Friday, 22 August 2014

Little Owl's First Hike

This is a Post by Papa Owl.

The outdoors plays a huge part in my life as a qualified Mountain Leader and member of the Institute of Outdoor Learning.  I spend a large part of my working life there and love climbing, hillwalking and mountain biking in my leisure time. I am passionate about the physical and mental benefits of spending time Outdoors. You can challenge yourself, learn how to take risks and just have fun. 

It was only natural therefore that we would want to make it a large part of Little Owl’s life. Well, the craziness of family life and renovating a falling down Victorian house has meant that I really haven’t done as much ‘outdoorsy’ stuff with Little Owl as I should. When Laughing Owl asked me if I could look after Little Owl for a day I decided it was time we went on a hike.

I decided that a short walk along the South Downs around Firle Beacon would be a good route. We could park on top of the downs so no steep climbs and there would be loads of flexibility in how far we could walk. We didn’t complete a major expedition and walked about a mile from the car park to the top of Firle Beacon. It would normally take me about 15 minutes but it took the best part of an hour. We stopped a lot to look at the sheep, at the birds, the cows feeding their calves and to eat lots of Haribo’s! I learnt on a previous walk with Little Owl and her cousins that some form of extrinsic motivation was required. The phrase "you will get your next sweet when we get to the gate" was used a lot! She already knows that we only have sweets when we go hiking.

When we got to the top we put on an extra jacket, it was windy and chilly even on an August day, and tucked into our packed lunch. I had insisted that Little Owl carried her own sandwiches in her rucksack as when we do longer walks or even overnight camps in years to come I want her to carry some of her own kit so it’s worth starting good habits early. After lunch we walked back to the car which took about an hour again with lots more to look at, especially with my binoculars. A quick trip to the playground in Firle followed and then we drove home with Little Owl fast asleep nearly the whole way. 

So, what tips have I got for parents taking their little ones hiking…. 
  1. Be flexible.  Make sure you can adapt your route according to weather, tiredness and sweet supplies.
  2. You will not necessarily go very far, but that’s ok. It’s not about you.
  3. Make sure you have plenty to do along the way. Things like binoculars, bird identification books and cameras are great. Farm animals and wildlife are also really good distractions.
  4. If you are cold it’s not fun, plenty of layers needed even in summer.
Would I take her again? YOU BET! I had a great time and can’t wait for our next adventure!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


  1. Sounds like you had a lot of fun together! Sweets are a good motivator for kids LOL.

  2. Some Daddy and daughter time! A lovely hike and adventure and great tips to keep the little legs moving too. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

  3. Walking and hiking be it in a hills, mountains and concrete pavement is a big part of my family life too and its the one things that we love to do together =) #countrykids

  4. Looks like you had a lot of fun. Thanks for linking up to the #binkylinky

  5. Ha! I am so going to use the sweets trick. My urban kids used to wilt at the sight of a large open space, which was a bit depressing, but that'll do it. Good point about starting small - I think I was a bit over ambitious about long walks at first.

  6. It sounds like you had a great time together :-) It is great that you are able to get her interested in this so young. I've never really been hiking but I can imagine my children loving using the binoculars to see what they can spot! Brilliant! Thank you for linking up to #BinkyLinky

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