My Breastfeeding journey

This is a bit of a personal post for me… and I’m actually still a little emotional about it all. But a few days before James celebrated his six month birthday, our breastfeeding journey came to an end. Let me share my story…

Firstly some context. My daughter (who will soon be four) was super relaxed with any type of feeding; we did mixed feeding for about five months. To be honest I can’t remember the exact dates because it was so much of a non-issue! Breast/ bottle/ formula… she took anything, anytime. I chose when to stop when I returned to work, I know many people successfully breastfeeding after going back to work but that wasn’t for me.

James could not have been more different. He absolutely refused to take a bottle for the first couple of months. I know I could have tried harder, but it was so disheartening to spend time expressing (especially as it took me time away from properly playing with my daughter), only for us to have to pour it away when he refused to take it.

But breastfeeding isn’t easy, right? Apart from the tiredness of always being ‘on duty’, I had so much pain that I had never experienced with a Jess. It seemed to come and go in phases, but aaagggghhhh when it was bad, those first few sucks after latching on were soooo painful! And every so often when I looked down and saw blood on his mouth- it was actually pretty traumatic!!!

There were positives though, I think I was much more relaxed breastfeeding in public with James (and was really proud when someone gave me a ‘Yes Mumma’ card- if you haven’t heard of them go look it up). Maybe because I had already got the knack of being discreet with baby one I was much more confident!

Eventually, with the appeal of a break getting bigger and bigger we persevered with formula. Every night for about two weeks we tried, and eventually he started taking the bottle, woooohoooooo! I headed straight to bed for an actual nap and left my husband to it!!

After that we started giving him a bottle or two of formula every day. Those of you who followed me on social media when a James was first born may remember his screaming. Constant screaming. Well, once he started taking bottles he calmed right down! He actually seemed satisfied! It was like having a different baby.

So I was quite happy mixed feeding, and had thought that like my daughter I would be able to continue this until I decided to finish it. But James had different ideas. Whilst he was quite happy breastfeeding through the night and in the mornings, he would cry and arch his back through the day time. So we settled into a sort of routine… and I was pretty happy breastfeeding at night, it was so much easier at 2am when you get up without having to make up a bottle!

But he started refusing breastfeeding more and more. In November, we went on holiday. On the plane, I had planned on breastfeeding him during take off. He refused, and that pretty much set the tone for the holiday. I think he was going through a growth spurt or something because every night he was waking up every hour and screaming, but would not take anything other than formula. And so that was that. I returned from holiday having not breastfed for a week, and had completely dried up. Just like that my breastfeeding journey was over.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Yes, once he started taking bottles it probably would have been a good time to try expressing again. Yes, I could have tried breastfeeding again once we returned back from holiday, and probably still could. But to be honest it’s quite upsetting seeing your baby screaming when you try to feed him and I don’t really want to have to see it again!

I think my friend unwittingly hit the nail on the head when trying to think why I was so upset about it all; I hadn’t realised that the last time I fed him would be my last time. With Jess I made the decision myself, I was able to enjoy those last cuddles and treasure them. James took that away from me, and I can’t remember the last time. I don’t remember the last post-feed cuddles, the sleepy milk-drunk yawn and snuggle. My last feed was probably a 3am grump, where I was willing him to hurry up so I could get back to sleep. I probably didn’t take the runtime to enjoy it.

I really didn’t think I’d be emotional about finishing. To be honest I thought I was ready, and the upset was really unexpected!

So we got to nearly 6 months. Cut shorter than I wanted, but longer than Jess so I should be happy. Let me finish by saying, breastfeeding was my choice. It’s not for everyone and not possible for everyone. So let’s make sure any comments on this, as well as discussions about feeding in general are positive. After all, FED IS BEST.

Rachel x

Ardsley Reservoir, 2.5km

This is lovely little reservoir, and although I probably wouldn’t go out my way to visit here for such a short route, it’s a good one if you’re in the area or want a breath of fresh air after a White Rose trip!

Location: A small (free car park) is located on Haigh Moor Road, Tingley, WF3 1 EE

Route: From the car park turn left towards the reservoir and then choose the direction round you want to walk! It’s a super easy path.

Accessibility: Flat and surfaced paths are perfect for buggies.

Facilities: None

With just over 3 weeks until my due date, hubby’s banned me from walking too far on my own. Maybe he knows something I don’t, because baby doesn’t feel like it’s coming out anytime soon!

So I decided to visit this small reservoir which had cropped up a few times on social media from people I follow. It was a lovely short walk, with good views, so a good one if you’re nearby and want to squeeze in a walk. It seemed a popular walk, I passed quite a few dog walkers and mums with buggies!

