Lake Windermere is well known as England’s largest Lake at over 11 miles long equating in over 26 miles to explore along its full circumference. There are numerous outstanding viewing points within easy reach either by car, or by short walk. Gummer’s Howe is probably the most famous being situated at the south end of Lake Windermere. You can drive most of the way, leaving only a 30 minute walk to marvel at the panoramic views over Lake Windermere and across to Morecambe Bay. To see the Lakes from a different perspective, Arnside Knott rewards those who take this gentle climb with stunning views of the Kent Estuary and Morecambe Bay; simply head for the viewpoint. For a more challenging, but still enjoyable walk for most, take the 2 hour round trip to Brantfell and Post Knott. Take the camera, as there are wonderful views of Windermere, the stunning Langdales and maybe even the Lake District Hotel you’ve chosen. Hope for a clear day and always check the weather forecasts before heading out. Suitable footwear is always important, even on these more leisurely walks, you just never know!
Around Lake Windermere you’ll find an array of villages and hamlets to enjoy with some real hidden gems crying out to be discovered. While the drive will be slow around the twisting back roads, you’ll discover Fell Foot Park [National Trust] where you can enjoy an ice cream and hire a boat; Aquarium of the Lakes and the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway at Lakeside, both being attractions you can enjoy on a sunny or rainy day; head up towards Sawrey and visit ‘Hill Top’, a 17th century farmhouse where Beatrix Potter weaved her lyrical magic. At the north end of Lake Windermere, Ambleside is a Mecca for walking enthusiasts and you can take a lake cruise back up the lake.
If you’re exploring the hidden gems around Lake Windermere then why not stay somewhere other than Bowness or Ambleside? Newby Bridge at the Lakeside end of the lake offers a choice of places to stay, easy to travel to from the M6 yet with Lakeside Pier a few minutes walk away and views of the lake and surrounding fells. Newby Bridge Hotel has private, off road parking, great value room rates and serves tasty, local food. It also has private leisure facilities for guests, all included in the room rates. Deals can be found when booking direct throughout the year via http://www.newbybridgehotel.co.uk.
We’re all taking to 2 wheels and loving it. The amount of cyclists in Cumbria is growing and growing whether you’re a lycra road racer, an off road mountain biker or a leisure cyclists just set to get out into the outdoors a bit more.
Cycling is a great way to get around Cumbria and the Lake District and the amount of cycle friendly routes is increasing. It is an excellent activity for the whole family as well as a good way of getting exercise. Couple this with the ability to go further than walking in the terms of car free activities, no wonder it has captivated the nation.
But it isn’t always easy to plan out or decide on a route and that is why we should all give great thanks to published routes making our lives nice and easy. Take the GoSkyRide programme of guided cycle events that are now taking place throughout the county and year, the national press or the easy to follow routes detailed on the National Cycle Network website, Sustrans.org.uk.
This month in the travel section of The Times, they have compiled a list of 20 Beautiful Weekend Bike Rides, just the ticket for making the most of these 2 precious days off. Number 15 is Windermere to Grange over Sands with all routes taken from Sustrans.org.uk. This is the ultimate low carbon route as it begins at the train station at Windermere. Visitors and cyclists to travel to the Lake District by trin with their bikes and take this route to explore on the way as well as end up in Grange over Sands which is a lovely place to make a base and cycle around. The route utilises the Windermere Ferry setting off from Bowness, across the Lake to the western edge which is an extra excitement.
Grange itself has some lovely routes, again these can be found on the Sustrans website and ideal for cyclists with little luggage, Bay Villa B&B in Grange over Sands. A luxury bed & breakfast with bike storage and breakfasts that will set you up for a day of cycling.
The Applegarth Villa Hotel & Restaurant are well and truly keeping it Cumbrian this year on their Christmas Day lunch menu.
Being run by a Cumbrian family with the added benefit of a little Scottish hospitality too, it’s no wonder Christmas and New Year at the Applegarth is not to be missed.
Over the past year, Head Chef John Kelly has been really focusing on using even more local produce and local suppliers. Through working with these high quality and knowledgeable suppliers John has not just been able to create a dinner menu utilising local produce to the maximum but also to offer a variety of dishes to suit vegetarians, pescatarians and vegans.
Christmas Day lunch, the most anticipated part of Christmas has of course been given the same “local” attention. This year the choice of starters includes the ever growing in popularity Muncaster crab from the West Coast of Cumbria. A delicious and sweet crab perfect for John’s Tian of Muncaster crab & dill hot smoked salmon. The main event will showcase the very best of Cumbrian birds with an epic 5 bird roast from Brougham Hall with all the trimmings. Desert is another break from the norm in the form of Christmas pudding creme brulee with mine pie ice cream all of which homemade by John.
So there really must be something wrong if that doesn’t tempt anyone to book the last remaining rooms at The Applegarth hotel in Windermere this Christmas! Christmas at The Applegarth starts at £775 per room for 3 nights dinner, bed and breakfast.
There may not be any hotels officially classified as being 5 star in Cumbria and the Lake District but there are certainly holiday cottages that are.
