The Basics Of Fishing

If you haven’t been fishing before, this blog should make the subject clearer.

Try Fishing This Season

Why not try fishing this season?

What types of fishing are there?

1. General coarse fishing – which is based in lakes, pools, rivers and streams
2. Carp fishing -which is generally done in still waters, lakes and pools.
3. Fly fishing -where anglers use bait mimicking flies in order to catch trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, migratory sea trout and salmon.
4. Sea fishing- which takes place on charter boats
5. Boat fishing -which takes place inshore, in deep waters or wrecks

How to start fishing

Instead of going alone and needing a license, you can always take a guided class. This is a good idea for experienced anglers as well as beginners, and can last from a few hours to a full day. A class can be for just one student or for a group, and prices may vary depending on the extent of your experience.
Click here to see our fishing lessons across the UK.

What to buy before you start fishing:

1. Rod or a pole.

Most beginner kits are based around a rod and pole.
Rod types vary from Ultra light and light, to medium, medium heavy and heavy. Heavy rods are ideal for big fish, whilst light rods are ideal for lighter fish.

2. A reel

Many beginner rods do come with reels. Reels are made in four basic categories: bait casting, spinning, spin casting, and fly and spinning are the easiest for beginners to use.

3. Line

To choose the right line you need to know what sort of fish you are attempting to catch. A small carp can be caught on a lighter line and heavier fish needs a heavier line. However, lines can hold much more than their own weight. If you buy a beginners reel, it is likely to have been prefilled with a monofilament so you won’t need to buy a line.

4.Hooks

Hooks come in all different sizes, and like the lines, these should be heavier, in line with the potential fish’s weight

6. Bait is placed on your line- usually onto a swivel or leader which allows bait to be easily changed. You should ensure that your hook is embedded deep into the bait so it is not visible.

Types of Bait

There are a variety of types of bait, from live, to prepared, and artificial bait.
Live bait includes worms, flys and crickets, and this can be easily purchased from tackle stores. Perch are keen on live bait, in general. If you are fishing smaller fish, remember to use a small bit of live bait, or to use only a section. This bait is best put onto a ‘bobber’ so it floats, as opposed to the easier casting of an artificial lure.

Prepared bait comes in pots or packages and includes special corns, balls, bombs and flavoured pieces ideal for storing at home. Prepared items like groundbait can be ‘catapulted’ into the water to create a feeding frenzy. Carp tend to be particularly interested in prepared bait.

Artificial Bait is even easier to be stored and is usually made from plastic or feather in the shapes or live animals. This includes jigs- which bounce along the water, plugs- that imitate small fish, poppers that imitate twitching bugs, spoons, which look like minnows, and spinners, which use a propeller to vibrate along the water.

So there you have it, a basic list on what you need to start fishing- have you been fishing yet? What has been your biggest catch in the UK?

Activity Ideas for Spring 2012

The weather’s getting warmer and you can see the positive change in people (of course, there are always those people who predict snow storms, blizzards or extreme disasters, but we will be ignoring those types, for now.)

So Easter is coming up, spring is here and soon the kids (or your other half) will be wanting to do something with their time off.

So here’s your quick guide to getting the most out of Spring this 2012!

Quad Biking

Picture the scene. The birds tweep gently in the trees. The sun peers over the forest, peaking in the sky and casting beautiful shadows on the ground, whilst warming your face. You notice NOTHING of this as you ride, 2 abreast at top speeds with your closest family members behind you, in a fit of competitiveness on a Quad Bike.

Quad biking isn’t a good time to spend a weekend or spring day. It’s a great way! Get the right day for the squeamish and the mud has dried up, or get the better day and you will have deceptive crusts on the mud, allowing surprise as you plough ‘over’ the mud only to be drenched. Brilliant fun.

See all GO Activities’ Quad Biking Experiences

Guided Walks

If you always walk the same haunts and want something new, we can’t recommend anything better than a guided walk even close to home. Walk next to a guide who spends their day walking (I know jealous?) whilst picking up their information, helpful hints and route planning ideas so you can do it all yourself. (A bit like copying the hairdresser at home, albeit with more success.)

See all GO Activities’ Guided Walks

Surfing

If you’re lucky enough to live near a coast then and despite being au fait with seagulls pinching your ice cream, you may not have ever been surfing! We implore you to. Surely this is like being in the capital and never having been into a franchised coffee outlet?

Our surfing days are designed for beginners but have the benefit of being useful for those with a little more experienced, so you can take a huge group of friends and all have a relevant, fun day out. Even kids can get involved at surf school with the help of a boogie board!

See all GO Activities’ Surfing Days

Paintballing

If you want a day out but find walking dull or don’t want to do anything too traditional (bump into Mum and Dad? No thanks!) then get yourself out paintballing. A great spend of an evening, afternoon or a weekend, paintballing is seriously addictive and fantastic for anyone who fanices a bit of competitive spirit!

See all GO Activities’ Paintballing Days

Land yachting

A strange but beautiful sport. Land yachting involves using the spirit of the wind on the sails associated with the yacht to make a sort of lie down bike, powered by said wind. You can control the wind’s power on the sails, making the ride fast and furious or smooth sailing. A brilliant day out.

See all GO Activities’ land yachting days 

What do you usually do over the Easter time off?

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mothers. Some have ‘em. And if you love your mum like we love ours (ahh) then you will want to treat her. We know the problems though. Life gets in the way. Your car tax is due, you need to do the shopping and you have an ‘issue’ with the plumbing. Poor old mum gets relegated behind the leaky loo and the government’s legal stealing of your hard earned.

Sunday rolls around and you leave to meet her in 30 minutes. You have two choices.

a) Petrol station flowers, limp and flaccid and a sorry ‘thanks’ for looking after you for the past few decades.
b) A GO Activities gift voucher. This is an ideal (and the better) choice. Simply click, buy and print the voucher. Jam it in a card, or make one (mums love DIY gifts) and then you are good to go.

So what do GO Activities offer the Mums of the UK?

Treat mum to a bit of R and R this Mothers day with GO Activities!

Well, everything! Read on, kind son’s and daughters!

