explore - #TurtleTrek

On Saturday the weather forecast looked ominous. Dark clouds were gathering and I thought to myself, do I really want to do this? Do I want to spend a day soaking wet and miserable walking around Bingley in West Yorkshire with some people I've never met before? I'd been excited when I'd first been asked but as I considered the weather prospect I must admit that I did think about backing out. But I psyched myself up to go, put on a raincoat, my walking boots and backpack and decided that I must turn up as I'd promised!

I'd very kindly been invited by Turtle Mat for a walk with several other bloggers to explore a part of Yorkshire I wasn't really familiar with. A pub lunch was promised at the end and that always entices me out the door! The walk was being led by Bingley local blogger, Cedric, a regular walker and a Frenchman who has made his home in Yorkshire. Arriving at the railway station, I was delighted to meet Anna who writes one of my favourite blogs, Angel in the North and fellow Leeds resident and vegetarian food blogger Nat of the The Tofu Diaries. Also joining the group were two Yorkshire bloggers I didn't know, but whose blogs now are firm favourites - Fran who writes fashion blog Style Creative and Tilly who writes Yorkshire lifestyle blog Paper Crowned. Together we set off, cameras in hand and led by Cedric, made our way to the St Ives estate and country park, via the local market as Cedric wanted to introduce us to his local cheesemonger and his excellent range of regional and of course French cheeses!

The walk gave us all ample opportunity to chat and find out more about each other. And plenty of time to stop and take photographs. I'd never heard of the St Ives estate and was struck by what a beautiful place it was and how I wished I'd known about it when Harry was younger. There is a superb adventure playground, a natural play area,  a sculpture trail, wildflower meadow, cafe and the Coppice Pond where we were taken aback at the proximity of a heron. It let us all take a picture before flying gracefully to the other end of the pond. According to a couple of older gents walking their dogs, the heron has taken up residence in the pond over the last few weeks and can be seen most days.

The walk takes around two hours to complete, taking in some amazing views over the Aire valley. There are winding paths, some quite steep and rocky. But it was a highly enjoyable trip on what turned out to be a really fantastic Autumnal day with only one very light rain shower and sunny outbreaks.  Leaves were turning golden and falling at our feet and after looking out towards Ilkley Moor we headed down the hill for lunch in the Brown Cow Pub.

All of us were tired and in need of sustenance and there was some great food on offer for lunch. There was a wide selection of vegetarian options too all of which sounded good and it was difficult deciding what to order. In the end I plumped for the Mushroom Risotto and then Lemon Posset to follow. And they were really, really good. My fellow bloggers all enjoyed their meals too, and we were all super impressed with the presentation of the bubble and squeak cakes with watercress sauce which came served in a tiny milk bottle. The cameras came out for that one!

Not only was the food great, but it was the company that really made the meal special. All of us are bloggers who write about our love of Yorkshire but in different ways. It was an opportunity to chat about the ups and downs of blogging and how we fit writing into our own busy lives. There was a lot of laughter around the table and we're definitely all going to meet again. If you ever get the opportunity to get together with some fellow bloggers, do go, it's an absolute pleasure.

At the end of the meal we were each presented with our very own Turtle Mat. I was thrilled to get one the new Autumnal range of mats in Chevron as I had been eyeing up the design on their website! If you aren't aware of the company, Turtle Mats are specialists in cotton doormats and they can be chucked in the washing machine. Perfect for people who have muddy boots as they are built to last and won't need replacing for years.

Many thanks to Natalie for organising this fantastic trip and to our wonderful guide Cedric. And of course many thanks to Turtle Mat for providing us with this day out, superb pub lunch and a new doormat.

If you want to see more of our walk, then check out the hashtag #TurtleTrek over on Instagram and Twitter.

All photographs taken by me except for the one of me taking the picture of the leaf. This image was used with kind permission by Natalie. x