Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire

Bolton Abbey is beautifully situated upon the banks of the River Wharfe, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. We had been told it offers the most tremendous variety of activities for the family to enjoy. So, we packed our wellies, fishing nets, picnic and dogs into the car ( oh, and the children too ) and off we went to explore Bolton Abbey for ourselves.


All the details about Bolton Abbey 

Bolton Abbey and Riverside Car Park opening times
Dates Grounds Open Last Admission Grounds Closed
Jan 1 – Mar 12 9am 4pm 6pm
Mar 13 – May 31 9am 5:30pm 7pm
Jun 1 – Aug 31 9am 6pm 9pm
Sep 1 – Oct 22 9am 5:30pm 7pm
Oct 23 – Mar 18 9am 4pm 6pm


Admission prices 2017

Cars Mon – Fri Weekend
  Car Car
13th Mar 2017 – 5th Nov 2017 £10 £10
6th Nov 2017 – 15th Dec 2017 £4 £4
16th Dec 2017 – 7th Jan 2018 £10 £10
8th Jan 2018 – 9th Feb 2018 £4 £4
10th Feb 2018 – 18th Feb 2018 £10 £10
19th Feb 2018 – 18th Mar 2018 £4 £4

All about our day at Bolton Abbey

The view that greeted us as we drove down to the car park at Bolton Abbey was stunning. The glorious River Wharfe to our left – beautiful sparkling waters, rich with wildlife. The magnificent ruins of the Abbey ahead in the distance. The car park itself was full of families enjoying the wonderful weather. Parents watching children paddling in the gentle flowing river, some cooking on portable BBQ’s , others on rugs enjoying picnics. Some riding bikes, others playing ball with the dog. All generations basking in the sunshine and looking thoroughly relaxed. 

We were so lucky with the weather, it was a glorious, hot and sunny day and the children could not wait to go paddling in the river, exploring for tadpoles and feeding the friendly ducks. The dogs also thoroughly enjoyed a refreshing swim! Princess D spent an age hunting for fancy stones in the water while Petrolhead A set about building a mini dam. They were so content and thoroughly engrossed in their activities that I was able to sit in the sun, not taking my eyes off them, of course, but relaxing all the same. 

The river side is so vast that there is no feeling of being crammed or squashed, which is refreshing. 

We headed on over to explore the abbey, a bit of a walk but the views along the way are worth it. The abbey remains are magnificent and really capture your imagination as you think about times gone by. The whole site is immaculately kept. 

It was almost surreal as we wandered through the ruins – there were various people from all different walks of life, enjoying being there, but not just walking through and admiring the abbey. Actually embracing being there. There was someone sitting drawing the Abbey, children playing hide and seek, an older group reading and discussing the history of the buildings, even a very talented couple practicing magic tricks. People clearly feel as inspired as they feel relaxed in these surroundings.

Near the Abbey is a little van selling ice cream and drinks. As we sat and enjoyed our refreshments others enjoyed a game of rounders, some were practicing hand stands and just ahead of us a baby was learning to crawl. 

The welly walk at Bolton Abbey

Before embarking on the welly walk, we had to negotiate the infamous stepping stones across the River Wharfe. Well, when I say we had to, we didn’t , we could have crossed the bridge in a sensible and sophisticated manner – but where is the fun in that?!

The main problem was that as well as a picnic bag and two children to safely get across, I also had two small dogs. Now, said dogs do enjoy a little swim as much as the next pup. But, it is quite a long way across, deep in places, with a fairly strong current half way across. So I had to cross, with an old, cantankerous and rather over weight Jack Russell under one arm, a picnic bag on my back whilst holding the hand of an over excited 6 yo. Frankly, I was slightly disappointed not to receive a medal or at least a small applause for crossing without incident. It was so traumatic we did it again. Three times.

The Welly Walk at Bolton Abbey runs from 27th May – 5th November this year. Follow the signs into the woods and prepare to have an absolute ball, negotiating tunnels, slides, bridges and climbing trees. Some parts of the trail are steep and some sections have unguarded drops so children must be accompanied and unfortunately it is not accessible with wheelchairs or push chairs.  Wellies are advised ( obvious I suppose ) and perhaps a change of clothes – they get wonderfully mucky!

We enjoyed the most fabulous day at Bolton Abbey. We didn’t leave until dusk, the children and the dogs were happy, filthy and exhausted. I obviously raved on and on about it so much that quite a few friends visited over the following week or so and they all said the same thing- that they couldn’t believe they had never been before and that they had had a super time. Next time we visit we will definitely take a little BBQ and a group of friends and make a real day of it. 