Knitting Classes

We have a course that can show mums how to knit a bag. Applying sequins and handles in the beauty of the Peak District you will be giving her a skill that can run to the future. So when your mum is the next Lulu Guiness (aka Top Bag Designer, to the uninformed) you can say ‘I had a part in that!’

Cost: £109 per Mum

See our ‘Bag Knitting’ Class here

Guided Walks

How about a guided walk as well? We have plenty of guided walks in the UK, but one we think most mums will love are the walks around Hadrian’s Wall.
The wall is very long indeed, but a great path to take starts from Newcastle, where you can even treat your mum to a nice night out or hotel the day before.

Cost: From just £15

See All Hadrian’s Wall Trips Here
A hotel trip away

What mum wouldn’t like a relaxing break with (or away from) her other half? GO Activities sells a range of accommodation so you can book her in to a local tavern, a faraway castle, an inn, a B and B…The list goes on!

Search for accommodation from the tab on the homepage

Cost: From around £25

A spa day

An oldie but a classic. We offer a variety of spa days, so you can choose between the full shebang (massages, facials and more) or just a simple mani/pedi. A brilliant relaxing day for any mum, a spa day is always a well received gift!

See our spa days here

Cost: From £54.99

There you have it. A few great ideas for your Mum, and all delivered into your email in minutes. Brilliant.

 

 

Brilliant Britain – What To Do In South East England

2012 is the year of Britain.  Number one on the agenda- the 2012 Olympics are in London! We wanted to encourage everyone in Britain to make this the year of adventure and fun. Give your sofa a rest and lay off the TV for the new year.
At GO Activities we don’t want you to sign up to the gym, to lose any weight or even to stop those bad habits. We just want you to get out and about near your home town and enjoy England. With so much to do, from bushcraft days, to quad biking, archery as well as walks and days out for the family, to celebrate Brilliant Britain- here’s some of the best things in all the regions, starting with the South East Of England’s Highlights.

Why Visit the South East of England?

Quaint villages, winding rivers and an unspoilt coastline, East Anglia is perfect for visitors who want to be close to London- but not too close!

From walking (try the Broads National park, all 300 square kilometers of it!) , boating (cruise, boat or kayak along  the River Yare) fishing, riding (try a horse ride in Hook) or just relaxing- South East England is ideal.

For a real British day out in any weather, head to the seaside towns of Wells-Next-The-Sea, Cromer or Lowestoft- known as the Sunrise Coast. You can even try Kitesurfing in Hunstanton or take an aerobatic flight by Shoreham on Sea – followed by salty chips under the threat of peckish seagulls and time in the arcades afterwards.
See the university town of Cambridge, punt on the river or take a trip to Norwich Castle, Oxford’s streets or the largest area, Brighton and Hove.

Take a 1 Day Bushcraft Course in South Walsham or go Otter Spotting on a Canoe Trail in Barton. A swallows and Amazons adventure day is also a great way to spend some time!

For adrenaline and fun for all ages, try dumper truck racing in Rochester, Airsoft in  Reading , or a super car experience in Chichester.

You can even do archery and quad biking back to back at an activity centre like Winchester, Redhill, Horsham, or Findon.

Explore the White Cliffs of Dover or historic settlements of Canterbury, Oxford and Windsor, which can also be traversed on bike.
Go sea cliff climbing at Harrisons and Bowles Rocks, where experienced instructors will show you the rope, or walk the treetop walkway at Salcey Forest, close to Northampton!

Highlights for 2012 in the South East of England

  • October- The Conker Festival in Polebrook, Northampton is a great day out.
  • November -Sheep Dog Trials in Sussex
  • December – Take a spooky ghost walk in Peterborough
  • July -Aldeburgh World Orchestra
  • August – Cromer Carnival or Northampton Hot Air Balloon Festival

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Feeling Festive – And Refreshed with GO Activities

Christmas hasn’t even passed but we bet some of you are feeling stodgier than your grandma’s unique Christmas pudding. Boozing, polishing off layers of chocs and all the trimmings can mean you reach January needing a bit of refreshment – or maybe you want to make to make this Christmas a bit healthier!

GO Activities are happy to help. Because we offer outdoor activities all year around we know precisely what would be a great idea for throwing off the cobwebs.

Places Free From January 21st – 2 day beginner caving weekend

This 2 day beginner caving day  will help you take your first steps underground!  This 2 day course is, fun, carefully organised, informative and conducted by highly experienced nationally qualified instructors.

Learn about the cave, its geology and the 300 million years it took to create it. Pick up tips on how to move underground efficiently, maybe try your hand at wet sections, muddy bits or squeezes – and they promise you wont get stuck!!

You can see underground rivers and waterfalls, fascinating pieces of geology, cave decorations or historical sites of past of times and ancient techniques. A wonderful environment that can be made as challenging as you wish. A full day of exploration, adventure and understanding. May include minor climbs/Scrambles.

Places Free From December 19th onwards Archery in The Lakes.

This day will introduce you to this competitive sport, where you can find out who has a steady hand and keen eye and the ability to hit gold!  The session will start with how to safely use the equipment and when to retrieve arrows, then it will be over to you to have a go, with  instructors on hand to help you get the most out of the session.

The courses are run outdoors in a Lake District Farmer’s field.

Are you the next Robin Hood? Or are you going to be the next Olympic Champion?

http://www.goactivities.co.uk/products/1544/archery-target-shooting
Places Free From December 19th onwards Canoeing in The Lakes

http://www.goactivities.co.uk/products/1144/1-2-day-fun-leisurely-open-canoe-session

With this half day canoe tour you will learn basic paddling skills and techniques.  Journey into the quiet bays around the lake shores, visit the islands, stop for a warm drink and munch on a snack whilst enjoying an unobstructed panoramic view of breathtaking scenery from the water.  Then play some water games before we head back!

This session is great for families, groups and complete beginners and suits every one of all ages. You will discover for yourself the places of interest, wildlife, history and geology that have helped shape these undeniably special locations.

