March 2018 -
Some of the greatest childhood memories are made while playing outside, but it can take a bit of encouragement to get children interested in something new. Walking trips are an excellent way for children of all ages to get some exercise, explore nature, bond with their family, and enjoy just being a kid.
How to keep your little ones entertained
These simple tips will hopefully help you and your little ones make the most of your day out on the trail...
Let's face it: some kids are complainers. If you tell them that they have to put down their gadgets and go for a fun walking trip, you might get a ’mixed’ response. So start early; hype up the walk beforehand, talking about all of the amazing things you will see. You could also get the wee ones involved in the planning, so they feel involved from the beginning.
On the day of the hike, double check the weather forecast to avoid any potential disasters. Always dress your kids in layers and adjust them depending on the changing conditions. Keeping dry spares in your backpack (especially socks) is always useful when someone falls in that puddle!
Once out and about, tell them some fun facts and watch their natural curiosity unfold. To keep moaning to a minimum, you must prepare! Pack snacks and drinks to keep grumbling tummies full, and extra clothes and bandages to be ready for any unexpected events.
If this is your first family walking trip, start with an easy trail. We have found that it a good idea to begin early in the day, when kids have the most energy. Lastly, little legs get tired quickly so don't get disappointed if you aren't able to do the whole trail in one go.
Seven great UK walks for children
Box Hill Stepping Stones, Surrey
Getting here: the nearest train station is Box Hill & Westhumble
This two-mile hiking trail has moderate terrain, so it is suitable for most young children. You will see the picturesque River Mole: as the name suggests, there are stepping stones crossing it that are great fun for big kids and teens. The historic Old Fort is also on route, and be sure to stop at Salomon's Memorial for an amazing view. The National Trust Visitor Centre on Box Hill is where the trail begins. They sell refreshments and have toilets on site. The
Getting there: use the Snowdon Sherpa bus
A fun fact to share with children on the way is that Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales. There are eight main hiking trails on Snowdon, and all of them are pretty long, with an average of an 8-mile round trip. Because of the rough terrain and long distances, this hike would be better for preteens and teens. For younger ones, there is a train that runs up and down the mountain, so you can hike up and ride down as an option.
Lydstep Cliffs, Pembrokeshire
Getting there: the 349 bus stops at Lydstep
Families that enjoy gorgeous views will enjoy this one-mile trail. There are cattle to see grazing, lovely views from the cliffs, and the beauty of untouched nature is all around. This walk is also ideal for younger hikers because it is a short, easy walk, but keep in mind that to visit the caves there are 100 steps to go up and down. They can only be explored at low tide, so plan ahead if this is something you'd like to experience.
Sheringham Park, Norfolk
Getting there: Sheringham station or the Coasthopper bus
For kids that like a bit of variety, this one is a must. There's a gazebo you can climb for a scenic view of the coast, ruins of an ancient church, the beach and Temple Hill. To enjoy it all, pack a picnic and stop for lunch halfway around. As the terrain is moderate, children of all ages would do well. The trail is seven miles long, although shorter sections are possible for smaller legs.
Catbells, Lake District
Getting there: In summer, the Honister Rambler stops at Catbells, otherwise it's a short walk from Keswick
This trail is a great way to see mountain summits without actually having to climb them. Bassenthwaite Lake looks even better from the top of the ridge, and you will almost certainlyto see sheep grazing while hiking. Take the ferry across the Windermere from Keswick to make this a truly magical day for your children.
Keswick, Catbells and Derwent Water
Craster-Embleton Bay and back
Getting there: Buses between Berwick and Alnwick stop in Craster
A walking trip on the beach is always fun for all ages. This hike is six miles long and great for young children. Hikers will start off in the village of Craster that has a rich history in fishing. You will be able to see the Dunstanburgh Castle on your journey and stop in for an educational tour if you wish. During the warm(ish) months, there are beautiful dune flowers to see along the way.
Loch Ard Sculpture Trail, Scotland
Getting there: the C11 bus from Stirling stops in Aberfoyle
Kids will enjoy spotting the lovely sculptures and unique seating and shelters scattered throughout the Trossachs. There are five trails to choose from, ranging from 2–10 miles. Additionally, there is a children's area with hands-on activities that will teach them about local wildlife. The kid's area is also a good spot to take a break.
Words by Jenn Jackson
Photos by Pixabay