Get kids and adults back to nature with these top five tips

The recent snowfall has seen many of us reliving our childhood and heading for the hills with our sledges and excited children in tow. If you loved the outdoors as a child, chances are you want your children to enjoy it too but in our busy, time-constrained lives with modern day distractions from TV to computer games, it’s increasingly rare we actually get to enjoy the great outdoors.

When we do and kids get to wander wild and free, we all have fun don’t we? Help create some special memories with these top five tips for getting our kids and ourselves back to nature this winter.

Treasure TrailsTreasure
Explore the coast with a Treasure Trail – these are walks with a
difference, helping you experience the natural and built environment in a fun and unique way that kids love. Follow in the footsteps of pirates with a Treasure Trail from Porthcurno along the ancient smuggler’s route on the Coast Path.

Go beachcombing along the shoreline – this is a great way to introduce kids to the marine environment and the flotsham and jetsam washed up with the tides. Branscombe in East Devon saw more than its fair share of gatherers 6 years ago to the day (almost) in the aftermath of the Napoli disaster. Today, you’re more likely to find starfish or jellyfish than a BMW motorbike. You can still see the ships’ anchor that commemorates the event and the communites’ sterling effort to minimise the damage.

Starfish JellyfishWinter Rockpooling
Winter is a great time to go rockpooling. Wembury beach on the South Devon coast provides the perfect natural playground and its Marine Centre runs a series of guided rockpool rambles throughout the year from April. Follow The Seashore Code from Devon Wildlife Trust for advice on rockpooling without a guide. The National Trust has a rockpool score sheet to record your findings.

amoniteFossil Hunting
Follow in the footsteps of Mary Anning along the Jurassic coast, one of the greatest fossil hunters in history. Lyme Regis and Charmouth are the best places for fossil finds and the Lyme Regis Museum hosts regular guided hunts throughout the year. The annual Fossil Festival takes place this year with Curious Coast from 3-5 May.

For more inspiration, check out the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11¾

What are your special memories of the great outdoors as a child? Any recommendations for locations on the coast that are particularly good for kids?

Please add your ideas in the comments below.

Get a Spring in your step on the South Devon coast

Sun set on NYD - Copy

As predicted It was a great start to the new year as the sun came out in the South West and many people stepped out to blow away the cobwebs on the coast.

Bantham in South Devon was a popular choice for the 3-mile circular walk to Thurlestone we discovered. The upshot of the crowd was the celebratory atmosphere with teenagers taking a New Year dip in the sea and families setting up barbeques on the beach.

This is a fairly easy walk but getting to the start proved challenging. Anyone who’s been here will appreciate the patience required to navigate the narrow country road leading to the beautiful beach, where the River Avon meets the sea. This is not to be confused with the Bristol Avon river or any other river of the same name for that matter, of which there are many.  The name derives from old English, or rather the Welsh word for river, so it literally translates to River River.

The Coast Path walk to Thurlestone begins with a steep hill where the views out towards Burgh Island and beyond are simply stunning. It soon becomes a gentle stroll that passes through a golf course. A giant rock stack balances precariously on its point and the Thurlestone Rock arch that gave the village its name is equally impressive.

Lunch was had at the Village Inn in Thurlestone where everyone was well catered for, from the dog who received a bowl of water on arrival to the baby who was happy in his high chair. Fellow customers were friendly and the fireplace offered a warm welcome.

Signs of spring - CopyThe return to Bantham via the inland route was unofficially diverted back to the Coast Path as conditions were too muddy and the electric fences were not very inviting. This was a bonus as we now had the coastline to ourselves and the New Year sun was setting.

At the end of a truly revitalising walk to get off on the right foot in 2013, our spirits were lifted further by the first signs of Spring lurking beneath a Christmas tree. The days are officially getting longer. Roll on British Summertime!

Please share your stories of New Year walks on the South West Coast Path and post a link to your twitter or blog below. Happy walking!