Colder, wetter weather is limiting outdoor activities with the little ones but get the boots out and there’s simple fun to be had by squelching down a muddy path. I took Tilly out on a rare sunny afternoon to explore our nearby countryside and give her some much-needed walking practice.
Appreciating countryside close to home
We’re fortunate in having open countryside a few minutes away from home. It’s still a little far for Tilly’s little legs and the footpaths aren’t terribly buggy friendly but after she woke up early from her nap I decided to make the best of the weather and see how far we could get. To date Tilly hasn’t managed much beyond a walk around the block, so I carried her to the start of the footpath. I had forgotten just how heavy she’s become, so I was glad to pop her down and let her set off under her own steam. She very much liked the idea of a muddy walk in boots although she was initially cautious with the unfamiliar going underfoot. The path was dull and a little narrow to begin with but soon opened into a wider way with a canopy of trees well on the way to losing their leaves. At the same time the mud gave way to a thick carpet of leaves, offering fairly level going aside from a few tree roots. It’s a quiet path and in the middle of the afternoon we only encountered a couple of dog walkers, which also provided Tilly with some lessons in becoming more comfortable with animals. Periodically Tilly reached her walking limit she demanded I carried her for a while. I had failed to foresee that this combined with her muddy boots would lead to my jacket getting muddied up but it’s a small price to pay for some quality time out-of-doors. Eventually we emerged from the path into open fields.
Before us was a modest chalk valley typical of the Chiltern hills. Tilly quickly spotted sheep clustered on the far side of the field and I pointed out a majestic red kite circling overhead, all of which was just what I’d hoped for on our walk. Taking in the scene kept her entertained for some moments before we began to head back. Although we could walk for miles on the footpath, I had by this point become acutely aware of the challenge of carrying Tilly and didn’t want to get beyond my own ability to make it home. We retraced our route, encountering such highlights as a tractor working an adjacent field, which Tilly loved. She really got into her stride and ended up walking nearly the whole of the way back, far longer than she’d previous achieved, which was great to see.
What really struck home was how something so simple as a muddy walk can so enthrall a little one. It’s easy to forget how so many of the things we take for granted are new to toddlers: the change of the seasons, the experience of mud underfoot, the leaves on the ground and the countryside sights and sounds. Sharing these small discoveries is quite magical. Having ready access to the countryside was a big reason for moving where we did and this early foray into nature is giving me a taste of the fun that we’ll enjoy as a family in the years to come. I’m already looking at where we could head next, although perhaps with the pram to help extend our range and offer a break for my back!