Hillwalking with babies and children
You're never too young to climb your first mountain! Well, that's if you count being carried to the top of Snowdon in a baby carrier. Whether you have a tiny baby, an ambitious toddler or older kids up for a challenge, hillwalking with your children can be a fun and exciting adventure for the whole family.
And when it comes to hillwalking with children, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your kids stay safe, dry and warm so that they enjoy their first experiences of hiking in the mountains.
1. Be prepared
No matter how easy or well-trod the route you're following, you can never be too prepared for hillwalking. Make sure you plan your route before you go, using the appropriate OS map. And whilst the sat nav facilities on smartphones these days are pretty good, you won't be able to rely on accessing Google Maps when you're in the middle of nowhere without 3G or 4G. Go old school and take a compass.
Before setting off on the morning of your walk, Mountain weather forecast. It'll be no fun trying to navigate mountain footpaths on a foggy day; in fact it can be downright dangerous. Its worth quite literally taking a 'rain check' and waiting for the right weather before setting off hillwalking with your children.
Check out our Mountain Munchkins blog for more advice about how to stay safe in the hills.
2. Dress well
Mountain climates are notoriously changeable. A clear, sunny morning can quickly turn into a damp, chilly day and if your children aren't properly dressed to protect them against the elements you'll soon know about it.
Kids find it harder to regulate their temperature than adults, so we always recommend dressing your children in layers so that they're suitably equipped for anything the Great British weather can throw at them.
Start with a baselayer, this will trap a thin layer of warm air against the body, whilst wicking moisture away from the skin to avoid getting sweaty and sticky.
Next comes the mid layer. This will vary according to the temperature outside. A good quality fleece is ideal for most excursions, but if it's really cold (which it often is in higher climes), a slightly heavier and thicker fleece may be necessary. It's worth investing in some good quality outdoor trousers as well - at all costs, avoid wearing jeans when heading outdoors. They'll either make your child overheat and chafe, or soak-up water, bring their body temperature down and generally make their walk rather soggy and miserable.
Finally, make sure your child has a high quality waterproof jacket. This will be their first layer of defence against the elements, so its important to choose a kids' waterproof jacket carefully.
3. Boost morale
That familiar phrase "Are we nearly there yet?" can become a little wearing after the first few miles. The best way to avoid bored, tired kids is to keep them engaged with their surroundings. And you'll be pleased to know that you won't have to play eye-spy for hours on end.
With a bit of forward thinking it's easy to incorporate outdoor activities and games into a walk to keep your children engaged.
For more advice about high quality outdoor equipment for children, as well as tips and ideas for getting your kids outdoors visit the Mountain Munchkins website.