My daughter (MD) and I have been climbing hills together since she was two and a half. She is four now and a couple of months ago she asked if we could climb a mountain together and camp out on top!
I'd climbed about 350m ascent (Catbells) with MD in the past and I figured she would be able to climb 500m without too much trouble. I've found she enjoys steep climbs over gentle ones so I did some research and decided Place Fell (657m) from Patterdale would be perfect.
I wanted MD to be involved in the planning so she chose the menu - hotdog sausages and tortilla wraps for lunch, ramen noodles for dinner and porridge for breakfast. I packed my bombproof Terra Nova Solar 2 tent (2.5kg) and my toasty warm Mountain Equipment Lightline sleeping bag (1.2kg)... hardly lightweight but I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible
I managed to pack the tent, both sleeping bags, both mats, cooking gear, spare clothes, waterproofs, food, water, camera, tigress doll and Ski Barbie in the cavernous Montane Ultratour 40lt (730g) backpack. I had a bit of a stand-off as to whether Ski Barbie should be allowed to come, but I succumbed as this was MD's trip and there was just enough space in the pack.
We drove up to Patterdale as a family on our way to a holiday cottage near Penrith. By the time we got there it was 1pm so we decided to have the hotdogs cooked on the stove with mum and little brother before we set off from the cafe at the bottom of the trail at 2pm. The views on the first leg were beautiful.
We stopped halfway at Boredale Hause for coffee / hot chocolate. The wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped so MD donned her (heavy duty) wet weather gear. The next leg of the walk was steeper and involved a few bits of easy scrambling - which she loved!
We were on the top by 4.30pm but didn't stick around for long on the blustery and exposed trig point. Next on the agenda was finding a suitable place to pitch the tent. I let MD suggest a few places and I was surprised at how good they were (flat / dry etc). She helped me pitch the tent by pushing in the pegs, threading the poles etc.
Dinner (ramen noodles) were cooked in my Alpkit MytiPot with a windshield and stove set up I'd bought on ebay. I though I'd packed two sporks but when I unpacked I could only find one. I gave MD the spork and then looked for something I could use as chopsticks... Barbies skis did the job perfectly!
By 8pm MD was ready for bed - teeth brushed and tucked up in my super warm Mountain Equipment sleeping bag. I was also ready for bed having been up since 5am with her little brother and driven 3.5 hours to the Lake District. I closed my eyes ready for some sleep only to have two little fingers peal my eye lids open and a little voice ask 'Daddy are you awake?'... this happened over and over till about 9.30pm. Next time I'll tire her out on a on a bigger hill!
After breakfast in the morning we packed up in the sunshine and MD practically ran down to the Howtown Hotel where we'd arranged to meet up with mum and little brother. On the way down she shouted 'this is the best day ever!' (no doubt a line from Frozen). I'm inclined to agree - if you've got kids take them up a hill and camp out in the wild - you'll both remember it forever.