DURING lockdown, East Lancashire families took time to explore their local green spaces, appreciating the change in seasons and nature on their doorstep.

Now local families can appreciate these wild spaces with other friends and family, sharing their favourite walks, birding spots or wildflower meadows.

Families have even attended free nature events and outdoor toddler groups, provided by the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

The outdoor family events are back within the Pendle Hill Landscape, and offering more opportunities for families to spark an interest in wildlife, explore their local area and learn about the history of the Pendle Hill area.

During the summer holidays, families can ramble through the landscape on guided walks, discover minibeasts within the woods, become an archaeologist for the day, learn about traditional boundaries and even have a go at building a dry stone wall.

All events are booking essential via the website https://www.pendlehillproject.com/whats-on

The National Lottery Heritage Funded Landscape Partnership scheme started in April 2018. The projects’ Outdoor Learning Officer Alison Cross, who is funded by the Ernest Cook Trust, has been delivering free family events since summer 2018. These take place within local parks, nature reserves and heritage buildings. Alison has been looking forward to delivering these sessions again.

She said: “I love the moments when I get to reconnect local families with the countryside and show them something new and exciting.

“Recently it was spotting the four different stages of a ladybird life cycle that both parent and child were in awe of.”

This year’s locations include Lancashire County Councils Clitheroe Castle, Barrowford’s Pendle Heritage Centre and the Downham visitor centre.

Families can also go on their own adventure this year using the Pendle Hill’s Project new Explore section on the website. https://www.pendlehillproject.com/explore There is free walking and cycling routes, printable nature resources for young ones and even helpful guides about how to access the countryside and keep yourself safe. “It is very important when anyone steps into the countryside they follow the countryside code. This helps to keep themselves, other visitors, the wildlife around them and the people who work within the landscape safe. Do remember to respect, protect and enjoy every moment in the great outdoors.”

The Pendle Hill Project also delivers an outdoor toddler group called Little Saplings, for under five-year-olds.

These events returned in May as mini versions, with the hope for Little saplings to fully return this September. The one-and-a-half-hour sessions take place at Spring Wood picnic site, Whalley and Victoria Park, Nelson.

Each outdoor event allows parents, carers, and their little ones to explore the woodland at their own pace, joining in with various activities that range from mud painting to bug hunting. The aim is for the children to develop life skills using the Forest School ethos.

While parents enjoy family time in nature and learn new activities they can repeat at home or in another green space. A parent described the toddler group as: “A wonderful, well supported, interactive session for children to learn and explore the outdoors.”

More information about these free events can be found on the website https://www.pendlehillproject.com/little-saplings

Outdoor Learning Officer Alison looks forward to meeting more local families in the future.

She adds: “In the Autumn I hope families can be back in mud kitchen making yummy soup or searching for the Gruffalo within the woods.

“It is wonderful to watch children at any age be inspired by an activity, learn something new about our heritage or create a deeper connection with the natural world.

“I couldn’t provide these free sessions if it wasn’t for our funders and the kindness of our volunteers.”

Alison is always looking for new volunteers to assist her with school trip delivery, family events and the Little Sapling toddler group.

If you would like to find out more about Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership family events and volunteering opportunities, then get in touch with the team at https://www.pendlehillproject.com or email: volunteer@pendle-hill-lp.co.uk

The explore website is at: https://www.pendlehillproject.com/

The Pendle Hill landscape partnership is led by the Forest of Bowland AONB.