This time of the year can make getting outdoors a bit difficult. It’s cold, it feels like it’s continually and constantly raining, and the evenings get dark so quickly that it’s no wonder that most people simply want to stay at home and hibernate.
However, hibernation is not an option, especially when I believe in promoting the enjoyment of the outdoors in all weathers.
I decided to try a new experience with my daughter this week. After school we headed down to a local nature reserve, called Cosmeston Lakes, in Penearth. Cosmeston Lakes was opened in 1978, and was designated as a local Nature Reserve in 2013. Visitors can explore over 100 hectares of lakes, reed beds, woodlands and meadows. It really is a fantastic place for a family exploring adventure.
We parked the car as it was just getting dark. I know the environment there very well, so I wasn’t worried about walking and exploring in the dark, and I always carry hand torches and head-torches in our kit. Cosmestion is well-known for the swans that live on the lake, and I can remember my mum and dad taking me there, as a child, on Sunday afternoons to feed the swans. It’s a great place to introduce young children to wildlife and the wild environment.
We trampled through the smaller parts of the forest that surround the lakes, looking for animal homes and tracks, but mainly just getting our wellies covered in mud by jumping in the puddles.
We then headed over to the bird watching hut. It’s located away from the normal public path, so that it the noise doesn’t disturb the experience of looking and listening for a huge variety of wildlife that you’re able to encounter.
Then, after a quick bite to eat we sat cuddled together on the benches and just listened. We could hear the geese flying around and making their calling noises, we heard splashes in the water from other nocturnal birds and animals swimming around. There were little tweets from the dozens of birds that live in the area, rustlings in the surrounding trees, and the best sounds were from distant owls, hooting messages to each other.
It was so relaxing just to sit and take time out to listen. Every time my daughter heard a new sound, her face would light up with excitement and she would point and twist her body around to try to get a better position to hear the noises. It was a great experience.
As it started to get colder, we headed back through the forest, squelching in the mud and making ghost noises to try to scare the whits out of each other.
It really was a fantastic experience for my daughter. It would have been so easy to say we couldn’t go out because of the weather and the darkness, but we made the effort and we had a fantastic time.
It really doesn’t matter when you try to venture outdoors, as long as you do it within safe guidelines and within your own capabilities and experience. I really would recommend trying to get outdoors at twighlight. It doesn’t even have to be at a nature reserve, because simply going out in your garden and exploring with torches would be just as exciting……. especially for little ones.