Children love being outdoors and the added achievement of reaching the summit of Snowdon should make for an even more enjoyable day out for the family but knowing how to keep them entertained is essential for the group harmony and ensuring that they’ll want to do it again and again. The key is getting them started when they’re young. It’s not unusual to see children as young as five on Snowdon and you’ll often seen babies and toddlers smiling in back carriers (usually with tired Dads smiling a little less!)

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The more kids walk locally the easier they’ll find it when it comes to climbing a mountain but it’s not always about how physically fit they are. It’s as much about their mental attitude and that’s the biggest challenge for parents. In the same way when children say they’re hungry if often means they’re bored; when they say they’re tired it can mean the same thing. It’s amazing how much further they can go when they have an activity to occupy their mind or a game to get them smiling.

Many children today have a Fitbit activity tracker or a similar step counter and if you’re out on a really adventurous day it’s very likely to be their highest ever step count. This can act as a fantastic motivational tool.

Be realistic

Whilst children have a lot of energy and ambition, if the furthest you’ve ever walked as a family is to and from your local park, then heading straight for Snowdon is probably going to be a bit much. Get them used to walking longer distances and explore more achievable hills closer to home first – certainly for younger kids of infant school age. That’s not to say bigger hills and mountains are out of the question. If you have a fit and healthy child in junior school who’s used to exercise and you feel the same then go for it.

Get them involved

The easiest way to keep their minds occupied is to keep them busy. Discuss the day’s plans in advance of the walk, show them where they’ll be going on a map, talk to them about how excited they’re going to feel standing on the top of a mountain and what an achievement it will be. Let them pick their favourite snacks (climbing a mountain is a great excuse to combine their normal healthy foods with some high fat and sugary treats for extra energy).

If you’re using a map let them have their own copy. A common navigation technique is to use ‘collecting features’ to make sure you’re on the right track. Rather than walking with your head in the map you’ll take note of a few features ahead that you should pass as you’re walking and then tick them off as you reach each point. For example crossing a style, the path bending sharply to the left, a fence coming in from the right. Giving children these features to look out for is a great way to keep them involved and if they’re old enough they can even identify the features on the map themselves.

Be positive

This is great advice for dealing with children in any situation but when you’re half way up Snowdon and listening to complaints of being ‘exhausted’ and ‘I’m bored’; the more positive you are the more that will rub off on them.

Assertive discipline is all about praising good behaviour and ignoring (some) bad behaviour. It’s amazing how well this works and dealing with potentially tired children in this situation is just the same. Telling them to ‘stop whinging’ or ‘hurry up’ is not going to help them whereas ‘you’re doing brilliantly’ and ‘we’re nearly there’ will give them the motivation they need.

Remember, however tired you might be, you need to convey confidence to your children to keep them going. Happy children make happy parents!

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Play games

You can come up with some ridiculous games on the spot when you feel like you might be losing your kids’ attention. Depending on their age and your location you can make up any sort of fun activity to keep them on task. Something as simple as spotting the next person wearing a yellow jacket, seeing how many people you can get to wave as they walk past, counting 100 steps in your head and, the always classic, who can count the highest number of steps without talking (you usually only get to play this once!)

Here’s a couple of popular games that work well on the mountain:

Scavenger Hunt

Can be prepared in advance or you can ‘wing it’ on the day. Simply give the kids a written or verbal list of things to collect/look out for on their walk such as:

  • Something green
  • A piece of litter (pick it up and take it home with you!)
  • Someone wearing a brightly coloured coat
  • A stone or rock bigger than their fist
  • A signpost
  • Someone younger than them

The list is endless…

The Alphabet Game

Take it turns to ‘spot’ something beginning with each letter of the alphabet starting with ‘A’ (you might need to pass on Q and Z!)

You can also play this with categories such as countries, animals, boys/girls names, etc.

Pushchairs

None of Snowdon’s six main paths are 100% ‘pushchair friendly’ and you’ll find it very difficult to get a child in a pushchair to the summit without taking the train. However there are still some options to allow you and your child to experience Snowdon’s lower slopes.

The Miners’ Track from Pen-y-Pass starts off on a nice tarmac track and continues with a long gradual incline perfectly suited to pushchairs. Eventually you’ll reach a short steeper section up to Glaslyn which some pushchairs might be able to tackle but you’ll definitely hit the wall at Glaslyn when the climb gets really steep. This is still a lovely walk and children will love playing on the banks of the lake with great views of the summit. You could leave your pushchair here (it’s unlikely to get stolen!) and give your child an experience of climbing however it’s unlikely they’ll make it anywhere near the top.

The Llanberis Path also begins with an easy to manage road, a (steep) tarmac track and a mountain path that might be suitable for some outdoor buggies. You may be able to get to the Halfway House and as far as the steps up to Clogwyn Station but this is where you’ll need to stop. These steps climb for around 500m and the next 500m after that is a steep, rocky ascent and definitely not pushchair-friendly.

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Baby rucksacks and child carriers

These are great for enabling your baby or young child to join you on Snowdon. Baby/toddler rucksacks or child carriers are worn on your back like a traditional rucksack however they’re not cheap so you’ll need to be sure it’s something you’re going to get a lot of use out of.

If you’re new to wearing a child carrier, we’d definitely recommend trying it out on a local work first so you can be sure your child is happy and you can get used to the extra weight.


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