March was host to the International Day of Happiness followed by the International Day of Forests. Combine the two and you get a happy ramble in the woodlands in the first spring sun. Instead of our own little wood, we headed instead to a local forest, a mixture of dense, dark plantation (so very Darkly Wood), ancient woodland and untamed countryside. We even acquired an extra child for the adventure.
The well maintained path proved to be of no interest to my excited brood and they skipped over the edge to the wilderness beyond. So we followed the path of laughter and set off on our own adventure. The lure of a moss covered ruin sent us meandering down the gentle slope. Running, tumbling and rolling, jumping off tree stumps and balancing along slippery logs – a woodland walk with children is anything but walking.
My eldest peered through the stone portal to distant lands beyond and imagined who had placed the standing stone. While we dreamed of the tiny woodland folk who’d hidden in this abandoned ruin, hiding from trolls and fire-breathing dragons, the little ones forged ahead through the brambles and tall grasses. We paused briefly to breathe in the woodland air and marvel at the brilliant blue skies before skipping downhill to join them.
The little ones ran towards the tinkling call of the stream winding down through the valley below. Spotting reeds we called out, too late, to go around the marshy patch but the splashes only added to their fun. Following the trickling stream we discovered ponds of frogspawn, hidden from the sensible path walkers. Kneeling on the damp ground they gently stroked its surface to watch the tiny tadpoles wriggle. Careful not to disturb them we crept away quietly.
Our journey then followed the sparkle of sunshine through the trees on the hill. Grabbing walking sticks we stomped upwards following the squeals and giggles that led the way. A clearing at the top with a scattering of stones made a perfect stopping point and a place to build a house for the local fairies. They gathered rocks and bark for their construction and little pine cones to decorate the entrance. Satisfied, they filled their pockets with smaller stones and rattled back down the hill a little heavier.
Soon tired little legs and rumbling tummies signalled it was time for a picnic stop. We paused at a fallen tree to recharge. Then it was back up the hill in an attempt to find our way back to the car. Four mucky, muddy and tired little girls soon gazed out of the car windows at the sun setting over a forest of adventures.