The West Ardsley website suggests there are reservoir rocks around that will help keep little ones entertained. To be fair I didn’t spot any- although I wasn’t really looking and there’s nothing to say new ones aren’t brought.

There are pebble beaches around the perimeter of the reservoir, but bathing is prohibited. That doesn’t stop good opportunities for stone skimming!

There are lovely views on the South side of the reservoir to appreciate too 😍

It took me just over half an hour to walk round this route, and I got an extra boost of smugness when I returned to the car about 30 seconds before it started raining. Love it 👍

There’s not a lot more to say, so I’ll leave you with a few pics of the moody weather!

4km circular walk along Ilkley riverbank and through Middleton Woods

The bluebells of Middleton Woods have been calling me since the first pictures started appearing on Instagram! So today we combined this with a visit to Ilkley Riverside Gardens (mainly to include the play area).

Distance: We shortened the suggested route (below), and map my walk recorded over 4km, but the full route is down as 4.8km so either we walked a bit less or their’s is a bit further.

Parking: If you haven’t been this way on a sunny day, be warned it gets really busy to park. The good news is it’s free- we parked outside Ilkley Riverside Hotel (and it was fairly quiet).

Facilities: We started at Riverside gardens which has a playarea and public toilets. Be warned the toilets in the hotel are customer only and they’re pretty strict about it. Riverside cabin does hot and cold takeaway food and drink.

Route: We followed the route 👉here, BUT we did it anticlockwise (so heading towards the lido first), and after exiting the Woods came straight back down to the river path along Harding’s lane. We also started and finished at the hotel (where I had a hot chocolate with marshmallows mmmmm).

Accessibility: Not suitable for buggies

We started by a quick stop at the play area. Rightly or wrongly if one’s available I find it’s an excellent bribe to keep Jess motivated to get round the walk for when we return! It’s a decent one with a good selection of activities and equipment.

From here we walked through the gardens to climb the stone steps up to the bridge, after crossing we dropped down onto the path that passes the skatepark and skirts the rugby club. We briefly stopped to skim stones in the river, always fun!!

The path climbed past the lido and we crossed Curly Hill to enter the woods. If you’d followed the route provided, this would all be downhill… but we find Jess walks better uphill when there’s lots to keep her interested!

I’m not convinced we took the right track up through the woods, but we knew to head in a North East direction and eventually met up with the path I think we were meant to have taken. It’s probably easier in this since sense coming from the other way. The bluebells were just magnificent. Truly gorgeous… I think I took close to a million photos!! 😂😂 Jess kept herself entertained with her usual stick collections and playing hide and seek.

On leaving the woods we passed through a field with great views over Ilkley… and even more excitement; lambs in the field!

Rather than continuing along the route past the monastery we decided to head back along the road (Harding’s Lane) to rejoin the river. At just over 3 weeks until my due date I don’t want to push it too much with walking distance! If you decide to do the same be warned there’s no path for most of this road- but only three cars passed us and it’s a pretty road down with good views.

We picked the route up where the electricity sub-station is marked on the map, and followed the pretty path back along the river to where we started.

I think this was one of my favourite walks that we’ve done- maybe because of the bluebells which are such a treat to see! But as with all woods, every season brings something new to look out for, so I’m sure it would be special anytime!

Rachel xx

Canal walk, Methley, St Aiden’s (5.5km)

I’m not particularly a ‘bird person’. In fact, flashbacks from Hitchcock’s The Birds result in me still flinching when there’s too many of them around me. So an RSPB nature reserve isn’t usually my first choice of walk. But given its super local and is gorgeous, I thought I’d brave it without my protector- come hubby, and I’m so glad that we did! Today I joined it up with a walk along the canal and an all-important cafe stop in Methley.

St Aiden’s Website: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/st-aidans

Parking: Plenty around Lemonroyd Marina, Fleet Lane (LS26 9EU).

Access: Mostly flat, but some tracks can get muddy and some are quite rubbly, so your buggy needs to be quite robust!

Route:

Facilities: Although St Aiden’s has a visitor centre, this route doesn’t pass it, so I’ve built in a cafe stop at River’s Meet Cafe. It does fantastic sandwiches and cakes 😍 and is incredibly child friendly with a children’s menu, changing facilities and a toy and book selection.

Walk description:

From Lemonroyd Marina, we walked over the bridge waving at a passing canal boat.

