Start Them Young – An Old Saying That Is Very True
Start them young is a very old saying but especially true when it comes to hiking. It could lead to a healthy recreational activity for life. Last summer I took my 7 year old grandson Tom on his first high walk. Previously, the furthest he had walked was 5 miles but this time it was to be just over 8 miles with some strenuous climbing.
We set off from the car parking area near the Royal George public house in Greenfield, Saddleworth and walked along Manchester Road for 250 metres to the footpath before Dacres. Up the fields to Moor Edge Road and then the long climb through heather on a stoney path to Alphin Pike.
He did complain of feeling tired a couple of times but the thought, had I asked too much of him, soon disappeared when he saw the trig point appear and the prospect of food.
We stopped for lunch at the trig point and shelter on Alphin Pike. After lunch we proceeded along the ridge to Indian’s Head at Wimberry Stones Brow. Indian’s Head is a favourite training ground for local climbers and Tom was intrigued to see all their assorted tackle. He seemed at home dancing over the rocks there, perhaps proving that it is wise to start them young.
We carried on to Staples Stones Brow where he investigated the rock formations, then Chew Green and Chew Hurdles to Chew Reservoir. The reservoir completed in 1912 was at one time the highest in England at 1,660 ft.
After a break for refreshments we took the old tram road down to the bottom of the Chew Valley and made our way back through the path above the Dovestone Reservoir which leads to Intake Lane.
I asked him a few times was he tired but the answer was always no. I think he could have walked 10 or 12 miles without any problem. We walked past White Lee and then turned left to cross the stile and retrace our steps back down through the fields to the main road and to the car park.
The Saddleworth area has some terrific high walking routes and in sunshine this was a great day out. It took us about 5 hours including numerous stops for drinks and snacks.
He was obviously impressed as he stated it was the best walk he had ever done. He is now 8 years old and I want to get him out more often. We have talked about Snowden in the spring, so that would be his first mountain. It is also good to start them young on mountain hikes. That is of course providing all the right safety precautions are taken and the correct clothing and equipment is worn.