Places Free From January 8th – Bushcraft in Somerset

We’re sure many of you have watched in fascination as Ray Mears or Bear Grylls build shelters and light fires with a ease that to many is infuriating!  This course offers you the chance of learning those skills for yourself. The chance to connect with our inner cave man (or woman), to harness those skills we think are long forgotten like lighting a fire without a gallon of petrol, building a shelter and more!

http://www.goactivities.co.uk/products/1657/bush-craft–get-in-touch-with-your-inner-caveman
Places From The 26th December- Kids climbing course in Sheffield

This climbing session is designed for complete beginners or children who wish to attend on regular basis.  It includes all the necessary safety equipment and qualified instructors. Instructors will normally instruct on a 1:6 ratio so that means lots of climbing! It also includes a cold drink and biscuit yum.

Children can also use this session to work through The National Indoor Climbing Achievement Scheme NICAS.

http://www.goactivities.co.uk/products/1157/childrens-indoor-climbing-ages-7-to-12-rockstars

So there are just a few ideas for you and the rest of the family this festive season!

How do you usually stretch your legs around this time of year?

Do you fancy caving, archery, bushcraft skills, canoeing or climbing?

Tell us below!

Discover Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian’s wall. Battered, a bit broken, but in the most part still standing this is a very beautiful walk for any keen walker, historian, or anyone keen to walk a set route for a good period of time. Some routes are easy, some, harder, making Hadrian’s wall a wall for almost everyone.

The wall was built to divide Scotland and the invading Romans. It also makes a fantastic walk for anyone keen for a (scenic) challenge over around 4 days. 73 miles long, which would have been 80 roman miles long as they did things a bit differently then, this is a challenge well worth undertaking!

Hadrian’s wall is not intact for the whole distance and means that you can walk along stretches of it. There is a trail which is 84 miles long which can be walked along most of the wall. This is clearly sign posted and can be followed from east to west , or west to east, Eastbound means you start in quiet Solway and end up in the city, and vice versa.

Hadrian’s Wall Accommodation

Camping can be difficult and local hostel and hotels are often used instead. A guided walk will arrange all your accomodation for you, and the price is usually included. The bonus of  a walking holiday is that your food, luugage, snacks and transport is all taken care of- meaning all you do is walk.

The River Tyne

Rules of Hadrian’s Wall

It’s a bit of a grim point but if you do camp, or if you are out walking need to ‘go’ out on the trail, you can’t dig a hole – you must use a bag. You can then put this in a bin.
Legally, dogs can come with you but be aware that the sheep aren’t as keen on man’s best friend as you are, and that some guesthouses might not be either. Make sure you pack enough water for both of you in case of a lack of taps.

Hadrian’s Wall – The Walks and Routes

Hadrian’s Wall National Trail Path can be walked and it usually takes around 4 days, accounting for sleeping time. You can walk the trail for a certificate, but this needs to be stamped at stamping stations en route- but this only runs from 1st May to 31st October.

The wall (depending which way you walk it!) runs from Raven glass, from the side of the Irish Sea, the home of a Roman Bath. The end point is the Roman Fort Museum in South Shields.

Ravenglass when the tide is out

You can get a map which shows the walks gradients and you can take a strenuous path, or an easier route.
There are a number of other walks that could be done that can incorporate Carlisle or Newcastle so you can see the city.

5 days (3 walking days) from Carlisle

• Day one : Carlisle- explore

• Day two: Take the 93 bus to Bowness. (15 miles) and back to Carlisle.

• Day three: Carlisle to Walton (11 miles)

• Day four: Walton to Gilsland (8 miles)

• Day 5 – Sightseeing in Carlisle – catch Carlisle castle or cathedral

Carlisle Castle

What to see:

Carlisle offers a variety of things to do and see from the New mills trout farm in Brampton, Gretna green shopping, Carlisle racecourse, as well as Solway coast area, Solway Aviation museum and the Walby Farm park.

5 days – (3 walking days) – Corbridge to Gisland

Day 1: Arrive Corbridge/Overnight

Day 2: Walk to Chollerford/Wall: 10m

Day 3: Walk to Once Brewed: 12m

Day 4: Walk to Gilsland: 9m

Day 5: Onward Travel

What to see:

The picturesque village of Corbridge is located just south of the wall, and leads you to the Roman Wall. The walk takes you through the wonderful empty landscapes of Northumberland into Cumbria, finishing in Gilsland. See forts, milecastles and turrets, museums, visitor centres and more.

Houstead's Roman Fort

6 days (4 walking days) from Newcastle upon Tyne

• Day one: Arrive in Newcastle and take a tour!
• Day two: Take the metro to Wallsend and walk to Newburn (12 miles) return to Newcastle
• Day three: Wall Newburn to Chollerford (17 miles)
• Day four- Walk from Chollerford to Steel Rigg (12.5 miles)

What to see:

Newcastle city offers Chinatown. Grey street known as ‘the loveliest street in England’ the quayside, The Biscuit Factory art gallery, the BALTIC centre of contemporary art, Hatton gallery, Seven stories, the centre for children’s books, Theatre Royal, the Tyne bridges and more.

 

On the Road

8 days (7 walking days) Newcastle to Bowness

Day 1: Arrive Newcastle/Overnight

Day 2: Walk to Heddon: 15m

Day 3: Walk to Chollerford/Wall: 15m

Day 4: Walk to Once Brewed: 12m

Day 5: Walk to Walton/Brampton: 16m

Day 6: Walk to Carlisle: 11m

Day 7: Walk to Bowness: 15m

Day 8: Onward Travel

What to see:

Discover the vibrant city of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne leading into Northumberland and then on into Cumbria, finishing at the mouth of the River Solway. See the Solway Firth, forts, milecastles and turrets as well, and take photos of the beautiful landscapes along the way.

How to buy:

The link to our Hadrian’s wall tours can be found here.

Have you tackled Hadrians Wall? What route did you take?

Comment below!

Alternative Holiday Ideas

Want to see the mountains of the Cairngorms, Grasmere and Inverness but don’t want to stick to the tried and tested spots? If you’re not after the same old areas, or if you prefer to take in the beauty of the mountains with a proper comfy bed and hot continental breakfast before you tackle it , then why not consider a cottage or a hotel with a difference?

