10 ways to entertain kids on walks

We’re doing our best to get Jess used to walking. When she was little she joined us in a carrier, first on the front then on the back. And now she’s getting really good at walking longer distances, but at the end of the day she’s only three, and so whilst we might be entertained by the scenery alone, she needs a little more to keep her going. Here are 10 things that we do on our walks to keep her entertained.

1. Pack a picnic

Jess LOVES eating outdoors, so stopping for a ‘snic-snic’ is a key part of our walk. She helps us choose where to eat and before she goes she helps make up the bag. Even on short walks we stop for a snack… she loves finding places with a pretty view for us. Make sure to pop a waterproof rug in your bag in case there’s no benches.

2. Spotting and word games

The easiest game is good-old I-Spy. Jess isn’t great at letters yet, so we do colours with her. I’ve seen loads of games and spotting sheets for when she gets a little older, such as spotting different tree types, birds, insects. In a field of sheep, how many can you see? How many trees on a path? Get creative.

I still remember I-Spy books from my childhood, there are loads to choose from and they’re pretty cheap! This one, for the countryside could be a great one for walks.

πŸ‘‰i-SPY In the countryside: What can you spot? (Collins Michelin i-SPY Guides)

If they’re a little older word games could work well, you could play ‘Who am I?’, related word games, games beginning with a letter of the alphabet (can you find something that you can see on your walk for each letter of the alphabet), or memory games (I went on a walk to XXX and I took with me…….). The possibilities are endless!

3. Games-on-the-Go

When Jess inevitably starts saying that she’s tired, we keep her going with races to fixed points ahead. These don’t just have to be running races, they can be skipping, jumping and hopping.

Follow the Leader is super easy, just create actions for little legs to copy (singing I’m following the leader if you feel like it).

Playing hide and seek is another winner, with her running ahead to hide behind a big tree or rock.

And then there’s the good old reliable peg game, try and peg it on each other without the, noticing (or in our case pretending not to notice πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚).

4. Finding nature’s treasures

Sometimes when I’m super-organised I make a little scavenger hunt sheet up in advance with little pictures of what Jess has to find or see. It works well on walks that you’ve been on before so you know what might be likely. If you’re feeling time-rich you could even create bingo cards for all the family that you can re-use.

You can also buy a treasure hunt game like this one, which can fit in a pocket and can provide hours of entertainment!

πŸ‘‰gofindit – outdoor nature treasure hunt card game for families

If I want to keep it simple, I pass her a little bag and she has to collect treasures. She’s only allowed ten, so has to decide which ones she wants to keep. Woodland walks are great for this, often she’ll just collect pine cones and choose which ones she likes, the last one she found a baby pine cone, a Mummy one, a grandad one… you get the picture!

You could also set a challenge of collecting different types of things, perhaps different colours, or make it more educational and collect different types of seeds. Collecting sticks is also a favourite game, which she can then use as drumsticks on various things that we pass!

If you’re feeling creative, you could use the things you find to create some wild art too.

If you’re short of time, wait until you get home for some nature creations, your outing could keep them entertained all day!

5. Singing

Jess is at the age where she loves to sing, particularly nursery rhymes, which works for me as that’s about the limit of my singing ability. From my days working in summer camps I feel I’ve got a good selection of songs for when she’s older too (no doubt the type you might sing at Guide/Scout camps), but there’s also the option to play favourite songs from your phone. Anyone who’s been to a kids disco in Europe over the past few years might remember the classic ‘chu chu wa’ which also keeps her going!

6. Jumps and balancing

A one for the little ones really! Balancing on logs and roots and doing jumps off rocks and stones is always fun. She loves jumping over anything; small puddles, twigs, lines on paved paths!

Wet weather is perfect for puddle jumping, and as long as Jess is wrapped up warm we’re happy for her to splash away. Her puddle suit from Mountain Warehouse is fleece lined so keeps her nice and cosy in Autumn (link below if you fancy something similar).

πŸ‘‰Mountain Warehouse Spright Printed Rain Suit – Breathable Autumn Suit, Waterproof Coat, Quick Dry, Taped Seams Kids Raincoat, Fleece Lined, High Viz – for Travelling Pink 18-24 Months

7. What’s that shape?

Shapes and pictures can be seen everywhere you look! Look at the clouds, puddles, bark on the trees, patches of mud, piles of leaves!

8. Stone throwing

Stones, acorns, pine cones or conkers, we see who can throw them the furthest (obviously in a safe space!!). Sometimes we go a bit crazy (ahem) and do kicking instead! If you’re headed on a path with a stream or river you could play Pooh sticks, or find things that you think could float (which lasts the longest?).

