We’ve just come back from 2 weeks holiday in Scotland; a holiday that involved a cottage in the middle of nowhere, 2 crazy toddlers, an English Springer Spaniel and a whole lot of the outdoors.
What I’ve learnt from this trip is that while there may well be some incredible mountains and awesome mountain biking and kayaking to be done when you have 2 toddlers you need to think smaller scale. Much smaller in fact.
There may well be a very nice 8 mile circular walk you can do with beautiful views, but if you start that walk with toddlers – who are determined to walk by themselves you’ll probably at best make it 1 mile up the track before one of them announces that it’s PICNIC TIME. My children at the very least would appear to follow the eating habits of a hobbit and need to have at least 3 breakfasts and after just the 20 minute drive to the start of the walk are already demanding their next meal.
So you need to think about mini adventures, a 2 hour walk is about the tolerance level of my 2 and in that time we can probably cover 1.5 miles before stopping for a picnic and then the return trip. That’s if we’re carrying them in their phil&teds escape carrier for part of the way of course. Routes need to be picked appropriately and ideally mean a circular walk so that you haven’t got to go back the way you came.
This is ok though, if you slow down and see the world through a toddler’s eyes you can find an awful lot of interesting things along the way. The highlands of Scotland are full of small streams that are just perfect for little feet to paddle in and explore. Lifting up rocks will inevitably lead to the discovery of a fascinating creature or two, a small larvae perhaps or even a little fish.
Bigger rivers give you an opportunity for Pooh Sticks if there is a bridge or as we did last week watching an apple core meander it’s way down with the flow and over some rapids (food was needed on the go this time, couldn’t wait for the picnic!). The only thing to look out for near water is the midges, but a covering of Avon Skin So Soft soon deters them.
If you’re in a pine forest you can search for the biggest pine cone – just make sure you have pockets big enough to carry them home! Or see who can spot the first Squirrel, bird of prey or deer on the walk.
Aside from a ready supply of food and drink (apples and peanut butter rolls are the key components in our house) making sure your toddlers are warm enough is key to a happy outing. The weather when you’re out in the countryside can always be changeable and perhaps even more so in Scotland. We went everywhere with our two dressed in a waterproof bib and brace, a waterproof jacket and then plenty of layers. This keeps them nice and warm and dry and you can easily remove layers if they get hot. We did try getting them to wear gloves but those were instantly discarded. However we opted for walking boots on them rather than wellies, much easier to walk in and warmer with the only downside that they weren’t fully waterproof for wading in.