The best barefoot walks for kids
What’s fun about walking with no shoes on? Kai, aged 7, has all the answers:
'I love barefoot walking as it helps you feel all the different surfaces and textures on your feet. I like walking in mud, on beaches and over rocks at the seaside. Walking in streams and the sea is great fun too. In the winter we even barefoot walked in the snow and left footprint trails.'
- Kai Bickley, West Midlands
All things considered, it’s no wonder that barefoot walking is one of your top 50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾. It's the perfect activity to encourage your children to get mucky, explore the outdoors, and make a lasting connection with nature.
- Take a towel with you to clean your feet before you put your socks back on
- Did you know that there are 700 different types of soil in England and Wales alone? That’s a lot of different things to feel under your feet
- Keep your eyes open for glass or other things that might poke you
‘Muddy feet after our Barefoot trail at Godolphin last week, absolutely great fun for me and the kids.’
Iestyn Pocock shares his photo of 30 muddy toes, on Twitter.
Godolphin is our first ever dedicated barefoot trail. Here your feet can feel everything from smooth slate, to tickly fir cones, the balancing log and soft sand. In fact there are over 20 textures to explore. All you have to do is follow the foot print signs.
You can join us on 16 August from 10am-4pm for the Godolphin Bare foot Festival. There will be a multi-textured trail, foot art, stalls and demos. Call 01736 763194 for more info about the festival.
The beach at Birling Gap is a rather unusual barefoot experience. It’s a shingle beach so children can walk across pebbles, chalk boulders, flint and maybe even find the odd fossil (No.26 on your 50 Things list).
‘There are so many different textures to feel underfoot on this beach. You can dip your feet in rock-pools, walk across the shingle and jump over the waves. Just make sure you visit when the tide is out because when it’s in the beach disappears.'
- Zara Luxford, staff member at Birling Gap.
‘Brancaster Beach is perfect for barefoot walking because it has three miles of beautiful golden sand. As well as walking barefoot, the beach gives children loads of wide open space for playing and building sandcastles.’
- Alex Green, learning officer at Brancaster Estate
If you want a good spot to feel the sand between your toes, then this is it. Watch Alex’s short video about why she enjoyed going to Brancaster Beach as a child.
* Please note there are no life guards on Brancaster Beach, so caution is needed when swimming in the sea.
The Great Lawn at Hidcote provides children with a nice flat expanse of lawn for a spot of barefoot walking. Little explorers can feel the manicured grass against their feet, as parents take it easy.
‘The Great Lawn is a lovely place for parents to sit and relax with a picnic, whilst children go barefoot and explore the intricate little gardens that surround the lawn.’
- Lisa Edinborough, staff member at Hidcote
Kids can also get closer to nature at Hidcote with croquet on the lawn, ponds-a-plenty and insect spotting.
Walking across Pilgrims’ Way is a real adventure. Your bare feet can tread in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims and monks, who used to walk from the mainland to the castle on Holy Island.
Kids love the fact that they are walking on sand that will be enveloped by the sea later that day. There’s something magical about a constantly disappearing and re-appearing path. Make sure you check the tide times before you set off though. You don’t want to turn up when Pilgrims’ Way is underwater.
‘It’s also worth visiting the beautiful Embleton Beach for barefoot walking. This isn’t far from Lindisfarne Castle and is one of the most popular beaches in the country.’
- Simon Lee, staff member in Northumberland.
Lyme Park is stuffed full of lovely grassy areas for freeing your feet. With over 1,300 acres of estate you won't be short of places to explore. There is even an adventure playground, called Crow Wood Playscape, with a giant slide, badger den and rope walks.
Or why don't you join us on on one of our walking events and take in the stunning scenery and explore lesser known areas of the park.
‘This is one of those rare places where children can discover hidden trails. With 6,000-year-old dunes and complex dune systems, it’s like a lost world.’
- Toby Edwards, staff member at Portstewart Strand
Portstweart Strand combines barefoot walking with a nature trail. Keep your eyes peeled for butterflies, wild thyme, whales, otters, dolphins and seals. If you’re lucky you might even spot the Cinnabar moth. This day-flying insect can look scary because of its vibrant red spots and lines.
Barefoot explorers can climb Ireland’s tallest dune and slide/roll/charge back down it again (No.2 on our 50 Things list). But Portstewart Strand isn’t just about sand. You can paddle in the waves, wind your way through the long grass of the dunes and then finish up by dipping your bare toes in the water at the Bann Estuary.
‘As a kid Portstewart Strand was a place where you crossed deserts, conquered mountains, played soldiers, explored forests with weird tunnels and now I get to do it all over again with our kids. The best adventure playground ever.’
- Chris Little, at Portstewart Strand
*There is a shower at the beach for barefoot walkers to clean their feet.
Mud, mud glorious mud, nothing quite like it for a barefoot walk…Most children relish the chance to get ankle deep in some good old-fashioned dirt. Well for such children there are muddy opportunities galore in the woodlands of Roseberry Topping.
‘The paths through the woodlands can get really squelchy so are great fun for a barefoot walk. Depending on the levels of squealch you want, time your visit for just after a rainy spell.’
- Gareth Wilson, ranger at Roseberry Topping.
If you want to tick off your 50 Things activities, come along to Roseberry Topping’s and become a Junior Ranger, on 29 July and 12 August. These family events encourage kids to let out their wild side, get messy and help our ranger look after the countryside for the wildlife that calls it home.
At Strumble Head the whole family can experience a range of textures underfoot: soft peat, small stones, rocky outcrops, heather and gorse. This circular walk takes you from Goodwick, across rugged coastal heath, reaching the volcanic rock formations at Pen Anglas headland.
Where is your favourite spot to go barefoot walking? Share it with us on Facebook.