Baby friendly walk in the Lake District
LIFE as a new parent can be tough. Sleepless nights, 24-hour responsibility and a whole new identity as ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ can leave your head spinning.
NEW mum NICOLA PARK shares her passion for exploring the outdoors with her daughter in a monthly column detailing baby-friendly walks.
When my daughter Rowan was born six months ago I quickly realised one of the most restful and refreshing things to do with her was head out for a walk.
Even a tiny baby can be wrapped up well and tucked in a sling or pram to enjoy a breath of fresh air. At only a few days old Rowan had already explored the ‘twin peaks’ of Ulverston – Flan Fell and the Hoad, safely strapped to daddy’s chest.
At a couple of months old she even made a winter ascent of Wansfell in Ambleside, though we were questioned on our parenting skills by walkers on the way up.
But as long as the route is well within your own capabilities and baby is well protected from the elements, walking is beneficial to the whole family.
In fact, a study carried out by Liverpool John Moores University in 2004 found babies exposed to plenty of daylight are more likely to sleep better at night.
As a fell runner and climber, an unexpected bonus of parenthood has been that I am now exploring areas of South Cumbria I had previously overlooked.
Valley walks previously shunned as dull have opened up new vistas, and even the smallest hill becomes a soaring mountain when viewed through the eyes of a child.
To share my passion for exploring the outdoors with Rowan I have launched a blog – adventureswithbaby.com. I will be writing about our exploits and sharing my tips and routes for others to try.
To start with, why not try this easy yet stunning walk in Langdale, which is suitable for pushchairs?
Pushchair walk: Skelwith Bridge to Elterwater 2.5 miles
A flat, easy walk by the River Brathay on a largely metalled track with no obstacles.
This walk is out-and-back, so can either be started in Skelwith Bridge or Elterwater. Some on-road parking is available just by the Skelwith Bridge Hotel, or park in the car park around 200m further up the road.
Cross the road and head through the trees to the track that runs by the river. Turn right to follow the track towards Elterwater. The track follows the river, before opening up into a field with stunning views of Elterwater and the Langdale fells. The path at this point can be wet and boggy, so be prepared to get your buggy wheels wet.
The path then meets the lake, an ideal picnic spot and photo opportunity. It then continues into the village of Elterwater.
I stopped for a drink at the Britannia Inn, a friendly pub that serves an excellent range of real ales and food. There was room to change baby in the ladies.
Simply reverse your steps to return to Skelwith Bridge.