Story by

Naomi Zervas

May 23rd, 2017

It was the boys' first time walking to the source of the River Severn in Wales. Between Tom and I, we had walked through those trees and paddled that part of the River Severn many times before. Our parents had taken us to this forest for family days out when we were children. Over the years, the path we once ran and played on had worn away. It is now replaced by a wooden boardwalk alongside the river. Living near where we both grew up, there is a satisfaction in knowing our children are walking on the very paths we walked on as children. This has been a favourite destination for us while the boys were toddlers, as the boardwalk through the trees makes the short trail easy for them to toddle along at ease. We'd pack a picnic and off we'd go into the woods. Today was a bit different.

Now that the boys are older and more capable, we were going to attempt the longer trail to the source of the River Severn. The route still starts with the boardwalk, but follows the river to its source. As the boys ran ahead into familiar surroundings, they spotted something different; they'd seen some frogspawn. Crouching down, they inspected it closely. As they continued on their way, they realised that they could also see frogs. I am never sure what little conversations they have between themselves about what they discover on our adventures. It intrigues me, but sometimes it's nice to let them wonder while they wander.

The adventure began when we left the boardwalk and clambered up the step-like rocks to the next part of the trail. The boys enjoyed running along the path in between the trees twisting and turning following the meandering river, every now and again stopping to examine the frogs on the path or getting distracted by nature surrounding them.

Around every corner the landscape changes. The trees are dense and tower above us with the sky peeping through the tops. But over the bridge and around the corner, a lot of the trees have been harvested and the landscape looks bare and sad. As we climb higher the river can be heard, but not seen, as it runs below us. Eventually, we cross the river and the trees tower over the river once again.

On this particular day, the sun beamed over the trees creating a tranquility within me that I only feel in the outdoors. Here we are truly together – we are a family. This is quality family time. I soak these moments up and breathe them in. Here we are all so content, away from the busy life we lead. As we approach the source of the river Severn, the landscape surrounding the trail is a complete contrast to how it starts.

It is open, it is bleak, and it is wild. There aren't any trees, just grass and treacherous-looking peat bogs. When we reach the trig point the boys rejoice in their achievement and gaze into the bleak wilderness before we head back down the way we came. The boys run off ahead of us again. What makes me really value our adventures is seeing how confident our boys are in the outdoors. The more walking and exploring we do together, the more they tend to lead the way.

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