I think it’s fair to say that growing up, we were a walking family. Come rain or shine, we could be found (not always willingly!) striding across moors and mountains, stopping only to admire the view and refuel for the next stretch. The funny thing is that even if none of us actually wanted to go out for a walk when a parent first suggested it, 9 times out of 10, as soon as we were out, we enjoyed ourselves and were glad to be there. You can’t beat a good walk in the great outdoors for chasing away the cobwebs or lifting yourself out of a bad mood.
Now, as a parent myself, I’m trying to pass down that same habit (and joy – mostly!) of walking to my own children. One of the best bits of parenting advice my Mum gave me was to make sure that we get outside for a walk at least once every day. It sounds simple but remembering to do that can make a massive difference to our day. As soon as the kids start bickering and bouncing off the walls on one of our designated ‘home’ days I can be found barking ‘Right! Shoes on!’ and ushering everyone out the door as quickly as possible. An hour or two later we return from our wander around the goat walk or down to the rec much calmer and happier.
Recently, whilst on holiday in Dorset, I decided I wanted to follow the South West Coast Path from our campsite into Weymouth. Sophia opted for a lift in with our friends instead but Isaac was keen to join Dan and I for the relatively short 2.5 mile walk. As we trekked along the edge of a cliff, taking in the breathtakingly beautiful views across Weymouth Bay, my heart was warmed as Isaac declared to us ‘I do love it when we go walking’. This boy of ours nearly sprinted up Catbells in the Lake District and just thrives being outside, feet pounding the earth. Sophia is slightly more of a reluctant walker but will get into it, especially if she is motivated by letter boxes on Dartmoor or the promise of an ice cream at the end! And I can tell Eli is going to follow in Isaac’s footsteps (pun intended); he is the busiest toddler I know and loves to be out of the pushchair or sling, toddling along beside us.
I love that they are happy and eager to go walking with us as a family activity. I really think that it’s great for both body and soul (as well as being free – apart from the incentivising ice cream of course!) and look forward to increasing the mileage as they get older and exploring more of the off-the-beaten-track walks our country has to offer with them.
Published in the Exeter Express + Echo on 21st August