Thursday, 25 February 2010

How to make walking child-friendly

Apparently as responsible parents we should be encouraging our kids to do more walking. A recent report by an English university found that Britain's youth are getting away with being too idle and making themselves way too comfy on the sofa or in front of computer screens.

Added to this the headlines are forever screaming about a generation of lazy, unfit and overweight youngsters, who are seemingly driven everywhere by mum and dad instead of jolly well getting out on their own two feet.

But perhaps this alleged lack of enthusiasm for self-propulsion among the "children of today" is that it's a bit dull. Certainly walking the same old to school, or a club, or the train station doesn't feature high on a scale of attractive outlooks.

In comparison a walk in the country would surely score nine or 10 out of 10 for great views, as well as a host of other attractions such as wildlife and tourist sites.

Hmmm, well, you would think so but any parent who has tried to cajole their child to walk a hill, along a river bank or on a muddy trail could easily disagree. All too often it seems as though children do not like walking - period. Whether it's in town or out of town.

But it doesn't have to be this way. With a some forward-planning – and a little bribery – we reckon it is possible to encourage out little darlings out into Scotland's beautiful countryside and enjoying a wide range of walks.

It's just a matter of how you go about it. Here we bring you a few tips on How to Go For a Happy Family Walk

Buy the right kit: Children love new clothes and these days kids' walking kit comes in some great styles and amazing colours. As a minimum make sure they have comfy, well-fitting and waterproof walking boots, a waterproof jacket and hat and gloves for cold weather. A rucksack adds to the look - and means they can carry their own snacks (see "bribe them").

* Bribe them: Just a little, obviously, as there's no point in eating more calories in sweets and fizzy drinks than they eventually walk off. Aim for healthier, but fun, snacks. Why not tell them you'll have a picnic when they reach the top of a hill? Or suggest they can have a small piece of chocolate for every animal, bird or flower spotted on a list you compiled yourself. Or find a pub or tea room for a treat at the end of your walk.

* Go in circles: Walking an out and back route is boring for kids, so try to choose a route that follows a circular trail. Or take a bus and jump off and then walk back.

* Get geeky: Gadgets are a great way to keep the kids interested in a walk. Try a basic GPS, a pedometre and even an old fashioned map and compass. Anything that keeps your child's mind off the walking and on the doing other things.

* Make it an adventure: Kids love treasure trails or tick lists or just stories. Ensure you've planned out you route and can come up with interesting points to stop at along the way. Guided walk companies can assist with these kind of outings as they know the local area well.

* Camping is fun: Why not include an overnight wild camp as part of a two-day walk for older children? Or set up camp near to a variety of walking routes and head out each day to find a new adventure.

As easy as A, B, C?! We want to hear about your tips for successful family walking and the great family walks you've done.


  1. It was a pair of pink, furry walking boots from Hi-tec that got my daughter into the hills. She also favoured a flowery waterproof jacket. Once she realised she could look girlie and fashionable in the outdoors she became much more of a fan. Go on, spoil the kids with new clothes and that should get them a whole lot more interested!

  2. Mmm -well we know girls and boys are different....I think the trick with my 5 darlings (boys) over the years was wild camping and not having to wash. Also with camping comes eating with fingers, stalking wildlife, going where your Mum can't find you and of course, endless searching for suitable wood for campfires!