Planning and writing walking routes can be really rewarding but some types of walks take more research and thought than others. I would definitely say that family walking trails are an example of this. Not only do you need to make sure the basics such as a good route map, and accurate walking instructions are in place, you also need to pay careful attention to the specifics.
Writing family walking routes
Here are the five top parents’ questions I try to answer when writing walking routes for children.
What do I need to know about this walking route before I leave home?
Walking trails for kids are different to adult walking trails because children (and the adults looking after them) have different requirements. Some of the information parents require is standard. For example where to park the car, how long a route will take, or whether or not there will be toilets nearby. But sometimes your local research can answer additional questions that people might not have thought to ask. Here are a few examples:
‘Can my family enjoy a picnic on this route?’
‘Is there room for ball games here?’
‘How narrow are the lanes approaching this route?’
‘What interesting things might we spot on this walk?’
The aim of this early information is to encourage the family to choose your walk over another activity. Additional advice can achieve this but it’s important to get the balance right. Too many extras can lead to that ‘too long didn’t read’ feeling.
What will I find when I get to the walk start point?
Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you that the time between arriving at a walk starting point and setting off can be the most stressful. Children often need the right shoes, coats, snacks, and bladder emptying opportunities all at once. On top of that, there’s a reason the search term ‘family walks near me’ is so popular. It’s because children don’t like long journeys, and often need immediate entertainment at the end of them. Just when their adults want to take a quick breather from the journey.
It’s your job as a route writer to make this time as easy as possible. You can’t always guarantee the perfect car park and pristine toilets but by accurately describing a situation, you can allow parents to be pre-prepared (both physically and mentally) for what they’re going to find.
What equipment will my family need for this walking route?
Taking the right equipment on a family walk can make the difference between a great time and a fraught one. Your families won’t want to carry too much stuff but knowing what to bring will help make the walk an enjoyable experience.
When you walk the route (always walk routes before writing them) try to imagine it in wet, wintery conditions. Then ask yourself the type of questions a parent might be asking.
Will this route be muddy? If so suggest wellies.
Will the terrain suit a pushchair? Be sure before you suggest it will.
Will the trail be easy to follow? If not suggest a map and compass.
Is this a long route? If so suggest snacks and a suitable stopping point.
Is this route going to be safe for my children?
Safety should always be your number one priority when writing any walking route but safety for children takes things to another level. Remember that children can be less predictable than adults, and that adults with children can be more nervous than if they are on their own. Here are a few things you might like to consider.
Children get cold more quickly than adults. If a walk is very exposed, for example on open hillside, mention this and recommend additional warm clothing.
Children and water can be fun but they don’t always mix well. Always make sure parents know in advance if a walking route is going include access to be unfenced water. Little reminders along the way will give opportunity for warnings or hand-holding.
Unexpected road crossings can be dangerous. Most children like to run on ahead of their adults. Although it is fine to include safe road crossings in a walk, it’s really important to warn parents that these are coming up.
What’s going to be available nearby for post-walk entertainment?
Walks with children rarely take a whole day so you might want to give parents a few additional family entertainment options. These can include things to do, places to eat, or even quizzes to do on the way home. It’s the little extras of information like this that can turn a good walk into a great day out. What better way to get the little ones enjoying themselves in the outdoors, and encouraging visitors to support local businesses.
Find family walking routes
It’s not always easy to find family walking routes online. If you’re looking for great walks with children why not check out Routes for Little Boots from The Outdoor Guide. I was really excited to be asked to write some of these short but fun walks. Look out for Barnes the Bear in the pictures, he’s always keen to come out and help when I’m writing walking trails for children!
Add value to your website with walking routes
Fi is an experienced navigation and expedition instructor, and outdoor writer. Her walking routes, and location stories can really add value to your travel or hospitality website, and are a great way to increase your web traffic and SEO. Get in touch today to find out how she can help.