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Guest blog: Helen Mort – Ten things I've learnt about having adventures with a baby

Monday, 3 June 2019

Helen Mort above Grasmere Lake after the descent from Loughrigg. © Jan Bella. 

1. No matter how sleep deprived you are, fresh air and hills make it better. I’ve always gone to Stanage to help me get a bit of a grip on things. There’s something about gaining a bit of elevation that (literally) helps put things in perspective. For me, going out for a walk is always the right decision, even when you’re so exhausted you can hardly put your shoes on.

2. Your child will not be as excited by the wildlife as you are. Earlier this year, I watched a barn owl glide and swoop through the trees below Bamford Edge. Jabbering and pointing with glee, I couldn’t understand why my two month old was still chewing his hands in the back of the car.

3. Forget spare nappies at your peril. It’s only a short trip, he can’t possible fill his….. oh.

4. Feeding outdoors is fun (and chilly). Breastfeeding my baby on top of Win Hill in February was a tranquil moment, a chance to stop in the shelter of a rock and look back over the Hope Valley. I wrapped him in my down jacket to keep him snug and forgot about my own layers. Brrrr.

5. People will always talk to you if you have a baby. Or a dog. In March this year I took part in a stroll up to Hollins Cross from Castleton to mark 70 years since the signing of the National Parks Act. I was so touched by how friendly everyone was and how supportive they were of my baby-wearing, especially the amazing women of Peak District Mosaic, a group I hadn’t heard about before.

6. Coffee is good. 

7. It’s a bit socially unacceptable to narrate the landscape. I spend all day every day alone with my baby and naturally I end up talking to him inanely about everything I’m doing. I forget to switch off my poetic commentary when we go out walking. This risks funny looks when I approach strangers and the baby isn’t visible under my huge jacket.

8. Slower is better. In the past, I’ve been a bit of an adrenaline junkie, powering as fast as possible up Munros and looking at my watch obsessively on trail runs. Travelling with a small person makes you calm down and enjoy the view, makes you think carefully about the placement of your feet, makes you listen to your breathing, makes you watch other people on the path and wonder about their stories.

9. Coffee is really good.

10. Start small. It doesn’t have to be an ascent of Scafell or even a walk round Ladybower, some days just getting out to the park is an achievement. And wherever you go, there’s something new to see.

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