What a relief to see the more typical and expected Bank Holiday Monday weather, none of that sunshine and warmth nonsense; grey overcast skies, sudden short bursts of rain and the freshly green-leaved trees thrashing about in the blustery wind. The perfect weather for a day trip out, family picnic and not forgetting rain coats and warm clothing.
With our sons’ mantra of “do we have to” and “that sounds boring”, we set off on the one hour long car journey.
I will gloss over the picnic, (due to the chilled north wind and too much in the way of big and little jobs dotting the area – irresponsible dog owners take note!) that was quick and functional.
The car park to Becky Falls is across the road from the park itself (there is an entry fee but they do take credit cards), so parents of young children beware the busy road; and I have to say that when you reach the main shop/restaurant/toilet area, it is not particularly inspiring, but just a few steps away from the ubiquitous Pets’ Corner and caged birds of prey (another one of my pet hates I’m afraid – owls should not be kept in cages), was the wonder of just what Mother Nature can do when she puts her mind to it.
There is the Blue, Red or Purple Trail, in order of ease, the Purple one being the most strenuous on the calf and thigh muscles. You hopefully have not turned up in skin-tight or skimpy clothes, because there is an awful lot of clambering, climbing and leaping required. It also helps if you have non slip sensible shoes on!
Whilst I would strongly recommend you watch your every step – there are tree roots straight out of a Dr Who episode, ready to grab and trip you up at every step: then there are the rocks and uneven surfaces to catch you out; try to look around you and appreciate just what there is to see and experience.
Trees that have been enveloped and entrapped in the sinews of ivy, the leathery green leaves long gone, leaving behind the solid gnarled wooden arteries that have fused with the tree trunk: the varicose veins of the surviving bole.
Fallen trees that even in death, form part of the living forest as dozens of creatures find a solid refuge in its bows and branches, or where the damp shade of the woodland has encouraged the growth of that luxuriously green lichen and a spongy springy green moss creates nature’s answer to the mattress.
Then there are the delicate but so resilient yellow primroses that discreetly emerge from the scruffy straggled ground, or the gangly bluebells that pop up in patches of clear ground alongside the pinks, purples and whites of other wild meadow flowers.
You will also find a pair of Monkey Puzzle trees and the rather endearing sight of the pair’s offspring that now stands between them! A little further along you will find a number of trees with coins embedded in them. The story goes that there is a rather nasty spirit there waiting to be appeased by your contribution!
There are masses of different trees and plants to marvel at and plenty of butterflies to watch. But you will soon come across the boulder course. Quite how these gargantuan boulders managed to find their way into the valley is remarkable in itself and the waterfalls and pools that have formed are both beautiful and fascinating.
But the real challenge is to see if you can in fact climb to the top (yes, I did say the top) of the pile. Health & Safety groupies need not apply; this is the land of feats of derring-do, with all shapes and sizes, some smooth and some less so, it is not for the faint hearted. With sensible footwear and behaviour, it is quite a rewarding challenge to climb and leap from rock to rock to see if you can make it to the top…or not.
When you have been for your walk and done your best with the boulder challenge, the tea room seems a little more welcoming – reward yourself for a job well done!
So even with the benefit of Bank Holiday weather, the next time you are in the region, I would recommend stopping off at Becky Falls for a challenging walk, climb and if the sun does shine, maybe even a paddle!