In recent years, my wife and I completed a few long distances hikes together, for instance:
- Kungsleden from Nikkaluokta to Abisko, 105 km (Sweden)
- Landmannalaugar to Skogar via Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls, 78 km (Iceland)
- Svartárkot-farm to Herðubreiðarlindir, „Askja Trail“, 93 km (Iceland)
- Ammoudari to Agia Roumeli through the White Mountains, 48 km (Crete, Greece)
We carried everything we needed for the entire trip (food, tent etc.) on our backs and refilled our water supplies where possible. We slept in our tent and used other shelters only in case of emergency. Thus, we were as self-contained as possible and had no problems with the more remote parts of the trips. Also, we carried no unnecessary bits and pieces.
Two years ago our daughter was born. In the first year, we though that it would not be a good idea to take her on a prolonged trip like those above. However, in the meantime she enjoys being outdoors a lot and also likes to be carried around in one of those kid carrier backpacks. Therefore, we thought that generally it could be possible to take her with us on a muti-day hike.
However, the child on one back leaves only one back free for all the rest of the stuff we need. And obviously, the equipment now also includes some diapers, a selection of toys and books, more clothes than before, an extra sleeping bag etc. Summarizing, it seems impossible to carry everything with two adults only.
We did some research and then started out this year in June to complete the West Highland Way (WHW) in Scotland (154 km from Milngavie to Fort William) together with our daughter. We chose the WHW for these reasons:
- You are near civilization on the entire trip, so if you need help, it is easy to find. Also if you want to abort the trip, buses and trains are within reach.
- The total distance can easily be divided into stages which are not too long so that daily walking times and child-in-kid-carrier times are not too long. We had 9 days of walking and two rest days. We also took more breaks than we would have done walking without our daughter. We slept in the tent every night.
- The path is well maintained and easy to walk without any major difficulties.
- You can have your baggage transported along the whole way. We definitely made use of this option. This way, I carried our daughter (18 kg including herself, the carrier, clothes and shoes) and my wife carried water and food for the day. The rest was transported in two 80 L drybags by one of the baggage transfer companies.
Everything worked out surprisingly well and we finished the WHW exactly as planned. Also we have the impression that our daughter also liked the experience. That was really great!
Therefore, now I am looking for other options for the future which might be feasible with a small child that cannot walk the distance itself (so it is carried at least for parts of the way). What I wonder is particularly:
- Has anybody here made experiences with long distance hikes with a small child?
- Which long distance hikes can you recommend with a small child?
- Are you aware of other routes which offer baggage transfer services similar to the WHW?
- Are there any other realistic options apart from baggage transfer?
- Which things did you consider to make the trip enjoyable for the child?
- Is there anything else to consider from your point of view?
- What could you do with two or more children?