We hadn’t made any firm plans (except for horse riding) for our time in the Smokies so on the second day we headed out to explore with no real destination in mind.
Taking the scenic (and somewhat slippy) route down the mountain. I’d have been a bit less nervous on this road with a driver who spent a bit less time admiring the view…
…but then again it was pretty spectacular so who can blame him?
When we reached the valley floor we were greeted by this handsome chap.
Elk don’t usually appear during the daytime (we were very lucky!) but they can sometimes be seen on the meadows at sunset/sunrise.
After bidding adieu to the Elk we made our way to the Boogerman trail (thanks to the advice of a friendly mountain ranger we met en route).
Walking the Boogerman trail is a pretty magical experience – with all the different coloured butterflies dancing on the breeze you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a Disney movie.
Our walk was cut short a few miles in (one of the log bridges was out due to recent flooding) but as we turned to head back we came across this little gang. I’ve never seen butterflies flocking together like this and would love to know what caused it!
We returned to the car just as the rain started to pour. So the afternoon was spent in the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (very interesting if you like learning about Native American history).
Luckily, the sun came out again just in time for our last evening on the Ranch…
Last weekend I stumbled upon this place, completely by accident. I was supposed to be meeting up with family for a celebratory birthday meal for my sister, but I spotted signs for this place en-route and at the last minute we changed our plans. I’m so glad we did. Whether you have children, or you’re just a big kid at heart like me, The Tropical Butterfly House Wildlife and Falconry centre is a wonderful day out. It is a little off the beaten track, but if you ever find yourself in the north of England I would recommend a visit.
We didn’t have long enough on our visit to explore everything but I will definitely be going back. Here are some of the highlights from our visit:
The important bit: I’m an animal lover and always nervous about visiting these kinds of places but I found all the staff to be knowledgeable and devoted to the animals’ well being. The enclosures were beautifully kept with lots of enrichment for the animals. In an ideal world all animals would have the same freedom and respect we afford ourselves as humans… but in the meantime it’s important for places like this to exist, so that they can educate children and adults alike, on the wonders of the natural world and the need to care for and treasure it.
When I turned 24, I spent my birthday visiting a castle in Wales, and in the garden they had a butterfly house. It was honestly one of the most magical places I’ve ever stepped inside, the butterflies floated around lazily on soft currents of warm, tropical air and everywhere you looked there was colour, grace and beauty. The image of a butterfly just spells out spring/summer to me – so here are my picks of the best butterfly prints out there.