9. Storytelling

Adventures are EVERYWHERE when you go on a walk, and you can let your imagination run wild. In the woods can we see the three bears? What about the fairies? If we can’t why not? What are they doing, where must they be? Near a river we hunt for crocodiles, over a bridge Jess checks that there are no trolls underneath. Have some trees been pushed over? Maybe it’s bears in the woods… we’d better try and hide!

Some family walks have trails and activities as you walk, so we make the most of them and add stuff as we go along.

10. Tree hugging

Jess randomly started doing this herself one day at Golden Acre Park, we try to find trees that she can reach round herself, and then bigger ones we try it if we hold hands.

Other ideas

So there are our top 10 things, but there are loads of other things you could try, how about taking paper and crayons for interesting rubbings? Or if they’re a little older stopping to draw a picture of something interesting they can see?

Weather can also help with entertainment, rain provides puddle jumping, sun provides shadow tag, and if you’re lucky, snow creates snowballs!!

What else do you do on walks to keep little ones entertained?

*I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Wentworth Castle Gardens (NT)

This has been popping up on my news feed since it re-opened and I’ve been dying to see it! Absolutely did not disappoint. There really is a bit of everything; beautiful gardens, fantastic views, a sun monument, a castle to explore, and of course all the great facilities that you’d usually expect from a National Trust property.

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wentworth-castle-gardens

Facilities: Everything you’d expect! Toilets, cafe and play area. Lots of benches dotted about.

Pushchairs: The gardens are fine for a pushchair, although I’d imagine parts would get muddy on wet days. The whole property is on a hill, so it might be difficult for scooters etc for little ones.

Dogs: Are definitely welcome!

Technically, this is our second visit. The first was a bit of a disaster….We decided to take Jess’s new bike which she decided she didn’t want after about two minutes. They’re pretttttty heavy now she’s bigger! So Steve started carrying it. James started having a meltdown. The heavens opened. We all got soaked. Jess fell over cutting both knees and screaming until she was having a meltdown too…. and we abandoned the day in favour of a (well needed) drink at the amazing Strafford Arms down the road.

This time round the sun was beaming down on us when we arrived which is always a good omen. First stop was obviously the play area; not only because Jess LOVES them, but because it’s the first thing you come to! Being a Monday it was nice and quiet so Jess had the place to herself. Absolutely fantastic space, with a toddler area as well as a fort and zip wire! There are a couple of picnic benches there too if you want to set up for a while.

With the weather so perfect, we skipped the cafe in favour of a picnic. I mean why wouldn’t you with these fabulous views!

We were told at the entrance the walk to the castle would be half an hour to 45 minutes, and I was a little worried because Jess was sooooo impatient to see it (are we nearly there yet? IS an actual thing). She kept telling me she was the Queen and wanted to see her home. But I need not have worried, there’s absolutely LOADS to see on the walk up. Firstly passing the temple (with a big hill to roll down- after the downpours over the last few days we skipped this), and then up to the gardens.

The Victorian flower garden is gorgeous and FULL of colour, and there are two sets of stairs to (almost- not sure what to call them) viewing platforms that give more great views.

I’d seen a sign for the sun monument, and naively thought it would be some sort of glorified sundial but nope… that really is a proper monument there!!!

And then the castle itself. Simply glorious. Now I’m not really a person with a problem with heights; skydiving, bungee jumping, climbing peaks, never been a problem. But I HONESTLY NEARLY CRIED with Jess when we climbed the spiral steps to the top of the tower. Having James strapped to my front probably didn’t help, but I nearly stopped circulation on her arm as we walked backdown I was squeezing so tight!! But Jess had lots of fun, and I enjoyed it more with her running around (at ground level!!!!) and exploring the other remains.

On the walk back we saw more of the gardens, they’re honestly beautiful and THE TREES!!! Oooooooh!! I do think the weather helped but it’s just gorgeous.

Jess was getting tired and James was getting cranky (he had his third set of jabs earlier which might have explained it) so after another turn on the play area we decided to head home.

I’m looking forward to returning and trying the walk around the Parkland, I imagine there are even more spectacular views!!

If you do make it over there, let me know how you get on… I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Rachel xxxx

Brimham Rocks, Summerbridge (NT)

This is probably one of the most iconic places to visit in Yorkshire. It’s the dream playground for adventurous kids, and, let’s face it, us adults too! If you haven’t been (errrrrr why not?!), in a nutshell this National Trust site is a collection of rocks which are millions of years old, sculpted into weird and wonderful shapes… with fantastic views over this amazing county. Pictures (especially mine!!) simply do not do it justice.

