As you know, I spent a mini break in the Lakes last week. The Lake District is a mountainous region in North West England and is one of the most highly populated national parks acting as the perfect rural getaway for many visitors, who travel from all corners of the Earth throughout the year. The Lakes maintain their traditional charm boasting an abundance of unspoilt countryside, picturesque lakes, quaint little independent business (that have been around since the dawn of time) and mini settlements of cottages, made from the local Lakeland stone. As you approach the Lake District, you can breath a sigh of relief, knowing you’ve left the chaos and smog of the city behind. I couldn’t resist sharing some pictures from The Lakes and few favourite things to experience if you’re lucky enough to visit:
The Lakes: One of the things to anticipate when visiting the Lakes is rain! Pack a raincoat and waterproof boots or you may live to regret it. The Lake District’s location on the north west coast of England, coupled with its mountainous geography, makes it officially the dampest part of England. The Lakeland village of Sprinkling Tarn is recorded to have over 5,000 millimetres, that’s 200 inches of rain per year! Now, don’t let the amount of rain put you off, be thankful, as without the rain, you wouldn’t get to enjoy the many fine lakes. Cruises, canoeing, fishing and watersports are the perfect way to blow off the cobwebs. Boats can be hired from Waterhead, Low Wood, Bowness, Brockhole, The Lake District Visitor Centre and Fell Foot Park.
Dove Cottage: The poet William Wordsworth is a character you can’t avoid hearing about when you visit The Lake District, with a variety of his old homes and hangouts now acting as literary tourist hotspots. Dove Cottage was built in the early 17th century, beside the main road from Ambleside to Keswick and was home to Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy for eight years of “plain living, but high thinking”. Dove Cottage operates small tours every thirty minutes, you can see inside the cottage which has remained the same since Wordsworth’s time. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside the cottage. The rooms were very small and dark, typical of the Lakeland cottage style, our tour guide gave a fascinating insight into what life would’ve been like for Wordsworth living in The Lakes back in 1799. (Adult ticket is priced at £7.50)
Grasmere Gingerbread: As you walk into the centre of the village of Grasmere, you get the most incredible whiff of gingerbread being freshly made at the famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop. I can’t think of a more delicious smell on a brisk autumn morning. Gate Cottage was built in 1630, originally as a school house for local children whose parents could afford to pay the penny a day for their education. Now home to the Grasmere Gingerbread shop, Gate Cottage remains largely unaltered from when it was first built. Around 1850 Sarah Nelson a local cook and cleaner rented Gate Cottage. Victorian tourists passing by would notice Sarah baking in her white cloth cap and more importantly smell her gingerbread.
Sarah’s Grasmere Gingerbread became renowned. Soon Sarah began wrapping her gingerbread in pure vegetable parchment printed “None Genuine Without Trade Mark”. Her recipe was locked away in the local bank vault. Sarah abandoned her parlour, hanging a curtain across her kitchen to form a passageway from the door through to the shop. To this day the parlour is used to serve the notorious gingerbread, made to Sarah’s original recipe. Expect a short queue out of the door as there’s only room for about two customers at a time in the shop. The gingerbread is incredible, with a powdery exterior and chewy centre, packed with crystallised ginger to give an added crunch! (6 rather large pieces of gingerbread will cost £2.95) o.k I’m hungry now.
Faeryland: Tucked away behind the garden centre in Grasmere, Faeryland tearooms is the most idyllic place to sit outside and enjoy a slice of cake, bacon sandwich or in my case a scone loaded with cream and jam and a hot non-alcoholic pink mulled wine. From the roadside it doesn’t look like much of a place with only a sign sticking out of the bushes, but once you venture down the path your faced with a glorious view over the lake and surrounding fells. Faeryland comes complete with it’s very own traditional gypsy caravan and brightly coloured boats that can be rented out for a row across the lake. (boat hire will cost £13.50 with a £20 deposit, they only accept cash so be prepared)
Hill Top Farm: Beatrix Potter’s 17th-century farmhouse situated in Ambleside. Bought in 1905 with proceeds from her first book, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter used Hill Top itself and the surrounding countryside as inspiration for many of her subsequent books. You can explore the house and gardens where Beatrix Potter lived for many years. The house remains pretty much as it was when Potter lived there, feels like she’s just popped out. It’s easy to see how the house and garden inspired her illustrations. Well worth a visit, but beware if you’re a Beatrix Potter fan, you may leave the gift shop bankrupt! (Ticket entry will cost you £8.50)
The beauty of The Lake District really has to be experienced to be believed. The never ending views, fresh air, rich history, quaint tea rooms, locally produced treats, romance captured by the Lake poets, glistening waters, gardens and wildlife so full of charm and character brought to life by Beatrix Potter’s magical illustrations, the smell of fresh gingerbread and taste of hot mulled wine. A dream destination to getaway from chaotic city life.
‘A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable’ -William Wordsworth