Hiking and Scotland go together like peanut butter and jelly. You really can't travel all that way without taking in a bit of the natural, rugged landscape. While there are plenty of places to strap on your hiking boots and go for a stroll, Glencoe in the western Highlands is easy with kids if you don't mind remote paths that can have you thinking you are the only people in the world. Many of the paths are flat, as they wind between hills and moors. Just make sure you pack your rain gear, snacks and sword before you go.
Stock the daypack
Water and snacks are a must. Dry socks are too. If you plan on doing a long hike or anything remotely strenuous, bring a hiking pack to carry your child in as well. There are lots of easy paths, but little feet do get tired and holding a 30-pound toddler on your hip for miles isn't fun, or healthy, for anyone.
What to wear
If rain is anywhere on the radar or close to it, wear rain pants. And a raincoat. And waterproof hiking boots. Dry socks and comfy boots or sneakers will make you and your child's feet very happy. Uncomfortable, wet and cold shoes will make for a whiny, grumpy toddler and even grumpier parents who now have to carry that wet toddler back to the car. Dress in layers to combat any chills that breeze by or cloudless warm skies that grace your trip.
Tackling the hike
It's hard to figure out which hike to take, especially if you are in Glencoe or any of the islands of the Hebrides. There are hills and trails throughout the region just begging to be explored. Many of these paths aren't on any map. You simply pull over and start walking old farm trails. Some are marked, while others won't be. Bring a compass if you are afraid you will get lost. Cell phone signals are sparse out there.
If you have toddlers who want to walk on their own, use the 15-minute rule. Hike 15 minutes in and then take stock of how everyone is feeling, keeping in mind that you still have to hike back. If you need to rest by a stream for a bit, do it. Mom can always walk 10 minutes farther down the path while dad plays with the kids. Swap if dad wants to see what is around the next bend too.
Don't forget your sword
Nothing moves a kid like a sword. Better yet, if two people have swords and you can pretend to be Scottish rebels traipsing through the moors, looking for your next battlefield. Climb hills for a Princess Bride worthy dance of blades. Hide behind rocks to surprise each other. Save the fair maiden from the dragon, ogre, evil king you get the picture. Plastic swords and shields can be found in many villages and cities across Scotland, especially in the gift shops in the historic palaces and castles. Outfit the whole family and go on your epic own Scottish quest.
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