Splash in the water, scramble over the stones, slide off rocks. We took our family to the River Barle in Somerset for a fantastic adventure.
There’s something magical about a river where salmon choose to lay their eggs. The young salmon then swim out to sea, some as far as Greenland, before returning as adults to lay their own eggs.
‘If I were a salmon, I’d be happy to start my journey in this river,’ says Emil our seven-year-old son. The River Barle in Somerset looks like a grand avenue with ancient trees, their branches hanging over the water, marking its ceremonial route on both sides.
We start our two kilometre circular walk at the Tarr Stepps ‘clapper’ bridge. Seventeen huge stone slabs make a majestic path across the river.
‘Let me get this straight. You are taking four children aged 9 years to 18 months on a train, car, boat and then smaller boat to an island where there are no cars, no shops, no TV and no internet,’ said my best friend her voice getting higher and higher as she realised from the look on my face that I was serious.
‘It’s a great idea,’ I said a little too cheerily, as her words seemed to bring home the monumental nature of the task.
The idea was simple, we wanted our children to experience the sense of freedom to explore that we had when we were children.
‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could let them be truly wild. It would be so good for them,’ I said to my husband Stuart, getting carried away with the idea after finishing a chapter from Swallows and Amazons.
I went online searching for a wild adventure and somehow the Summer Isles off the coast of the Highlands in Scotland popped up and I was sold.
Only one of the Summer Isles is inhabited, the beautiful Tanera Mòr. It has just six holiday cottages, a tiny post office and cafe, no cars, no modern life intruding. Bliss.