How to get Beginners and Kids Hill Walking – and enjoying every moment!
How can you get your kids out walking, and make sure they come back for more? With the impending bank holiday, you may have been talked into taking a newbie up into the hills or fancy trying to get the kids out there. Here are some tips that might just help….
Choose a walk that’s suited to their abilities. Build them up with some flat walks first before taking them up something like Yr Wyddfa. If they’re older and fit then they’ll probably be ok, but be ready to slow the pace to something enjoyable.
Choose some decent weather if you can. There’s nothing more demoralising than walking up in the cloud and rain, drenched to the skin and see nothing. That’s fine for hardened walkers, but first timers won’t be that keen on coming again. Don’t be afraid of choosing a mid or low level alternative, or if the weather is truly hazardous just cancel. You don’t want to be up on the tops with small kids and gale force winds or lightning storms.
Be aware of their gear
Beginners won’t know what’s really needed on the hill, so don’t worry about being a little harsh on pack contents and clothes. Do this before the walk and make sure they’ve got the proper gear before you reach Ogwen. If someone then turns up inappropriately kitted out tell them the walk’s off. Likewise with kids, you’ll need to kit them out properly and not with disposable plastic ponchos..
You’ll also need to make sure that the whole group has enough food and, more importantly, drink for the trip. Heat exhaustion is a real risk in summer, so make sure you’ve got plenty of water or know where to top up during the day and some way of purifying the water. You may be a hardened mountain man/lass but your companions may have a more delicate constitution and you may have to skip to point 5 sooner than you think.
Take a Group shelter
This is immense fun for kids with the added bonus that it’ll keep them out of the elements while eating. This is arguably an essential piece of kit, more so than the ubiquitous orange survival bag… Additionally, take a Blizzard survival blanket.
If you’re taking novices or kids on the hill, then it’s your job to motivate them and get them interested. You’ll know your own kids and what motivates them, but adults can be more difficult, especially if they’ve been cajoled into coming. A decent packed lunch can go a long way in persuading someone to get to the top, as does the post walk pint! Jelly babies, say no more…
Give them responsibility.
If they’re old enough, then some map reading lessons will keep them busy. Whatever age they are, then a GPS with a route logged in can give them a sense of responsibility and a bit of fun as they can look at that and know if they’re there yet. Just make sure they know how to orient the map properly!
You’ll need to be blunt about this to start with, but if you’re on the hill for most of the day then your willing victims will need to be aware of the toileting arrangements on the hill sooner rather than later. Going au nautrel may not be for everyone and neither is getting acquainted with the sphagmum moss method recommended first time on the hill…
Learn to tie other people’s shoelaces..
If you’re used to tying your kids’ laces, you’ll be sorted. If not, this is surprisingly difficult!
Don’t forget that it’s meant to be FUN! Don’t be the one dragging unwilling kids up Snowdon in pouring rain and under equipped – neither they or anyone else with thank you for putting someone off the sport.