After only being back in the country for a total of 4 days it was time for another break. The beauty of Europe and its proximity to so many places both near and slightly further afield all conveniently served by a plethora of budget airlines makes weekend getaways just that much easier. For the measly sum of £20 you can find yourself in Norway exploring a new country and culture for a few days, all while maintaining that precious annual leave. Summer brings the perfect excuse for trips with the promise of the sun and a chance to fit a tiny bit of adventure into a packed week of work.
Something I am very bad at is UK travel. With unreliable weather and expensive transport it can often be cheaper going to Spain than staying to enjoy travel closer to home. It is with this in mind that I have to admit, that I, who have visited over 45 foreign countries, have never visited the tourist hotspot of the lake district. This cannot be I hear you exclaim, but alas, it is sadly true. However, this piece of shame had been haunting me for years when fellow travellers exclaimed at how lucky us Brits are to have such gems right on our doorstep and so it was with this in mind that I booked a weekend getaway to the lakes. With my mum as my travel companion we set of on the quick 2 hour journey to the edge of the national park.
We seemed to have lucked out with incredibly sunny weather and so the drive down was actually pretty enjoyable. We had found a great deal for the North Lakes Hotel and Spa which was located right on the edge of the park at Penrith and so made a great jumping off point for exploring. We still had the whole day ahead of us at this point and so we made our way straight down to Lake Windermere, the Disneyland of the lake district. If I could describe Lake Windermere in one word it would be – BUSY. There are so many people all crammed into this relatively small, quaint town. We arrived and the first hurdle to overcome was parking. I was desperate to get out into the sunshine and enjoy the unusually nice weather and luckily I managed to nab a space after not too long. We headed off along the street in the sun to find somewhere for lunch.
This was not an easy task and so we had to forego a nice seat in the sun for an upstairs of the Arts Bar & Grill to one, get a charging point, and secondly find a table to sit at. The small towns just can’t cope with such a huge influx of people. My mum enjoyed a pulled pork wrap and I opted for the specialty burger with pulled pork, bbq sauce and onion rings. It was a very hearty meal that we struggled to finish in all honesty. However, it definitely filled a spot and after the drive set us up for a day of exploration. Our first stop was the World of Beatrix Potter – something I had been very much looking forward to. Beatrix Potter had a house in the lake district, just outside of Lake Windermere atop a hill which can also be visited. The lake district was the setting for her tales of naughty rabbits and cunning foxes and the beauty of the area was her inspiration for these wonderful childhood tales. As a result an attraction has been set up showcasing her works and as an avid childhood fan I was keen to check it out.
When we entered and bought our tickets the server explained that we had arrived just in time for the show, Where is Peter Rabbit?, and we were very lucky really as they only do a few during the summer months. I was sceptical and suggested perhaps this would suit a younger audience but she assured us that the content was suitable for all and since we were here well, why not? 5 minutes into the show I was wishing we had picked an exit seat. The show was absolutely not suitable for adults and was 100% child focussed. It did tell us some of the stories with the help of flying puppets and so I suppose if there was a silver lining to be found it would be that it reminded us of the famous tales of Jemima Puddle Duck and Mr Tod. After over an hour we were finally allowed to escape and wander round the rest of the exhibition. It includes statues and tales from each of the tales and really does bring the books to life, especially out in the garden. The sort of find and seek trail seemed to work for both the children and adults.
After a few hours spent inside the attraction it was nice to be back out in the sun. We wandered around the town and headed down to the water to enjoy the lake in the sun with a cool refreshing drink. It did slightly detract that we were surrounded by thousands of other people who all seemed to have the same idea but it was still enjoyable and after relaxing in the last of the afternoon sun we headed back to the car and to our hotel, North Lakes Hotel and Spa. The hotel was lovely. We checked in and made dinner reservations for the evening before heading to relax for a bit in our room. There was a wedding on that evening and so we had to have a slightly later dinner but it was absolutely worth the wait. The food was truly fantastic! I opted for the scallops and then the maple glazed pork belly served with a pulled pork croquette, black pudding crumb and burnt apple sauce. One of the highlights however, was the cheese board and port for dessert. It was a surprising gem of a meal and we stumbled to bed happy and oh so full.
It is such a great feeling to wake up whenever and then stumble downstairs to a full cooked breakfast of yet again, fantastic food. We decided to off-set the eating with a visit to the spa to enjoy a swim, steam and sauna and of course a nice chill afterwards in the jacuzzi. There were a lot of children which perhaps slightly detracted from the chilled atmosphere but it was nice enough regardless. Today we had planned to do some hiking and after some research had decided upon the Catbells. The hike seemed like the perfect balance of difficulty coupled with some fantastic views and given we were set to have another beautiful day of sunshine we headed off towards Keswick ready to burn.
It was a short half hour journey however, on arrival we soon realised that parking was going to be an issue. There is a tiny car-park that can fit maybe 8 cars and so people had resorted to abandoning vehicles along the road wherever they fancied. A parking attendant was meandering along making a killing in fines and so we drove along in the hope we might spot somewhere. I managed to carry out a skilful hill reverse park and popped us behind a tree and so in between the lines where parking is prohibited. We ambled off with no clue what was in store. The hike is an easy amble up to the main section which starts to steepen the closer you get to the top. However, the gorgeous views are an easy distraction – literally everywhere you look is a fabulous photo op. Once at the top section its relatively flat for a short period before some scrambling (not what I would call easy) and then another flat section. I have to say I was seriously impressed with my mum for giving everything a go and the views and sun were spectacular. We reached the top and collapsed into heaps to lie back and enjoy those well-deserved views. After a nice rest we headed on down the other way that took us off the main hill and onto the road that passes down below back to the car.
Alas, the weekend was drawing to a close and so we made our way into nearby Keswick for some food before the drive home. We chose the Bank Tavern because they had a table and we were after some comfort pub food. I opted for the roast beef dinner with a massive Yorkshire pudding and puddles of gravy. It is one of these meals that is quite hard to get wrong really and is super hearty and filling. It absolutely hit the spot and while the food was nothing to write home about it was pub-grub which is exactly what we were looking for. Keswick by late Sunday afternoon was deserted and we wandered back to the car browsing some of the local shops experience the joy of the lakes without the crowds. It is a gorgeous place quite literally on our doorstep and really somewhere that merits further exploration. I will definitely be back.