Walking with Kids: The Whinger Games

(I forgot the snacks…)

Parents, we’ve all been there. You’re walking, the kids are moaning, there’s a general belief that one more step will be the one that makes their legs fall off…

And you’ve used up the entirety of your snack-based bribery arsenal! 

The horror! 

So what can you do? How can you make it back to base (or even better, the pub!) without stuffing your ears full of grass to drown out the whinge onslaught? 

Well, I can’t promise anything, but here are three top ways to motivate and accelerate your little walkers!


Take a picture. No, I don’t mean you! Hand it over to the kiddlies, whether it be a camera or a phone, and let them take creative control! The best game to play is photograph hide and seek. Task your explorers with finding an epic hiding spot…. then take a before shot…. and a BOO shot! Then giggle hysterically until you find another perfect hiding spot. 

Playing hide and seek, photo style!


Ok, so the novelty of the photo workshop has worn off. Enter the animal sound game! Tell them an animal, they have to do the sound. Then have a competition as to whoever does the best version of said sound. But wait…

There are several things you have to know about this game. The sound has to be neither accurate nor even animally sounding. Essentially, it’s an excuse to come up with crazy, crazy noises, which are likely to scare off any nearby walkers and make you look like an idiot. Can’t think why my two love it so much… still, if it stops the whingeing, I’ll take a crazed monkey noise any day! I guess if you are more normal than us, you might want to actually take some time and use this as a mindfulness activity.  A chance to listen to all the actual animal sounds surrounding you as you walk… but if you hear the native call of the angry honey-badger, you’re probably hearing us. Sorry about that.

Poo jumping. Yes!


Ok. You’ve run out of tricks… the finish line is in sight… but you have some super tired legs who can’t possibly take another step! Let me introduce you to Poo Jumping. Yes. You heard me correctly.

This is a top way of speeding up little legs on the home straight. And, well…. POO! I’m not sure I know of many kids who don’t find poo funny. Fact. So find some poo, run…. and leap over it. It’s a game so good, it has its own t-shirt! 

If you want to find more whinge-waiving wonder games, or more ways to make those walking moans sling their hook, head to: www.thereluctantexplorers.com

Heber’s Ghyll, Ilkley

Heber’s Ghyll, Ilkley

Heber’s Ghyll is a cracking family-friendly walk in Ilkley. Given it is less than 3km in length, this is a wander that really packs a punch!

The woodland surrounding the Ghyll is full of places to explore. During the spring, you’ll see it packed full of bluebells. If you take a trip there during the late summer and autumn, you’ll find blackberries to pick (and eat, of course!).

The path that leads around the woodland climbs out onto the open moor and then up onto Woodhouse Crag, where you’ll find the Swastika Stone.

The Swastika Stone, Woodhouse Crag

What on earth is the Swastika Stone? Well, it’s probably the finest example of one of the hundreds of Neolithic stone carvings found on Ilkley Moor. It’s a scheduled monument, and is pretty cool to go and see.

Dating back to c. 2800 – 500BC (at a best guess), experts are still undecided as to what purpose these ancient rocks served. Some believe that there is a religious connection, but they could equally be way markers, star charts or perhaps a bit of graffiti left by a prehistoric farmer who had a bit of time on his hands!

Had your fill of this little history mystery? Head back into the woodland at Black Beck and you’ll descend alongside the waterfalls of Heber’s Ghyll.

The waterfalls of Heber’s Ghyll

The path criss-crosses the descending water, with plenty of bridges to trip trap over. You’ll also find spots to get down to the water’s edge too, so on a sunny day, why not dip in your toes and have a splash?

However, the most important thing to know about Heber’s Ghyll when you’re walking with little ones is that it is the home of not one, not two, but TEN hidden dinosaurs. So keep those eyes peeled for some roar-some discoveries!

For the full route description, head to thereluctantexplorers.com. We’ve paired the walk up with some whinge-reducing walking activities, perfect for a magical woodland wander.

One of the resident dinosaurs of Heber’s Ghyll

10 Craft Activities For The Stick Connoisseur

Here at The Reluctant Explorers HQ (i.e. my house), we love getting out walking with the kids (well, I say we. But I mean me. The kids… well they are not always so keen and I include my husband in this!).

