Summer is almost here and adventure awaits! Whether you are planning a staycation, or hoping to get a bit further afield, we have a brilliant collection of books to inspire your next adventure.
Our sister site, LoveReading, has been working with the London Mountain Film Festival on a bookfest collection, all with an outdoor, adventure theme. From this curation we have selected four fantastic, family friendly books to share, with practical tips and ideas to make the most of the great outdoors this summer.
We joined the contributing authors for a quick Q&A...
100 Great Walks with Kids - Fantastic stomps around Great Britain by Jen & Sim Benson : Brilliant walks, practical tips and ideas for family adventures
100 Great Walks with Kids is a must-have guide for families, especially useful at the moment with walking near the top of most weekend activities. Give us your top tip to encourage a reluctant young walker! Our kids love being outside, and they almost always tackle a walk with lots of enthusiasm and energy - once they're through the door. It's that first step that's often the hardest. We find talking to them about something they'll find exciting along the way helps - perhaps there's a cafe, a playground or even a castle to explore. This gives them something to aim for, and to look forward to, and kids will always view an adventure with far more enthusiasm than a walk.
The pandemic has encouraged us to get out and explore our neighbourhoods...have you stumbled across a new and exciting place you'd never before noticed? We usually travel quite a bit for work so, in many ways, it has been really nice to have the time to explore closer to home. It's been fun to rediscover places we had previously only been to alone - usually out running, or walking the dog - with the kids for company. It's fascinating to watch and listen as our familiar local places change with the seasons and the weather, too. Even the same walk never feels the same two days in a row.
Do you have a favourite area of the UK to walk? That would be an impossible choice! We've been lucky enough to spend the past few years exploring the length and breadth of Britain for our job, visiting so many incredible places along the way. Although it's relatively small, this country is packed with so much variety in its landscapes, wildlife, cultures and stories. It feels like there's always something new and unexpected to discover.
Now restrictions are lifting, where are you and the family heading for your first adventure? We both spent many years living and adventuring in Devon before we moved away, 10 years ago. We usually go back regularly, catching up with family and friends and making the most of the incredible diversity of landscapes, from Dartmoor to the sea. We've really missed it over the past year, so a return to Devon is definitely top of the list.
Who's around your campfire? Ray Mears - he's a campfire cooking genius!
Nice choice! Read a full review and download an extract from 100 Great Walks with Kids here & you can get some top tips for family ambles and adventures with Jen & Sim in this interview with the London Mountain Film Festival
Wild Nights Out - The Magic of Exploring the Outdoors After Dark by Chris Salisbury : An exciting and illuminating guide to night-time adventures.
Wild Nights Out is full of brilliant activities and ideas for nocturnal explorers, from bat detecting, barefoot walking to a full moon viewing party. How do young people benefit from exposure to a darkened world? We are all somewhere on the spectrum of nature-deficit disorder, and when it comes to the night time, we have dismissed its invitation so completely as a modern culture that any time spent in the dark will feel exciting, as it’s become such an unfamiliar experience. Wildlife encounters can be manifested quite easily in the dark, with a few tricks of the trade, which are always a big thrill, and we should not underestimate the impact of seeing real wild creatures in their habitat. The darkness somehow intensifies the experience, and lends itself well to the 'wow' factor. I'd also say there are aspects to the outdoors at night time that feel qualitatively different, quieter and more reflective. Dare I say it feels a more soulful place, and to use an old-fashioned word there is more enchantment in the interplay between the shadows and mystery of what we cannot see. If there are stars and/or a moon to observe, then we are given a perspective of our place in space, which again feels a lovely 'otherness' to the busy daytime routines.
A night-time adventure outdoors sounds exciting to many, but some children might be apprehensive - do you have any tricks to calm young worriers? As all educators know, it’s all in the invitation that’s made. Enticement and reassurance is the right blend, and a little perspective. After all, we are not compromised by apex predators higher up the food chain, as we would be nightwalking in the Kalahari. Britain is benign, and safe from dangerous animals and so it’s really the realm of imagination that conjures up fears of what may be lurking in the shadows. Starting in the dusk, with some visibility is one tip, so that the incoming tide of darkness is gradual and acclimatisation is nice and slow. Heading out when the moon is bright, can also help - we are such a sight dominated species that the more we can see, the more relaxed we will feel.
