If you came down to Coombes valley over the Easter holidays you might have noticed a number of painted eggs hidden on the natural play trail. Don’t worry, we hadn’t lost them. They were for our Easter trail, an Easter egg hunt with a difference. I’m struggling to think of a more beautiful setting for an egg hunt; beautiful woodland, meadows alive with insects and the sound of birdsong all around. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who felt this way because it soon became apparent just how popular our Easter trail was going to be. We had almost 150 answer sheets returned to us in the visitor centre but that doesn’t tell the full story. We had families working as teams, groups splitting into factions after discovering their competitive edge and complete strangers becoming fast friends through helping each other to discover the more cunningly hidden eggs. I suspect that the true number of participants was over double that which we recorded.

This wasn’t just any old egg hunt though. We weren’t content with the idea of children just finding a few chocolate eggs and going home. No, we were determined that participants would learn something whilst they enjoyed themselves, although there was a chocolaty prize at the end. You were required to find the hidden wildlife egg and match it to the correct animal using a series of poems which contained clues. Our visitors proved themselves to be brilliant nature detectives, the vast majority of them returning with ten out of ten correct answers. Clearly we will have to make it trickier next year.

Something that I particularly enjoy is seeing families having fun in nature, it’s why I do what I do. So it was incredibly pleasing for me to see so many families participating and thoroughly enjoying themselves. We had parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children of all ages; all enjoying themselves in this gorgeous woodland setting. Don’t just take my word for it though; some of our visitors were kind enough to share their thoughts with us:

“Enjoyed the egg trail very much with our granddaughter. Most fun, good weather and beautiful surroundings. Thank you.”

“We had a fabulous time exploring the trail. We will come back another day. It is so nice how child friendly this place is. Thank you.”

“Myself and four children really enjoyed the trail and finding clues and eggs along the way. We loved getting stuck into the den building and can’t wait to visit again. Thank you.”

Wow! What fantastic reviews.

Of course, everything is more fun when you are outdoors in a beautiful setting, surrounded by wildlife and with glorious weather. Luckily glorious weather is what we got, especially over the Easter weekend itself. During the time that the trail was running we saw our first butterflies of the year, a showy stoat putting in regular appearances, red deer sightings, common lizards basking in the sun and wood anenomies blooming. As well as the sparrowhawk making regular passes of the bird feeders like a low flying missile of feathers and claws. All of this in addition to our regular suite of familiar but no less special woodland wildlife.

We are thrilled that the trail was received so well. It’s brilliant when something that has taken hard work and dedication ends up being as popular and successful as you had hoped.

Keep an eye out for our next trail which will be in the May half term holiday. We’re not going to tell you what it is yet but what we will tell you is it will be just as wild, just as fun and hopefully just as warm! See you there!