The canal path passes a lock before it drops down to join the Trans Pennine Trail. We were lucky enough to watch a boat dropping from the canal onto the river 😍😍

Just be careful that you follow the river path- if you go under the railway bridge you’ve gone wrong! We walked along the track with the river to the left through the trees and the sounds of the railway to the right. Arriving at the bridge over the river, we turned right to join Station Road. There was further excitement as we arrived at the level crossing as the red light showed, woohoooo a train was coming!

Just through the gate and to the left is the road to Rivers Meet Cafe. It’s a bit of a squeeze for a buggy, we were lucky that there were no craft events on so could leave it in that room. On a warmer day I probably would have just sat outside. If you want something more substantial you could walk a little further to the Boundary House; one of our favourite pubs in the area. It does great food and a great outside area.

After our food stop we retraced our steps back to the bridge and went over it to enter St Aiden’s. We were immediately struck by the noise of all the birds! Totally incredible. We took the bridleway that leads towards Swillington, crossing the causeway which Jess was a big fan of! The swans were very interested in our passing.

We headed towards Swillington until the path crossway in front of the uphill climb, where we turned left onto the perimeter route. Along this route Jess was quite happy playing with sticks, but if you needed to keep interest in a buggy you could try a birdspotting or nature sheet such as this one.

This path follows the side of the wetlands with plenty of benches to stop and enjoy the view or for a picnic stop.

Look out for the right turn towards North West Lake, otherwise you’ll end up heading back to the causeway. This track brought us round to the edge of St Aiden’s and along the side of the river. There is a cutting on the right that takes you over a Weir to cross the river and back onto the canal.

Straight ahead we found ourselves back facing the Marina, and walked right to cross the canal on the bridge. Alternatively you could be more adventurous and cross on the lock 😋. Lots of fisherman and canal boats meant we took our time enjoying the short distance back to the car.

It’s a great walk with plenty to see. And at 5.5km it’s short enough that little ones retain interest if they are in the buggy!

There’s lots of scope to extend this walk, starting at Woodlesford for a longer walk up the canal, or for even more, adding it onto this walk around Woodlesford Lock.

Let me know if you give it a go or have any other suggestions for this area!

Rachel xx

A day out at Lotherton Hall, Aberford, Leeds

It’s been a good year since we last visited Lotherton Hall, but after today’s visit I think it’ll be a lot sooner to our next visit! 😍

We usually only go for specific events; things like Christmas or Food Festivals. Today though, the Easter ‘Mad Hatter of an Easter Holiday’ trail around the grounds took a back seat to our enjoyment of just a really lovely day out. It’s got a great play area, little walking trails, animals to see and all standard facilities.

Website: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/lothertonhall

The entrance fee is just £8 for an adult, with reduced costs for Leeds card holders and free for under 5s. It’s brilliant value, particularly compared to costs of other days out (so thank you Leeds city council- it’s a cracker).

For the first time ever we actually tried the house; there’s no real reason we haven’t been in before; we just usually prefer the outdoors. But today we needed to count the Easter bunnies inside. So in we went and were instantly impressed by the layout of the rooms and all the things to look at, including toys in many of the rooms to keep little ones entertained.

Our favourite room though had to be the dress-up room, which we had to eventually drag Jess away from. Downstairs the Easter craft area also kept her interest, with my scissor skills being called into action with the creation of Easter masks.

After the house, next stop was the play area.. a great space and perfect for our three year old. She could climb even the highest slide without help. With a smaller climbing frame for the younger ones and a zip line, there’s lots to keep them entertained.

Adjacent to the play area is a picnic area with more play equipment for slightly older children; more zip lines, swings, see-saws and climbing frames.

We had a lovely picnic with some well-timed sunshine, and then headed to Wildlife World. If like us you haven’t been in a while I think you’ll get a huge shock! It’s completely transformed- and is just fab. I can’t get my head around the value!

After walking past the warty pigs and brilliant flamingos we walked through the shop to see the exceptionally inquisitive penguins, who came right up to us! Walking into Africa was another highlight, where you can walk into the enclosure.

Animals seen, after a quick ice cream stop we walked back past the picnic areas to join the boundary path. In the trees are some little obstacles such as balancing beams to keep interest, and Jess did her usual tree hugging 👍

So we had a great day, and we didn’t even see everything (Jess was shattered). You can go to see the deer and there’s a hay maze for children to navigate through!

I’m so sure we’ll be returning regularly I think we’ll get the annual membership next time, at just £24 we only need three visits to make up the cost. If you’re a regular visitor please let me know your favourite spots, I’m sure there is lots more to see!

👍 Remember to like my Facebook page, Muddy Boots Mummy, to see my blog posts on walks and days out in Yorkshire https://m.facebook.com/muddybootsmummy/

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Rachel xx

A sunny stroll around Golden Acre & Paul’s Pond (Breary Marsh)

The spring sunshine was out in full force today, which seemed to put Jess in a sunny mood as we visited Golden Acre.

