Lifestyle: Finding magic at Northwood Fairy Trail

With 18 months of isolation and craziness during the pandemic, we haven't been very far and I've really missed adventuring. This blog started as a journal for the things I love; travel, adventures, homewares, country life and food. The family adventure part was sorely missing of late but finally with a bit more freedom on the cards, we're back to what we do best, finding magic and adventure whereever we go.

For the Little Inspiration's birthday I wanted to bring a touch of magic and, as she is fairy and unicorn obsessed (like her mama), we snuggled down to bed one night for a story and I told her that the fairies lived in the enchanted forest and when it was her 4th birthday, they would leave her a special treasure map of how to find them. Her eyes lit up as she asked me every day if they'd been yet - it was like christmas morning.

On the morning of her birthday she woke early and after we had opened her presents by the fireplace, in the garden room there was a present from the Birthday Fairy. Carefully unwrapping the gift, inside was the Cicely Mary Barker Complete Flower Fairy book, a sparkly new wand, and a map showing how to find them. The joy written on her face when she realised it was the special  day.

I knew about the Northwood fairy trail because we'd been before, a long time pre-covid, and knew it was the exact right place to bring the magic to life for her. Not razmataz, not in your face, but pure enchanted woodland. The real magic.

My faith was amplified because I know the owners and they also have North Star Club - the most beautiful, rustic, whimsical place to stay. Think warm log cabins, woodland trails, copper baths, fur throws and fairy lights everywhere. Dreamy.

For her birthday there was a special unicorn fairy costume waiting for her, which of course we wore to go find the real fairies. Oh my heart, it was the cutest sight ever.

After about a 40 minute drive to the village of Buttercrambe just outside of Stamford Bridge, near York, we arrived and even better, we were the only people there. It really did feel like a personal invitation just for her.

After we checked in, we used the map to start the trail but it was all fairly self explanatory and easy to follow, as the paths are gravelled and clearly marked. Perfectfor pushchair or wheelchair users.

For the arguably the most magical fairy village on earth, you'd expect a lot of cute bridges, fairy houses of every kind, even mythical fresh water mermaids, which are a lot smaller than the sea water kind. Hobgoblins, pixies and giants, all play a part here and there is a story for each magical species.

Intersperesed were natural playgrounds with den building, platforms to run up and down and balancing beams made out of fallen trees. It's not a place were there are slides and swings, instead it requires an imagination and ability to create the fun.

The best bits were the kids stopping to look at every fairy door and window, occcasionally declaring that they saw a flash of fairy dust or flutter of wings. Of course the grown ups joined in and as believers, we too were caught up in the enchantment. 

Naturally all good fairy finders need to refuel, so we stopped after about an hour and a half for refreshments. There is a gorgeous lodge with the signature fairy lights and beautiful features, where we ordered Tatiana's Garden Platter for me, the Yorkshire Cheese for the Carnivore and ice creams for the kids.

After, we visited the Fairy Museum just next door. It's a collection of findings and artefacts from real fairies, including dresses, tools and utensils. They really are amazinlgy intricate and preserved in glass boxes. I was a bit worried about two little ones near glass but we supervised and it was fine. 

We even found a gorgeous surprise inside, but I would hate to spoil it so go find out for yourself. It really was like a little narnia.

The Little Inspiration had such a good time, and truly loved running round the trails but her next wish was to see a unicorn. Of course, we explained they were very shy and lived in the darkest part of the forest, so humans couldn't capture them.

To say she was a little disapponted she couldn't stroke one was an understatement but we said maybe if she was lucky, one would visit her in secret.

We jumped back in the car and headed off on another adventure and after a little snooze (all that fresh air tired the kids out), we arrived at our next destination. Oxmardyke Equestrian Centre is a stables in East Yorkshire.

As we walked down towards the yard, magical fairytale music was playing and a fairy awaited us. As we stopped out walked the most beautiful white unicorn with a rainbow mane. Literally every little girl's dream, right?

My heart burst into a thousand pices right there as the kids ran over to pet their very own unicorn, picking up brushes and combing her long tail.

They chatted to her, amazed by a real life unicorn, and could not believe their eyes. Of course, the next request was for a ride and so that's what she did. After a little leg up, she hopped aboard her very own unicorn and rode in the sun around the glistening, golden fields.

I actuslly shed a tear. Partly because it was so darn magical, but also because seeing my girl, atop her very own unicorn, riding by herself, made me emotional at how fast the last 4 years have gone.

At 18 months, what feels like mere minutes ago, I held her wobbly little body on her very first pony ride and watched her toddle around the yard. Somehow in the blink of an eye she looked so very grown up.

The Carnivore and I squeezed each other's hands knowingly and then we were back to all smiles. So proud of our little girl chattering away to Unicorn Pearl and the fairy whilst holding herself so tall. No longer needing me to steady her.

It was big grins all round after her magical ride and we said farewell but not goodbye to Unicorn Pearl. And although we may not see Pearl any time soon, there is something really special about knowing your very own Unicorn is somewhere nearby, in a magical forest, just waiting to see you again.

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