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brimham-rocks

Parking: Pay and display car park, free for NT members. Entry to the site itself is free.

Pushchairs: Whilst you can take pushchairs on the main paths, the main appeal of this place is to explore. I’d recommend a carrier for non-walkers.

Facilities: a ten minute walk from the car park is the visitor centre, toilets and refreshments. There’s an indoor area for picnics in bad weather, and lots of picnic benches outside, but no proper cafe.

We visited Brimham after doing a short walk in the area, and I was a little unsure on how much there would be for Jess (3) to do… memories pre-children consisted of heady heights and steep drops, but there really is something for everyone; and you can do as little or as much as you like.

Nothing here seems off limits, literally anything goes so you can scramble and explore to your hearts content. In this world of health and safety it’s massively refreshing to be able to test your boundaries, although we had to keep a close eye on Jess and there is always the scope for idiot behaviour (the horrendously sad episode of last year case and point).

There are plenty of photo opportunities, and for even more entertainment watch the hoards of selfie takers with their multiple pictures of various expressions in EXACTLY the same pose. I realise this might be an ironic observation, given the fact I’ve included a number of pictures in this blog but HONESTLY….

A previous visit with friends!

The views are spectacular, and at the visitor centre there’s a great picture that not only shows you the names of various rock formations, but also points out key locations on the distance such as York Minster!

To make sure you see everything check out the property map, but you may be like us and just go where your feet take you!

We love a good trig point!! The one at this site is just behind the visitor centre.

Whilst we let Jess pretty much dictate our visit by pointing to which rocks she wanted to climb (and us saying no to 90%!), the National Trust website suggests some good ideas for a more structured visit;

  • A Spot the Rocks trail, taking you on a guided walk of the key formations
  • Picking up an explorer backpack from the visitor centre which teaches children about wildlife and geology on the site
  • Geocaching; there is a series of seven easy to find which are perfect for children.
  • Child friendly events– look at the What’s On page to discover Storytelling and Nature Explorer dates.

So to summarise; if you haven’t been, or it’s been a while, make it a priority. I definitely had left it too long (although not sure if my heart could take Jess climbing at a younger age). It’s much better in dry weather when the rocks aren’t slippy and you can enjoy your lunch taking in the views. If you’re planning a full day there perhaps check out one of the activities they have for children. Enjoy!!

Pugneys and Sandal Castle

This is a great walk to start little legs off on hills! It’s a lovely walk round the lake and the walk up to Sandal Castle gives fab views over the surrounding countryside.

Route: http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Longer%20Walks/Walks_Leaflet_12_Sandal.pdf

Distance: 3-4 miles depending on the path you take.

Pushchairs: Whilst the path round the lake is perfect for buggies, the path up to the castle is not!

Parking: Pay and display car park

Facilities: The visitor centre has a cafe and toilets. There are lots of picnic benches and a great playground.

We did this route in an anti-clockwise direction. There is a signposted path away from the lake to take you onto a tree lined path.

You can’t really go too wrong on this walk- you can always see the castle or lake so know which direction you should be going in! Heading up the hill there are great views of the castle and lake.

At the top you’re rewarded with great views.

The walk back is lovely, and you rejoin the lake path.

For a shorter route, the lakeside path is extremely child- friendly, read this blog.

Transpennine Trail, Woodlesford to Leeds City Centre, 10km

This great section of the trail takes you on a path between the canal and River Aire past Thwaite Mills. From here you can take a train back to the start. There is a bridge that has stairs up, so be prepared to carry your pram if you take it!

Route: Start at Woodlesford Lock and follow the marked path towards the city centre.

Parking: Free carpark at Woodlesford Lock.

Facilities: There are no services that you pass on route, so make sure you head to the loo before you leave! Otherwise it’s a fair way until you hit the Royal Armouries.

Pushchairs: The path is mostly grit or tarmac but there are muddy stretches in the middle, so maybe avoid after rainy periods! There is one set of steep stairs, so if you do take a pram you might need two people or some big muscles!!

Alternative: You could park atThwaite Mills and join the path there to walk to and back from the city centre. This part of the path is very easy.

Starting the walk at Woodlesford lock gives you plenty to look at with the canal boats. When you get to the next lock (Fishpond Lock) you need to cross to the other side.

You’ll be on this side for a while, the path passes under the M1 and through the woodland that sits between the canal and river.

