Steps for springtime family walks

Glencoe Operations Manager Emily Bryce and her daughter Isla, who are keen hillwalkers, have shared their tips in a new book on how to make it to the top as a hill-walking family.

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National Trust for Scotland has come up with some top tips for families taking their first steps into the hills this spring.

Glencoe Operations Manager Emily Bryce and her daughter Isla, aged seven, who are keen hillwalkers have been sharing their tips on how to make it to the top in a new book called Lidl Book of Big Adventures, a joint venture between the conservation charity and supermarket helping families gear up for outdoor adventures.

Alongside the mother and daughter duo’s useful hacks, the booklet includes lots of family-friendly activities that can be enjoyed close to home, or on a mini-adventure once lockdown is lifted, including hillwalking.

Emily says: ‘If you’re anything like us, you’ll be eager to begin making plans for springtime family adventures. With fresh air likely to be at the top of everyone’s wish list this year, there has never been a better time to get outdoors and explore Scotland’s wild places.

‘If you’re looking for inspiration to keep your kids amused and help channel a bit of youthful energy, then summer hillwalking in your area could be just the thing for you and your family.’

Isla has lots to say too: ‘I like walking up hills to get good views and have a nice rest at the top. My favourite walks would have lots of rocks to climb on and streams to play in.

‘I feel really proud when I am the first to get to the top and am usually a lot faster than my mum when we walk back down.’

Emily & Isla Bryce’s top tips:

  • Take small steps
  • Begin with some fun low-level walks, building up the distance over time. There are loads of options at trust properties and places all over the country.

Get comfortable
When you move on to bigger walks, it can be good to start with routes the grown-ups have done before. That way you know the lay of the land and can focus on the kids not the map. Don’t feel you’ve failed if you don’t reach the top the first few times! It is something to strive for but knowing when to head home will keep everyone happy as you build up hill stamina.

Weather watch
Nothing will sap enthusiasm for hillwalking more than miserable weather or clouds obscuring the views on your first few outings. Check the mountain weather forecast for your area (www.mwis.org.uk) before setting out – conditions can be different up high and down in the glen. Wait for a mild spell with not too much wind, rain or heat.

Kitted out
Kids find it harder to regulate their temperature than adults, so be prepared to put on and take off layers lots of time! You might feel hot while climbing up but can soon cool down when taking a break. Sturdy footwear, gloves, a hat and sunscreen are essentials too.

Hydrate!
Hillwalking is thirsty work, so don’t scrimp on the water or juice. Refillable bottles are a good idea and a flask of something warm such as soup or hot choc can provide a well-earned boost if wee ones are feeling chilly.

Snacks galore
Little and often snack breaks are the key to getting to the top of any hill!

Games on-the-go
Make time to dawdle, paddle, throw pebbles in water, count wee flowers or search for minibeasts. Games like I-Spy are good or you could bring one of the Trust’s online spotters guides. Of course, the Lidl Book of Big Adventures has lots of activities you can do on the go too!

Mountain manners
With more people than ever enjoying our hills, we need to take care of each other and the countryside we love so much. Keeping to paths helps protect busy hillsides from erosion and avoids disturbing the wildlife that thrives there. If other walkers need to pass you and your wee ones, simply step off the path, pause to let them through, then step back on to carry on.

Leave no trace
Kids are often even more switched on about this than adults. Please come prepared with a waste bag or a sealable box to take away all your litter – that includes used wipes or toilet paper if you need to ‘go’ when you’re out.

Capture the moment!
There’s nothing better than looking back at your photos on the journey home or when tucked up in bed, noticing how everyone’s cheeks got rosier and steps a little less springy as the walk went on.

Lidl Book of Big Adventures is available now at selected National Trust for Scotland properties and Lidl stores across Scotland. Find out more at www.nts.org.uk/lidl.

Caption: Glencoe Operations Manager Emily Bryce and her daughter Isla, who are keen hillwalkers, have shared their tips in a new book on how to make it to the top as a hill-walking family.
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