But when they are out, they LOVE a good stick collecting session.

If I said that in my house I don’t have vases full of flowers, but vases full of sticks, does that sound familiar? I’m pretty sure that it’s not just me who opens the boot of the car to find a stash of newly-found BRILLIANT sticks that can’t possibly be left behind?

These stick finds are so perfect. So special, that they are immediately inseparable from their new proud owner. So wonderful, that you know that even if you tried to SUGGEST leaving them behind, the devastation that would follow is just not worth the effort!

If you too are the proud parent of a stick connoisseur, I KNOW you need to hear some crazy crafty ideas as to what you can do with that stick stash!

1. Stick Worry Dolls

Inspired by the Guatemalan tradition of telling your worries to a doll before you go to sleep, all you need to do is find a little stubby stick, wind him a woolly jumper, stick on some googly eyes and… hey presto! A little worry buddy!

2. Make a Story Stick

This super ancient technique was originally used to help prompt a retelling or mapping of a route or journey. Take a medium-sized stick, tie either some rubber bands or some string onto it, then, as you walk, collect some nature treasure and attach it to it. Simple! Then, you can use your stick to tell somebody else all about your walk, using the finds as memory prompts (preferably, down the pub!).

3. Walking Stick

Oh no. Not just any old stick. A PROPER walking stick, perfect for those excellent walking stick-sized finds! Take your stick home, wash it (you can sand it if you’re feeling fancy), then paint it. You can do anything you like! Paint patterns, attach ribbons…. We did ours at Christmas time and attached bells and fairy lights! Be as creative as you like and when you’re finished, make sure you head out and show it off on your next walk!

4. Stick Bug Hotel

This one could be my favourite. It requires so little effort that it’s genius! Grab yourself an old cracked plant pot, tip it on its side and fill it with sticks big and small. You could add woody bits such as bark, pine cones, moss and stones too. Leave it, then check back in a few weeks to see what mini beasts have made a home there!

5. Magic Wands

Ooh it’s a classic this one! Grab a magic wand-sized stick, the thicker the better, then find some nature bits to add. Acorns dunked in eco-glitter, seed pod heads, leaves, more twigs, anything that’s exciting (and definitely magical!). For the bigger kids, you could have a punt at whittling. A lovely friend of mine over on Instagram (@catkinandco) introduced us to stick whittling using a potato peeler! So why not try whittling some designs (adult supervision DEFINITELY REQUIRED for that one)?

6. Stick Dreamcatcher

A dreamcatcher is supposed to catch bad dreams, but did you know you can make a stick version? Make a stick frame using some glue and some colourful string or wool. Weave the frame for a spider web effect, hang feathers and add anything else you like to it!

7. Stick Weaving Frame

Speaking of weaving… grab four sticks and tie them together to make a rectangular frame. Wind wool or string across the central area in the middle to make a weaving frame, then fill it with all the beautiful things you find on your walk. You could make this a sensory activity by finding something spiky, or smooth… why not check our free sensory scavenger hunt sheets on www.thereluctantexplorers.com.

8. Stick Crown

What better for the king or queen of stick collecting than to have their very own stick crown? It’s easy-peasy! Little twigs and sticks work best, so go grab some card, measure your stick regent’s head and glue the sticks all around it.

9. Rainbow Scavenger Stick

Time to grab those paints again! Find a middle-sized stick. Paint rainbow stripes on it and take yourself on a rainbow hunt! Try finding all the colours of the rainbow and match it to your rainbow stick. You could tie them on and create a beautiful rainbow to remember!

10. Stick Picture Frames

What better accessory to decorate the interior of a stick connoisseur’s bedroom than a stick picture frame? Grab an old picture frame, stick your sticks around the frame in any kind of pattern you like (it could just be a massive birds’ nest of twigs!), then add a picture. Maybe it’ll be of a stick….. I dunno! That part’s up to you!

So there you go. A lifetime’s worth of ideas as to how you can reduce your stick stash and turn it into stick wonder art! Hope you enjoy!

For more ideas as to what you can do with your stick collection (or pine cone collections, or stone collections, or leaf collections and so much more), head to http://www.thereluctantexplorers.com. You can also follow @thereluctantexplorers on Instagram and Facebook.