A view from Rothay Garden (see below)

In keeping with our ‘Anti Glamping Movement’ these aren’t brand name, big corporate hotels that strip away the heart of the outdoors. These are family run, quaint, old or just wonderful cottages or hotels based in charming towns or National Parks so you can confidently enjoy being in acres of woodland whilst you eat your dinner- literally having your cake and eating it.

So before you check into a lifeless name brand hotel on the nearest motorway, why not choose a unique country cottage closer to the big name mountains with something different to see? Here’s our pick with help from our friends at LateRooms.com

Read more of this post

3 Peaks Challenge Tips

The Three Peaks Challenge is something you may have been asked to do for charity, you might want to do for fun, or you might have no clue about. Whatever your level of familiarity with the 3 peaks, this article will explain how to defeat the peaks with advice from people who’ve been there and done that!

Ollie, Tom and Henry at the top of Snowden

The three peaks are Snowdon in Wales (1085m), Scafell Pike in England (978m) and Ben Nevis in Scotland (1344m) although you can also take part in the Pennine Range Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge on  Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in under 12 hours, however the aforementioned Three Peaks across England, Scotland and Wales are very popular. These aren’t the highest peaks, but they are the best for providing a feasible, logistical challenge to those who want to climb all three in a day.

After climbing up and down one, you travel, usually via a mini bus or car to the next one. The popular route is started at 6pm at the south of Ben Nevis’s sea level, where you drive to the walking point, and this route and timing allows you time to get to Ben Nevis when it is dark, Scafell at around 3am, and a finish with Snowdonia at the coast when it’s light. Most 3 peaks are undertaken within 24 hours and many people undertake it for charity so it involves some training to get prepared!

I asked Mark Rutter, 30, who is training for the 3 peaks in November about how he expects it to go.

“I wanted to take on the three peaks for charity in order to raise money for a local care centre with a friend. I’m not an experienced walker and in fact I have only just started walking during the past 2 months!  I have had a practice walk up to the top of Mount Snowden and I am using my treadmill at home to get fit. Over the past 2 months I have been gradually increasing the number of miles so that I am prepared and I’ve been reading various websites about clothing and which routes to take as they range from easy to very difficult! I have also been talking to friends who have completed the challenge before and staff at the GO Outdoors store in Stoke.

Our aim is to complete the 3 peak within 24 hours, however this will depend on traffic between each peak. After speaking to a number of experienced walkers I have been told that the hardest mountain will in fact be the smallest peak which is Scaffell Pike in the Lake District. Apparently the incline is very steep and there’s lots of rubble to lose your footing on!”

So loose rubble and traffic- what factors are key in surviving and successfully completing your goal of the 3 peaks?I asked and Ollie Kilvert, 26 who climbed the three peaks a few years back how it went and how he stayed awake!

“I ate bananas, flapjacks, and lots of high carb stuff like pasta to keep going but it was quite challenging and there were times when we did want to stop, luckily I did it with my Dad and brother and as we are all very competitive,  no-one wanted to show weakness and we pushed each other along!  Tiredness was expected, but it is okay as you do get the rest when you travel. Scafell at 3am is a bit much! But as soon as we got to the top it was sunrise, so it was worth the effort.

For me, training was a struggle given that I lived in Norfolk at the time with 100m high hills to practice on, so it was on to Mum’s cross trainer most nights! My advice for people would be to definitely pick the longest day of the year for the most sunlight, and to be careful that your designated driver is switched between drives, as having them exhausted on the road is not recommended.

We did the Three Peaks in aid of Cancer Research so we dyed our hair blue too and we raised about £4500 which was a success, and the only notable touch and go moment was at the final mountain’s car park, where my Dad passed out with exhaustion- still, we did do it in 19 hours so it was a bit of a push!”

We also spoke to Mark Jubb, 27 from Sheffield who got involved with the charity MIND for the walk, as well as for himself. Someone who wasn’t particularly ‘outdoor orientated’ we caught up with Mark to discuss the 3 Peaks from the angle of a complete beginner.

“It was a challenge that I wanted to do so I could feel I have achieved something. We also did it for charity which was an added bonus. The charity was MIND who help with mental health issues. I did this with work who made Community and Mental health software so the MIND connection was quite apt as we were actually helping a charity related to us. ”

What made you want to do the 3 peaks? 
The challenge of doing it. I felt I wanted a physical challenge to focus on that was actually quite difficult. I also did want to do something for charity and help others. As a team we raised just under £10, 000, which feels really good.  Also when the opportunity arose it felt like something that I would only do once and it would have been foolish to not get involved as the opportunity may not come by again any time soon.

Where did you find the information before you went on what it would be like? 
The MIND charity arranged a lot of the finer details for the team. There was 19 of us in the team. They used a 3rd party company named ‘Adventure Café’ who arrange a lot of out door activities, including the 3 peaks.  As such transportation, accommodation for the first night up in Scotland was all done by these guys. In fairness they were really good and all the little things were sorted. I was even able to hire some walking poles from them as I had ‘overlooked’ this when purchasing my kit.

Did you train on any local hills?
The team did about 6 training walks. These varied from simply starting in Hope and walking round the Yorkshire peaks out towards Derbyshire, to going up Snowdon twice in one day. They also did Scafell Pike about 4 weeks before the challenge.
However, I only did one of the training walks and separately went up Snowdon once. So- my training was not as in-depth as others in the team.

Was it what you expected? 

No. To be fair even though my training was a bit rubbish I felt my base fitness would get me through it, and I think it did. However, the lack of sleep is what makes it really, really difficult. As mentioned the first peak (Ben Nevis) is the highest and the longest but I found this quite good. Then we got on the mini bus to Scafell Pike and started this at about 5 in the afternoon.

Going up this was ok, but coming down in the dark and in the rain was really difficult. By this point I had been up since 6am and it was 11pm and I had quite poor rest on a cramped mini bus. Due to this I went to quite a dark place in my head…A little ironic since we were doing it for a mental health charity. The lies of the guide (saying it was 20 minutes ahead whenever asked!) were also not helping me either. He then decided we would go up Snowdon via the miner’s trial, which is steeper than the Pyg track.  We did manage to get up but my right knee was feeling every step and by the end it was shot. No way would I have been able to do another one, and to be fair a few of us were feeling it!

