Walking with Children
Children love the outdoors, and walking in Wicklow is a brilliant way to spend time together as a family, as well as a great opportunity to introduce the kids to nature and new experiences; it’s fun and keeps the entire family healthy, stimulated and relaxed. Although perhaps a little daunting for an adult hoping for a restful holiday, if there is such a thing when you have children, the reward comes with their wide-eyed wonder of nature.
Kippure Estate’s extensive private grounds are ideal for rambling and exploring, picnics, barbecues or just reading your book in the sunshine - 240 acres (1.6 sq km) of mature woodland and ancient meadows full of magic discoveries… The fledging River Liffey forms the southern boundary of our estate – walking along the bank on a summer’s evening is spectacular. The Wicklow Mountains National Park stretches to the horizon, almost surrounding the estate. Just three minutes walk from your accommodation there is easy access onto wild open mountain country via our private bridge across the River Liffey.
There are a few things to keep in mind when considering walking with children:
Regarding to age limits, we firmly believe no child is too young. There may well be some carrying involved, but the person doing the job will benefit from the extra fitness and muscle tone! Ensure you select a child carrier with adequate suspension as well as padded shoulder straps and a waist belt. A rain / sun hood is essential. Check on children regularly. A sleeping child may be peaceful but can still be hot, cold, or uncomfortable. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas before you set off.
Little feet grow quickly. Make sure children try on their walking shoes/boots and break in new ones before you set off on a walk.
Bring high-energy snacks such as cereal bars or fruit.
Carry plenty of water; dehydration is an all-too-common problem during a day out in the mountains, resulting in extra crankiness and fatigue.
Weather in the Irish hills can be unpredictable so dress your children in extra layers and bring raingear to ensure they’re prepared for all eventualities.
When choosing a walk suitable for children, remember that, despite their seemingly boundless energy, they can tire easily. Select a family walk that matches the interest and ability of the kids, and pace the outing to the slowest walker or youngest child. Don't wait until you are tired to take a break; short legs will be fatigued first. Stop frequently for water and snacks.
For children who might need motivation to walk, suggest a scavenger hunt for some entertainment. Also, it helps to walk towards ‘something worth seeing’: reaching a waterfall, a beautiful picnic spot, a cave or a place to paddle or swim all make exciting goals.
If you have more than one child, or if your children tend to run ahead, dress them in bright colours, especially in spring and summer when vegetation makes it easy for them to blend in with their surroundings.
Avoid dousing your children in sweet smells such as pungent shampoos – this way insects are less likely to attack. There are special insect repellents available for children, effective against midges and other biting insects.
Check your first aid kit as part of your pre-trip planning. Teach children to walk safely and responsibly, and before you depart on a walking break make sure they know what to do if they get lost.
This article has partly been taken from TouchingNature.co.uk.