Distance: 5.5k (can do shorter- just stick to the Golden Acre Park circular)

Accessibility: this route is buggy-friendly but not surfaced all the way round so may get rather muddy after wet weather.

Facilities: Cafe and toilets. Two decent car parks. Picnic benches.

Route: In summary an easy lap round Golden Acre adding on the path to Paul’s Pond- read below for a better description!

We parked at the car park off Arthington Road to start our walk, heading clockwise into the woodland. A map of Golden Acre is here.

Start the walk on this path.

The path soon enters a small woodland area. Jess got very excited to start walking through trees, and decided to give them all cuddles 😂😂. So we spent a good 20 minutes going about 50 meters.

Leaving the woodland we came across an odd little circle of tree stumps, obviously Jess had to try sitting on them all.

We followed the path through the gorgeous tree lined path at the top of the park that leads back to the cafe and toilets. It’s so peaceful in this part of the park, we felt as though we had the whole place to ourselves!

From the cafe head through the underpass as though you’re going to the car park on Leeds road. Before the slope up to the car park there’s a path off to the left with green railings, follow this through the woodland to reach Paul’s Pond. It’s a gorgeous little walk, again it’s much quieter than the main paths of Golden Acre and extremely pretty! A highlight for Jess was the little ford. She must’ve gone back and forth at least twenty times.

Before long we reached Paul’s Pond, where the path laps round and we stopped for a snack. We sat a little back from the pond, the swans looked a little keen when we started unwrapping sandwiches!

Once round the pond, return to Leeds Road on the path that you came in on to re-enter Golden Acre. The paths get a little busier as you head past the picnic area to the Lake. We briefly stopped to watch the ducks before taking the path that loops round the lake.

It’s possible to visit Adel Dam Nature Reserve here, a beautiful spot if you have the time! It’s possible to take a buggy round here if you stick to the main path.

The path back to the car park is beautiful – full of cherry blossoms 😍😍. It was a touch too early for some trees but we still saw lots of colour! Be warned if you’re pushing a buggy- the path is deceptively steep (or maybe my 31 week bump just was slowing me down).

We couldn’t have chosen a lovelier day to have visited here, Jess was on great form and we spent about 3 hours walking round. Obviously that’s including two picnic stops! It went down well with Jess too; getting back to the car she said she wanted to go round again! So so good to hear ☺️☺️

Rachel xxx

Addition: Jess came home and asked to go for a nap. I woke her up 90 minutes later, she was still knackered and just cuddled into me on the sofa until tea time. A winning day all round really!

A family walk around Otley Chevin, North Leeds

The last time we went to Otley Chevin was 7th February 2016. I know this because an hour after returning home I went into labour with Jess- she was born a tiring 47 hours later. Perhaps this is the reason it’s taken so long to come back here.

So as I write this in the car drove home I’m hoping there’s no repeat of that outcome after a little walk at 31 weeks!

Distance: lots of different routes you could take, we did about 4K.

Access: if you have a buggy, stick to the Bridleways, whilst some of the footpaths are fine others are extremely steep/muddy/rocky. We tried a buggy today and I’m just pleased I had an excuse to leave all the pushing to the hubby! Would be fine to take little bikes around- as many families were doing.

Parking: various car parks, unmarked spaces so gets tight at times and busy on sunny days. See the car parks here; https://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/chevin%20map.pdf

Facilities: Not great to be honest, two cafes though so head there for toilets and food. Lots and lots of benches and a picnic/ ball games area.

Route: Lots, but today we kept it short. If you look at the link to the pdf map above, we parked opposite the Cheerful Chilli and tea room, and walked East straight towards Caley Wood. We then went straight ahead over the board walk and left at the end to turn back past the wetland. And then followed the path back to the car!

We had every intention of Jess walking this with us, but she had a total meltdown in the car, and after 20 minutes of repeated “I want to go in the pram”, we took the easy option.

After getting her own way, she was on good form on the way round, asking lots of questions about the things we spotted on the way round.

There’s some really good wooden sculptures and interesting things to do. If you fancy doing a ‘can you see’ style activity whilst you go round here are some ideas;

  • Baby elephant sculpture
  • A wooden bridge over wetlands
  • Wooden horse sculpture
  • Fallen tree
  • A rocky crag
  • Ruins of a cottage
  • An animal’s burrow
  • A newly planted tree
  • Surprise view
  • A den
  • (If you’re lucky!) A red kite

At some point I’ll upload an activity sheet for here!