Overall I would say it was harder than I expected, but for different reasons. In a way it did make it more satisfying at the end as it was harder.

Tell us about the weather and how long it took you? 

The weather was varied. On Ben Nevis it was really nice, and I think this helped me enjoy it more. However it went progressively down hill and basically rained on the other two. When we got to the top of Snowdon (the last one) it was really misty and visibility was really poor which was a shame as it would have been good to get a group picture with the view.

Did you manage to sleep? 

No. As we were on the mini bus it was hard to sleep. That would be the one thing I would try and change. Use transport where you can sleep.

And do you have any advice for people looking to do the 3 peaks? 

Do lots of training, ensure you have the correct kit and food and if possible rest as much as you can in-between. Also make sure you really want to do it! Get some good gear.  The best kit was my boots. Obviously feet are really important when walking so having the correct socks and boots is a huge thing. Changing socks for each peak was also a good tip. I also changed my trousers and top for each one which helped me feel fresher. A head torch is a must for the night waking. One thing that really helped was walking poles. (Alternatively a helicopter would make this sort of thing a lot easier! )

If you want to get out on the 3 peaks challenge you need a strong kit.

Helicopters aside, a minimum kit list would look something like:

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof overtrousers
  • A good baselayer top
  • Walking trousers
  • A fleece midlayer
  • Gloves, a hat and spares
  • Headtorch
  • 35 litre rucksack
  • Walking poles
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Pencil
  • Whistle
  • First Aid kit and towels/emergency blanket
  • Snacks
  • Water/drinks container
  • Walking boots
  • Walking socks

Have you undertaken the 3 peaks and survived?  What time did you do it in? Comment below!

Kid Friendly Activities

Are you still having nightmares about the last half term break?  The cries of ‘please!’ and ‘why not?’ still haven’t left you have they? It’s okay. We know how hard these mini adults can be to entertain.

Maybe they don’t yet have a hobby, or perhaps they’ve already developed a love of DeathRevengeGore3 on the X-Station.  We all know the benefits to be had if your child is raised with a life of adventure and regular activity so we want to coax them outside. A chance to try things earlier can take away and fears they might otherwise develop, and makes helps them to stay fit, healthy and socialized.

A lot of the events that you can book for yourself can also be booked for the kids. Outdoor based, skill based activities are often perfect for kids and young adults,  such as biking, walking, learning bushcraft skills, fishing and even archery or shooting, all combined with camping as a family. Sadly, it’s up to you to get them off the sofa and doing these things, sotear off that earpiece they’re sporting, lob their mp3 player in the bin and get them outside enjoying the outdoors before they submit to a lifetime of chubbery with this guide to kid friendly activities.

Guided/Group Walks With Kids

Most companies who offer guided walks will also be happy to take out children of a certain age. With a group walk, sometimes kids can come, as long as the group are happy with that. The age varies but is dependent on how long the walk is and how much experience your own child has had with walking. However most walks that are kid friendly wont be that 2 day trek around the peaks, but would be something more child friendly.  Getting outdoors on the hills means that kids can run free, but it’s also a great opportunity to instill the theories behind Leave No Trace, respecting the outdoors, navigating and keeping safe outdoors as you walk or climb.

The ramblers also have a list of local walking groups (with kids) that you can get involved with, for regular, local activities. See the list here.

Pushchair Walks:

Costing £1 to cover costs, you can download routes from Pushchair Walks, a fantastic site that lists all the walks that’s are pushchair friendly all over the UK, (or you can buy a whole book for your region.)

Started by two stay at home mums, these are fantastic for active parents with young children who want to get walking away from roads, traffic and congestion.

These walks are great for giving you some resistance as you walk, so if you want a bit of excess weight off, this can help build up those muscles in your arms.

They also review buggies, so if you’re about to pop out a child but don’t want to be trapped in with the TV on looking folornly outside, you can pick a pushchair for a local route. (Turns out 3 wheel all terrain pushchairs are best on gravel and rocky routes.)

I spoke to founder Bec about how it works.

“The walks have been popular with both parents and grandparents across the country but, in addition to this, we have had a great response from less abled people and dog walkers.

The majority of the walks have been undertaken by myself and my colleague Zoe Sayer, however, we have received walks from other pushchair walkers and always welcome more as there is only so much walking two families can do!

The walks vary in length from 1 to 6 miles and are graded in three categories, easy, medium and hard, so there really is something for everyone. The easy walks are ideal for new mum’s just regaining their fitness and perfect for their babies too as the terrain is nice and even. These easy walks, are in most cases, also recommended for wheelchair users however we do recommend contacting us to check this before purchasing a walk.

We have always found that the best way to entertain kids is to make sure there are plenty of snacks on board – see our food reviews page for recommendations! As the children become older pointing out animals and plants and encouraging them to use all their senses to explore the world around them provides a wonderful way of parent/child interaction.

The website is inclusive of all carrying methods. All walks have minimal obstacles so that they are easy for adults with pushchairs of papooses to undertake. There are advantages and disadvantages to all carrying methods but the pushchair does allow the parent to carry items for every eventuality! Some of the walks are suitable for wheelchair users and we have had some great feedback concerning this. We would recommend that these users look at the walks with an easy grading and contact us to make sure they are suitable.   ”

Family Walks:

Family walks are a great way to spend time together without distractions (Shops, TV and Confectionary being top offenders.) but you need to keep them fun.  We have a few walks with pubs en route in this blog here,  so you can stop off for (child friendly) refreshments. Give kids some gadgets and tasks, like a head torch, the map and a pencil, a map case, a compass or GPS system. There are plenty of walks but a great idea is to try include nature trails or woodland routes. There kids can get involved building dens, spotting insects or even snail racing.

The Woodland Trust has plenty of downloadable resources found here you can use to get started.

It’s also really key that you have the right shoes for you and the kids- even growing feet need walking boots with good ankle support so don’t forget to get them kitted out and worn in before you attempt the Eiger.

Geocaching:

Geocaching is the method of using a GPS to navigate to some set co-ordinates. Register online at geocache.com (it’s free), and search for caches near your location.

