Long walks with small children

10 Aug

view from top of moor down to Castleton

On our recent holiday in North Yorkshire, whilst on a walk, Eve and I had the following conversation:

Eve on North Yorkshire MoorsEve: “Mummy, you should have a website about the things we do together.”

Me (rather surprised): “Oh, I do.  I thought you knew.”

Eve: “You should write on it about going on walks.  You know, things to take and stuff like that.”

So, with the help of Evie and Ned, here are my tips for talking small children hiking:

1. When I say long walks, I don’t mean really long walks.  We know ourDSC_0204 limitations and stick to distances of three or four miles.  Small children tend to be either running, or stationary, looking at bugs or sheep.  A three mile walk can therefore take us a few hours.  At the moment, we are trying to foster a love of being outdoors, we’ll increase our distances as they get older.

Ned hunting dragons2. Make the most of children’s fantastic imaginations.  Don’t just ‘go for a walk’, try hunting dragons or exploring in the jungle.  Dressing up is always popular in our house, but it’s entirely optional.


3. Wear sturdy shoes and comfortable socks. DSC_0188  The only thing worse than having sore feet yourself is listening to a hyper-sensitive four year with sore feet.  It’s really worth investing in proper wool hiking socks as they are very thick and minimise blisters.  Most camping shops sell children’s sizes of adult sock brands, Smartwool is my favourite.


4. Dress the children in bright colours so you can find them in the undergrowth.

5. Bring a map and compass.  Although we rarely get far enough away from our starting point for this to be necessary, it adds to the feeling of going on an expedition.

6. Take plenty of food and water.  This point is vital.  Low blood sugar levels mean whining and refusal to move.  Regular snacks provide both the excuse for a sit-down and the energy to keep going.

7. Bring appropriate clothing.  If walking in Britain, remember waterproofs.  Ned insisted I include this after we got caught out by a DSC_0182rainstorm.  Evie says to remember to bring spare pants for the toddler.  I’ve managed to get the whole family obsessed with potty training.  Except for the toddler in question.

8. Bring a bag to carry home treasure (see right). 


DSC_01989. Bring a geologist to explain why the landscape is the way it is.  The geologist is also useful for carrying the smallest member of the family when he gets tired.  If you don’t have a geologist in your family, any strong adult will do. 


 10. Children are endlessly fascinated by the natural world.  If we are well prepared and enthusiastic, hiking is something we all love.  But if all else fails, bribe with sweets!


7 Responses to “Long walks with small children”

  1. Insomniac Mummy 10/08/2009 at 9:54 pm #

    Great tips! We live in Yorkshire so I’m hoping when my 2 are older we’ll be able to take them walking :).

    Sadly we have no geologist ;).

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 11/08/2009 at 5:58 pm #

      It’s hard when they are little. Backpacks are great, but they get restless quite quickly.

  2. Laura WOB 12/08/2009 at 11:30 pm #

    I love your tips for hiking! I have fond memories of walking in Wales and the Lakes as a child, once the twins are a little bit older we’ll be taking all of the girls out on hiking adventures.

  3. Weston-super-Mum 14/08/2009 at 4:54 pm #

    Lucky kids!!

    May I suggest wearing sandals (or pref Crocs) for walks that involve a lot of puddle jumping in the summer. It saves on the “squelch” factor and overheating.

  4. Vegemitevix 26/01/2010 at 3:31 pm #

    When mine were little I used to take them out for walks in the bush and we’d recite ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ Do you know that book?

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 26/01/2010 at 3:42 pm #

      Yes, it’s lovely isn’t it? We also pretend to go Gruffalo hunting.


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