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FamiliesMost PopularMeet Scotland’s Youngest Mountaineer – A Little Baby Who First Went Up A Munro Aged Just Six Weeks Old

Meet Scotland’s Youngest Mountaineer – A Little Baby Who First Went Up A Munro Aged Just Six Weeks Old

Meet Scotland’s youngest mountaineer – a little baby who first went up a Munro aged just six weeks old.

Lara Mills, now aged five months old, is beating all her developmental targets, which her mum, Deborah MacDonald, 32, attributes to the amount of time the family spend enjoying the outdoors.

Carried in a pack by either Deborah or partner Scott Mills, 33, Lara has now been up 13 hills and mountains in Scotland, most recently Ben Vrackie in Perthshire, where they walked on Saturday.

The longest walk Lara has been on was about six hours long, but most are much shorter.

She travels in a little red outfit which looks like a sleeping bag and always wears a hat to keep her head warm.

Aged four months old, Lara was able to sit upright without support, and at five months, she is already trying to stand up, her proud mum says.

And Deborah believes that the amount of fresh air and mental stimulation Lara gets from hillwalking is helping her daughter to develop faster than most tots.

First-time mum Deborah said: “It’s well known that fresh air helps adults, and I can’t help but think it helps Lara’s sleep.

“Breast-feeding is the part of it which takes the most time, it involves preparation which is so important.

“We wouldn’t want to take her into a situation where we weren’t prepared.

“We feed on demand, so it’s not scheduled every four hours – it’s a little break for us, somewhere sheltered.

“We’ve always have enough jackets and stuff like that.”

Throughout her pregnancy with Lara, Deborah continued hillwalking and climbed 27 hills and mountains.

And after Lara was born, Deborah felt ready to start hiking again just six weeks later – and dismissed advice from people who told her it was too risky.

Her partner Scott, who she met on a snowboarding holiday in 2016, is in the Royal Marines, so is prepared for all situations.

Businesswoman Deborah said she hopes their shared hobby will introduce Lara to a love of the great outdoors when so many children seem to be glued to screens inside.

Deborah said: “A lot of people said ‘you won’t be able to do that when you have got a baby’.

“But we think, hopefully when our children are old enough they will be into the same things as we are.

“I know she’s only a baby but we take her in a pack, and then sit down and have a play around.”

The couple, who live in Blanefield, Stirlingshire, always take extra layers for Lara, should the temperature drop or the wind pick up.

Deborah said: “Even if it’s a really nice day, if we’re sitting still and she’s in the backpack she might get cold.

“When we are moving, she’s warm, but she still has a hat to keep her head warm.”

Growing up near Loch Lomond as a child Deborah could not wait to ditch her schoolbag and head outside.

And her partner also shares her love for the great outdoors.

Deborah said: “Scott is in the Royal Marines so he knows exactly what to do.

“He’s done as much training as it’s possible to have.”

They alternate carrying Lara, in her backpack, which weighs about six kilos.

Deborah admitted her daughter is heavy to carry but said she had become used to it.

She added: “I’d recommend it to other parents – it doesn’t need to be a difficult walk.

“But make sure you are prepared.

“To go outdoors and go for a walk is the best thing.”

She always carries a baby change bag, and like with breastfeeding, find a sheltered spot to change Lara’s nappy.

Deborah believes the regular excursions are helping Lara learn.

She said: “Seeing everything around her is a baby sensory overload – their brains are like sponges.

“We will say to her ‘look at the green leaves, look at the pink flowers’.

“It is educational from an early age.

“I really want people to go outside with their children – there’s a bubble we live in these days, it’s difficult to get away from screens.

“Children don’t want to go outside, but they’ve not been encouraged to.

“Hopefully we can inspire other people.”

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