Tell us a bit about WildWise and what you offer. WildWise offer a broad menu of enticing invitations to spend time in nature. Over the last 21 years we have learned to offer a diverse range of events to suit all tastes, from the delightful short excursions to the longer more immersive experiences. We are known for the creative and soulful quality of our provision and whether you are a teenager wanting to come on our epic Hunger Games camps, or a family that wants to spend quality time in our beautiful Devon locations, or you're a wild child in need of some wild times we are pretty sure you will be able to meet your needs and interests. Check out our acclaimed year-programmes and professional training courses too
Now restrictions are lifting, where are you heading for your first adventure? My love affair with the wildest valley in England continues - I'm lucky to live and work in the beautiful Dart Valley, where there are endless mysteries to sustain my interest. Our first wider excursion is to take our students up to wild Scotland for a 5-day canoeing adventure....needless to say, we can't wait!
I bet! And other than those lucky students, who's around your campfire? I have a lengthy list of champions and heroes relating to my work, and I'd love to invite them all of course. For now though, I'd like to re-connect with one of my inspirations in my career, who very kindly offered a foreword for my book, Ray Mears. He's got such good stories to share, and I remember firesides filled with his laughter and good humour.
The Young Cyclist's Companion by Peter Drinkell : A practical and persuasive introduction to the joys of the beautiful machine
When did your enthusiasm for cycling begin? I got the cycling bug around the age of 10, it gave me the opportunity to roam further afield, groups of us cruising around our neighbourhoods getting up to mischief and exploring.
Three great reasons to get kids cycling... Cycling is great for kids because it gives them confidence, it’s a real challenge to begin with and once they master it, it’s a real sense of achievement. Great for their fitness keeping them active and opens up a whole new world of adventure.
Cycling has been extraordinarily popular through lockdown - how can we encourage people to continue cycling rather than returning to their cars? I think one way to keep people cycling post lockdown will be to highlight the health benefits from cycling and how that can combat illness, keeping you fit. Also a great way to avoid public transport and a positive step towards reducing pollution.
Now restrictions are lifting, where are you heading for your first adventure? I would love to get out into the mountains some where and do some bike packing with my son.
Who's around your campfire? The person I would love to have around my campfire would be my Dad at the moment, I haven’t been able to see him for over a year and not likely soon either as they are in Australia. He has recently started cycling and I would love to be able to go on a trip with him on our bikes and end up around the campfire..
100 Adventures to Have Before You Grow Up by Anna McNuff : From building a den to going on a skateboard journey, discover a life outdoors with this exuberant guide!
As an ambassador, what has been your greatest contribution to Girlguiding? That would have to be doing the 'Barefoot Britain' adventure. I ran 2,352 miles from Shetland to London, with no shoes on (as you do) and gave talks about adventure and resilience to over 1700 young girls along the way. There's no substitute for standing in front of a group of girls in your running kit, with grubby feet and saying 'I have no idea if I can do this... but I'm going to try.'
Now restrictions are beginning to lift, have you any excting travel plans? Oh my... I'm not letting myself think too far ahead yet but ABSOLUTELY. We're planning a few summer European adventures when we can (I love The Alps), and a visit to New Zealand for next UK winter. In between that I'm equally excited to do some more travelling around the UK. The Lake District, Scotland, Cornwall, Devon - all of those are getting me just as excited as going abroad.
What advice can you give to would-be adventurers? Just start. Wherever you are in life. however much money you have. Whatever your skill level for outdoorsy things. Just make a plan, no matter how small, tell three friends, put some money aside, mark it in your diary and commit. Everything else will take care of itself.
Who's around your campfire? Tina Turner (so she can sing and dance for us), Elizabeth Gilbert (so she can tell stories and inspire me to let me creativity out) and my Grandpa (sadly no longer with us) so he can tell me stories about the war.
If you have a question for any of our authors please post in the comment box below & we'll do our best to get you an answer....and if you haven't got a question then we'd love to hear who's around your fantasy campfire!
Scroll down for books on adventure, nature and ideas for activities outdoors.
The London Mountain Film Festival, now in its second year, is a celebration of adventure and the outdoors. The festival screened over 40 world-class adventure films, plus interviews with film-makers & authors - the interviews are available to view here.
And thanks to @swagfamilyhughes - credit to Andrew Hughes - for the fantastic feature photo, taken from 50 Ways to Cycle the World by Belén Castello and Tristan Bogaard.
Find out more www.londonmountainfestival.com