Hiking with kids is a fantastic way to get out and about enjoying everything the Great British countryside has to offer. The thought of walks with children can be both an exciting and daunting prospect. Here are our top ten tips for hiking with kids, to make your days out as stress free as possible!
When planning your first few hikes with kids don’t be too ambitious. Start with a short, relatively flat walk as a long, difficult hike may put them off wanting to go again! It’s a good idea to choose a place close to home in case things don’t go to plan.
Planning trips that allow them to splash in waterfalls or streams and explore caves will make the trip interesting and more memorable. Keep them entertained with games and challenges, scavenger hunts are particularly fun and easy to do. Make a list of items and ask the kids to look out for them on your hike or for older children, you could introduce them to the worldwide treasure hunt that is Geocaching.
Give yourself enough time and be prepared to wander a lot. Even if you only hike for 30 minutes, spend a couple of hours climbing rocks, exploring caves and examining bugs. It’s important to allow your child to explore their surroundings and find what they enjoy about the great outdoors.
Stock up on plenty of snacks and get the kids involved in the pre-trip shopping. If they begin to get fed up or morale is low, bringing out the snacks is sure to put a smile back on their faces. You might also want to pack a picnic so you can spend some time relaxing and enjoying the surroundings.
Remember, kids won’t be able to walk as fast or as long as you can so frequent breaks are extremely important to keep their energy levels and enthusiasm up. When hiking with kids, allow them to set the pace. This will ensure nobody feels like they are being left behind and gives them the enjoyment of leading the group.
Make sure your kids have the right outdoor clothing to be prepared for all weather situations, even if the forecast is good. A waterproof jacket for your kids is essential along with sun cream and hats for sunny days. If you’re planning longer walks with your kids then a pair of walking boots will protect their feet and keep them comfortable.
From helping to buy the snacks, to giving you a hand planning the route, giving your children some responsibilities will make them feel important and useful which should increase their excitement for the trip. Letting your kids carry a backpack with their own water bottle and jacket will make them feel as though they have some responsibility, which is great for keeping their interest.
When you’re hiking with kids there’s always a chance the weather might turn, your route might not work out, or things won’t go as you planned. The key is to remain positive and make the best of a bad situation. Your kids will pay attention to your behaviour so if you are down heartened, it’s likely they will be too. If it rains splash in the puddles, if it’s too hot stop for a snack in the shade. Staying upbeat will show your kids they can have fun and enjoy being outdoors whatever the weather.
Set up ground rules for hiking with your kids and ensure they are aware of potential dangers. Give everyone a whistle and set whistle rules. One blow means STOP. Two blows means come to me. Three means come to me faster. Make sure they know the whistle is only to be blown if they are in danger.
Hiking with kids should be an enjoyable and memorable experience that will give them an active and exciting hobby for life. Hiking is great for the body physically and mentally and offers the chance to spend time away from technology and distractions as a family.
To get your kids ready for their first hiking trip check out the Mountain Warehouse range of Kids Outdoor Clothing.