Staycation this Summer? Choose The Lake District

It’s nearly time for the schools to break up and everyone is hoping the weather continues to be as good as it has been throughout the last few weeks.

Even Cumbria and the Lake District (sharp gasps of amazement) has been experiencing some fabulous weather and there has most definitely been more visitors milling around whether they are staying in the county of just having a day out in The Lakes.

This year it seems to be one airport delay after another. From striking pilots and baggage handlers to travel companies going into administration. With people now leaving booking a holiday to the last minute, it begs the question, will this make for a busier school summer holiday period for the UK? Who knows really but it surely is going to be a factor in many people’s decision about going abroad especially when travelling with children.

family friendly lake district hotels

The level of service and quality of accommodation abroad in Italy, Spain and France is second to none but UK accommodation is fast coming up to that standard or in the case of many, there already. Families shouldn’t discount as the accommodation for a holiday. Hotel stays with the family mean everyone gets to enjoy the break not just the kids. There’s no washing up, food is plentiful and with great choice for all and whilst a holiday abroad is tied to a full week or 2 weeks, staying in a hotel in the UK can be booked for just a part week if desired.

Cumbria and the Lake District has it all to guarantee every member of the family will be entertained and hotels are realising the need to entice families. More and more family rooms are being created offering a large space, a seating area and a double and 2 twin beds or bunks. Many family friendly hotels also have drying rooms and are fully geared up and aware that kids do get mucky!

For a great choice of family friendly hotels in the Lake District visit, https://www.allofthelakedistrict.co.uk/lake-district-hotels/

We’re still in love with walking in the Lake District

More and more businesses are providing guided activities and events in the Lake District so too more markets, shows and performances. But what continues to be the main attraction that reason for visiting the Lake District is walking.

Some may say it is the walking capital of the UK. Yes there are so many stunning places for walking in the UK such as the Scottish Highlands, North Wales, Northumberland, the Peak District and the North York Moors but probably thanks to a gentleman called Alfred Wainwright, the Lake District is the most popular of the walking destinations. And now it is also the UK’s newest and largest UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Accessibility is definitely a plus point thanks to good road links to the major towns and despite some miles, is an achievable place to visit even from the South East. The West Coast train line has also opened up the Lake District especially with the connection to Windermere.

walking lake district
But it the special nature of the Landscape that attracts and it’s relatively small area for the amount it packs in. From the rolling peninsulas of Cartmel across the hot spots of Windermere And Ambleside, still pretty and the villages and lakes that interspersed them, up to Keswick and the stunning area around Derwentwater onto the highest fells of the Western Lake District with its baron and striking vistas. There’s a walk for everyone, there’s new places to discover for everyone and it is a location more and more people are visiting yet there’s still always places for complete escapism.

What do walkers need when it comes for somewhere to stay? Well parking, a decent sized room, drying facilities (it is the Lake District afterall!), good food and beverages. A handy guide to Lake District walking accommodation was published recently by The Telegraph. A centrally located option is the Cuckoo Brow Lake District B&B and Inn which is listed. The rooms are bright and clean and there’s always something satisfying on the menu post walk. Cuckoo Brow welcomes all so great for families and for dog friendly breaks and holidays or simply just call in for a drink. Visit https://www.cuckoobrow.co.uk for more details or call 015394 43425.

Womens cycling is a Breeze in Cumbria

As cycling is growing in popularity, more and more women are enjoying and benefits to be had from getting out on a bike. From the scenery to health benefits and the social nature this fabulous sport can offer.

All too often women are more worried about the lycra and the hair flattening helmet (obviously these two factors also affect men too!) but a bicycle opens up so much more of the countryside to explore especially in locations such as Cumbria and the Lake District. Areas can be reached otherwise inaccessible by car and having a car free day is great for the soul and the planet.

But programmes such as HSBC Breeze UK by British Cycling, championed and promoted via the letsride.co.uk website, has been a real catalyst in introducing more and more women to cycling. It is a women only programme made up of support, women-only rides and a variety of levels and abilities. Regular events take place such as guided bike rides take place offering off-road and traffic free routes to get beginners into cycling and to gain confidence ranging from mountain bike routes to road bike routes. But Breeze also supports and promotes women’s cycling at a higher level such as the OVO Women’s Tour of Britain starting June 13th 2018 and sportives across the country.

cycling kendal

But for beginners, Cumbria and the Lake District is the key to getting gripped by this sport. Combine it with a weekend away with friends and sign up for one of the Breeze events in Cumbria. Kendal is the place to be with weekly Breeze events organised via Kendal Cycle Club. With various routes depending on the time of year, have the chance to explore areas many people may not have visited so to venture there and do it on a bike is even more special.

