As I have shared before, my girls are huge fans of Spirit Riding Free, the loveliest TV show on Pop Channel, about a 12 year old girl Lucy who befriends a wild mustang who she names Spirit. With her two best friends, Abigail and Pru, and their horses by her side, they explore a world filled with endless rides and never-ending fun and, together, they push their own limits and discover what it truly means to be free. Having been a parent for 15 years I’ve watched a lot of children’s TV shows in that time and let me tell you, this is my favourite.
As many of you may remember, last year we were invited to the Spirit Riding Free Stable Sleepover and it was a dream come true for my Spirit-mad girls. So this year when we were invited to attend a while new event, the Spirit Riding Free Adventure, they literally couldn’t contain their excitement about what was to come. With the event taking place at Yurt Camp, Devon, we arrived via taxi and were greeted by the team who allocated us a team member who we would stick with for the next two days for all of our activities.
As we were shown through the woods to our own private yurt the children were bursting with anticipation and as we unlocked the door we were met by the most magical scene. Not only was our yurt equipped with everything we could possibly need, but it had been decorated by the team with Spirit Riding Free bunting, bedding, cushions, fairy lights and even little personalised gifts for the children, and myself!
The woodland yurts themselves are amazing, with one king sized bed and three single beds. There’s cooking facilities, a table and chairs, a log burner and an outside fire pit. With each family staying in a separate yurt it gave us that little bit of quality time together in-between activities which was really lovely as it’s not often I get time together with just the girls
Once we had unpacked we made our way down to the Yurt Cafe where we enjoyed a BBQ lunch and got to know the other families. Three of the families were fellow bloggers and the rest were the competition winners and the children. It was a really nice, relaxed atmosphere and both the Spirit Riding Free team and the Yurt Camp staff could not have been more obliging.
After lunch we were all taken into the main teepee for our welcome chat with our host, Anna, and the children were told that in order to unlock their goodie bags they needed to complete a series of missions to reveal the code! The first activity was to find the treasure maps which were hidden in each of our yurts which they would then write in the correct numbers to reveal the code.
Our next activity was to collect 12 coloured horseshoes for each team which were hidden around the yurts and the woodlands. The children literally scattered in ten different directions and screams of, “Found one!” could be heard all around.
The next activity was a riddle with the answer giving them a clue as to what was in store next – a steam train! Obviously we had been made aware before the trip that this was happening but we hadn’t shared it with the children so this was a really special surprise and I may have had to swallow a lump in my throat on more than one occasion!
We drove in minibuses to the South Devon railway where we entered the carriage to see the tables all set up ready for afternoon tea! When our host Andy brought out the cake stands, filled with delicious sandwiches, cakes, biscuits and scones, the girls eyes nearly popped out of their heads! Luckily they had a special gluten free one for me which had some of the best gluten free cakes I’ve ever tasted.
Sitting there, chugging along in the Devon countryside, drinking tea out of china cups, the girls tucking into slabs of chocolate cake and laughing when the icing went on their noses, that was possibly one of my favourite moments of the whole Summer. It’s the kind of occasion that I know we will look back on for years to come and say, “Do you remember when we had afternoon tea on a steam train?”, the kind of memory that will make me smile completely out of nowhere, long after Summer has ended.
As we left the train, somewhat reluctantly, we made our way back to the Yurt camp where dinner was waiting. I’ll be honest, we barely had any room to eat another mouthful but with fresh pizzas and warm chicken salads to tempt us, we did our best! As us grown ups sat in the cafe and chatted between ourselves, the children went back into the giant yurt for a Sprit Riding Free viewing on the giant screen and of course, lots of popcorn as a special treat.
Back in the yurt I tucked the girls into bed, climbed into my own bed, and just as I was about to close my eyes the covers lifted and both girls jumped into bed beside me. Lay there, snuggled up under a mountain of blankets, looking up through the skylight in the roof at the stars, was such a special moment and when we woke, still snuggled up together in the morning, I could quite happily have stayed like that forever.
Of course we had to get up, dressed, and out for breakfast as the Yurt cafe had prepared all kinds of delicious dishes for us to tuck into. With everyone fed and raring to go the activities started again and this time the children got to create a wonderful Sprit mosaic by gluing coloured material to the cut out. It got a little sticky to say the least!
The children then got to make a beautiful Dreamcatcher with their very own personalised kits, something they really enjoyed and it was lovely to just sit outdoors and have a quiet activity to wind down before lunch.
After a picnic lunch, which was literally bursting with goodies, the children were given a sheet to crack the code by matching up each symbol to a letter of the alphabet to spell out a major clue – they were going horse riding!
I can’t even begin to put into words how excited my girls get about horse riding, it is literally their all time favourite thing to do ever, so the whole minibus ride to Dartmoor National Park saw them barely capable of sitting still and asking, repeatedly, “Are we there yet?”. As we arrived at Shilstone Rocks Dartmoor Riding Centre the children instantly flocked to the ponies, desperate to find out which one they would get to ride.
Megan was over the moon to ride Petal, a gorgeous pony who she instantly fell in love with, and Eva was to ride Sweetpea who was actually pregnant which she thought was amazing!
They were then led up into the Dartmoor hills with all of us walking behind (up the steepest hill known to man!) which gave us chance to admire the views, take lots of photos, and enjoy every moment of seeing the children enjoying themselves on their ponies.
As we arrived back at the stables each of the children was given a Spirit Riding Free rosette which they thought was amazing, and having said goodbye to the ponies we got back in the minibus ready for one last activity before the big reveal!
On arriving back at the Yurt camp the children were given their final number to crack the code on their personalised sacks. There was a moment of sheer panic when the girls put in the wrong code number and yet when they finally got inside it was like Christmas had arrived early!
Each child got the Spirit & Lucky Dolls Deluxe Feeding Set, the Spirit Doll and Classic Horse Pro and Boomerang, and a Spirit Riding Free jigsaw puzzle. They instantly wanted to tear everything open and with our taxi almost there to pick us up, I somehow managed to persuade them to get everything back in their sacks until later. All of the toys are available to buy here at Smyths Toys.
And just like that our adventure was over and it was time to say goodbye. After last year I didn’t think that the team could top it but honestly, this year was every bit as wonderful and then some. I loved how the adventure really brought everyone together, was filled with excitement and suspense, and most of all did everything possible to make each of the children attending dreams come true.
On the drive back to reunite with Gaz and Harry, who were staying an hour away in North Devon, Megan held her Lucky doll and told me, “Mummy I’m just like Lucky aren’t I, because I get to do all of these special things with you.” And as you can imagine, that lump in my throat crept right back in!
** We are working with Dreamworks Animation to promote the new series of Spirit Riding Free, airing on Pop this Autumn. We were invited to this event and compensated for our time. All words and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.