The Lake District has always held special memories for me, from childhood holidays every Easter with my parents. I remember staying at a Farmhouse, picnics and paddles in the water as well as the utter excitement of visiting Hill Top (Beatrix Potter’s Home) then leaving with another of her fabulous books to read at bedtime. If anyone was to ask me where was my ‘happy’ place the Lakes would certainly be up there.
When the chance arose this past March to re visit the Lake District with Adam, I could not have been happier, all the memories flooded back and I wanted to create new ones so Adam would cherish this beautiful spot of the uk as much as I. We were offered an apartment near Ambleside through a family friend, so we booked two nights which ended up as three…
On arrival we realised the apartment was in the prime location of Bowness on Windermere, with a short walk down a hill to the Lake itself. We parked up the car and took our bags in to unpack. Then headed straight down the street for our first Lake Cruise together, sitting on the top deck of the Blue Cruise of the Islands, we took in the scenic views and listened to an informative commentary all about Lake Windermere. An hour later we wandered around the town, exploring and enjoying a delicious Cornish pasty and a cup of tea. Late afternoon we decided to drive along into Ambleside to visit Dove Cottage, William Wordsworth’ home that he shared with his sister from 1799 to 1808 and take a tour. Our guide was super friendly and gave us a much greater insight into Wordsworth and his family, I never knew his sister Dorothy was a writer too. She was in fact his inspiration for many of his poems including Daffodils. After our tour we spent some time in the garden, taking pictures and reading all the quotes by William dotted around the grounds. I can’t recommend a visit here enough and all the staff were delightfully helpful. That night we enjoyed dining at the local Indian back in Bowness called Mela which offered a great ‘Winter’ meal deal for £12.95 a person.
The next day we were up bright and early to drive to Lake Coniston, the very lake Donald Campbell [British speed record breaker] died on whilst trying to to set another speed attempt in 1967. There is a memorial to him by the water. The next stop was Grasmere as I had been told about an amazing Gingerbread shop here, called Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread, it lived up to all of it’s hype and much more. After tasting the delicious gingerbread, like nothing I had ever had before, I left laden with lots of the sweet treats for home. If you are in the area make sure to stop by… I mail ordered the Royal Crowns they produced for the Royal Wedding this year and they were fabulous too. We then walked around Grasmere taking in Wordworth Daffodil Garden and then at the local church we saw the graves of the Wordsworth family, which you are allowed to go in and see. The afternoon saw us visit my old time favourite, Hill Top, home of the amazing lady that was Beatrix Potter. My heart was full of love as we walked up to the house remembering the family photos we took outside the front gate here, still hanging proudly on my parents bedroom walls. We actually joined the National Trust whilst here, as it was good value for money in what we were going to see and visit, plus there are quite a few attractions in the North East to see too. It also gives you free parking in some of the car parks around the Lake District, which is great as the costs can mount up. Taking a tour around Hill Top was like going down memory lane, Adam was enjoying it all for the first time and asking lots of questions. A few obligatory photos later, we left and drove down to see The Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead which we were kindly told about. It was a short drive and the small gallery housed a lot of Beatrix’ prints and pencil drawings, definitely worth seeing and it gave a greater understanding into her original ideas for her characters in the books she wrote. The day was topped off with a fabulous photo opportunity at Claife Heights at Far Sawrey, which if you are looking from Bowness is the viewing station opposite and over the lake. The views are first class and very Instagram worthy as they say… We took the ferry back across to Bowness another good experience and rewarded ourselves with a pub meal at The Albert and a few drinks at The Angel Inn just down the street from our apartment. All the fresh air meant we slept like a baby that night.
Next day we met with some friends for a morning coffee before setting off to drive around the lake to Wray Castle. On arrival the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. We took a tour around the castle, built in 1840 by a retired surgeon from Liverpool called James Dawson with his wife’s fortune. There was an exhibition on called ‘The Women of Wray Castle, Convention and Control, due to it being the celebration of the ‘Year of the Woman’, including Beatrix Potter, who I didn’t know had spent a long summer holiday here (3 months in fact) with her family as a 16 year old in 1882, giving her the inspiration to buy her own farm Hill Top in 1905 with the royalties from her first book Peter Rabbit and her ‘love affair’ with the Lake District began. This was also where her love of botany began. We took a walk outside and down to the lake, it was so scenic and oh the views were lovely. I could have stayed here too. After a bit of a drive back to Ambleside we went to Rydal Mount another of William Wordsworth’s homes and then took the Coffin Route walk to Grasmere and back, taking many a picture along the way. Returning to a slice of cake and coffee at the gift shop. Rydal Hall was nearby so we had a wander around the property and gardens, to which there was a mini waterfall within..
We got back in the car and I had seen on google there was a huge waterfall called Skelwith Force at Skelwith Bridge, so with the help of Google Maps we found it and it certainly was special. Add it to your ‘must see’ list. On our way back we went to see Townend, situated in the Troutbeck Valley, but it was unfortunately closed for the day. We got to take in the gorgeous views around nevertheless. Arriving back in Bowness to a spectacular sunset and enjoying a takeaway from Mela with a bottle of wine, after a very busy day out and about.
Next morning we packed up and took in one last look of Lake Windermere for awhile and drove back home happy in the thought of creating many more Lakes memories together.