Next up comes the difficult part of the walk if you have a pram (if not- crack on!).

You need to cross back across the canal via this bridge. The steep steps on the top picture below need climbing. At the other side of the bridge the path is the picture in the bottom left, but on the other side of the road (bottom right picture) there are no steps so an easier option with a pram.

The path passes Thwaites Mills here, before once again crossing the canal and joining the new path of the route.

From here you start to see the residences surrounding the city centre, and you can see the improvements that are being made to the area. Stick to the side of the canal and you can’t go wrong!

The trains from the city centre to Woodlesford usually run every half hour, but check before you go!

Other walks from Woodlesford;

A 6km walk around RSPB Fairburn Ings, Castleford

This is a perfect walk if you want to feel away from it all without actually getting away from it all! There are lovely views and there are good paths, so great for a pram and a pooch.

Route: I followed the green trail on this map before dropping down and following the blue trail back along the river. It’s about 6km in total.

Facilities: At the visitor centre there are toilets, refreshments and a nature play area (so no slides, more about exploring). Along the walk there are plenty of benches to stop and enjoy a snack or picnic along with the views!

Parking: Β£4 all day or free for RSPB members.

Accessibility: Grit paths, suitable for a pram. A little uphill at the start but then flat or downhill the rest of the way round.

We’ve previously walked through Fairburn Ings when we did a circular route from Fairburn to Ledsham, but we’d not ventured to the west side before. It was much prettier than I realised, with great views.

I started by walking up the coal tips path- I turned right at the top of the hill to walk round the ponds. These pictures really don’t do the views justice!

Rather than doing the full route I continued along the path south west towards the river, then turning round just before the old bridge to follow the river path back. Truly gorgeous!

If you have little ones, you could try some of the activities closer to the vistor centre, read our previous blog post here.

Walks nearby; RSPB St Aiden’s.

Northwood Fairy Trail, York

There’s a little magic in these woods, if you listen closely and stay very still you might just find a fairy!

Website:https://www.northwoodtrail.co.uk

Northwood Trail is a 1.5km path through some gorgeous woodland. You get the distinct feeling that you’re not alone, and can find lots of evidence that fairies are around, from the toadstool fairy rings, to the overhead fairy bridges, to the fairy doors on the trees. You’ll even see the thrones of the fairy king and queen!

Jess was disappointed not to see a fairy (she’d hoped dressing like a fairy might encourage them to show themselves), but reliably informed us that they were sleeping, and was happy that she’d seen where they live!

The path passes a bamboo maze to find a fairy ring! Be warned, it’s not an easy one and you may be in there longer than you think!

Towards the end of the trail is an area for children to play, with plenty of chopped logs to climb over and a den building area.

Back at the start we enjoyed tea and cake at the GORGEOUS cafe (I imagine in winter it’s even more awesome) and visited the fairy museum.

We really enjoyed this truly lovely walk (even in the rain) but be warned there’s limited places for stopping on the trails, and nowhere to picnic. As such it’s not a walk that you can spend a long time on, so take that into consideration when deciding whether to pay up! It could definitely do with some activities on the way round, perhaps some puzzles or nature spots and rubbings. Having said that it’s still relatively new, so perhaps these things are on the way!

So it’s not an all-day attraction, but would be a great stopping point to the coast or moors. The cafe itself is worth a stop, and I think we would on our next trip to Bridlington.

PS When looking back at our photos Jess was delighted to spot fairies!! They were invisible to our eyes, but the camera never lies, and we can see lots of fairy orbs flying around the fairy ring… see, they really do exist!!

πŸ‘‰Another Fairy Trail that you might enjoy is Studfold! This is more of an activity based trail, so you can make more of a day of it!

Chester Zoo

On Monday we visited Chester Zoo; it made sense to break up our return journey from Wales and we’ve never taken Jess before. It was a lovely day for it, but even if the weather hadn’t been as good there’s lots of shelter around, making this a great day out all year round.

It’s an impressive start; the elephants are the first thing you come to and so Jess was on side from the moment that we arrived.

There are plenty of ‘big’ animals about; lions and tigers, chimps and orangutans, rhinos and giraffes. But plenty of smaller animals too- particularly inside the huge buildings like the Tropical Realm. And best of all there’s LOADS of information; loads of stats and interesting stats to read. We were having such a good time I took barely any photos!