Cycle friendly accommodation in a good location to serve many of these events can be found at the Riverside Hotel in Kendal. Complete with restaurant and comfortable lounge bar, sip a glass of wine and talk about the day on the bike and make a weekend out of it. Secure cycle storage available and choose to arrive by bike, car or train. Book direct via https://www.riversidekendal.co.uk/ and enjoy a £10 voucher towards refueling food & drink during your stay!

Make This Year The Summer of Cycling in Cumbria

Road, mountain, family, solo, group, trail and long distance cycling can all be enjoyed in huge amount in Cumbria and within the Lake District National Park.

Take part in totally for leisure cycling or be put through the paces in one of the many challenges either road or off road that are held every year in the county.

The confirmation of Cumbria being one of the best and most challenging locations to cycle in UK has surely been confirmed by the increase in number of large, cycling sportives taking place such as the ever growing and acclaimed Fred Whitton Challenge and most definitely the popularity of the Tour of Britain when it visits this region. Whether it’s Honister Pass and that iconic year or the Carlisle to Kedal stage and the summit finish of Beast Banks right in the centre of Kendal, visitors from far and wide come to witness some of the best cyclists in the world being challenged on the Lake District roads and passes.

lake district cycling
With improved routes and cycle lanes it really is the summer to take up cycling if not done already or come and visit Cumbria to indulge even more so in the obsession with the sport. A bicycle enables areas of this very sparsely populated, with many hard to reach locations become accessible, summed up perfectly in the image above. New cycle paths are opening all the time with the latest linking the West Cumbria villages of Gosforth and Seascale. This route means visitors can arrive by train to Seascale and then safely cycle to Gosforth which then links to the Western Lake District valley’s of Eskdale and Wasdale.

Cycle friendly accommodation is becoming more and more widespread making it even easier to visit with the two wheeled instrument of torture. It is pleasing to see small B&B’s through to self catering cottage owners and now larger hotels encouraging cyclists to stay. The new Lake District travel website All of The Lake District has lots of great cyclist friendly places to sty and easy to navigate maps showing where to refuel also. Visit https://www.allofthelakedistrict.co.uk/ for All of the Lake District Accommodation.

Ascend to the Summit of Kendal Mountain Festival this November

The Kendal Mountain Festival is a unique event and the most diverse in its field attracting worldwide speakers, guests and visitors. The festival attracts everyone from adventurers to TV producers and is one of the main social events for outdoor enthusiasts in the UK.

From the opening event on Thursday 16th November 2017 right through to the last event on Sunday evening November 19th, this festival is 4 days of films, photography, speakers, lectures and workshops taking place in various venues in Kendal throughout the days and evenings. This year even more venues with of course The Brewery Arts Centre (home to Base Camp, cinema screenings and much, much more), the home of the Kendal Mountain Festival but also some really exciting new and smaller venues such as The New Union, Wildman Street Gallery and The Factory. As with all the previous festivals, there is something for everyone and most importantly, every age. Look out for festival beer or the adults through to festival play and interaction for the little ones.
kendal festival
The opening event will take place at 17.30 at ‘Greenside’ (the open space opposite the Rifleman’s Pub, up from Beast Banks) by Sir Chris Bonington and other special guests. Afterwards head to The Brewery for Best of Kendal Past and the Inov-8 Fell Running Session or at Kendal Town Hall for the Ozone Free-Flight Session. For the itinerary for the full four days visit, http://www.mountainfest.co.uk.

With so much going on over the 4 days, a day visit is not the answer. There is still accommodation availability for the weekend. The Riverside Hotel in the heart of Kendal have rooms available including family rooms. Family rooms on a bed & breakfast basis start from £130 for 2 adults and 2 children under 15. The hotel has a lovely riverside side setting, bar and restaurant as well as leisure facilities and pool. Visit http://www.riversidekendal.co.uk for more details and to book direct.

