23 October 2015 by Tim and Kerry Meek
Looking to add challenge to a walk conjures up images of exertion, but making a walk more challenging does not have to mean something physical; it could simply mean doing something differently, adding a new element or dimension. Not wanting to inflict pain and suffering on fellow walkers by suggesting crippling physical challenges, like running up every hill you come to or doing ten press-ups at every stile (but feel free to do that if you want!), we came up with some more subtle ways to make a walk more challenging.
Take on the elements
Walking in dry, sunny conditions might guarantee an easier walk with clear views but it certainly won't push you out of your comfort zone.
Taking on the elements, conditions that would normally keep you inside, is very rewarding. Wind, rain, snow and ice could make a walk less appealing but you get a sense of achievement when you return, with wet waterproofs or snow capped boots, having overcome the elements.
We would like the countryside and natural environment to be litter-free, but unfortunately this isn't always the case. So, after you've eaten your packed lunch and lightened the rucksack, pull out a plastic bag and do your bit to help by collecting any pieces of rubbish on your return route. Picking up just one piece of litter will leave the countryside cleaner than you found it - challenge complete (until the next walk).
Why not use the camera to record the journey. Document the route by taking photographs at regular intervals, such as every 100 steps. When looked at in succession, or stitched together you can recreate the walk. And don’t forget to use the Find And Share option on the Big Pathwatch app and sharing your finds on Facebook and twitter to show your walk to the world.
Make a brew / meal
Food tastes so much better outdoors and a warm meal or drink can provide a satisfying break. Rather than take along a picnic of sandwiches or a flask of coffee, take along a small gas stove and kettle. Boiled water can then be added to coffee, tea, packets of soup or pasta. For an even greater culinary challenge, take along a pan and some simple ingredients for a quick and easy meal. If you’re feeling very brave, take a tip from some of last month’s foraging bloggers and find your ingredients en route.
As every parent knows, there's so much more to think about and plan for when kids are involved. And it's the same when heading out on walks: more bags, more snacks and more drinks are needed - and then there’s the worry about the weather turning nasty and getting stuck out in the wilds with tired and cold children.
And let’s be honest, kids and walking don’t always go together, do they? “Are we nearly there yet?” and “My legs are tired!” are cries familiar to parents.
But rather than shy away from taking the kids along with you on a walk, rise to the challenge and the rewards will be so satisfying: there’s nothing better than enjoying walking together as a family. So, start them young, walk to their abilities and encourage and lure them along the way with games and challenges to take their mind off the walking when the going gets tough. With half-term coming up, our daughters Amy and Ella will offer their own ideas for keeping kids challenged.