Children need to get outside to play, exercise and enjoy themselves. The knock-on benefits are endless – from making them fitter to stopping a rise in short-sightedness from youngsters staring at phones rather than their wider surroundings.
It would be easy to rant on about how there is less opportunity at school for them to get outside to exercise or on Duke of Edinburgh schemes, or to bemoan the closure or scaling back of outdoor centres in an age when governments and councils are making cuts.
But rather than look at it in a hand-wringing way, I prefer to think about what families and friends can do to get our young ones enthusiastic about the outdoors.
When you have scenery like Ardnamurchan – the most westerly part of the British mainland – it is easier than many other places, especially on a sunny day.
As you descend the single-track road into the tiny village of Portuairk, the view really is stupendous. When you reach a place the children want to explore – such as a little bay with a stream running into it – let them stop, explore, try to dam the river or build a sandcastle. If you don’t, and demand they keep going, they won’t enjoy the walk and will probably run out of enthusiasm rather quickly.
As Sanna Bay itself is reached, even the most ardent walker who likes to go at top speed will want to stop and soak in the surroundings – this is Scotland at its best.
Beyond the beaches, a circuit of cairns on the headland offers some of the best sea views of the day, now including Ardnamurchan Lighthouse and the island of Coll.
Whatever you do, keep the children occupied and happy on a walk, not just putting one foot in front of the other – that way they will want to go again and before you know it they might even go on a walk simply for the love of walking.
Something a bit more strenuous: Head back to the other side of the Ardnamurchan peninsula and walk up Ben Hiant, the highest point, for superb views.
Very strenuous: Take the wee ferry from Kilchoan to Tobermory and drive south past Salen to walk up Ben More, a Munro which dominates Mull. Start from the side of Loch na Keal near Dhiseig for the easiest way up.
Length: 7.25km (4.5 miles)
Height gained: 183m (600ft)
Time: 3 to 4 hours
OS Landranger: 47
Parking: Portuairk is 8km (5 miles) from Kilchoan. Just after a cattle grid you’ll find parking on the right.
Top tip: All children are different but to help them enjoy walking, you can use a distance scale of 1km for each year of their age, ie 5km maximum for a five-year-old, 7km for a seven-year-old etc.
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