It really is!
With the warmer weather approaching I am frantically thinking up lists of places to go on adventures with the boys. A nice long walk is not only good exercise for the whole family, but also offers fantastic opportunities to explore and learn.
Going for long walks and easy hikes with young children can be daunting, with the extra supplies you’ll need to take (the way my three-year old eats, a mini fridge just isn’t practical) and the certain complaints of ‘I’m tiered!’ and ‘Are we there yet?’, you can quite rightly think it’s not worth the hassle. Especially so when you don’t drive and have to factor in public transport and the length of walking to even get to the intended walk. So I’ve composed a list of tips to maybe make it seem a little less stressful and hopefully more enjoyable.
This one probably seems a little obvious, but try to find places that limit the amount of travel you have to do to get there. Look for neighbouring towns or villages to explore along with any walking routes you can follow. We often visit Wivenhoe Woods which is only 18 minutes on the train and the entrance to the woods is right next to the station, perfect.
This one is particularly important for those who, like us, rely on public transport. Just because a village is 27 minutes away by car doesn’t mean it wont take nearly two hours between trains and buses, like I recently found out trying to plan a day out. This can get quite irritating as many villages, being out in the sticks, have less links via public transport (they can also be alot less often). But don’t give up, there’s so many beautiful places throughout the UK to explore, you will find something eventually. It’s not all about ease of location though with children, no, you also need to keep in mind a walking route that with provide opportunity for pit stops to break up the walk. I’ve found a couple of walking routes we are going to do this year that have lovely country pubs along the way, we can stop for a drink, toilet break and rest before continuing, this will certainly help little legs to keep going. Also if you need to take a pushchair, you need to make sure the route is suitable for this as well (if they are really young a carrier will be much easier). Finally keep it easy, the longest trail we have planned this year is estimated 2 hours, factoring in speed and stops it will likely take us double that.
It’s obvious that on a walk you will be exploring, especially if it is a new place. However little ones will get bored quickly if all you are doing is walking and looking from a distance. Make your walk fun; play games along the way, use your imaginations and explore any landmarks you pass. Earlier in the week I uploaded a bug hunting sheet, why not use this to actively look for things and make the walk more interesting.
Weather can make or break a family walk, spring and autumn are perfect times for walks and hikes, it’s generally not too hot or too cold. But be sure to check the local weather forecast though, a little bit of drizzle never hurt anyone but if it’s pelting it down a board game at home might be better.
As every parent knows, no matter where you go, you have to be prepared. Water, snacks, appropriate clothing and foot wear are a must. It gets even more daunting if you have milk and nappies to bring as well, but remember to just pack the essentials. This is where planning the route carefully is helpful, any shops, cafes or pubs along the way where you can pick up a bite to eat and a drink can dramatically lighten the load you need to carry. I also recommend packing an extra layer of clothing for the kids in case it turns cooler later in the day. Backpacks are your friends, and even the kids can carry a light one on their backs if they are old enough. I really recommend this rucksack for kids, it can fit a lot in and has comfy shoulder straps, just remember to keep it light.