A few weeks back we took a trip to Coombes valley, a RSPB reserve in Staffordshire. It’s somewhere we’ve been meaning to visit for a long time. So long that I can no longer remember how I heard about it. The main reason we visited was for the play trail which I thought my edlest would love and it did not disappoint.
Coombes valley is well sign posted and easy to find and on arrival there is a visitors center and car park. There is a fee of £3 for parking unless you are a RSPB member. There are toilets and baby changing facillities by the visitors center as well as a few benches and picnic tables. There was also a bug hotel and a sink which had been turned in to a mini pond. My daughter had a quick look at both but we only spotted a small water snail. We collected a couple of trail guides from the visitors center (a standard one and a family one focusing on the play trail) and set off to explore the play trail.
The first thing we came across was a mud kitchen. It was well stocked with pots and pans and there was a digging area right next to it. The ladybird loves her play kitchen at home so was straight in playing with this. There was a small watering can that we used to collect some water from the water butt by the visitors center.
Once we managed to tear the ladybird away from the mud kitchen, we set off on the play trail following the pushchair friendly paths. We explored a small area where there is a yurt and shelter used for events. This tunnel was another big hit with the ladybird.
We found a couple of natural xylophones/instruments next which we stopped to play for a little while.
There were several areas for den building with lots of dens already made for children to explore.
Near the top of the play trail area was a bucket pulley system between a few trees. The ladybird, at 3, was not strong enough to be able to move the bucket but she did enjoy filling the bucket and getting us to move it.
Next we found some balance beams to explore.
A slight detour (signposted) from the main play trail was a new addition to Coombes valley, a canopy walkway. The ladybird was quiet nervous of this but I think in years to come she will enjoy it more.
Another highlight for the ladybird was a fairy village. This was a small area with lots of tree stumps that had been decorated to look like little houses. The ladybird loved pretending to knock on the doors and genuinely seemed shocked there was no one in. I love the imagination of a three year old.
Finally we found a story telling area. This included a large outdoor storage tub with dressing up clothes and books inside. We stopped to read the books which was lovely as we love children’s books in this house. There were three books (and I believe we read that they are swapped regularly) and we were only familiar with one of them so it was lovely to discover new books.
The play trail is only 0.8 km long so we completed it twice. We were there about 3 hours including a picnic stop. There are other routes which are much longer but these are not pushchair friendly and apparently are steep and can be muddy. We really enjoyed our visit and can not recommend it enough to people with young families. I have no doubt that this is somewhere we will visit again.