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Little Lockdown Lessons 5


Writing Treasure Trails


We try to warn you that our Trails are highly addictive (even for parents); in fact, I write that sentence nearly every day! Yet, I hadn’t realised that I was addicted to exploring too! I felt a little lost during lockdown without a Trail adventure to look forward to. 


Some Cornish Trails | Little Lockdown Lessons: Writing Treasure Trails
I’ve been making my way through the Cornish Trails… 26 down, 38 to go!


But, being on furlough and limited to one walk around my local area each day didn’t stop me from having Trailing, Clue-cracking and puzzle-solving on my brain. It turns out that many of you felt the same! 


Spotting Trailing potential 


Ever since I started working at TT Towers, I wanted to introduce a Trail around my village. There is SO MUCH Clue material here, and lots of interesting tales to tell – it’s the same situation across most of the Cornish mining villages, really.


Plaques Around the Village | Little Lockdown Lessons: Writing Treasure Trails
Some of the potential Clue material scattered around the village.


Although I gathered plenty of Clues, my mind brimming with ideas, I could never find a suitable route. In reality, a Trail here would either be the shortest one in our catalogue or the longest by visiting neighbouring villages and beauty spots too. 

So, I paused that idea for nearly 18 months… then COVID-19 hit. On my daily walks around the village, I started finding new routes that could work, new stories to tell, new material to use. Everywhere I looked, I saw Trail potential… I think I was probably missing work! Not just for the day to day though – I was missing being able to go out on an adventure with a Trail.  


Trail withdrawal is real! 


The week after lockdown began, I was supposed to be spending time with my Grandpa in South Wales before heading on to West Yorkshire for my Dad’s wedding, then back home to enjoy the Easter weekend exploring Cornwall. I was getting far too distracted in my lunch breaks, eagerly picking out which Trails I could experience and who I could bring along with me for some new adventures.  


Ilkley Moor Trail | Little Lockdown Lessons: Writing Treasure Trails
I was really looking forward to trying out the Ilkley Trail and seeing this view again.


Then, suddenly, I was stuck at home – holiday-less and Trail-less. I was okay at first; I kept busy by helping to put together TT Strange Times and was a little engrossed with researching cool adventurers, spies and detectives from history. Even when furlough hit, my daily walks and the occasional crossword or sudoku kept my body and brain active. But, it didn’t take long for the itchy feet to kick it and the desire to explore took over.   

By the sounds of it, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way! So many of you awesome Trailers got in touch with us suggesting Trails in your villages (or even coming up with your own Clues!) which was so amazing to hear. 


Treasure Hunts Created by Trailers | Little Lockdown Lessons: Writing Treasure Trails
Look at these super cool homemade treasure hunts created by some of our Trailers!


But, it wasn’t just Treasure Trail aficionados who made their own self-guided adventures! Our very own Aaron was surprised (and delighted) when he discovered that one of the Mums at his son’s school had created her very own treasure hunt around their town. She shared the hunt with other mums from the school as a way to keep their kids entertained on their daily walks. Aaron said:

It just goes to show that when people have time, and a little creativity, a treasure hunt around where they live is considered something so cool they want to share it with others – like a pride of what you have found.

Our Trail Writers have been hard at work too, keeping their puzzling brains active during lockdown. They’ve already managed to release one new Trail since lockdown eased – Wizards of Watford – and we can’t wait for more to follow!


Wizards of Watford Trail | Little Lockdown Lessons: Writing Treasure Trails
Our brand-new Wizards of Watford Trail! You’ll need your wand and broomstick for this one.


Puzzle time: The Mystery of the Mills Magic Marbles!


Remember my local discoveries from earlier? Well the first one was in my village – St Day in Cornwall. Mills Lane is not so called because there were mills in the village. It’s named after a local man who endowed the street for the benefit of the people of St Day.

It turns out that one of his distant relatives could do with your help! The Mills Magic Marbles, a rather unique family treasure, have been locked away for some time in a rather ornate wooden treasure chest with a padlock. The family have been unable to find the code to open the lock and had given up. But during lockdown, a bit of spring cleaning revealed a secret compartment with a parchment inside. We think it holds the key to how to unlock the padlock! Download the parchment to solve the puzzle!


The competition is now CLOSED! Well done to Lynda Bedford – our chose lucky winner from everyone who got the right answer! Lynda has won a Treasure Trail Voucher!

You can download the answer to this puzzle here.


But what DON’T we tell you? 


While my sharp eyes scanned around every corner on my daily walks, I couldn’t help but think about all the things we DON’T put in the Trails.

There are so many lost stories, unused plaques and amazing little finds that just don’t make it into the final Trail. This could be because they’re too close to a bunch of other Clues, too far away from the rest of the route, or just because there’s no Clue material on them.

I spotted a few cool things on my walks, and I’m certain each one of our Trail Writers has a list of quirky things they just wish they could fit into their Trails. 


Cool Features Around the Village | Little Lockdown Lessons: Writing Treasure Trails
Some cool, quirky things I spotted as I wandered around the village.


In fact, during lockdown, our Trail Writer Jane did find an old bridge and building just around the corner from where she lives. It would be absolutely perfect in a Trail if there were anything else around it!


