Planning a trip to the Lake District with your children this year? It’s a great opportunity to get your child walking. Walking has numerous benefits for your children, helping them to stay fit and healthy and giving them an opportunity to explore the world around them. Here in the Lake District we have some fabulous family friendly routes that your children will love to explore. However, we all know that children can be a bit tricky at times, so here are some ways that you can guarantee your Lake District walk will be a total success.

1. Plan Your Route Carefully

Walking signposts

As tempting as it might be to simply leave your hotel or holiday cottage and see what you can find, with a bit more planning you are more likely to have an enjoyable walk. Choose a route that your family will be able to manage. We have a number of family walking guides available here that include the distance and how long it will take to complete at a typical child’s pace. This will allow you to work out how much food you will need, etc.

2. Make It Sound Interesting

Walking up Helm Crag

Walking up Helm Crag

Saying “We’re going to see if we can get to the top of this mountain and see if we can see our holiday cottage from the top,” sounds a lot more interesting and appealing than “Let’s go for a walk.” You could look on the OS map to see if there are any points of interest along your route, such as a disused quarry or ancient ruin and suggest to your child that you are going to look for these.

3. Dress Accordingly

Weatherproof clothing

Visiting over the winter? Remember that children tend to get colder faster than adults. Wrap them up with layers to help them to keep warm. Vest, long sleeve t-shirt, fleece top, hat, scarf, gloves and waterproof jacket are essential. Don’t dress your child in jeans, as this will be uncomfortable when wet. Instead, use joggers or trousers, and consider thermal leggings underneath and waterproof trousers over the top. Wear thick ski or welly socks with wellies. Wellies are great on flat ground, especially when muddy puddles are involved, but if you are planning on doing something a bit more adventurous, such as Cat Bells, then walking boots are much better as they will give extra support. George Fisher in Keswick is a locally owned outdoor gear shop that has an excellent walking boot programme for children, where they will trade in an old, outgrown pair for money off a new pair.

If you are here in the summer, don’t forget the sun cream and sun hat. The fells can be very exposed at times with little opportunity for shelter. If it’s particularly hot, then the thick canopies of Whinlatter and Grizedale forests can provide some welcome respite and offer some fabulous walking opportunities.

4. Don’t Be Put off by the Rain

Wellies splashing

It rains a lot here in the Lake District, but don’t let that put you off exploring the area with your children. With a little bit of planning, your children can have a fun walk that involves jumping in lots of muddy puddles. Make sure your child has waterproof clothes and wellies before you go and plan your route so there is somewhere you can go to warm up and dry off. A local favourite of parents is the village of Buttermere.

The track from the village to the lake is often dotted with large puddles perfect for splashing, whilst the two pubs and cafés in the village welcome children with muddy boots. You can leave a change of shoes / clothes in the car with an old towel if things do get a little out of hand.

5. Snacks Make Excellent Bribes

Mardale III Bell above Troutbeck

Mardale III Bell above Troutbeck

Put aside your worries about healthy eating for the day and bring along plenty of snacks to keep your child going. For example, you can tell them that they can have a chocolate button if they reach the next gate, etc. Older children can be given the responsibility of carrying their own rucksack with a drink and a snack in it. Not only does this lighten the load for you, but it gives your child a sense of being grown-up, and provides a handy receptacle for all the pinecones they will inevitably collect.

6. Make Picnics More Fun

Hotdogs on a picnic

A soggy cheese sandwich isn’t that much fun and not a great motivator. Consider some alternative picnic choices. For example, you could try pitta bread with mini hummus pots, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, or wraps with various fillings. Alternatively, if you have plenty of space in a rucksack and are not averse to processed food, take along a flask with hot water, some hot dog sausages in a jar, and some pre-sliced finger rolls in a plastic Tupperware box. Once the bread rolls are removed the water can be poured into the box with the sausages added for a quick and easy way to heat them up. If you can source some sachets of tomato ketchup, then it’s even better and kids will love this alternative picnic idea.

7. Have a Treasure Hunt Along the Way

Boy collecting rocks

Make the walk more fun for your child by setting them a challenge to find certain items along the way (and bring a bag to carry them all). For example, a pine cone, an acorn, an interesting stone, a large leaf, etc. If you bring an elastic band, your child can find leaves to tie to the end of a stick to create a wand (do make sure you take the band back home with you to protect wildlife!). Alternatively, do a reverse treasure hunt and paint a large pebble to plant somewhere on your route for someone else to find.

8. Consider GeoCaching

Geocaching in the Woodland

For older children, you can take the treasure hunt idea one step further and do a bit of Geocaching. Geocaching is a national treasure hunt where participants leave items (caches) for others to find and log. They can be hidden under tree roots, between stones, or in walls, etc. The hider uploads coordinates onto the Geocache site and using GPS, participants can then try to find it. The cache is often in a container so you can leave something of yours behind, for example, a pen or a small toy, such as a yoyo. The Lake District has hundreds of Geocaches awaiting to be found, and at family favourite, Wray Castle, there’s a geocache trail in the castle’s grounds.

9. Take Some Small Items to Use on the Way

Girls blowing bubbles

Help your children to stay engaged in the walk and avoid the chances of whining occurring, by taking some small items that they can use on the way. A small pot of bubbles blown onto the path can then be chased. A small magnifying glass is great for looking at the myriad of insects that inhabit the Lake District. A pencil and some paper can be used to create a bark rubbing that can serve as a memento for your walk.

10. Build a Den or Explore Some Caves

Cathedral Quarries Pillar

Cathedral Quarries Pillar (Philip Male /

Children love the idea of dens and you can use this as a way of keeping the walk fun. Choose a walk that has some caves as a feature, such as Rydal Caves, Borrowdale, or Cathedral Quarry. The children can pretend they are dens to conquer or defend. Alternatively, head into the woods and build a den using long sticks and fallen branches propped up against a sturdy tree. Whinlatter, Grizedale, Brandelhow, and Friars Crag are pushchair friendly places with plenty of good den building opportunities.