“There’s nothing for kids to do around here”. How many times have we heard this? Once you’ve done the theme parks, bowling and cinema, what’s left? From the North Hampshire Downs in West Berkshire through Swinley Forest to Windsor Great Park in the East. There are so many places to discover and hours of walking, splashing in streams, climbing trees and treading stepping stones. Our county is home to hills and downs, brooks and bogs, sandy paths and chalk land. So much variety in this beautiful place, once you catch the bug you won’t want to stop walking.
If you’ve never thought of taking the family for a walk, then they’re in for a treat. For people who don’t generally think of woods and fields as fun places to go, then a great source of inspiration will be The National Trust’s 50 Things to do Before You’re 12.
In Berkshire we’re never far from great places to walk with the children. There are hills to climb but these are generally easy work compared to other areas of the country. This is great news as far as equipment goes – you can generally get started without having to splash out on hiking boots and waterproofs. A good resource full of walks for beginners and those with young children is Kiddiwalks in Berkshire. It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with map-reading. The Ordnance Survey website allows you to find the map needed for your specific area, they even have a service where you can custom make a map of your specified area. Although, most good walking books (including Kiddiwalks in Berkshire) will specify which map is needed for each walk.
Local rambling clubs are a good way of familiarising yourself with the best places to walk and also a wonderful way to make friends with like-minded walkers. Generally their walks are probably too long and quick for beginners with young children, but you often find local nature reserves and parks that have organised family walks or nature walks.
When you find yourself addicted and your family return from a 4 mile hike still full of energy, then you may like to move on to something a bit more challenging such as Rambling for Pleasure in East Berkshire or Kennet Valley and Watership Down. Both books are very well written and small enough to carry in your pocket as you walk.
You may be surprised how much you progress as a family in a short space of time. Walking with the Kids blog is an interesting read and describes several walks taken by a Berkshire family. Most of which are local.
With so many exciting areas to choose from, trees to climb, streams to dam and logs to hurdle that we can never hope to find them all, the problem might well be “There’s too much for kids to do around here – how will we ever do it all before they grow up?”