will see some of the army vehicles used and some anti aircraft artillery guns spotted around the paved parade. My boys loved looking at these historical artifacts and pretended that they were fighting each other across the parade.

20131027-080753.jpg

 

The foundations of the soldier barracks are clearly seen in the above picture.

20131027-081921.jpg

 

My boys were really excited to be able to touch and explore the vehicles and artillery guns and even had the chance to play with a gun on the east curtain where they could rotate and adjust the height of the gun to aim it at the passing boats on the River Thames, they even had a full view of the banks across the shore at Gravesend.

20131027-080857.jpg

 

A lot of the guns have moving parts and children are encouraged to play and explore them, this was a favourite of the boys and they spent quite a while (even though it was wet and windy) playing with them. Surrounded by the parade are lots of grassy banks that are brilliant for children to run up and down on.

20131027-120547.jpg

The walls surrounding the fort have openings in them which are called embrasures, these are where the artillery could fire through.

20131027-120534.jpg 20131027-120627.jpg 20131027-120639.jpg

Tilbury Fort has so many nooks and crannys to explore that it kept my boys busy for hours even in the rain! They really enjoyed exploring the magazines in the North East Bastion which were built underground and are protected by grassy mounds, within these passages were storerooms that stored shells and cartridges.

20131027-080826.jpg

 

There is an array of gunpowder barrels on display in the magazine houses which the boys likes to climb all over, so glad that they are just for show as I’m sure they would have set them off lol.

20131027-080806.jpg

The officers quarters still stands around the parade ground although they have been rebuilt and altered several times, inside these houses are wartime memorabilia of military items. We looked at an old kitchen stove,disposal kit, gun display, an array of gas masks, an officers bedroom (which Jak added that it was quite big) and there were a collection of manikin’s dressed in the old army uniform.

20131027-081931.jpg

 

 

We had a lovely day at the Fort even though we got soaked through from the torrential rain, it is definitely a place that we will be returning to in the summer, scattered around the parade ground are benches that are ideal for picnics, there is a gift shop that also sells hot and cold drinks.

If you are a big Sharpe fan you would love it here as this is the set where the TV historical drama was filmed during the Napoleonic Wars, the Fort is located half a mile away from Tilbury Town.

Costs: £4.60/ Adult,  £2.80 /Child or £12.00 for a family of 4.

Please check the website for more information on opening times

Share