in ,

The great outdoors

Preschooler Eliza riding on Daddy's shoulders
Eliza enjoying a ride on Daddy’s shoulders

My husband and I have always been pretty big on walking; to put this in context even our honeymoon was partially spent walking in the Yorkshire Dales.  Of course if I knew then what I know now about how exhausted I’d be the whole time with two small children I’d have definitely opted for the more sensible and traditional option of a beautiful palm tree-lined beach somewhere at least 10 hours on a plane away. But with the help of our trusty OS map we had a lovely and highly memorable time, captured for posterity in photographs of me with said map looking rather bewildered.  So you understand that we like the great outdoors, we love fresh air and love exploring.

That’s not altogether easy with two young children, 18 months and 3 years old, but that wasn’t going to stop us.  With our trusty Phil & Ted pram and the hope that the 3 year old would enter into the spirit of it we set forth.

I generally find that local walk books tend not to tell you if a walk is kid friendly (ie: can you navigate a pram and are there things to look at), you pretty much have to hope for the best.  We normally have our rucksack/child carrier affair to help, but we had lent it some friends in a fit of benevolence. So we were winging it a bit.

We went to Hedley Heath, near where we live in Surrey.  It was a beautiful crisp day, cold but beautiful the perfect weather for a walk. I’m generally pretty useless at taking the right stuff with me for the kids, despite numerous mistakes I still never learn. Needless to say a change of clothes for Eliza, the 3 year old, would have been wise. It was rather wet underfoot with a lot of mud (Peppa Pig would have loved it).

What I learnt was this:

  • Baby exploring the great outdoors in Phil and Ted buggy
    Exploring the great outdoors with a little help from Phil and Ted

    Kids love the most basic things in nature. ‘Wow it’s a really big leaf Eliza, Look!’ Cue much surprise and excitement about the type of tree that might have come from.

  • They are OBSESSED with poo. ‘Look Mummy there’s poo on the ground!” as she narrowly avoided stepping in horse manure. She then went on to tell me that that horse must have ‘had an upset tummy’. Yes I reckon she was right.
  • They get bored quickly when going up hill…. (definitely take some form of carrying device for a 3 year old, shoulder carries are exhausting for all but the biggest of rugby players.)
  • Both of my children love the sound of their own voices, that is to say they were completely rapt by the echo they heard when we were in the valley. It was enchanting to watch.
  • Always take enough snacks to keep them going. Walks invariably take longer than you expect and that’s when you know where you’re going…
  • Don’t rely on your iphone to have any reception and therefore use its map. For 2 such hardy walkers we were crap on this walk and didn’t take a map. Hence it took rather longer than we hoped.

We have done some lovely walks with the girls in the past 3 years and it never fails to amaze me just how much they love seeing animals and birds in their natural habitat. My husband is rather good at making it all sound interesting though, I’m just a bit rubbish at that ‘Oh look a cow, wow how fascinating.

The best possible side effect of a good walk in the great outdoors though is the fact the children sleep so brilliantly. Which was lucky as we were all back at work/nursery the following day and we needed a good night’s rest.

More about Headley Heath

Headley Heath is a National Trust site, with free parking for members as well as a catering van. Nearby Box Hill has a shop, toilets, information centre and a cafe.
More about Headley Heath and Box Hill >>

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Written by Holly


  1. Holly, your posts always make us smile! Between hiking in the Himalaya and walking holidays in the Yorkshire Dales, we have always been avid hikers. When M was about 4 months old we tried to go for a leisurely hike near Bolton Abbey and tell you what, pushing a Bugaboo up and down the paths is hard work!
    Ange, I’ll check those guidebooks out – they sound great.

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