Everyday Adventures Hiking Parenting

Three Kids, Two Toddlers & Baby Came Too: Lake District Family Walk

Written by Kirstie Pelling

Three Kids, Two Toddlers and Baby Came Too

My temporarily extended family wants to go for a Lake District family walk. It fills me with trepidation. We’ve got adventuring with our family down to a fine art. Our three are well used to hiking, biking or canoeing; by now everyone knows what’s involved and with a bit of cajoling, some judicious nagging and a little shouting, we can be out within the hour.

A Lake District Family Walk

But today we’ve got multiple families and one of them is armed with a book of family friendly walks in the Lakes. This is a whole new ball game. When we set up a website to inspire families to get out and get active together, we didn’t mean them to come do it with us!

Footpath Sign Cunswick Fell

Cunswick Fell, a simple Lake District family walk in South Lakeland

Complications are to be expected

I expect it to be a little more complicated today since there’s a baby in the house. It’s been a few years since that’s happened and memories come flooding back. I’d forgotten about the gorgeous creases in their legs; the surprisingly loud heartbeat you can hear through their silken skin; the creamy smell of their breath. And the rumpus they make when hungry! I think my crew are demanding when they run in from school and raid the fridge. But my baby niece is another story. If she’s starving she cries. If she’s peckish she cries. If she just fancies a quick slurp before a nap…. yes you guessed it!

How quickly we forget the demands of early motherhood. Her determination in getting the attention of the milk monitor is only matched in the bath where she kicks harder than an Olympic swimmer. Someone must have told her London 2012 is coming up. But it’s not all kicking and yelling. I’d forgotten how peaceful a house becomes when there’s a baby present. Even my children fall under a silent spell when they’re in the room with her. She’s like the baby Jesus and they the three Kings, dropping to their knees to worship every gurgle and goo.

Baby in knitted poncho in Cumbria

When they’re as cute as this it’s hard not to worship every google and goo

We’re all on different timetables

Other local relatives are keen to worship too, and we consequently have a full house today, with everyone operating on different timetables. Stuart’s brother, his partner and the baby have been up all night feeding and changing, so they are understandably late risers. Stuart’s sister has arrived with her two toddlers who’ve been charging noisily around the house since what seems like dawn. And with it being half term, our kids got up somewhere in between, but are refusing to change out of their pyjamas.

What this means in practical terms is that the baby has had several breakfasts in the middle of the night but his parents haven’t yet eaten today. The toddlers’ breakfasts have long worn off and they’re looking for mid-morning snacks. Stuart and I are trying to have elevenses while our kids are busy making porridge and burning toast. And we’re all supposed to be going out for a family friendly walk. All together. At the same time. Near Kendal, about ten miles away. And between chomping, slurping, burping and nappies, everyone’s talking about picnics and debating whether we should have lunch before we set off.

Family out in the countryside with baby

Everybody loves a baby

It’s mid afternoon before we start out

I’ve long given up caring who’s had what to eat by the time we reach Cunswick Fell. The time for lunch has been and gone and I’m amazed and relieved we actually got out of the house before sunset. I feel quite pleased with myself, not only have I managed to get all three families to the same car park but I’ve brought an emergency pack of boiled eggs and biscuits too.  It’s light, bright and breezy and as soon as I’m out of the car my head clears and I’m ready to walk.

Our kids spring out of our car and start to shiver. The sun looks like it’s heading home; tired of waiting. Matthew, Cameron and Hannah are as keen as me to get on with the walk. But my niece and nephew have fallen asleep in the car, and need time to recharge their batteries for the 3 mile hike ahead. We hang around the car like sheep in puffa jackets, waiting for them to zing back to life.

Boy wields a stick in Cumbrian landscape

Have stick, ready to go

Like herding cats

“I waked up now,” says my nephew, finally rubbing his eyes. My toddler niece cries for a cuddle, before being hoisted up onto her mum’s shoulders in a back pack. My nephew trips over and wails. Hannah needs the toilet. The boys are fighting with light sabres made out of long sticks. Someone has been drawing on the map and Stuart is on a mission to find out who.

“Can we go now,” I say, exasperated.

Boy hangs out in tree on Lake District Family Walk

Enough of this hanging around. Are we ready to go yet?

And we’re off..

We set off, through some woods, down a rocky track, hoisting the children, toddlers, backpacks and light sabres over a narrow stile and finally into the open fields with spectacular views of the Langdale Pikes. The baby wakes from a light snooze in the papoose. She may be the guest star of this walk but the only mountain she’s interested in is a flesh one. She opens her lungs and kicks her feet for England. It’s lunchtime again.

Oh the joys of a simple Lake District family walk.

Lake District Family Walk in South Lakeland Cumbria

At last, the open fell…

Like to try this Lake District Family Walk?

If you’d like to try this walk in South Lakeland, with or without kids, then check it out in this book, South Lakeland Walks with Children.


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.


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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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