Family Adventure Capital Hiking Motivation Stagepath555 Talking Point

Getting family adventure motivation

Keswick Chip Shop
Written by Kirstie Pelling
Keswick Chip Shop

Keswick chip shop: Was this the secret motivation for this family marathon?

Talking Point: Getting family motivation to adventure

Kirstie Profile SmallThe final leg of our winter walk across The Lake District takes us from Thirlmere to Keswick, via an ancient stone circle. And as we eat our celebration fish and chips, we reflect on the power of a challenge to generate family motivation and keep us all going, whatever the weather…

Druids at dusk

If the other tourists at the Castlerigg Stone circle above Keswick came looking for Druid spirituality and peaceful contemplation they don’t get it here. In the dusky light, as the mountains close in and Keswick prepares to bed down for the night, our kids come to life. Their six day mission is over and they skittishly play hide and seek around the stones while I wonder what the rules are here. There’s no way I’d let them run around a graveyard but do stone circles follow the same protocol and need the same volume of silence? I don’t remember anyone playing sardines on my last visit to Stonehenge.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

We reach Castlerigg Stone Circle as dusk descends

There’s only one thing for it…

I whisk them all off for dinner. Keswick has plenty of fancy restaurants and possibly more coffee shops than a city centre, but there’s only one way to finish our hop on hop off bus and walking tour of The Lakes; with fish and chips in front of the Moot Hall in the Town Square.

The chips are well deserved. In the space of a few days we’ve walked the length of a marathon; up and down the fells, through boggy fields, towns and villages, and in the footsteps of poets. We’ve passed meres, becks and gyhlls, slogged through farmyards, pushed through endless kissing gates and doggedly followed the instructions on a soggy leaflet even when we weren’t sure what they meant.

Jumping Bales St Johns in the Vale

How do you generate motivation, energy and enthusiasm for big adventures?

The power of a challenge

And here’s the interesting thing. If we’d told the kids that they’d have to get up and go for a walk on the fells every morning of their school holiday, they’d have snuggled down into their quilts and refused to get out of their pyjamas all week. But because it was all part of a week long challenge, they pulled us out of bed when we’d lost the motivation and pushed into wet boots with unheard of levels of enthusiasm.

It’s all about the story

We’ve always found this. Tell the kids they’re going to have to cycle every day for eight weeks in a hot hilly country, and you’ve lost the game before you’ve even begun. But if you become a temporary family of cycling pilgrims on a mission to get to Santiago, everyone is up for it. When our children were toddlers a canoe journey became a pirate treasure hunt. Later on, a ride across Europe became a music tour with the simple addition of a bag of recorders and some visits to Mozart’s past.

It might be the same tour you always intended to do, but a challenge, a mission or a theme gives it a significance, a point, a goal, a greater meaning. And it also applies to the adults. If you’d told me before Christmas that I’d be spending up to five hours a day on the bus that goes past my front door and then walking through a Cumbrian bog, I’d have pointed you to the nearest kissing gate.

But a hop on hop off bus and walking tour of one of the most beautiful places on earth? That’s a different story.

Signpost Helvellyn

So which way? The high road, the low road or the long road?

Talking Point

Do you find that turning routine exercise into a family challenge motivates the kids? (and the adults) Do you ever give your trips a theme? Does it help? Leave a comment below with your tips for getting everyone to buy into an adventure.

Join the Conversation

Talking Point is our series of short Photo Friday posts. Each week we pick a photo and post a talking point and invite you to join the conversation. Do leave a comment with your thoughts.

 For more photo inspired fun why not check out Travel Photo Thursday from Budget Travelers Sandbox, Photo Friday at Delicious Baby or Friday Dreaming at RWeThereYetMom

Our thanks to Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire for their help in bringing you this story.

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About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.


  • Exercise and adventure and the way that I unwind. When I’m working on a cold January day, I daydream of days hiking up and down mountains.

  • Last year, we were not traveling for Spring break, so I challenged the kids to think of places & things they wanted to do locally. We came up with a list, made a week-long itinerary and had a BLAST!!

    Thanks for linking up last week – sorry it took me so long to get around!

  • This is the way my ‘scheme’ worked, except I didn’t know that it was a scheme!
    I was big on some adventure outside the box with my family. I proposed the Appalachian Trail to them. No one was buying how fun it could be to hike for 8 months (especially my 15 year old daughter).
    While biking on our bike trail (Indiana) we met a couple that were spending their honeymoon crossing the country on bikes. Hey…wait a minute…that sounds cool.

    Well, after the thought of walking for 8 months, bicycling for three was much more appealing to the family.

    We touched our tires into the Pacific Ocean on Jan 7th after pedaling across the southern tier of the US.

    The family is anxious for another adventure.

    • Great story Rob. Thinking big then scaling back can work wonders in terms of getting people to commit to big stuff thinking it’s little! And once they get a taste for it, well you can scale back up again. Sounds like a blast. We’ve talked about riding across the US one day. Met many who have with great stories to tell. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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