There are some lovely views over Otley and Almscliffe Crag for a picnic stop (or as Jess says ‘snic-snic’), and plenty of benches around for snack stops and to enjoy the views.

If you have the time and inclination head up to Surprise View (or even drive up if you haven’t seen it)- really spectacular views and well worth the trip.

For lazy days there’s a picnic area with lots of space for ball games if it’s not too busy.

In all it’s a lovely place to spend a couple of hours wandering round- any longer and no doubt you’ll need a cafe trip to use the toilets, and little ones might start to lose interest. Have fun exploring!!

Rachel xxx

Grizedale, nr Hawkshead, Lake District

I’ve always loved the Lakes. When I was growing up, my parents had a static in Keswick, and for three consecutive summers post-uni, I worked in children’s summer camps, including one at Hawkshead. In my previous career as a teacher, I relished the outdoor trips there and since I first met my husband we go as often as we can. It’s safe to say the Lakes hold a special place in my heart, and the walking that I have enjoyed there has not been beaten anywhere in the world.

But for the last three years the choice of walks has been difficult, and much more planning is needed to make sure the walks are child friendly. To be honest I think we didn’t realise how lucky we were on our first family trip away when Jess was just 6 weeks old. In a carrier she was no heavier than a normal rucksack, and we didn’t appreciate that the walking we did in Langdale would be the last of its kind for a good few years!

But today we visited Grizedale. Walking map below;

https://www.forestryengland.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Walking%20interior%20%28A3%29%20VIS.pdf

We’ve been here a few times in our previous life (before Jess) for the superb bike riding, but today was the first time we went just for the trails. We were soooo impressed with the whole set up for children. If you’re looking for somewhere that’s easy to get your bambinos excited about the outdoors there can’t be many places that match this place.

One thing that I will say is that other than the short blue route, and the shortest of the yellow routes, it isn’t particularly buggy friendly. Not that that’s a particular problem if you’re not planning on walking far.

We naively set off on the 2.5mile yellow route with Jess on her balance bike. Naively because it soon became apparent that the path was exactly what it claimed, a walking path and totally unsuitable for toddler attempts at biking. She ended up on hubby’s shoulders for much of the first half, but was eager to get down wherever possible. It was a lovely short circular walk with plenty to see, and finished at the visitor centre, complete with one of the best play areas we’ve tried.

The best thing is the access to all parts of the play area- if you did have a buggy you’d be able to watch your children from the top of the slides- something pretty rare!

There’s also a GoApe centre there (banked that knowledge for future years) and a comfortable cafe.

Once Jess had worn herself out we were able to get her up in the carrier and try out one of the other trails, but with my pregnant belly & achy back stopping me going too far, we stuck to a shorter route (Bogle Crag). Still, another great route through this amazing forest.

If you can make it further than us there are some fantastic viewpoints, so make sure to have a look on what’s on offer!

We finished off our trip with a snack stop up at the picnic area at Moor Top, with the winter sun shining through the trees I couldn’t ask for a more picturesque place to end our visit ❤️❤️❤️

I’ve finally realised I’m pregnant

This probably sounds a ridiculous thing to say. I’m 23 weeks with a massive bump. Three weeks of my earlier pregnancy were spent pretty much living in bathrooms making close acquaintances with various toilets. But today it hit me.

Two reasons for this;

1. A throw away comment from a friend we haven’t seen in a while. “Are you all set for the baby then?” Errr no. By 23 weeks with our first one we’d probably trawled every baby event going- and had stocked up on supplies to last us the first six months. This time we have done nothing. Partly because there’s a lot of hand me downs, and partly because of lack of time with a toddler…. but mainly because it hasn’t sunk in that in less than 4 months I’ll have another child.

2. We walked along the canal (so pretty flat) to the pub for lunch and back again. Less than 5 miles there and back, but ever since I’ve been recovering on the sofa with a hot water bottle on my lower back. I am in AGONY. What’s this about?! I’m a walker!!

I’ve not been setting out on long walks over the last couple of weeks, but actually the smaller walks are perhaps a bit too much too. I hate to admit this. I hate it even more because next weekend we’ve booked a cottage in the Dales to do some walks that I’m not sure we’ll be able to do now. We had worried that my husband might find it too hard to go too far with a nearly-three year old on his back… but actually it’s me that’s going to restrict the distances. But the way I feel tonight it’s not worth it. And I think I’ve got to do a better job at looking after me. So until this baby makes an appearance I’m saying bye to the long walks and hills (sob). But I can’t wait to get back to it- and will enjoy those summer walks even more!!

Xx