Sincerest thanks to Bolton Abbey for inviting us to review their beautiful site 


William’s Den, North Cave, Yorkshire

There has been quite a hum of intrigue and anticipation regarding the opening of William’s Den, in North Cave, near Hull, particularly among local parents, and so we were very excited to be invited to go along and review, very shortly after they opened. 

Petrolhead A had come home with an excellent school report and so we allowed him to bring a friend along when we visited too. Its always great to have another young persons opinion to include in our write ups. 

All the Details about William’s Den

Where – William’s Den, North Cave, Brough, Post Code HU15 2LS

Opening – William’s Den is open every day (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day)

Sunday to Wednesday – 9:30am – 5:00pm
Thursday to Saturday – 9:30am – 7:00pm

Admission Prices – 

Child 3-17 years
£9.50 Buy Tickets
Child under 3 years
£3.00 Buy Tickets
Adult 18 years+
£8.00 Buy Tickets
Concession – Student / Over 65 / Disabled * £6.00 Buy Tickets
Carer * Free  

The first things that strike you as you enter the large reception area at William’s Den are that is large, modern, clean and impressive. The staff are warm, enthusiastic and helpful. The young lady on the reception desk gave each of the children wrist bands on which I wrote my mobile number – what an excellent safety measure – and she then ensured we knew where to find everything. 

When we visit family orientated attractions I pay attention to the important but slightly dull mumsy things such as cleanliness, facilities, staff etc. How successful the attraction is on pleasing and entertaining children is based on my small peoples reactions and opinions – lets face it, kids have a fabulous way of saying things exactly how they see them. William’s Den was an absolute hit from the moment we arrived. 

The outside area, on first glance appears simple, well organised and spacious. But on closer inspection, its so much more than that. 

It is like a child has been asked to design a play area to include everything that a child would want. Because, frankly, that is so different to what adults think they should have or indeed, want them to have.  

My three children flew off squealing in different directions – bearing in mind my six year old daughter is known to squeal enthusiastically just because its Wednesday, or because her apple is green , whereas its not as common in a 10 year old boy! For him to squeal is quite a big deal actually. They were all so excited to get stuck in and try everything.  

Zip wires, climbing poles, tyre swings, sand pits, water activites, mud gardens, den building, tunnels, little hills surely designed and added with rolling down in mind ?! 

The equipment at William’s Den is so well designed – it is safe and strong and sturdy. Children can be children, the equipment provided is designed to feed their imaginations and let them play and create and get mucky. And here I want to make a point that really struck me while we were enjoying our day at William’s Den. I think for most parents it fills our hearts with contentment and a feeling of achievement when our kids are having good old fashioned out door fun. Not glued to screens or playstation controllers, which incidentally, I do accept is part of modern life to some degree. But here they can chase around safely, being cowboys or fairies or Bear Grylls…and I have a favour to ask you, Mums,Dads, grandparents or god parents. Please let them. Please don’t nag them about getting wet in the water well, or getting muddy whilst making mud pies in the mud kitchen, or getting dirty dragging sticks to make a den. Take a change of clothes, take a towel, take baby wipes. But whatever you do don’t take away the fun. I heard so many parents moaning at their kids for getting a little bit damp and muddy and it made me a little sad. 

There are lots of lovely benches for grown ups to sit and watch the little ones having fun, as well as picnic tables for, well, picnics. 

It took some effort on my part to encourage the children to leave their dam and bridge building at the water activity area to go and explore inside. They were delighted they did though. Inside is awesome! Again, its like a child with a fabulous imagination has drawn a picture of their dream indoor play area. And a fairy godmother disguised as a genius architect/builder has created it. 

It is beautiful to look at, a real work of art. It is large enough for adults to accompany their children if they wish, without fear of getting stuck in tunnels ( is it only me that has happened to?)

Everything about William’s Den is welcoming and family friendly. Even this ” Rules ” sign is delightful to read and puts you at ease and more than comfortable to ask for help if you need anything from one of the jolly staff members. Its very safety conscious without being harsh or scary. 

The children had been playing inside for around 45 minutes when something extraordinary happened. It was quite a warm day and I thought they would like an ice cream. I had noticed a very nice cabin selling ice creams and drinks and thought a brief pit stop would be well received with the little warriors. I beckoned them to me and they reluctantly left their absolute favorite activity which consisted of sand, buckets and a  pulley system. I asked them if they wanted to get an ice cream, fully expecting the usual choruses of “YESSSSSS PLEASEEEE!” Nope. “Thankyou but maybe later” – and they were gone again. Now, anyone that knows my little Princess D will tell you that she is a real foodie with a sweet tooth and passing up the opportunity of an ice cream is unheard of. Incredible. 