Busy Windermere and the lesser so Hawkshead and Newby Bridge regions are a haven for Visit England 5 Star Gold Award self catering properties. This whole area of the South Lakes has some exceptional quality when it comes to accommodation and some equally as exceptional places to eat and drink oh,and don’t forget the scenery of course!
Towards Newby Bridge, often a little forgotten with it being so near the ever popular Windermere and Bowness but it offers those areas on its doorstep yet at a much quieter, slower pace. There are remote properties, those in small hamlets and converted barns to choose from in holiday cottages.
The Visit England grading gives a helpful insight for prospective visitors to the Lake District on the standard and what they can expect for a holiday rental. The gradings work in 1 to 5 stars with 5 being the best and “the higher the quality and the greater the range of facilities and services provided.” The criteria of the grading system even comes down to how easy appliances are to work and the comfort of beds. It is when services and facilities are deemed even higher than this that a Gold Award is given. There are 4,536 Gold Award properties across all of the accommodation categories and the Lakeland Cottage Company have the highest ratio amongst their holiday cottages than any other agency in the Lake District.
Winter, a great time to visit the Lake District and especially Ambleside with plenty to see and do whatever the weather.
Stepping Stones Cottages in Ambleside have some extremely tempting and warming offers on short breaks in their 4 holiday cottages this winter. Choose from either a 3 night weekend break or a 4 night midweek break in any of the 4 cottages, Riverbank, Garden, Mallards and Stablemans. Ranging in size to accommodation 2 people up to 5.
The cottages at Stepping Stones make ideal retreats for couples and so a lovely and cosy weekend away in winter is just perfect here. In fact Mallard’s and Garden are both pet friendly too which means kennels needn’t be found and guests can enjoy walking with their dog in and around Ambleside.
Stepping Stones have also reduced their Christmas week rates in Stableman’s and Garden to £795 and £495 respectively. This is a super chance to spend Christmas in Ambleside at a very attractive price and the cottages couldn’t be more fitting to spend Christmas in with open fires and luxury decor. Ambleside is brimming with festivities at this time of year with a real sense of joy from locals and visitors alike.
The countdown to Christmas is beginning and here, there and everywhere festive chitter chatter is being heard. But there is lots going on prior to Christmas and especially in Windermere.
Guy Fawkes is sure to the flavour this weekend with various firework displays being held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here’s hoping for some clear nights so the spectacular pyrotechnics can be watched at their best. A couple of the hotels have displays close to the Lake which is a stunning backdrop.
The Windermere and Bowness Winter Lights will be switched on Saturday 30 November with a full day of Seeking Santa Cruise from Bowness Pier and Stars Parade through Windermere village. It should be an excellent day for the whole family.
As with every month, Blackwell the arts and crafts house., is always worth a visit with exhibitions and at the beginning of December a Christmas Fair with arts and crafts to purchase. A full programme of the events at Blackwell can be found on their website http://www.blackwell.org.uk/
It is worth checking the local paper and tourist information centre if you';re visiting during November as there may be some other events such as local Christmas fares etc at schools or village halls.
But even if there’s nothing that takes your fancy in terms of events in Windermere, taking a short break through November and December is an excellent way to tick off some of that Christmas shopping or simply to relax before the frantic festive season really kicks in. With plenty of fantastic independent shops as well as the large Lakeland and Booths stores, Windermere makes the ideal Christmas shopping destination.
As most people will know, Windermere has a plenty of accommodation options including self catering cottages as at Windermere Marina Village, hotels such as Applegarth Villa and B&B accommodation from Firgarth Guest House. All 3 have private, off road parking.
It’s been a busy month in the press for Brimstone at Langdale. It seems journalists can’t get enough of this true one off of a hotel and who can blame them.
The summarize, this hotel only opened in July 2013 but has been receiving praise after praise from guests and journalists alike.
The hotel is made up of 16 stunning suites each with their own parking space. There is no reception, you deal with your host who is at hand to sort anything and everything out for you. The Reading Room supplies guests with 24 hour free snacks and beverages in the surroundings of a plush lounge with Wi-Fi. Then of course there are the onsite facilities synonymous with the Langdale Estate of the luxury spa, restaurants and bar (in room spa treatments are also available). But what really should be missed out is the location, the Langdale Valley and one of the visually pleasing landscapes in the United Kingdom.
It is fantastic to see such high profile publications writing such positive and informative articles on the Lake District and especially of businesses and activities which are new in the region. It is so important UK holiday destinations are supported in the UK and article such as these show that areas like the Lake District are pushing boundaries and are at the forefront of accommodation and attractions.
Next week sees the start of the 3 special Cuckoo Brow packages. Whether you’re a walker, angler or cruiser, the 2 or 3 night special activity deals are a great way to spend a weekend.
With the weather still favourable and with the school holidays coming to an end, September is an excellent time for a short break in the Lake District and especially somewhere such as Cuckoo Brow. Their menu reflects the changes in the seasons and utilises as much local produce as possible in fact they are one of the largest supporters of local produce in the area reflected in their 20 mile menu. All but a handful of ingredients from the menu have been sourced within 20 miles of the Inn. And what a larder it is in the Lake District from game to cheese, fish and speciality breads. The new season menu is being worked on at present and will include some excellent autumnal, Lake District dishes.
