Nottingham teachers Tim and Kerry Meek love to take their children Amy (11) and Ella (9) on challenging outdoor activities. Here are 10 of their favourites to try this summer…
PICTURES © Tim Meek unless otherwise credited
1. Hike and camp
Challenge yourself to a long walk with an overnight camp. Pack light – sachets of soup and cereal; a small stove and kettle; sleeping bags; roll mats; tents or bivvi bags; warm clothing; drinks and snacks. Then amble across the countryside to a secluded spot with a beautiful view to wake up to.
2. Kayak safari
Exploring the coast by sea kayak really feels like an adventure. It’s a great way to see birds and sea-life, as well as interesting cliffs, secluded beaches, hidden caves and curious stacks. ‘Sit-on’ kayaks are the best place to start as they offer good stability. Wear life jackets, and know how to stay safe.
3. Night walk in a forest
For young children, venturing out into the dark is exhilarating and a little nerve- wracking at the same time. You can ramp up that excitement factor by taking children on a night walk in a forest. Go somewhere you and the children know well by daylight. At the end of the walk there will be a sense of relief, exhilaration and bravery.
4. Sleep on a beach
At the end of a day on the beach, why not light a fire, have a meal and set up for the night in a tent or bivvi bag? Camp above the high tide mark, check tide times and weather, and make sure there’s easy access to an escape route if space is limited.
5. Canoe down a river
Canoes are relatively stable and easy to control, and can accommodate up to four people – making them a natural choice for families. Hire from a provider, who will also supply paddles and buoyancy aids. Take plenty of drinking water and snacks – hungry paddlers are not happy paddlers so keep everyone fuelled up. PIC: © Joel Blit/Shutterstock
6. Walk behind a waterfall
A browse on the internet should reveal a suitable waterfall to visit – one that has an overhang providing enough clearance beyond the falling water for you to walk safely along. Keep children close, wear sturdy footwear, and expect to get wet! PIC: © Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock
If you want to test your head for heights, try scrambling. It’s neither rock climbing nor hill walking, but falls somewhere in between the two; you have to use both hands and feet to ascend or descend. There are easy routes; your family might want to learn the basics with an outdoor adventure provider or guide. Photo via IStock.
8. Swim wild
￼￼What could be more invigorating than a refreshing swim after a long hike? A meandering river or a hillside lake is a stimulating place to swim. First, carefully check for dangers such as weeds, strong currents or sharp rocks. If unsure, don’t risk it! Always insist that young swimmers and weak swimmers wear buoyancy aids, and are accompanied throughout.
9. Children-led adventure
This gives kids experience of planning and preparing for a trip. Set them the challenge of organizing a hike from your front door, using a map. Then get them to pack the bags and set off – whatever the weather. There’s no need to worry about getting seriously lost, because you’re really not too far from home.
Taking kids into caves doesn’t have to be (or more importantly shouldn’t be) daring or dangerous. There are plenty of ‘dry’ caves or surface caves to explore initially, and these will be more than thrilling enough for first- time cavers. Photo via IStock.
Read more of the Meek’s ideas in 101 Family Adventures, by Tim, Kerry, Amy and Ella Meek (Frances Lincoln, £14.99, ISBN 978-0711238615), or go to their website: dotrythisathome.com