Spruisty Bridge | Little Lockdown Lessons: Writing Treasure Trails
Jane’s awesome little find in the middle of nowhere!


But, they’re not the only things we don’t tell you. We always say that the only requirement for a Trail is daylight – otherwise, you may miss some vital Clues. So, we can’t really tell you that if you stand near Clue 02 on the St Ives Trail at night, the lights around the town glisten and you can see the lighthouse spinning in the distance, or that Clue 08 is the best spot to watch the sunset.

If I did ever write a full Trail around the village, I couldn’t say how if you peek into a certain field as the sun goes down, you may catch a glimpse of some sly foxes watching you intently from outside their den. If you’re really lucky, exploring the old churchyard on a sunny day may lead you to an introduction with its latest residents – two gorgeous baby buzzards.


A Buzzard and a Fox | Little Lockdown Lessons: Writing Treasure Trails
My new animal friends – the local fox and buzzard. Not pictured: the numerous rabbits that scamper off far too quickly.


And, of course, I probably wouldn’t lead you towards the awesome elderflower tree I’ve been eyeing up, but that’s for my own selfish reasons!


Share your story 

Unfortunately, we can’t accept any Trail submissions – sorry! However, we’d love to hear about any treasure hunts you wrote to keep your families entertained, or to see pictures of your beautiful or quirky local discoveries. Please head over to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to show us what you’ve been up to!

17th August 2020

Posted In: Ideas

Tags: , , , ,

Little Lockdown Lessons 4


Rebranding the Family Walk


I walk a lot. In fact, I’ve had to start buying (what my wife considers) less trendy shoes as I was wearing out the soles of my *insert cool brand here* trainers within a matter of weeks. I’ve now got toughened hard soles. I like them. 

When I sat on my sagging sofa one dark March evening and heard Boris tell me I was only allowed out once a day, I had a bit of a paddy. My kids don’t walk fast, or far – I guess that is understandable, given the leg length difference and their ages of five and two.  

How was I going to get in my need for discovery, personal headspace, and the heart rate up with our one-a-day, one hour walk? 

You know what? We slowed down, and we saw a lot more. We became more creative, we talked more, and we had fun. 


Walking boots
Resting some muddy feet!


I found different ways of getting my ‘proper’ exercise at home with a variety of creative workouts (sadly, I snapped my homemade balance board the other day ☹). As for getting personal headspace, well, that’s a bit tough with two young children in an open plan house. But we didn’t care, as we all looked forward to our daily outing. 

What’s really become apparent is how important having a daily walk is for everyone now. I’ve seen more locals out regularly walking now than I ever did before, and the great thing is, they are still doing it (including my parents; Hi Mum, Dad!). 


Mum and dad walking through the park


Life BC (Before Covid!) 


Busy, busy, busy. Fast, action-packed. No time to listen. The list goes on. 

What I really loved about lockdown was being forced to be creative and work with what you’ve got. We are super fortunate that we love where we live; we have some lovely coastal and countryside routes on our doorstep, which I appreciate makes things easier. But after a while, it was the ‘extras’ on our walks which were so memorable. 


Life AD (After Dramatic Paddy – ok, I know that it’s technically ‘Life ADP’)  


Our first couple of walks were centred around us as the adults. Take the pushchair for the little one, bribe the big one, and then walk as fast and far as we could for 30 minutes before turning back. It didn’t take long for us to think that this wasn’t sustainable though. Given that we were trying (not particularly successfully) to home school our five-year-old, we thought about how we could incorporate learning on our walks. 

We soon started taking some pretend plastic (shame on us) bugs which we had, and one of us would run up ahead and leave them on the path or trees for the boys to find. This really kept them going,  and was a lot healthier than jelly bean bribery. What’s more, they started to ask about the bugs, and “do any of them live here?”. 


Hidden bugs on one of our walks


There were a couple of really memorable finds, though. Firstly, watching a slow-worm slither around our feet on one of our walks. Then, secondly, tadpoles. 

I’ve already mentioned, in our ‘Little Lockdown Lessons’ intro piece, about the frog obsession which blossomed in our household. I genuinely think that the last time I saw frogspawn was about 25 years ago. Then, all of a sudden, it was everywhere! Was this nature taking over? (more on that later!). 

We read up about collecting frogspawn and how to look after them. So off we trotted to collect some and put them in the boys paddling pool. We converted it into an oasis for frogspawn: 100% wholesome rainwater, an array of rocks, lettuce (and cucumber?!), some pond weed ‘borrowed’ from a neighbour, and some incredible Duplo structures our eldest had built. Each structure had its own intricate story around how the frogs would climb up the steps and then hang out in the swimming pool, or go to sleep in the bedrooms. I also discovered that Duplo floats, so I was constantly finding new ways to weigh it down!  


Tadpole mania


Two or three months after we collected the spawn, we had a dozen froglets which we released back to the pond where we found them. The boys were like loving parents waving their adolescent children off to University; they’d loved caring form them, but were ready for them to move on! 


Nature Taking Back the World! 


