Hiking is a great way to get kids outdoors and active at a young age, and North Wales offers plenty of places for introducing your children to the activity. However, it can be a concern for parents who are unsure about whether their kids can face mountains such as Snowdon, but we have put together some tips and advice that can help you plan for a day out hiking in the gorgeous Welsh countryside.
Pick the Right Route
You may be an experienced hiker who can tackle and route, but your children might not be able to handle steep or uneven ground as easily. Choose routes that are an easy to moderate grade that will have places of interest along the way like waterfalls, rivers and wildlife along with stunning scenery, as this can make the hiking experience much more enjoyable. For Snowdon, try going up the Pyg Track and down the Miner’s Track or up the Snowdon Ranger Path and down on the Llanberis Path.
Let Them Rest
While adults can continue on a hike with few rests, children can’t. If you are making a day of it, be sure to stop for a reasonable amount of time for lunch, and with several stops on the way, every 30 minutes to an hour. If your children are very young and ask to be carried, limit the time you spend doing this, as it helps to build up their strength and stamina and doesn’t tire you out as well.
Pack Lots of Food and Water
Make sure everyone on the hike with you has a bottle of water, and then some spare too! For food, in addition to the picnic food, bring light snacks that are low in sugar but high in energy – nuts, fruit and protein bars are the best. You might want to treat yourselves when you get back home or to the car too, so have something indulgent waiting for you like ice cream!
Start Early in the Day
Everyone has more energy in the morning, and if you are hiking in the summer, you can avoid the worst of the sun. Another plus for starting early in the day is there will be less whining – kids tend to get more grumpy as the day goes on. Early starts for a hike will also mean you have fewer people to deal with on the route.
Pay Attention to the Weather
Check the weather often leading up to and on the day of your hike, as you don’t want to be caught unprepared when walking up a mountain! Also, you can cancel your plans and reschedule them last minute too, should the weather prove to be too dangerous for hiking in. Pack lightweight waterproof clothing and layer up in thinner clothes to keep you warm and dry on your hike.
Bring a First Aid Kit
A basic first aid kit is essential on a hike, whether or not kids are with you! Make sure you have a variety of plasters, bandages, bite and sting relief, safety pins, cleaning wipes, painkillers, antihistamine tablets, tweezers, scissors, and sterile gloves. Being prepared for any injury, bump or scrape will make your hike more enjoyable for everyone.
Keep an Eye Out for Tiredness
No doubt you are used to the signs your child makes when they start to get tired, and when on an active hike, you should keep an eye out. Tired children are harder to deal with, especially when you are far from the car and holiday home, and they are also more prone to an accident. Don’t worry about cutting your hike short to please your child. It will give you the experience on their limit for hikes.
Children will be much happier to carry on when they have a job to do. This could be something not related to the walk itself, like wildlife spotter, or let them be in charge of spotting way-markers, so you know which way to go. A simple task for them will encourage them to keep going and will make them feel involved in the planning of the hike!
Often with children, the best way to delay whining and complaining is diverting their attention with a game. Look for wildlife, count how many butterflies you see, name the flowers you see – make them up if you don’t know, guess what you will see around the corner; there are so many ideas for making up a game on a hike. Having a game to play makes the time pass quickly and is great for bonding.
There are loads of great hiking spots near our holiday parks in North Wales, so now you have some tips to keep in mind, head out for the day with the whole family!