This summer, my children have walked for miles. Walking has always been a big part of our lives – we have dogs so it’s a necessity, but also our girls like the great outdoors and getting a bit mucky.
I like the fresh air, the health benefits, and the therapeutic nature of walking, and it seems like good behaviour to model for the kids. In an age where some families drive to the corner shop, it’s nice to remind your children that they do have legs and the ability to function without electricity and gaming.
We often head out with the girls to local woods and country parks, and as my favourite time of the year approaches I get quite excited to see the changing leaves and the winding down of the season towards Autumn. Luckily my husband and I are adept at laughing at ourselves, and live in full recognition of the fact that this is far removed from our idea of ‘fun’ pre-children.
This summer, we decided that we’d take the walking a step further (atrocious pun), and treat ourselves to some ‘kit’, as the kind folk at Mountain Warehouse like to say. We are now the proud owners of various waterproofs and footwear (feel free to join in as we laugh at ourselves), and have gone so far as to arrange childcare in late October so that we may walk a part of the South Downs Way.
India has even learnt to read a map during the holidays, use a compass, and run very fast when the tide comes in quicker than her parents expect on a sojourn in Bosham.
We discovered the old Upper Lake in Staunton Country Park, espied red and white spotted toadstools (to the children’s shrieks of ‘POISON! IT’S POOOISON!’ as if they’d been showered in anthrax), and our 6 and 9 year old girls walked a total of over 14 miles across three days. Not bad for little legs. (In fact, since I sent my copy to the newspaper, my kids completed a 6 mile cross country walk at the weekend – and saw two deer running and leaping a few yards in front of us. The deer bounded across the autumn field, sliding between the golden cubes of hay bales with a grace that inspired awe, as my family and I watched in silent wonder.)
I really hope, as a mummy, that these expeditions and adventures will stay with them as they grow older. That they will look back when they have children of their own, and tell those children about the walks that they went on with their mummy and daddy. That they will remember the glory of nature, the gentle sizzle of the sausages on the camping stove, and also that mummy had told daddy the tide was was coming in soon. (Sorry darling, but I had to have the last word on that one.)