Open water swimming in Lake Windermere and Lake District wide

Open water, or wild, swimming is becoming a highly popular pastime in the United Kingdom. With lakes, tarns and waters, the Lake District is naturally the ideal place for open water swimming. Choose to tackle the biggie of Lake Windermere or start out in Blea Tarn with stunning views of the Langdale Pikes.

Open water swimmers are taking to the bodies of water in the Lake District on a weekly basis and after work in the summer months. As well as simply leisure open swimming there are also organised races, the biggest of which are the Chill Swim series of events. Taking place either in Coniston Water or Lake Windermere, the 4 events during the year are highly regarded and always a sell out of entries. Choose between the Coniston End to End in September, the Windermere Cross Lake Swim, the Boxing Day Dip in Windermere or the largest event, the Big Chill Swim.

wild swim lake district brimstone
Whether it’s part of a triathlon or simply just to feel at one with the water, nature and the Lake District landscape, it’s most definitely tipped to be one the must try activities this year and beyond. See the Lake District from a different perspective whilst in the water at of course, at the same time, keeping fit. There’s nothing like cold water for muscle rejuvenation too, just remember the wet suit!

After the adventure in the water, head to some warm and luxurious surroundings such as the Brimstone Hotel on the Langdale Estate. There they love a bit of adventure and fully embrace what there is on the doorstep. But everyone loves a spot of luxury don’t they and at Brimstone it can be found in abundance. Their suites can only be booked direct and are well worth a treat. Visit http://www.brimstonehotel.co.uk/ for more information.

Beer & Bikes this Bank Holiday in Langdale

The first Langdale Beer & Bikes Festival will be taking place on Spring Bank Holiday Saturday May 29th.

Starting at 11am at Chapel Stile in the stunning Langdale Valley, the organisers have compiled a fantastic choice of bike rides, guided by volunteers, both road and mountain biking routes.

Choose from 100km or 60km road routes, 40/50km and 25km mountain biking routes led by the team at Bike Treks and  Breeze Network womens bike ride 32km distance. But the festival isn’t just for the more advanced cyclists out there, there’s also a British Cycling Sky Ride 7km family ride as well as another family ride at 6km in distance. Whether it’s the 100km monster or the 6km family route, all riders will experience the beautiful scenery in and around the Langdale Valley.

langdale beer bikes

But it’s not just all about bikes, there’s beer too as co organisers Bowness Bay Brewing will be there providing a first free pint as well as low priced subsequent ones from their range of real ales brewed locally. Food will also be available provided by Langdale Primary School before setting off for the bike rides in the form of bacon buns, tea & coffee in return for a small donation. After the ride enjoy a hog roast yo go with the no doubt very much needed pint!

Our accommodation tip – the Langdale Hotel & Spa – https://www.langdale.co.uk

So a great for everyone, non cyclists welcome. For more information visit http://www.langdalebeerandbikes.co.uk/.

September in Keswick – full of strolling, striding and cycling

September for end of the summer holidays, the start of the new school year and the chance to grab pre-autumn break in the Lake District that is still full of activity.

It is a chance for those without children or with grown up ones to have a short break or holiday benefitting from it being a little quieter than during the school summer holidays. The days are still long and the clocks haven’t gone back yet.

And September in the Lake District and especially around Keswick is most definitely not event free. Whether you’re into walking, hiking or cycling there’s still lots of planned and guided events to join in on as well as taking yourselves of for the day up one of the many Keswick fells on the doorstep to where most stay.

 

walking cycling lake district

Photos c National Trust and GoSkyRide

 

Moving onto two wheeled transport and the GoSkyRide tam have two guided bike rides planned in September. Firstly the Threlkeld – Fell Care Day Ride on Tuesday 22 of September organised by Friends of the Lake District and aimed at cyclists learning how to look after the National Park and enjoying it at the same time. It’s a 7 mile route starting from Threlkeld Village Hall and time around 2 hours.

The second, Sunday 27 September, a 12 mile Wildlife and Wilderness route starting from the Theatre By The Lake. Made up of quiet roads and cycle paths, the ride goes through Portinscale to Braithwaite and the onto a traffic free path to Force Crag Mine. Both guided bike rides are free to attend but booking is essential in advance via http://www.goskyride.com/cumbria.

