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Walking with children: Ideas for even more fun

Walking with children: Ideas for even more fun

Getting children to take part in physical activity can be very difficult but it is very important to keep your children active. Growing children should take part in a certain amount of physical activity every week to help their bodies to grow and develop. Getting children involved in walking is a great way to get them involved in a type of physical activity that the whole family can enjoy together. What is more, there are a variety of different ways to make walking for pleasure an even more enjoyable activity for your kids.

Map reading

Children can have great fun reading the map and using the compass when they go out on walks with friends and family members. Even when you are not trying to find buried treasure, there are plenty of unique sights to find and explore on any OS map.

Show them what all of the different map symbols mean so that they will be able to understand how to relate the land to the paper that they are holding. Allow them to be in charge of holding the map and keeping track of where you are as you follow your route. Make sure they still know where you are and where you are going when you get to major junctions. They can use ‘navigational handrails’ to figure out where they are on the map based on all of the major geographical features that they are able to see around them.


Orienteering is a fun walking or running based sport which can be done in the great outdoors. It is the perfect choice for children who find a normal walk to be a little bit boring.

Participants are given a map which shows the location of various different checkpoints. There will also be a short description of the location of the checkpoint. Participants use the map to navigate between checkpoints. A small device, known as a dibber, is used to record the visit to the checkpoint. At the end of the route, all of the times are collected and downloaded. Orienteering adds a subtle competitive edge to walking.

Flora and Fauna

If you go out walking in the British countryside, there are plenty of fantastic plants and animals to see. Make a game out of spotting as many different types of flora and fauna as you can. There are plenty of books and apps available to help you to identify the things that you find.

If you do see any animals, make sure that you only watch them from a distance so that you do not scare them. Do not feed any of the animals, because human food may not be suitable for their digestive systems.

Never pick or destroy the flowers and plants that you find. Teaching young children how to interact with wildlife and plants will help them to give them a better understanding of how humans can have a negative impact on the natural world if they do not treat it with respect.

Myths and Folklore

Most areas in the United Kingdom have their own local myths and folklore. These tales tend to have been created centuries ago by people who were trying to explain wonderful and mysterious things that they didn’t understand. Stories include ghosts, ghouls, giants, elves, fairies and other fantastical tales. Children seem to love these sorts of stories, because they are often still trying to make sense of the natural world around them.

Check in the local tourist information office to see whether there are any books or leaflets about the areas that you want to walk in. Share these stories with your children whilst they are on route. Looking out for faeries and exploring haunted hillsides will keep them busy whilst you enjoy the beautiful natural wonders around you.

Making trail mix

Trail mix is great to take on walks with you, because it will help to keep your energy levels up. Most children love trail mix because it is a handful of tasty treats. Your children will be even more excited about walking if they are allowed to help you to make trail mix.

Give them a list of potential ingredients for a trail mix under specific columns, such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits and chocolate. Ask them to choose two ingredients from the first 3 columns and 1 ingredient from the chocolate column. Once you have been out to buy all of the ingredients, they can help you to mix it all together in a ziplock bag so that it is ready to take with you on your walk. Carry the trail mix with you in your rucksack and ration it out to your children to help to keep their energy levels up. Do not let them try any of their trail mix until they are out on the walk, because the anticipation will help to keep their enthusiasm levels high.

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.