Get the co-ordinates- sent to your phone or enter them into your GPS. Then go find the cache, which is a small prize in a watertight container. Sign the log book on arrival and take the prize, leaving your own for the next geocacher! Read more on it here.

Camping with kids:

Surely you aren’t already skipping this paragraph? Wait! Come back! It’s not like the old days!… Oh well.

Some people just can’t be convinced that camping won’t have you digging a cat hole at 3am and showering under a leaky, rusty tap in a hut.

But luxury (and not glamping) can be achieved and there is a happy medium between ‘might as well be a hotel’ and ‘rough and ready camping’.

I spoke to a regular camper and mum of two under tens, Alison Bates about how to ‘do’ camping with kids.

“Some campsites have underfloor heating, an onsite coffee shop, gourmet dinners a washing machine, tumble drier and even hot tubs! These are a fantastic way of getting a luxury break, for cheaper than a break abroad, and you’re sure to use the washing machine, but in other senses, even though it takes brave camper to go camping without electricity or for a more ‘real experience’ it can be done.The key is the electric hook up.  With these you can actually take, if not the kitchen sink, then at least the kettle, the toaster, the radio. With kids I would always personally choose a lesser sized pitch and the choice of an electric hook up! If you can’t afford to go abroad camping is ideal. It’s always has been a cheap option and it is much simpler than you imagine.”

How do you make it easy to camp with kids and keep them happy?

“Children love freedom so they tend to run around and entertain themselves. Get them pitching the tent with you; they will soon get into it. The set them free! The best advice from me is to make sure the kids are dressed in shorts and t-shirts that can be worn from bed or put on themselves, so they can have a cereal breakfast (keep UHT milk handy) and then they can go play on site.  Choose the right site and they can make friends, wear themselves out, walk, bike, kayak, canoe, and head onto the lake, try climbing and just get some fresh air. Some sites have rangers so they can go with them pond dipping, on bat walks, if not on the campsite, then near it. I would also recommend District Association meets for campers which a side of the Camping and Caravanning club, these are local events for people from the same area with the same sort of interests. The benefit is you get many of the same kids coming to them so they are great for shy children.”

Alison’s Unique Packing Essentials For Happy Kids

  • Hot water bottles for safe tent heating (never use a BBQ or stove, even if it’s gone cold, because of the fumes)
  • Beakers- Keep drinks in these to stop wasps settling.
  • Headtorches for the kids at night
  • First aid kit – complete with wasp spray for stings, Arnica for bruises and plenty of plasters
  • A bucket with lid for toilet waste with kitchen towel in for silence!
  • A bucket with water for a fire bucket or for washing muddy feet in
  • BBQ skewers duct taped to long sticks to put in the fire to cook marshmallows safely
  • Mini fire extinguisher for in car use taken to the tent
  • Mobile phone charger  which is solar powered or wind up
  • String – you can make washing line or you can tie your kids oars to a canoe- there are plenty of uses for string!


Guided Cycling Routes For Kids

Ever tried to cycle with a map in hand? That’s why you got that injury. What you needed was a guide who could have let you kick back on the bike, whilst they did all the hard work on the trail and teaching front.

Guided cycling routes are extremely easy to get into- all you need is a kid friendly route and a provider who can take you all out. The best routes to look for are based around bridleways and steam trains or on a dedicated course outdoors with a cycling professional guiding the way. A professional will teach you how to maintain your bike before and after the ride, what to look for, and how to handle it.

We spoke to Steve from Adventure Cycling about different ways to get your kids biking.

“There are family friendly routes of course, but we offer guided trails or even the mobile skills park, which we can bring to a school to teach kids as young as 8 about cycling, brakes and handling the bike. We can take families out and we would say that a family of 5 with a 8, 10 and 12 year old would be able to feasibly cycle up to 10 or even 18 miles in one go. We can supply bikes, helmets, so nearly anyone can come.  You may find that many places say ‘bring your own bike’. This is for logistical reasons, but it also shows that they are already able to cycle. If your child is unsure, then you should book in a special cycling lesson first, so always ask the provider.”

And what about fitness? Can anyone cycle?

“We do say that kids should be relatively fit, but cycling is great because you get a out of return on what you put in and it’s actually good for some problems children have, which might be asthma or maybe a weight issue. There’s little strain on the knees and it’s really fun too. ”

These tours can then progress to cycling holidays as soon as your child is confident on the bike, although for legal reasons this might have a higher minimum age.

Family Cycling Days

I have fond memories of being cycled around by my mum on a child seat only to show my appreciation by saying  ‘Mummy, why are you making that wheezing noise.’ Luckily she decided not to insist I walked the last mile.  Happy memories.

Steve tells us that the great thing about cycling is it can be a whole day experience, or an adventurous blast! “Getting out on a route down the Eden Valley in Penrith is great for little and big kids- usually dad- and days like this can combine together a picnic, a cycle and scenic routes so everyone’s happy.”

To get into cycling look for a bike. Kid’s bikes come in a variety of different sizes but are sold by age, so they are relatively easy to buy.

Indoor Climbing For Kids

Getting out on the rock face with a young adult is easy if you have had the relevant training and experience but if you are also a beginner then you need some guidance.

Long gone are the days of school climbing frames that swang away from the wall and resulted in horrific bruises- nowadays climbing can be fun. And you can wear more than a ‘gym slip’.

We always recommend a local climbing wall before you go away on a climbing trip to allow your child to get used to unfamiliar accessories like the harness, the helmet and the wall itself.

I spoke to Mike Lloyd from the Harrogate climbing centre.

“Kids can pick up quickly and we offer a mixed ability course, days for Mum, Dad and kids to come together, or kids clubs for 3 different age groups. The youngest we can get climbing are 5 year olds, and that’s for insurance reasons really! We are seeing a real busy period, and we have also been offering outdoor days on crags around Harrogate this year that have been great, so we have plans to do those next year in Manchester.” But what about that fear of falling?

“The only way kids can tackle these fear of heights is to try it, and we start off slow. We have bouldering walls, we can get them top roping, lead climbing, and the feedback is always great once they are actually doing it. If it’s the parent’s fear, we are CRB checked, all trained on site, regardless of how trained the staff already are, and we are monitored by the National Mountaineering Centre, so there are full checks at every stage.”

