This May we’re celebrating National Walking Month by encouraging families to take to the trail and try an activity from foraging to nature drawing
Take your family walk to the next level with six great ways to get more from a family walking trail.
If you're new to walking, or want some tips on getting your kids involved, read our guide to getting started with family walking trails. It covers what you'll need, where to go, and how to stay safe. These six activities will help you get even more out of your walks.
Considered to be the world’s largest treasure hunt, geocaching is an activity in which a container filled with ‘treasure’ is hidden at a specific location in the countryside. Participants then search for the bounty using GPS. In recent years, geocaching has become a huge driving force for inspiring families to get outdoors. Find out more on the official website.
Pack a box of pastels or crayons and a pad of paper on your next family trip into the countryside. The British landscape is known for its beautiful trees, and what better way to appreciate their form than to take a print of them home with you. Choose a walk through mixed forest and take a rubbing from several different species. Chat about the distinguishing features and whether you can tell which is which.
Identifying and collecting food from nature was a necessary skill for our ancestors in Britain. Nowadays it’s a pastime and a great way to get kids excited about the outdoors and walking. Head to your local charity shop or bookstore and get your hands on an ID guide. Learn to identify two or three obvious species – wild garlic, blackberries and elderflower are a good start – and see what you can find. Later that day you can include the ingredients in a dish like our ancestors used to do.
NB – extra caution must be taken when identifying and consuming foraged foods.
Find out more about foraging in forests with our guide to the best woodland walks.
Nature spotting and drawing
Much like bark rubbing, nature sketching offers adults and children a chance to examine the countryside up close. Make a point of stopping on your walk and sitting down as a family. It doesn’t matter what you choose to draw, it could be a feather, an ant, or a spilling waterfall. Add notes to the sketch – what can you smell and hear? What does your subject matter feel like? Add to your sketchbooks each time you go out walking and build a visual record of the passing seasons.
For something a bit different, take the kids out on a walk at dusk. Loaded with a rucksack of hot drinks, delicious snacks and a torch, look and listen as day turns to night. Small birds titter, owls swoop and rodents rustle in the undergrowth. Soon the sky is a mass of twinkling lights, giving you the chance to identify planets, satellites, stars and the Milky Way. The National Trust recommend a number of night walks, and you can read about stargazing in Northumberland in our tips on Kielder Water and Forest Park.
Explore the natural splendours of your local area with a guided walk, a foraging workshop or an ID class. Walking festivals take place all year round throughout the country, offering a range of activities to suit you and your family. Here are our five of the best:
- Chilterns Walking Festival (19 May – 3 June) – 80 walks and activities across the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Dartmoor Walking Festival (25 August – 25 September) – a range of walks over craggy tors, through woodland and beside rumbling rivers
- Scottish Borders Walking Festival (2-8 September) – Scotland’s oldest walking festival with lots of easy, family-friendly days out
- Kendal Mountain Festival (15-18 November) – a packed line-up of talks and films to inspire you and your family into the outdoors
- Greater Manchester Walking Festival (1-31 May) – more than 300 guided river, moorland, hill and park walks
You can find more ideas for helping your family be active and away from screens with our tips on encouraging your kids to play outdoors.