When we’d been previously we’d never made it to the ‘Islands’ area, but this time we did, and enjoyed the boat trip. James wasn’t allowed on (children have to be able to walk unaided) so I went on with Jess who gave a running commentary to the whole boat πŸ˜‚

There are picnic benches everywhere if you plan on taking food with you, but also lots of choices to buy things dotted about. We just had burgers from the food court, but MASSIVELY regretted our choice when we saw the street food kitchen in the islands area. The food isn’t priced too badly, but drinks ramp it up, and we were surprised that water bottles could only be filled at certain food areas; the smaller snack vans sent you elsewhere. On such a hot day we would have liked more options for warmer fountains etc.

Other things we didn’t do but want to, are a trip on the monorail and a go on the treetop challenge (both have a supplementary cost), as well as visit the free nature reserve that you can get to from the car park.

It’s a big site, and so there’s lots of walking. Jess was shattered by the end! You can hire buggies (single and double) at the entrance if you need it.

Overall a really good day out with LOADS to see; which you’d expect from the admission price. It’s definitely worth it, but do go prepared- think about the amount of walking, take more drinks and snacks than you would do usually and perhaps plan your route and must-see animals before you go. If you want to see any of the animal talks they’re on the website so you can plan this into your day too.

The Gnome Roam, Newmillerdam, Wakefield

This has fast made it to one of my favourite ever family walks. We’ve walked round Newmillerdam a few times and on this sunny day the car park was full and lots of people were out enjoying the circuit round the lake. But once off the lakeside we only passed a couple of people and were able to soak in the fantastic woodland walk in peace.

Location: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/sport-and-leisure/parks-and-countryside/gnome-roam

Route: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Documents/sports-leisure/parks-countryside/gnome-roam-leaflet.pdf It starts in the car park and is well signposted all in way round in both directions.

Parking: Coin only pay and display

Facilities: Toilets at far side of lake. There’s a couple of pubs and cafes too, we went to Lakeside for a gorgeous Antipasti Platter.

Distance: 1.8 miles

Accessibility: Most of the route is surfaced and fairly flat, but it’s steep in places. There’s also a short grassy section. At the start avoid the steps by taking the track to the left and then cutting up to the right. I’d recommend either ditching the buggy OR taking the reverse route- there’s still a steep part but it’s much clearer and more manageable.

This is a lovely family walk, where you find the gnomes and complete the various activities as you go round. My favourite activity had magnifying glasses to look at some bugs, genius!

Whilst we’ve walked round the lake before we’ve never ventured up into the country park, and so I’m so pleased this takes you up there it’s gorgeous ❀️ The bear is in a particularly impressive area of woodland!

The route is well signposted throughout, so easy to do without a copy the downloadable route!

It was a superb walk, and we finished it by popping across to the other side of the lake to the Lakeside cafe where I had a fab antipasti platter!

Please give this gorgeous walk a go, I cannot wait to go back with Jess do it with her, let me know how you get on!

There was plenty on this walk to keep Jess entertained, but if you need more (!!) try this post for ideas.

The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

These gardens are just GORGEOUS. On a sunny day, grab a picnic and head there to enjoy the stunning surroundings. Even better, if you picked up a copy of Gardner’s World back in May you can get in on the 2 for 1 offer.

On entering the ticketed area you see the superb cascading fountains. They are spectacular, and provide lots of entertainment watching people getting caught out and soaked! In front of the fountains are mini diggers that our three year old enjoyed using to collect water and dump it over my feet!

The grassy area soon filled up with picnic rugs and deck chairs as families set up for the day. There are some provided, but got snapped up quickly so I think you need to get in fast! The cafe does do really good food, but expect to pay high prices… no doubt partly the reason for the number of picnickers!

Before we arrived we downloaded the free app; A Giant Adventure. This was fantastic – you can see the giant asleep in the Lake outside, and then follow the trail inside. The app uses augmented reality and is really good fun. Jess LOVED it, although it completely baffled her πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Inside the garden we all loved the different fountains and water features, lots of fun. Lots of children were playing in them in the scorching weather, although there were signs around warning against this. A few surprise water spurts soaked some over eager parents… great laughs.

The gardens are perfect to explore and wander around. Covered walkways take you up the side of the cascade fountains to a gorgeous flower garden, brimming with colour!

There are further surprises dotted about the gardens that kept Jess engaged!

We didn’t enter the Poison Garden on this visit, but it does seem a firm favourite for many, with tours every 20 minutes.

At the gardens you can also play golf and go on a woodland walk.

Overall it’s a really good day out, particularly when you can take advantage of the weather. If you’re visiting the area its somewhere you should try to fit into your itinerary- particularly if it’s a sunny day! If you’re not staying in the area, its right next to Alnwick Castle so you could combine the two to make the most of a day trip.