November 2016

Car-free walking with kids

This has slightly truncated my ability to head for the hills at the drop of a hat, but I have learnt that becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean the end of car-free adventures – it just means the adventures start a little nearer to home.With a little extra expenditure and planning, children can easily become car-free walkers – much as they were for the millions of years before the age of the automobile.Here are our five top tips for happy car-free walking for kids (and parents).Aim a little lower Whether it is your choice of destination, route or distance, you won’t be able to go as far, fast or high as you used to.How far you can travel will depend on whether you are carrying the children or if they are already walking by themselves; if the latter, then consider the nature of the terrain (hills are even more of a challenge for smaller legs), how much walking they have done, and levels of motivation on the day.

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September 2016

Familiar ground

During six years living in Brighton, the South Downs doubled as my backyard: peaceful hikes around Telscombe and Castle Hill; regular jaunts over to Lewes; taking visitors to Arundel and the Seven Sisters.And many, many weekends spent hunting for lost DofE groups anywhere from Washington to Beachy Head.But in all that time, I never manged to do what most people do on the Downs – tick off a long linear stretch in one day.It was time to right that wrong, and so, with an August day to spare before a family event in London, I got on the train and set off to enjoy these sea-gazing hills once more.Beyond the fixed starting point of Amberley station, I left the day’s plans open-ended.The coastal railway that runs parallel to the Downs meant it would be easy to reach London the next day, so I simply aimed to walk east for as long as the daylight allowed and pitch camp wherever I finished.

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May 2016

Heading home: two days on the Ridgeway

Growing up in Wiltshire, I must have seen the Ridgeway on many occasions: on family day trips to Avebury, near to its westerly end; on my annual pilgrimage to watch Swindon Town; on school field trips to survey the rare plants on its south-facing chalk slopes.Somehow, that distinctive crest never really registered.Why wonder about hills when the football results were just about to start?Now middle-aged, and living a long way from Wiltshire, I decided it was time to return to my roots and explore a little more deeply.And I also dragged my dad, a patient companion for all those deflating Swindon Town defeats, along for the weekend.Hail and snow greeted us as we arrived at Swindon station.Such weather is not unheard of in the UK in April, but it’s not exactly ideal with two days of walking ahead and few get-out options if we were to reach our bed and breakfast that evening.

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Submit a walk and win!

For the October to December 2016 prize draw we are giving away five copies of 'West Somerset Railway Country Walks from our stations' by Malcolm and Natalie Short, along with an extra seasonal gift of a Car Free Walks fleece hat. more


Each submitted walks increases your chance to win!