The freedom to roam

The long summer school holidays are  here and it’s time to think about the freedom to roam…especially for children. And even if this glorious weather doesn’t last all summer, we’ll still  delight in seeing youngsters spending as much time as possible outside. Rain is only water, after all.

We watch them having fun here with their families or in school groups, but according to research, children who play outside don’t just learn about nature; they develop better language skills, are fitter, and use five times as many words when they play outdoors compared to indoors.

Freedom on the water: Swallows and Amazons in the Lakes, from the 1974 film

There’s nothing like the freedom of playing outdoors to improve children’s physical and sensory development and their imaginations, and all the time they think they’re just having fun.

Youngsters who come here do some really adventurous stuff, kayaking or ghyll-scrambling, but there are others who just benefit from walking on our nearby hills, or closer still, doing some bird and bug spotting in the garden.

Coming here on holiday to the Lakes can be the only opportunity for some children to play out of doors. They might live on roads with heavy traffic or little open space. Happily we’ve got very little of the first, and plenty of the second.

We’ve also got good wifi, but when families come here in the holidays it’s easy to forget about small-screen entertainment. There are mountains to be climbed, streams to be dammed, snails and worms to be watched. And at the beginning of the holidays, there’s a grand day out for all at Ambleside Sports.

This is a traditional event held every year just a few miles from here, where you can watch local sports such as Cumberland and Westmoreland wrestling, and hound trailing. There are fell races, and children’s races, track running and cycle races.

This year we’re proud to sponsor a new fell race for the Under Nines, whose winners will receive our trophy. Come along to watch the action. Who knows? Next year you and your children might be taking part.