Safety when walking with young children

Safety when walking with young children

Walking with your children is an amazing way to keep them active and to allow them to explore the wonderful things that they see around them. To make the most out of walking with your young children, you should take the time to plan family friendly routes. You should also follow a few additional safety tips to make sure that you do not put young children at risk whilst you are out and about.

Choosing a route

Start by working out how far you would like to walk with your child. Many young children can walk a surprising distance, but if your child gets tired before the end then you might find yourself having to carry them a long way. Parents are likely to be the best judge of their own children’s ability to cover longer distances or difficult terrain, so use your own discretion if someone else suggests a route to you.

Plan your route so that you can avoid or minimise time spent close to busy roads or crossing over road junctions. It is also a good idea to avoid walking on canal towpaths or riverbanks with younger children. OS maps also show some potentially dangerous features, such as mine shafts. These areas are best avoided if your children are liable to run around and play away from the footpath.

First aid kit

Make sure that you take a portable First aid kit with you whenever you go out on walks with your children. A basic First aid kit should include plasters, antihistamines, antiseptic wipes, bandages, scissors, tweezers, safety pins, and blister treatments. You should also include pain relief medication in case any of the adults in the group are injured.

Children are unlikely to get badly hurt whilst they are out walking, but the first aid kit will allow you to provide low-level treatment to any cuts, bruises, grazes or sprains that can occur during physical activities.

Hot weather

You should think carefully about the weather before setting out on a walk with your children. In the summer it is important that you take sun cream with you so that they will be protected from the sun whilst you are out on your walk. A wide brimmed hat with a neck flap will help to keep the sun off of their head and face. The sun can also be quite bright if you are walking in the hills, so you should take a pair of sunglasses for them.

Make sure that you have enough water with you to keep the whole party adequately hydrated. Stop regularly to drink water and have trail mix to keep their energy levels up. If they start to get thirsty, then they are not drinking regularly enough.

Cold weather

If the weather could get cold or wet, make sure that they all have their own hats and gloves with them. Mittens and gloves on strings are great choices for younger children who are likely to lose their own.

If you are travelling with any infants or toddlers who are in a baby carrier, you will need to take extra precautions to make sure that they are warm enough. They may need an extra layer of clothing, because they will not be working up a sweat in the same way that you are. Regularly stop to check their temperature to make sure that they are OK.


When you are walking, you should try to maintain the pace of the slowest member of the group. Walking too fast will deplete energy levels quickly and can leave people struggling to complete the walk.

Allow plenty of time to complete the route, so that you are not forced to rush the final sections if the beginning parts took longer than expected. Participants are unlikely to enjoy a walk properly if they feel as though they are being rushed around a route. Give each participant the chance to rest when you stop, rather than waiting for them to catch up and then continuing straight away.

Walk with friends

Children are more likely to enjoy their walk if they are allowed to walk with friends or other young family members. A walk is also the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy social interaction with other parents. You can all watch the children whilst continuing to enjoy each other’s company.

Organised walks

There are plenty of organisations, including the National Trust and English Heritage, who organise special walks for family groups. Although some of these organised walks are just straight-forward rambles, other organised walks may include additional fun elements that are specifically aimed at helping to keep children entertained. Examples of these walks include Beatrix Potter trails in the Lake District, which offer children the opportunity to spot their favourite characters as they continue to walk around the set route.

Minimising the ecological impact of walking

Minimising the ecological impact of walking

Going walking in Britain can be an incredibly pleasurable pastime; however walkers can have a negative effect on the environments which they visit. Conscientious walkers will do what they can to minimise the impact of their visit.


Conscientious walkers make the effort to take all of their rubbish home with them. Plastic and glass are not biodegradable (or take an exceedingly long time to biodegrade) meaning that rubbish which has been left out will not just disappear. As well as being unsightly, this rubbish can prove harmful to the local wildlife. It can injure them, impede them or be eaten by them. Any of these factors can be fatal to the local wildlife.

Rubbish which is left by inconsiderate walkers can also affect the quality of the land on which it is left. This can affect plant growth which will further affect the biodiversity of the area. Even if a product is biodegradable (e.g. orange peel), you should still take it with you when you leave because you have introduced the item to an area where it may not normally be found.

It is a good idea to take a spare plastic bag or similar container out with you when you go on a walk, so that you can collect all of your rubbish together. This will help you to make sure that you are able to take it all home with you or transport it all safely to the nearest rubbish bin.

If you stop for lunch or a snack break whilst you are out on a walk, you should quickly survey the scene before you leave, to make sure that nothing has fallen out or been dropped by accident. Not only will this help you to safeguard your possessions, but it will also help you to make sure that you have not left any rubbish behind you.


Foraging for food is one of the latest cooking trends and many walkers are keen to try foraging whilst they are out and about. However; foraging can have a profound effect on the biodiversity of the region. Taking food for human consumption may mean that there is not enough food available for the animals who feed on them. You should also avoid picking flowers from the wild, because it reduces the ability of the flower to germinate and repopulate. This can lead to certain plant species becoming rarer and rarer.

When you are out walking, you should not take anything natural away from the environment that you are travelling through.


Ecological Impact
Ecological Impact

Erosion can occur when large numbers of people pass through the same area. The ground is worn away or the grasses which cover the ground are killed, which in turn makes the ground less secure. When walkers speed up erosion through increased footfall, they can irreversibly change the way that the landscape looks.

In order to reduce the impact of erosion which is caused by footfall, you should make sure that you keep to footpaths whenever possible. Try to avoid walking on the grass next to the edge of the path, because this will serve to make the path wider and wider.

Noise pollution

When you are out walking or camping, you must try to keep noise levels to a minimum. Most people come to the outdoors to enjoy the tranquillity of the areas that they are visiting, and therefore they do not want to be disturbed by shouting or loud music. In addition to annoying your fellow outdoor enthusiasts, noisy groups are likely to scare animals. Every walker should do their upmost to reduce the impact that they have on wildlife.

Affecting wildlife

Humans have a huge impact on how animals behave in their natural environment. Although it is always nice to see animals in their natural habitats, walkers must never try to interact with the animals that they see. Interacting with animals can cause them to change their natural behaviour which may put them at risk.

Never feed animals that you see when you are out walking, because human food will not have the right nutritional balance for individual animals. Attempting to approach animals can cause them to feel stressed and it might prevent them from returning to the same area again in future.

Do not approach baby animals, even if you are worried that they may be lost or hurt. If a human touches or approaches a baby animal, it may cause the parent to reject the animal. This could put the animal at risk if it is not old enough to fend for itself and can result in an extremely negative impact on the ecology of the area.


Do not come to the great outdoors to smoke. Even when you are in a wide open space, other walkers and local wildlife will still be able to smell and inhale your cigarette fumes.