Questing in Western Massachusetts
Become a Quest Detective with The Trustees of Reservations
Now back through the stile, leave the cows inside.
Round the Cobble clockwise, the vernal pool hides.
Then we begin our first brief ascent,
To the junction then make a quick descent…
Though it sounds a bit like a nature riddle, this excerpt is part of a Trustees of Reservations quest for Bartholomew’s Cobble, a beautiful and historic site in Sheffield. What’s a quest? In simple terms, it’s a guided journey. In more complicated terms, a quest is an adventure, lead not by a human guide but by a somewhat cryptic and cleverly written set of instructions – the goal of which is to not only reach a specific destination but to explore and examine the fascinating features (big and small) of a site. Popular worldwide, questing is a great way to learn about history (both natural and human), biology, ecology, and geology, and offers families a unique way of interacting with their surroundings.
The Trustees of Reservations offer a number of quests for locations statewide, three of which are for western Massachusetts reservations. In addition to Bartholomew’s Cobble, families can learn about the intersection of Mohican and early English settlers’ culture by questing at Mission House in Stockbridge, and can explore amazing feats of engineering amongst rich industrial and cultural history while questing in downtown Holyoke. Each set of quest directions allows space for a special stamp, found at the final destination of each quest. Quest packets are available at each location, and more information about each quest (and the questing process itself) is available on the TTOR website: www.thetrustees.org
Wild about questing? Create your own! Quests can be created to highlight everything from local history to vernal pools, from fairy houses to climbing trees, and from swimming holes to interesting architecture. Quest-building can be a fun and engaging summer family activity, and can be adapted to fit families with kids of all ages. Learn how to make a quest here: Valley Quest.
Have you made your own? We’d love to hear about it!