Eventually, I did convince them to get an ice cream. There are plenty of flavours to choose from, plus sauces and chocolate flakes to add. Yummy!

Something else that made William’s Den different in a wonderful way, is how some of the activities encourage children to work together in teams. So kids who may never have met before are suddenly supporting and encouraging each other to build the coolest, sturdiest teepee. Or improving on their team work skills whilst filling sand buckets and sending them up the pulley system to a stranger at the top to fill the awaiting pipe and bucket. Just fantastic. 

We stayed until late. We had a tremendous day. The children left tired, dirty and content. And whenever we discuss future days out they ask for one thing….

“Can we go back to William’s Den?” 

If you are considering a visit i think that tells you all you need to know.  We would love to hear about your William’s Den adventure!

Warmest thanks to William’s Den for inviting us to review their wonderful attraction 

Piglets Adventure Farm, York


We have visited Piglets Adventure Farm quite a few times since we moved to York in 2010 and the children were very small. It has changed, grown and evolved much since our first visit. We have enjoyed so many fun filled family days here I was very keen to review them for Family Travel with Ellie, and so was thrilled when we were invited along. 

Where – Towthorpe Grange, Towthorpe Moor Lane,
York, YO32 9ST


Open daily from 10am to 5:30pm. Piglets Coffee House is also open 10am to 5.30pm and is free to enter.

Admission Prices

Child (1-16 years) – £5.45

Adult –   £4.45  

Concession (Senior Citizen, Disabled, Disabled Carer) – £3.45         

These are the online prices, you can’t book online for a same day visit.

Prices may be different when a special event is on , so it is  always worth checking the website before you visit.

What is there at Piglets, York?

Piglets is a every child’s outdoor dream. There is plenty for all age groups to enjoy, and it is very parent friendly too. As you walk though the reception doors you are greeted by a fabulous colourful scene of vast green grassy areas, huge sand pits, play equipment, enormous bouncy pillows, go – karts… and the list goes on. To our left was a tractor towing a trailer full of singing kids away up a woodland track. To our right was the immaculately kept petting farm where children were stroking piglets and feeding donkeys.


Watch your child’s reaction – it will be one of pure delight as they try to make the very tough decision – ” what do I play with first ?!”.

There are plenty of picnic tables and areas to sit and relax whilst being able to keep a watchful eye over the little ones as they race around from one activity to the next. There is a snack bar, which I can tell you on good authority sells excellent coffee. You can also get sandwiches/crisps/ cold drinks etc here.

The toilets are large portacabins, which are cleaned regularly through the day and kept in very good order. There is a baby change table.

There are some excellent toddler friendly play areas.

Having enjoyed a fabulous bounce on the giant bouncy pillow and challenged herself on the climbing equipment Princess D decided she would like a tractor ride. Just as we got to the Tractor Stop, it was pulling up. I was expecting a trip around the woods, looking out for woodland creatures, but actually the tractor took a different route and we ended up disembarking at a new play barn that we hadn’t explored before.

The new play barn is fab. I have very happy memories from when I was a child of climbing and making dens in the bales in the barn at our stables and It made me feel quite nostalgic as we walked in and I saw at the back a large stack of straw bales with tunnels and rope swings.

There is also a fantastic big play pit, but what makes this different to your usual sand pit is that instead of sand, they have used corn. Genius! No mess, no sand in the eyes but hours of fun all the same!

There is also a mini ride on area, with tractors and trailers. In the centre of the play barn are two slides, and there is plenty of seating, plus a cafe selling drinks, ice creams, snacks and pizza.


The tractor comes back around regularly for you to hitch a ride back to the main part of the park as and when you are ready. Princess D would happily have spent all day playing on the bales and rope swings I think!

Having managed to convince her to leave the rope swings, we took a tractor ride back to the farm and set off to visit the animals. All the animals are beautifully kept and very sociable and friendly. There are opportunities for the children to stroke, feed and learn about caring for the animals. There’s a gorgeous large lady pig/ sow who loves nothing more than the children using brooms to scratch her back!


On our way out we visited the nicely organised and well equipped gift shop. Lots of choice for little ones to spend their pocket money on!

There is also a lovely little cafe serving hot and cold snacks/ drinks and a lovely selection of treats too. 

A trip to Piglets is an absolute must. Family days out, outings with the grandparents, school trips and more.  The ideal day out, with plenty to see and do, in a safe and enclosed environment.  The staff are warm and enthusiastic. Its worth keeping an eye on the website for special events. 


The Piglets Christmas event is particularly wonderful but tickets sell out very quickly so don’t snooze or you will lose!

Our warmest thanks to Piglets for inviting us to review.