You can choose as Mike mentioned, to take kids to their own club, or to come for an hour or two with a personal guide. “This works out better with more people, with a family of 4 it can be £15 a head for an hour of instruction. This is often enough for younger children, where a whole day of climbing is probably a bit much.”

Kids need to bring their own comfy clothing, and the wall will supply shoes, and all the safety equipment.

(And bring socks as “the shoes are worn by quite a few people!””)

 High Ropes Courses For Kids

King of the swingers (not like that) in training can chimp about in one of the many high ropes courses in the UK. There are plenty of climbing activities on high ropes courses as which are perfect for adding more height for adventurous kids who have outgrown the indoor wall, with the addition of there being a safety harness for security as well as karabiners and all the other gear. The other plus is you can hire, without having to buy it.

There are zip ropes, and other smaller bits of equipment for kids to use, and instructors are always on hand. Many high ropes courses have an age and a height limit, which is usually 10 years old and 4”7 in height.

Learning to abseil, playing games and keeping active stops boredom or fear setting in and will wear out kids who are full of energy.

Outdoor Climbing For Kids

For outdoor climbing, there are plenty of options. From gritstone ridges, sandstone runs and  crags and flat, grassy areas, there are plenty of places to start to climb in the outdoors in the UK that you will have somewhere if not in your county, then very nearby! Simply pack them some jam sandwiches in a map and send them off to emerge out the forest years later, growling, bearded, but amazing climbers. Only joking. For new climbers, an indoor wall is best, but there are other options. Look for a beginners crag or a specific training class for young adults. Look for a belay route with a flat bottom so you can get kids up and down easily, or a climbing route near a lake or river (Ullswater in the lakes is great for a refreshing jump into the water.)

 Canoeing, Kayaking and Sailing For Kids

The general rule is, if a child can swim, there is an excellent chance that they can take part in a version of some of these activities. Out on the water all that children need is an ability to swim or at least float. A buoyancy aid or life jacket is an essential, even for keen swimmers too, so if you’re accompanying them, prepare to don waterproofs, wellies, a big waterproof skirt and gloves.

Choose an open canoe for a whole family, or if they want to go alone, sit on top (open) kayaks are great as they don’t need to sit still inside the boat. Depending on if you want to camp as well, you can often find similar families with matching interests at District Meets. Canoeing and camping meets are geared to people with a canoe, and you can find other places for people who own a narrow boat.

Some activities might seem dangerous but can actually be exiting and safe for kids. I spoke Jason at Distant Horizons about getting kids onto white water rapids, canoes and kayaks.

“The great thing about kayak is that it can be done easily with a tandem, so you could be behind your child as they learn. You can combine this with a day of lake jumping, a picnic or BBQ, and maybe some bivvi camping at the end. It ends up being a really fun family day out and paddling can be picked up really easily.”

Rifle Shooting, Clay Pigeon Shooting and Archery for Kids

Shooting and archery are skills that can usually be picked up very early on. Archery provider John Hartog of Sporting Targets told us that children as young as 8 can get involved with clay pigeon shooting, archery and even air rifle shooting.

“We have an age minimum of 8 and we can have a group of 6 for a shooting experience. This is because to hold the bow and arrow, for example,. You need to be 4ft high. You also need to be slightly strong to hold the gear. Archery or shooting can be a great experience for all the family or for a group of kids.”

And is archery modern enough in a world of technology and indoor games?

“The feedback that we get is that they love the guns, especially the boys. They are talking about Robin hood afterwards and really buzzing! We get some great feedback. Because they are supervised and the parents are nearby, it’s safe. As for the trainers, they all have shotgun licence and are CRB checked so it’s a really great way to give your child a bit of freedom to learn a skill that will impress them. “

John explained that before kids get hold of that rifle (and you start sweating about not agreeing to that buying that trike  for them last Christmas.) they will be safety briefed and given protective gear before they lay hands on a gun.  They are often given 4.10 calibre sporting guns which are very small. This is great for all the family to do as many kids get a kick out of ‘beating mum and dad’, whilst the sport also encourages concentration.

Fishing For Kids

I spoke to Stephen Ward of Go Clay Shooting who also offers courses to kids teaching an introduction to fly and coarse fishing.

“Fishing is great for kids, and for mum and dad. We get a mix of middle aged people booking to learn the skills, and then the other day I had a group of 7 year olds, so there’s a real mix learning and they all love it. Fly fishing is all about the presentation and you use a specific casting technique to catch, specifically trout, either brown or rainbow usually. We also offer Coarse fishing, which is using the rod, line, hooks to get small carp and tench, usually about 10 or 11lb, so quite impressive for a child. You can also take the trout home for tea as well which is a nice touch.The pools we use are about 3t deep so they are quite safe and easy, and we can do 1, 2 or 3 hours at a time. As well as the actual fishing we also teach them safety skills, the basics of knot tying, and we can even advise on what to buy if it’s fishing is going to be a regular hobby.”

So there you go. With most activities having a minimum age or 7 -8 and camping,walking and biking and even climbing open to smaller children, there’s something for everyone outdoors for a wet day or half term.

What outdoor activities have you done with your little ones?

Interesting Walks – With Pub Stops

What’s a walk without a little liquid refreshment?  From a nice ale, a wine spritzer or even a Sunday roast before you pop your waterproofs back on and head back home, a nice long walk is a great way to spend any day. (A walk with pub grub or a beer en route  is also a great bit of bait for any reticent walkers in the family!)

We asked our team as well as our Facebook and Twitter fans for their favourites.

Some people will cross hell and high water for a pale ale...

1.      Padley Gorge near Grindleford– Under 4 Miles- Mostly Flat – The Peak District

Just outside of the South of Sheffield at Grindleford station lies the walk to Padley Gorge. Starting at the station keep left and opposite the Totley tunnel. There are plenty of woodland birds such as Redstarts and Coal Tits to be seen if you know what you are looking for at the right time of year and the walk is relatively flat.

