“But what happens when it’s raining? How do you get them to walk then?” Once I’ve described how, with a bit of determination and imagination, it’s perfectly possible to get the children to go for that walk, there’s usually an immediate follow-on question about how to achieve this in wet weather. The answer is ‘More of the same!’
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It was still very much winter, there was snow on the tops, but we hadn’t been away in the camper van for while so we decided to head for the Lake District, specifically the National Trust campsite at Langdale. Not somewhere we’d usually camp during peak season, but in February it was very reasonably priced! Funnily enough, in what is usually a very busy campsite, we only noticed about three tents, but many camper vans! We don’t have any heating in our camper van, but it’s definitely warmer than sleeping in a tent.
Continuing our trip exploring areas of Wales we hadn’t been to before, we made a quick stop in the Gower. Unfortunately our relaxed attitude of just turning up at campsites backfired and we had a few fruitless stops before stumbling across the gorgeous Skysea campsite in Port Eynon. You can see the sea from the campsite – and walk onto the beach - what more could you want?!
A few of the places we really like to visit are open only during ‘Snowdrop Season’. One of these is Welford Park, near Newbury. News that the cold weather had produced perfect conditions for the snowdrops there was enough to make us hotfoot it over to see them.
“But how do you get them to walk?” This is something I am frequently asked by other parents when we exchange stories about weekends and holidays and I tell them about our walks. “I’d love to do a walk like that with my children, but it’s just not possible!” they say. My standard answer is that it’s almost certainly possible with a bit of determination and imagination.
Another one of our favourite local ambles is around Damflask Reservoir. It’s a lovely 3 mile round walk perfect for lazy days as it is pretty much the only flat walk our side of Sheffield. It is also super accessible as the track is gravelled - I used to bring Jasper round here in the pram when he was a little, little for his sling or carrier.
We’d been waiting for an opportunity to climb Ben A’an, a ‘small hill’ in the Trossachs overlooking Loch Katrine, but we were cursed with low cloud and damp, uninspiring weather. It takes weather that is unsafe – rather than merely unpleasant – to put me off climbing a hill, but it seems silly to make the children toil up a hill when there’s no prospect of a view from the top.
I took up running last year so that I have the energy and speed to keep up with my growing minxes! I reluctantly need to incorporate some hills in my training, so wanted to recce some short-ish hills with a bit of a track on them that weren’t paved super-highways. A quick check of the OS map brought up a place I’ve wanted to explore with the girls for a while, now: the Caterthuns.
I’ve been thinking back over all our family walks to try and work out what it is that turns a good hill walk into a great hill walk. There are lots of factors that influence this but, beyond ensuring that you’ve got the right skills and equipment, perhaps one of the most important is your choice of hill.
Stannage Edge is a mecca for climbers, runners and ramblers alike and is one of our favourite quick Sunday strolls. It doesn’t matter how many times we come up here, each time it looks different but equally epic.
We’re frequent visitors to the mountain areas of North Wales, and also to Pembrokeshire, but there are many areas of Wales we want to spend more time exploring, one of which is the Brecon Beacons. We took a quick pit stop here in the camper van for one night so that we could take Dora up Pen Y Fan. The night was uneventful and we awoke to lovely views of the surrounding hills.
The early spring half-term week off school can be a bit of an anticlimax - you start off full of good intentions to get out and about whether it’s foggy, rainy, icy or snowy, but it soon gets tricky to persuade the smalls to get out and about when it’s just the same old scenery you’ve visited lots of times before and at least one of them is just a little bit too poorly to go exploring much further afield.