The 3 packages are excellent value for money and are inclusive of the cost of the activity as well as dinner and a bottle of wine on the first evening. A choice of 2 or 3 night packages provides flexible duration options.
Some more great offers in the South Lakes area, this time at the Langdale Hotel.
This 4 star hotel on the Langdale Estate in the Langdale Valley is offering a special mid week rate this weekend only on their Signature Rooms. Stay on a bed and breakfast basis for £155 per room per night.
The Langdale Estate is truly unique having everything on one site, including a choice of two restaurants and two bars and the renowned spa and leisure facility. Other extras include the chance to hire an electric car, events going on within the estate and of course, the stunning Langdale Valley surrounded by some of the tallest fells in the Lake District.
Hiring an electric car means a trip over Hardknott Pass to the Eskdale Valley can be enjoyed. Go over England’s steepest road in a peaceful and relaxing mode of transport! but that’s not all, The Guardian published a fantastic article last week “Ten new things to do on holiday in the Lake District” http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/aug/23/new-thingsholiday-lake-district and The Langdale Hotel is perfectly located to take advantage of quite a few of them.
Availability can be checked on the Langdale Hotel website http://www.langdale.co.uk
In the Lake District and especially in the South Lakes area, there are some truly breathtaking self catering properties available for hire that are possibly some of the best examples in the whole of the UK. Such a fact can be verified when looking at the sheer number of Visit England 4 and 5 star graded properties in this area with many also having the highest and most coveted Gold award too.
Coniston is one such location where it’s popularity continues to grow and in turn, so do the number of luxury holiday lets.The properties in the Coniston area are simply stunning whilst the landscape in unspoilt, smaller and far quieter than Ambleside and Windermere. For luxury combined with relaxation but still in the heart of the Lake District with everything on your doorstep, Coniston is hard to beat.
It is due to this that I would like to highlight a particular and quite unique set of self catering cottages in Coniston. The Tent Lodge Estate and Tinkler Beck Farm cottages. The collection has 7 properties available to hire in total all on the North East shore of Coniston Water. Ranging in size to accommodate 2 people up to 13 people, all these properties have access to private lake shore and jetties, Wi-Fi and “Somewhere” and “Tent Lodge” are ranked VE 5 star gold. Cottages in settings such as these are few and far between but to have a choice of 7 to choose from and with some even being pet friendly, these really are unique holiday rentals.
A recent guest at Tent Lodge summed it up perfectly, “A special house for a special occasion. We are regular visitors to the Lakes and could probably be on Mastermind answering questions about the Lake District, its hotels and special places, Tent Lodge is without doubt a hidden gem and stands out as a special place.”
Applegarth Vailla Hotel & Restaurant awarded TripAdvisor 2013 Certificate of Excellence.
For the second year running, Applegarth Villa Hotel & Restaurant have been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. This 2013 certificate has only been awarded to the top 10% of businesses listed on TripAdvisor recognising those performing the best.
“To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travellers on TripAdvisor, and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.”
The team at Applegarth Villa are extremely pleased to have received the award and even more so that their level of service has for yet another year, scored highly both in terms of TripAdvisor ratings and most importantly with guests.
A combination of personal service offered by this private, family owned and run hotel and the quality of the rooms and decor throughout this stunning example of an arts & crafts property has proved a winning one. Applegarth Villa Hotel & Restaurant is situated in the heart of Windermere yet on a quiet road with off street parking and has everything under one roof thanks to The Villa Restaurant and Bar.
We were extremely lucky to have been invited on a cruise on Lake Windermere. Most people that have visited Ambleside, Bowness and Windermere will have at some point set sail on a boat up and down the lake, each and every time being amazed at how different the mountains look and the properties usually just driven by.
Our cruise was just that little bit different though. Our cruise was on Mistress, a luxurious 50 foot Sealine T50 flybridge motor yacht. Excluding the steamers, a massive vessel and the largest on Windermere. We got the opportunity from an acquaintance and of course, was very excited to even see this boat let alone have the chance to take a cruise in it.
The moment we got on board, all we could think about was this was the nearest we were going to get to being James Bond! The interior of “Mistress” was quite frankly, stunning and we both said, we could live on this thing!
Obviously, we needed (yes need, not want) Champagne and I can say hand on heart, it was the best champers I’d ever had as I not had a luxury drink but I was sat in luxury looking and gazing out to some of the best scenery in the United Kingdom.
Back to the views when sailing on Lake Windermere. The Langdales look completely different even when looking from the same location on the road, the Farfield Horseshoe looks like it can be touched and it is amazing how many houses there are that are visible from the lake but not from the road (obviously, they are very grand dwellings).
“Mistress” is owned by the Applegarth Villa Hotel in Windermere where she is available for 2 hour, half day and full day charter. Well, well worth it to feel as close as it is possible for a normal person to feel like a superstar!