Today was a BIG first…whilst the trio spend a lot of time outdoors in nature, and a lot of time walking, we have never done a big circular walking route following footpaths deep in the countryside, seemingly miles from any civilisation! This used to be something Dadda and I both did a lot of before having children, and we have managed to keep the walking up with them at their level, but we have never really pushed them beyond a couple of hours, and not far from somewhere we know very well, that has a short cut and get out options.
Today’s mission was a quiet amble up the river Wallington for around 40 minutes, before having our lunch, and then heading back the way we came. We had printed off a map/route just as back up to know where we were. However, after reaching our lunch spot, we decided to brace ourselves and go the whole circular route, and see what would happen (around 8km). It’s at that point we also decided just to eat the first part of the picnic, leaving the fruit for another pit stop, and then the cereal bars for a third pit stop, to spur them on. The first part of the walk was a huge adventure for the children, facing a field of very interested horses that then proceeded to follow us through it, very closely, only then to immediately enter a field of very nosey cows. When we got to the rather heavily populated field of cows, we were actually willing to call it a day and head back. However, something told us that if we didn’t do this with them, they would then think fields of cows were to be avoided, instead of helping them and showing them through it (not my favourite idea of fun walking through fields of nosey cows!!). But they now know that it’s possible to walk through livestock safely, and it leads to the experience of being able to enjoy the open countryside more. As most of our walks are heavily based around country parks, this is something they have not encountered before, so close up.
So, how did they cope? Very well!! One mini man is slightly under the weather getting over a heavy cold, so the last half hour or so (out of 4) was a real struggle for him. The other mini man was content just to amble most of the way on his own, loitering at the back, singing to himself, talking to the feathers he had collected, or day dreaming. Our little lady collected mini beasts most of the way to keep her company, swapping them at regular intervals (you need a lot lot LOT of time when hiking with children!!!). All three loved seeing the calmer quiet countryside, getting up close and personal with livestock, and feeling like they were the only people out there. The highlights were seeing a baby deer, swallows and kestrels, amongst all the other things the children usually spot.
All three carried their own rucksacks of supplies for 3/4 of the way (lunch, snacks, water, sun hats, and jumpers) which we feel is an important skill to teach them, and they no longer question it. We are so chuffed with all three and how they behaved, we will definitely be trying this again, after their little legs have had chance to recover!!