There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing, so this autumn whether it’s from a campervan or from your home, make sure you and the family get kitted up, wellies on, and head out to enjoy the fresh air and bond with nature together. Find a stream to make a dam in, find a really big hill to climb up, or simply get out and stop to listen to nature around you.
If your kids are anything like ours, there may(!) be some reluctance about going out for a walk. I’m not saying they’re screen addicts, but they do like their home comforts! We usually go down the “let’s go for an adventure” or “exploring” route rather than “walking” and try to have a hook that will catch their attention, an interesting fact or activity taking place. Failing that, bribery with something they love – for example if we say we’ll end at a playground or a café with cake, our two will be reaching for their coats!
Everyone knows that food tastes better al-fresco so grab a picnic blanket, take some food and find a picturesque spot.
You could even go one step further and take a mini raclette set and use the heat from some tea lights to melt cheese to dunk your bread in, or chocolate for dipping some fruit in. If the weather is cooler, why not pack a flask with soup, pasta or even a warming curry and some naans for dipping.
If you’re not planning a picnic, snacks are a must – get them in early to avoid those hangry moments, and don’t forget a little secret chocolate stash to help deal with emergencies or meltdowns.
Gather pine cones, hunt for toadstools and follow animal tracks. Or look for treasure at the beach, such as mermaids purses, feathers, and different types of stones. Kids love exploring nature and it can inspire a lifelong love of wildlife and the great outdoors.
Take some props
There are some walking staples you could take with you, such as binoculars or a magnifying glass for a closer look at the bugs under the logs. Add adventure to your walk with walkie talkies – play ‘hike and seek’, use them to promote independence or for some motivation to go further. Take a portable flower press for keepsakes and a record of what you’ve found. Adventurous types could take a slackline or for tree climbing with bells on, how about some ninja tree climbing holds.
Our four-year-old doesn’t quite get the appeal of looking for something to probably just be met with a little bison tube and tiny log sheet inside, but other family members love it. Geocaching is a treasure hunt game where you look for ‘caches’, the co-ordinates of which are published on a website for people to find.
It’s easy to get started, you can register for free at Geocaching.com and look for any place and its caches on a map. Each cache will have a location and usually some interesting facts and a hint on how to find it. Why not come up with an area you would like to explore and see what geocaches are around to add some direction to your walk.
By the sea
Explore a rock pool, look for mermaids purses and seashells, skim a stone, go crabbing or even go on a fossil hunt. We love to explore the shoreline and find different types of shells and stones, and do a #2minutebeachclean. You might want to take a bucket to explore your rockpool and don’t forget to return anything you remove.
Scavenger hunts are a great way to get out and explore, and they can take place anywhere – nature is all around. They can be as involved as you like. Planned or ad-hoc on the spot. A tick list or some things to collect (take an old egg box), or simply find something for each colour of the rainbow.
Litter pick/beach clean
It may not be the most obvious way to get out and enjoy nature but taking part in an organised litter pick or beach clean event can be both rewarding and fun! It’s a great way to nurture a love for the planet and to learn about caring for our environment and the impact of plastic pollution.
The nights drawing in means that the kids can be out in the dark without staying up past bedtime and can make for a great adventure. Get wrapped up warm and perhaps get that flask out again!
There are lots of places you can get more ideas and activities – many nature and wildlife charities have free resources to get children outside and enjoying nature.