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Long distance walking with a 7 year old

‘Adventure’ seems to be a word that eludes many parents.

Despite having previously been adventurous, I found myself frustrated by how limiting being a parent can feel.

It’s all in my head of course, and just a matter of re-framing what adventure looks like when you have kids. Some parents work this out straight away, and others like me, yearn for the ‘good old days’ where I could roam free and unburned by the shackles of parenthood.

Not wanting to be a parent that regrets spending too little time with my kids, I decided the best place to start, was simply by doing something about it.

I had actually been planning on finally getting my long-distance hike groove for some time now.

I spend a lot of my time talking to other long-distance hikers on the Distance Hiker Podcast, but very little time actually doing it.

So, with weeks of excitement, as the weekend got closer, I planned my route.

But, there was a catch.

I wanted to make my own trail.

As somebody who is naturally creative, the idea of making my own trail seemed exciting.

I want to make a trail, and eventually a series of trails for people like me. Busy folks, with not a load of time, who wanted to experience the joys of long distance hiking within the comfortable confines of a weekend.

On Monday, they could then return to the workplace, and gleefully tell their colleagues of their adventures.

The rules of my trail were simple.

  1. It could be no more than 15km per day, preferably less, giving time to enjoy all the trail has to offer.
  2. It had to be interesting, and prioritise interest over being the most direct route
  3. It had to be easy to navigate.
  4. There must be a choice of accommodation, from campsite to B&B.
  5. Public transport of reasonable timing and available to return to the start or access cities for convenience.

With these rules in mind, I downloaded the OS mapping software and worked out a route.

The route was to start in Hathersage, taking walkers up Stanage Edge, before dropping down into Bamford and Hope.

The second day would see walkers ascend Win Hill, before taking on the skyline above Castleton, and then descending to Edale.

It seemed simple enough, so we set off around 3 pm after my work on Friday.

Our plan worked brilliantly, with Noah, my 6 (almost 7) year old smashing through the miles, before hitting the top of Stanage and supposedly running out of steam.

With the promise of ice cream and a short break on my shoulders, I encouraged him to keep on going.

In hindsight, it would have been nice to stop on the top of Bamford moor when he told me he was tired and had enough, but I wasn’t prepared with a water filter or shovel for a spontaneous overnight camp out so we pushed into Bamford.

We cut the walk short at Bamford as Noah was tired and hungry and another hour on the trail seemed like torture to him (and me). We headed towards the train station.

At the station, we met a lady who told us of the Saturday rail strikes.

Bugger.

That had scuppered my plans to walk to Edale the following day, and catch the train back to Hathersage.

I needed a new plan.

At the campsite, Noah abandoned me for his new friend Ben and had found his energy again, with them both running laps of the campsite. I shared a beer with Ben’s dad, before planning my route for the next day – running back to Hathersage along the Derwent Valley Heritage Way.

I want to walk the Derwent Valley Heritage way as a 2 day challenge, so it was lovely to walk a section of it to get an idea of how this would feel.

After a rough night, mostly due to my newfound inability to get comfortable in a tent (this never used to be an issue!) we woke up, said our goodbyes to our new friends, and departed.

The walk back was blissful. Noah dragged his heels a bit, but I reminded myself there was no rush, and we stopped at several points along the river to dip our feet in, and to watch the wildlife. I pinged the location of these secret spots to my partner, for future days out when it’s hot, and the kids need a paddle.

We eventually walked back to the car, where within 5 minutes of driving, Noah was snoring in the back seat.

Mission success.

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