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Jul 31

Guest post: London Hiker on Lake District walks with a baby.

catherine & samThe Lake District is one of my favourite walking destinations and an absolute must visit for walkers in the UK. From the craggy peaks to the lush lowland countryside and dreamy lakes, this is heavenly walking territory with the best of all elements of the British countryside. As the home of Beatrix Potter, setting of several stretches of scenic railway and the whole landscape providing a massive adventure playground for kids, watersports included, the Lake District is also a fantastic family destination and great spot to introduce children to the joys of walking and camping.

As I have not managed to get around to revisiting the Lakes with my toddler yet, I was thrilled to receive a Lake District guest-walk from Catherine Redfern this week. Starting from Elterwater, this is a great wander for those based in and around the Ambleside and Windermere areas walking with a baby carrier – you can find the walk description here.

Catherine is a keen walker and manages the inspirational website London Hiker – if you live in the capital but hear the hills calling you, check it out. She is also Mum to eight-month-old baby son Sam who she took on a family holiday to the Lake District recently. Fishing for a few tips for entirely selfish reasons I asked her for some advice on visiting and walking in the Lake District with a baby.

Here’s what she had to say:

How did you find returning to walking in the Lakes with a baby?

We usually ‘move on’ on our holidays, backpacking from place to place, so this was the first holiday in a long time where we’d stayed in one location for two whole weeks. This felt weird at first, but we soon settled into it!

We don’t have a car in London, but had borrowed my parents’ car for the fortnight and although we are big advocates of public transport and did use it where we could, it did really help having the car too as it enabled us to get to some good walks which we would have otherwise found impossible to reach. However, we did use buses to get from Ambleside – where we were based – to Keswick, and then used the boat service to go across Derwentwater which was a lovely trip in itself.
 
If we went for a walk with Sam, we made sure we weren’t too ambitious and had plenty of escape routes in mind. We’d researched Wainwright’s easiest fells beforehand, which felt very amusing as this is something we would not normally do! The funny thing was, Sam generally fell asleep as soon as we started to climb uphill!
In the end we managed to climb two Wainwrights with him and almost made it up a third but I decided I was too wimpy to do the scrambling with Sam on my back. 
What is your one key piece of advice for other parents walking with babies in the Lake District?

Don’t book your holiday cottage up a hill called ‘The Struggle’, as pushing a buggy up it certainly IS a struggle!

But seriously… I think a good tip is to look out for walks near National Trust car-parks as they will almost always have baby change facilities and be relied upon to be quite good standard. Tarn Hows is a good example, they have a recent new toilet block which is really handy as well as a refreshment van.

As an advocate of using public transport, what resource would you recommend for finding your way around the Lake District without a car? 
Definitely the go Lake ‘Drive Less See More’ website: http://www.golakes.co.uk/travel/getting-around-cumbria.aspx
What if it just isn’t walking weather for a baby? 
When the weather was particularly bad, we went swimming at Low Wood Leisure Club just outside Ambleside, as we got free access with our cottage booking. On other days, I left the baby with his dad and went for a massage at Oxleys Spa in Ambleside! We also went for coffee and cake (I love Temporary Measure in Keswick for this), pottered around the various shops, and went into Ambleside museum. We didn’t go to Keswick’s (in)famous Pencil Museum on this particular holiday, but I would have been very glad to; I went several years ago and it’s a lot more fun than it sounds!
Do you have any recommended resources for finding and getting out on family walks in the Lake District?
There is a book called ‘All Terrain Pushchair Walks’ sold in many shops in Cumbria (one for south and one for north Lakeland) . n.b. you will need an all-terrain buggy to do them.

Ambleside has a dedicated children’s walking shop which is really good. http://www.littlewalkers.co.uk/

 For more walking inspiration from Catherine Redfern don’t forget to check out her guest walk for Baby Routes and head on over to London Hiker for tips on escaping the capital with your hiking boots. You can find more ideas for Lake District family friendly walks here

 

 

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