Summer holidays on Ilkley Moor show the best things in life are free - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Liz Jesson, Sherburn in Elmet.

It never ceases to amaze me that at the start of every school holidays parents moan about the cost of keeping their offspring occupied, especially during the main summer holidays and how much food and drinks are in cafes. Have these parents never heard of picnics and walking?

Granted, not everyone has the privilege of living in our beautiful county of Yorkshire but there must be other counties that have plentiful acres of beautiful countryside in which people can roam around, completely free of charge.

When my two grandsons were younger, my friends and I used to pack picnics for our relative grandchildren – the usual sandwiches, fruit, drinks etc – put them in a rucksack with something to sit on, even if it was a carrier bag – and set off on walks of around six miles. On most of the holidays there would be three grandmas, four children and a dog.

Visitors to the Cow and Calf Rocks at Ilkley Moor. Picture: Gary Longbottom.

All the children grumbled, of course, wondering when and where we would stop to eat.

This could be anywhere in or towards the Dales but our favourite place was Ilkley Moor. We used to park in the car park below the Cow & Calf rocks and hike up the moor and along the top until we came to ‘our stream’ where the picnic was unpacked and the kids and dog played for hours in and out and around the stream.

We also enjoyed doing a circular walk setting off from the river in Ilkley and encountering all sorts of animals and obstacles along the way until we were back along the river with its playground where the children could play. The only expense on both of those trips was an ice cream at the local kiosk at the end.

In ‘the big holiday’ there were four grandmas, six kids and a dog and this always used to be a trip to Brimham Rocks. Granted, it’s not free any more since the National Trust took it over but it is charged per vehicle. In our day it was free and again we used to spend all day there, the grandmas bilberry picking and the children usually falling off rocks with us telling them not to tell their parents. My daughter used to call this our ‘Grandmas R Us’ trip.

Again, an ice cream at the shop was the only expense.

Of course most parents are working now, even during the school holidays so it’s up to grandmas to bite the bullet and take over. I was in my late 50s when we used to do all this and believe me I had to learn to kick a ball, ride on a skateboard, hoola-hoop etc, so come on grannies, it will do you good too. I’m nearly 80 now and very active.

Get those kids away from the computers and social media rubbish and into the Yorkshire air and let the kids get dirty and scraped knees.

It’s important that children’s souls are nurtured by pointing out wildlife, trees, sunsets, views etc and this can’t be done unless you are physically outside where these things can be pointed out.

The more quality time you spend with your grandchildren the more you will reap the benefit in later life as I’ve found.

Even though my eldest grandson now lives in Texas with his lovely American wife and my youngest has a little boy of his own now, we are all still very close and they have lovely memories of those times that we spent together and often mention them.