Sometimes a lovely view or picturesque picnic spot isn’t enough – if you want your children to enjoy walking, you may find they need a little bit of extra encouragement for longer treks.
Here are some ideas to make the most of your days out, and turn your next family walk into an epic adventure.
1. Bring back I Spy
It’s never too late to introduce your little ones to the rhyme “I spy with my little eye…” The easiest and cheapest entertainment we can think of.
Okay, it’s not exactly a revolutionary idea – people have probably been playing I Spy since the dawn of time – but you can make it educational while keeping it enjoyable. Use it as a chance to impart your wisdom about the great outdoors and teach a bit of spelling at the same time.
A good alternative with younger children is using descriptive language rather than sticking to letters. For example, “I spy with my little eye, something that’s tall and green…” Perhaps older siblings could help come up with good clues for this version.
2. Turn your walk into a bug hunt
If you don’t mind dramatically increasing the time it takes to complete your walk, hunting for bugs is a sure-fire winner when it comes to livening things up.
You can turn it into a game by challenging your troop to spot specific creepy crawlies or put reflexes (and bravery) to the test by trying to catch a bug. You’ll find so many insects if you look hard enough – but try not to encourage taking any away from their natural habitat.
Not an insect expert? The Woodland Trust has some handy tips for finding bugs.
3. Search for craft supplies
Cumbrian Mum and rising star in the online influencer world, Nicola Johnston says: “Go on a scavenger hunt. You can create your own list, depending on where you are going such as the beach or forest. There are also some great free printables online.
“My girls love them – they enjoy picking up and collecting things along the way, and it’s a great way of keeping them entertained and making what might be a boring walk far more interesting.
“We also like to collect items along the way such as leaves, petals, sticks and rocks as they can be used for arts and crafts at home. We often look out for rocks to paint and then hide them for others to find on our next walk. Or we pick interesting leaves that we can do leaf rubbings with.”
4. Take a camera and document the day
We’ve all got a camera on our phones nowadays, but do you remember your first snaps? Those childhood memories immortalised forever in photograph albums will last a lifetime.
It may not be the done thing to buy disposable cameras, but you can pick up a second hand digital camera for next to nothing to hand to your child. As long as you don’t mind grubby fingers on lenses and sand in the shutter, any camera will do.
As an extra surprise consider printing off some of your snaps using an app like FreePrints.
5. Stop off for a skim (or a swim)
If you have a dog, you’ll know the importance of finding somewhere for them to have a quick dip when the weather’s warm. But why let your pet have all the fun?
Try and identify a lake or a pond, a tarn or a stream, somewhere to schedule a stop on your family walk. There’s nothing more refreshing than a paddle (or a proper swim) on a hot summer’s day. Remember to pack any spare clothes and a towel, as well as extra sun cream.
You can also use the early part of your walk to find some perfectly smooth stones to skim when you arrive. If you need to know how to skim, the National Trust has a step-by-step guide that will help.
6. Give geocaching a go
It sounds high-tech, but it’s one of the easiest ways to keep youngsters engaged with your walk.
You can download a free geocaching app for Android or iPhone, and by enabling GPS on your phone, you are immediately open to a world of hidden gems and goodies planted by your fellow geocachers. It’s a treasure hunt for the digital generation, but also remember to take a few trinkets of your own to hide for someone else to find.
Find out more about this geocaching.com
7. Pass a pebble
You may have spotted painted stones on your walks before and thought nothing of it – it is, in fact, a phenomenon.
‘Pass a pebble’ involves painting up a stone with some instructions on the back to take a selfie, re-hide or look after the stone at home. You’ll find elaborate designs, inspirational messages and colourful sketches on these stones, but part of the fun is also creating your own.
Head out on your walk with a bag full of freshly-painted stones that you’ve created together, and watch your child take pleasure in hiding them to be discovered by a fellow pebble fan.
You can search ‘pass a pebble’ or ‘pebble art’ on Facebook as there might be a community of pebble hunters close by that have found joy when they discovered your hidden treasure.