I’m sure you have seen these already, but there were some crazy pictures and videos of animals all over the world. I really like this news report from Australian news channel ABC (skip the advert at the start), featuring the flamingos visiting the zoo! 

We’ve probably all said it, but I’ve never realised how many birds there are and how much they sing! It was a truly magical experience to hear nothing for hours but birds. It may have just been me, but I also loved looking up at the clear skies and not seeing aeroplane trails, or walking beside a normally busy road with only one car passing every 10 minutes or so. 


Clear skies
Empty skies just filled with birds


Connecting the kids, but also ourselves, with nature was certainly a big feature of our family walks. In addition to the bugs, we’d walk along the local stream and see tiny fish, which we later went and caught with the aid of some wriggly worms (much to my surprise!). Even the different plants and flowers growing became very noticeable, as did the changes in the colour of the landscape as April moved into May and so on. The truly nice thing was, we were all really interested. 


Big fish, little stream
The ‘tiny’ fish actually turned out to be quite big!


Bluebells in the local woods


#LookBehindYou Puzzle!


Our in-house conservationist, Teresa Trayals, made a big boo-boo on her most recent animal spotting expedition. We need you to revisit (virtually of course!) all the places she went to and identify the animal found at each location. NB – some animals are sneaky and the link may take a while to load! Copy it into your internet browser to help it along! Spot them all and you’ll also reveal which animal Teresa is yet to track down. Download the Look Behind You! Puzzle to get exploring!



Thanks for all your entries! And Congratulations to Samantha Hubbard who was chosen at random to receive a Treasure Trails gift voucher! 

Just like some of our Clues in our Trails, you had to look all around you to spot the animals, and some (No.7!) were a little shy to appear without perserving with the link! You can now download the answers to the Trail here: TTLookBehindYou ANSWER


Adventure (or, Planning for it) 


Walks had a purpose, I made sure of that, and they still do now that we can have more freedom. 

Every walk would have a story behind it or somewhere specific to explore. I showed the boys entrances to the tin miners’ tunnels and told tales of how previous generations worked underground. We went to natural caves battered by the waves, and re-enacted the entire tale of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, which made the whole walk getting to the cave a piece of cake (which by the way, often came with us as well). We never found a bear, but that didn’t stop me drawing bear footprints in the ground and then chasing the boys roaring as loudly as I could. 


Bear footprint
Is it a bear?!


We’d always veer off the main track – the mere mention of a ‘Secret Path’ was enough to get everyone’s attention! We especially loved going into the overgrown remains of an animal track just to get a different perspective. Sometimes, we’d even find a really cool tree to courageously climb. 


Tree climbing
Nothing like a fallen tree to walk across!


Once, we even found a slackline which someone had put up between two trees, with a note written on an old bit of cardboard literally saying “enjoy!”. If you don’t know what slacklining is, have a watch of this video

I have to admit, the one we tried was only 2ft off the ground, but that was scary enough for us! 


Hidden Treasure 


One thing we would love to be able to do with our Treasure Trails is to have some physical treasure at the end of each Trail. This just isn’t logistically possible, though. However, on our own little family adventure walks, it certainly is! On a couple of trips, we made a treasure map for the boys, and while walking to a focal point, I’d run on ahead to bury something. My favourite was a Crpytex, which is a combination lock as seen in (or read in) The Da Vinci Code. Along with the map, there were some added instructions, all focused around helping our son to learn to read and do some simple maths. With the treasure map in hand, he would read the instructions to find where we had hidden the Cryptex (on the first quest, he didn’t know I had hidden it and he thought it was actually real treasure! 😊). Then, by working out the maths problems, he’d have the code to open the Cryptex. 


Cryptex Treasure Hunt
The hidden Cryptex


We created a narrative around a lot of our walks as well. So, whilst our purpose as the adults may have been slightly different, the purpose for the boys was to collect something, avoid something (like enemy pirates or Secret Agents), gather vital information… the list goes on.  


It’s Just Like a Treasure Trail, Really! 


It took a few walks for me to realise what I was actually doing; I was taking snippets of what our Treasure Trails are all about and applying them to our daily family walk! I was making sure that we weren’t just going on a walk to get some fresh air, but a real adventure. We were seeing somewhere familiar in a completely different way, looking high and low and appreciating the natural or man-made environment. We were setting fun and original challenges through the walk to keep everyone smiling, and we were often wrapping it all up in a fun narrative to boil-the-pot-over with excitement. 

If you aren’t familiar with our Trails, or if it has been a while since you have done one, then enter the location where you are interested in exploring and see which Trails we have. We are currently part-way through a two-year project to rewrite all of our Trails to add more narrative and even better clues and directions.  The Trails are super popular at the moment as they provide the perfect stress-free outdoor activity; there’s no pre-booking or plastic screens needed and they just explore publicly accessible locations. You can tackle them in your own time and at your own pace. If you choose wisely, you’ll be sure to avoid the crowds. 


Have a read about What The Redhead Said on their family Trail adventure


Share your story 

We’d love to hear about your family walks, so please head over to our Facebook and Instagram page, to let us know what you’ve been up to! 

10th August 2020

Posted In: Ideas

Tags: , ,