Bears of Box Hill

“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” – Michael Rosen

I love being outside. Having lived in the outskirts of London all my life, I always appreciate any opportunity to get outside and explore the outdoors.

Nowadays I feel people are too concerned with making money and so don’t spend enough time with their children, allowing them the freedom of the outside world. However, to my parents being outside has always been really important. My father grew up in the Wirral, near Liverpool, and spent a lot of his time exploring the Welsh hills. My mother, despite being brought up in Carshalton Beeches, London, spent most of her holidays in the Yorkshire Dales. Both of them have a love and appreciation for the outdoors.

As a consequence they have always made the effort with us to take us out for a walk at the weekends. Although my sporting fixtures and school work consume every hour of my weekends now, during the holidays a special effort is still made.

That is why I found myself sitting up a tree on Box Hill on the last Saturday of my summer holidays. IMG_0866.JPG

Box Hill has always been one of our favourite places to visit, partly because it was free, as my parents have a National Trust membership, but also because there are so many different walks that you will always find one to suit your mood. This Saturday was no different.

We drove up the windy road (avoiding the stampede of cyclists that has grown in numbers since the cycling race in the London 2012 Olympics) and parked in the main car park. As the weather looked like it might turn foul later on, we decided to take the short 2 mile Natural Play Trail, but there are plenty of other longer routes you can choose.

The Natural Play Trail makes the most of nature. The path itself is easy to follow with clearly marked signposts at any junctions. The National Trust has used the wood from trees cut down during their woodland management to create fun equipment for children. These include balance beams, see-saws, den building areas and even ropes tied to trees to swing from. Apart from the obvious attractions for children, there are also many other appeals.

While sitting up the tree I had climbed, I was able to appreciate how clean the air was. Although air pollution in Wallington, Surrey, is nowhere near as bad as central London, I always notice the difference when I’m in the countryside. The air not only smells clean but, to me at least, it tastes clean too. Sitting up a tree also allowed my imagination to run wild because I had the rare opportunity to just sit and think. I thought about flying free like the birds I heard calling in the distance. I imagined the prospect of turning into a butterfly like the caterpillar I saw on a leaf. In that moment I believed anything was possible.

However, like everything in life, my outdoor adventure had to come to an end. But no walk is complete without someone in my family chanting “We’re going on a bear hunt”. Perhaps I am still just too young and childish to truly understand life, but to me it is moments like this that matter the most. A family of 4 (two adults and two teenagers), muddy from their adventures, strolling hand-in-hand through the woods, softly chanting “We’re going on a bear hunt…we’re going to catch a big one…I’m not scared.”

 

 

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