On seeing the gorge you can walk along the river or you can go across the more to door and back through to Grindleford. The route is signposted so you can find your way!

Pubs are the Fox House, or the local café where you can meet some interesting people! At the Fox you ccan get some great ales, as well as the delicious slow cooked beef, mushroom and ale pie followed by a portion of gypsy tart- a caramel pudding with whipped cream.

2.     Dunham Massey via the Brewery – 4 miles- Flat – Cheshire

If you’re near Manchester or Cheshire, you can do a lot worse then heading out for the day  to Dunham Massey Hall in Altricham to experience a day out, a circular walk and the grounds of this stately home first created in the time of William the Conqueror.

The gardens themselves are of interest, and are a great warm up preamble to the 4 mile walk (you can even get a chocolate shortbread biscuit or two in the café and a coffee to get your fired up – but we say go at lunch time and do the pub first!)

If you go to Woodhouse Lane you will find The Axe and Cleaver for amazing Boozy Mocha Ice Cream Cake to replace all the energy you have expended, as well as an amazing Sunday roast with decent portions- you can even get a meat trio if you can’t pick!

Full and happy you can follow signs to Dunham Tow via  a stop at the Dunham Massey Brewery where you can pick up a chocolate cherry or treacle flavoured beer, amongst others.

Then it’s back from your detour and onto the bridge and the footpath to the left of it you can head to little Bollington, following the route all the way through until you reach your start point.

3.      Aonach Eagach Ridge (Glencoe) and the Curved Ridge – Extreme Munro Route – 9 hours – Scotland

A great place to scramble, this is a more advanced route that will take a whole day (allow 10 hour) to complete, so make sure you are in peak condition! Stretching over 9km with and ascent of over 100m this is very close to the Curved ridge at Buchaille. Stick to Aonach for a grade 2 scramble, or go for gold with the grade 3 rock climb on the curved ridhe.

Whatever you choose, we recommend a stop off at Crowberry tower, here you can enjoy soups, sandwiches and sweets before you head down the ascent or if you just want some liquid refreshment, we can vouch for a strong pint and some crisps in the Clachaig Inn. In fact,  it’s worth stopping the night and having the Clachaig Big Breakfast – locally dry cured bacon, pork sausages with natural skins, and Stornoway black pudding!

If you just want a drink then the Boots Bar is great, a row of barrels, a real fire and ales and malts are all lined up for the drinking!

4.      Castleton Ridge Circular -14km – 5 hours- Mostly flat – The Peak District

Castelton is near to Hope Vally and Edale and is so named after the Peveril Castle that was built in 1086.

Home to the peak cavern, there is a good, circular route that can be taken on a ridge that leads you from the white peaks (low, rolling hills) to the dark, gritstone peaks.

Starting up at one end of the ridge between Hope and Edale, along Mam Tor with a height of 1700, Lose Hill, along the ridge to Mam Tor, back to Castleton.

You could also extend your walk if this to too short by taking  the Carl Walk on Hathersage Moo which is next to Higgar Tor between Stanage and Burbage Edges.  A few hundred metres away from the route on your way back to Mam Tor before you reach Castleton you will see an old fort. This  has great views and is local to some great pubs too, from the Fox House Inn,  or the the Rising Sun in Bamford for  Mrs. Walker’s Home-made Apple Pie with custard. We also got plenty of fans for  The Millstone in Hathersage for an incredible carvery!

If you’re near Castleton then you have to stop in at the Castleton Caverns after your meal – The Blue John Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern, Speedwell Cavern near the Winnats pass allow you to get a boat into the caves and explore the underground world. A great day out, but at 12dgrees underground- take a warm coat and don’t forget to duck in the low tunnels- It’s not one for the claustrophobic!

 5.      Great Gable – 5 hours- 7 miles- A tough scrambling route- The Lake District

In the North West of The Lakes near Seathwaite, Allerdale  and 13 kilometres south of Keswick is access (via the romantically named Windy Gap’)  to the Great Gable Mountains.

Looking into the views of the Scafells, this is a walk that you need to scramble, haul and pull yourself up working through Windy Gap, Great Gable, Beck Head, Gavel Neese, Moses Trod and Wasdale Head.After the walk we like the Drunken Duck where you can get a hearty pick of sandwiches, chunky chips and a pudding like the yummy ginger beer sorbet for your troubles.

6.      Lydford Gorge Walk- 3 miles- 2.5 hours – Devon

A mix of mud, woodland and hills, the Lydfordf Gorge walk in Devon is one that White Lady Waterfall and Devil’s Cauldron feature on, making this an interesting day out.

Starting at the Lydford George, you head via Lambhole Wood, walking for a few kms downhill before you see the White Lady Waterfall. You won’t miss it! 100ft in height this cascades out water and offers a place to watch it until it’s time to move on. Next it’s upwards through Tunnel Falls to the river. You will need your proper walking shoes on for this bit as then comes the Devil’s Cauldron. So called because of the bubbling, frothy waters and the look of a pot, this is well worth the walk.

The Castle Inn is based in School Rd in Lydford and is a great stop off and respite for walkers.

7.      Oundle Nene Walk –  6.8 miles -3hrs 30mim – Medium – Northampton

My favourite as it’s in my home town. If you’re near Northampton or Peterborough or even Kettering then a walk around the town of Oundle and a day exploring what this quaint area has to offer is ideal. With Rowan Atkinson a regular visitor to the area as well as coffee shops and other small boutique stores, this is an unspoilt town.

Starting at the Market place of the town you can walk around St Osyths lane to Bassett Ford Road. To a gate. Following this, go downstream, and take this riverside route instead of the footbridge route, which allows you to walk the Nene as a loop through the meadows to cross to Ashton.

If you do, make sure you stop at the Chequered Skipper, a gorgeous restaurant pun with an outdoor area and great food as well as some impressive conker trees (the conker festival takes place yearly on this very green in October!)

Keep walking to Cotterstock bank downstream (not over the footbridge ahead) before being led back in a circle to North Street in Oundle and to the town.

Before you head off, have a look at some of the local delis and the local butcher who can rustle up some great local meat for your tea (if you can wait that long…)

Enjoy walking- and drinking responsibly!

Elaine