The weather has upped its game, summer is just around the corner and suddenly a walk in the great outdoors seems whole lot more appealing. While you might have visions of skipping merrily through meadows in the sunshine, stopping only to admire rare wildflowers and bucolic views, your children may have other ideas. They’re hungry, you see! And their feet hurt! And they’re wearing the wrong kind of socks! And they think they might have dropped a vital piece of Lego a couple of miles back! We all know how important it is for children to run wild and engage with nature but, my word, they don’t half complain about it sometimes. Which is exactly why we’ve gone stealth. With a little bit of planning and a strategically positioned ice cream van or two, you’ll be rambling en famille in serene harmony in no time. Check out our top picks for walks with kid appeal below.
Golders Hill Park
While away an hour or two at this picturesque Hampstead Heath park and the London bustle will feel a million miles away.
You’ll love: The tranquil gardens, butterfly house and escape from the city feel.
They’ll love: The (free) zoo, complete with kookaburras and lemurs, playground and ice cream from the café.
Top if off: Swing by the Old Bull & Rush for lunch before you head home.
Lepe Country Park
A beautiful coastal park with views to the Isle of Wight and plenty to amuse the small folk.
You’ll love: The coast and countryside circular walk (it’s approx five miles) and nature trails.
They’ll love: Sand, sea, sun (if you’re lucky) and the recently revamped playground with its balance beams, track rider and swings.
Top if off: Book a barbecue (you can do this online), pack and picnic and make a day of it.
Aldenham Country Park
This 100 acre lakeside park and farm blends rural rambling and child-focussed fun to perfection.
You’ll love: The lakeside walks and free adventure playgrounds (located near the farm entrance, walk and picnic areas).
They’ll love: Checking out Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Aker Wood (free and they can meet him at 2pm most days), checking out the farm animals, playgrounds and pony rides.
Top it off: With a seafood supper at the nearby Fishery.
Bath Skyline Discovery Trail
This free two-mile National Trust trail is suitable for pushchairs and brilliant for kids.
You’ll love: The flat easy route (minimal moaning!), views and woodland.
They’ll love: Hunting for elf and fairy doors in Long Wood (there are 15 to find) and the huge woodland play area.
Top it off: With a picnic in the woods (there are tables near the play area).
Famous for kite-surfing, sand dunes and Kate Moss on the cover of The Face magazine, Camber Sands (pictured above) is one of Sussex’s most beautiful beaches.
You’ll love: Strolling the dunes, catching some rays and the cobbled streets and antiques shops in nearby Rye.
They’ll love: Splashing in the sea, building sandcastles, flying kites and sliding down the dunes.
Top if off: Stop at the Ship Inn on the way home.
The beautiful Bolton Abbey estate in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales is a spectacular spot for a stroll. There are colour-coded walks, nature trails, welly walks and tree climbing sessions for children.
You’ll love: Stunning scenery, picturesque picnic spots and the majestic abbey ruins.
They’ll love: Spotting kingfishers and woodpeckers in Strid Wood, making sandcastles on the River Wharfe beach and – for older children – taking the stepping stone challenge (an ancient river crossing, pictured above) from one bank to the next.
Top it off: With lunch at the lovely Devonshire Arms.
Towers, castles, beaches and ice cream… St Andrew’s has got it all. Who needs the countryside?
You’ll love: The sweeping views from the cathedral’s St Rule’s Tower.
They’ll love: The castle’s underground mine and building sandcastles at sheltered East Sands (there’s a playground here too).
Top if off: With some serious gelato indulgence at Jannetta’s.
Cardiff Bay Barrage
This landscaped walkway stretching from Cardiff Bay to Penarth is a fine place for a weekend stroll or waterside picnic.
You’ll love: The stunning wrapround views (Cardiff Bay on one side, the Severn Channel on the other) and sculptures dotted along the route.
They’ll love: Everything about it as long as you bring their bikes (these can also be hired) or scooters and make a beeline for the skate park. There’s also a brilliant pirate-themed adventure playground.
Top it off: With a double scoop from local favourite Cadwalders.