Accommodation
Ellergill B&B in Keswick on Stanger Street just 2 minutes from the centre is a handy place to stay, has parking and is both walker and cyclist friendly. Prices from £65 per room including breakfast.

Where to eat
Plenty on offer in Keswick including great stone baked pizza’s at The Square Orange or for hearty pub food head to the Dog and Gun especially the legendary goulash.

North Devon – A come rain or shine family holiday destination

Aren’t beach holidays the best in the UK? Mile and miles of stunning coastline, sandy, family friendly beaches, plenty to do in and out of the water. The great landscape can be guaranteed so can the things to do but what can’t be guaranteed is the weather and with kids, it’s then finding what to do when its gets damp.

After many family holidays in North Devon staying on campsites around Combe Martin, lfracombe and Woolacombe as a child, I realised my parents has chosen a great, all weather destination for our summer holidays. Despite my plea to come rain or shine go down to the beach stating, “Well if I’m going to get wet in the sea it doesn’t matter”, my poor parents ladened down with wind breaks, umbrellas, blankets and packed lunches we less than enthusiastic.

But this inclement weather meant we did a lot more exploring, finding off the beaten tracks paths and even within woodland which seemed like we were in a completely different place having been on the big sandy beaches of Croyde and Woolacombe the days before. But that’s the thing with North Devon, it has all this within easy reach and all great for kids to take their mind off making sand castles and playing in the sea for a couple of days, heaven forbid but they may just do some nature learning too!

devon campsite facilities

Woodland walks from Stowford Farm Meadows in the Bittadon Valley.

A friend has recently come back from North Devon after my advice as a place to take the family. They pitched up at Stowford Farm Meadows campsite in Devon which is more of a resort than a campsite with facilities galore. But it was their woodland walks in the 70 acre land the site has purchased that was the real hit with the kids. It got them walking, nature spotting, delving into the woodland for tracks, even foraging but all along waymarked paths. Apparently Anna cunningly made the kids walk the full 3 and half mile route ensuring they were completely shattered by the end! People camping or caravanning at Stowford get a welcome pack which includes a woodland walk map and kids can be nature detectives for the day hunting out 12 clues.

For more info on Stowford, the walks and to book visit http://stowford.co.uk/ or call 01271 882476.

P.S Anna & Lee recommend the local Devon ale and cider at Stowford’s Old Stables Bar, 3 and a half miles requires refreshments afterall!

Spend Christmas in a winter woodland wonderland at Langdale

Get the best of both worlds this Christmas by booking one of the self catering lodges on the Langdale Estate in the Lake District. Enjoy peace and tranquility whilst being able to take advantage of all the first class facilities on the estate whenever you like.

There are still a small number of self catering breaks available during Christmas week. Choose from 4 or 7 night breaks starting Monday 22nd December in a choice of 9 Scandinavian lodges or Tuesday 23rd in a choice of 14 lodges.

Each lodge is situated to offer as much privacy as possible and are interspersed amongst the tarns, streams and mature woodland on the 35 acre Langdale estate. The lodges are fully equipped so just food, beverages, clothing and any outdoor equipment is required.

christmas self catering langdale

The Langdale lodges in their woodland habitat

The sizes of the lodges remaining for breaks starting on the 22nd or 23rd can accommodate up to 6 people in most, the rest a maximum of 4 people. The handy interactive map on the Langdale website gives the exact location of each individual lodge so before booking guests can see where their lodge will be of make a choice based on that.

But back to the facilities and as the estate is open fully during Christmas, this includes all of the facilities. For food and beverages there is Purdey’s 2 AA Rosette restaurant, Hobson’s Bar, The Terrace Restaurant and Wainwright’s Inn. Each are taking bookings for Christmas lunch but be quick as tables are going fast. Also on the estate is the luxury leisure complex which includes the spa offering treatments, a 20 metre swimming pool with sauna and a gym.

Full details of all the lodges, availability, booking information and the location map can be found on the Langdale self catering webpage here, http://www.langdale.co.uk/rental.html

Discover Windermere’s Western Shore by Bike

There have been so many high octane events going on in the Lake District this year, new triathlons, cycle sportives and walking challenges on top of the long standing events such as the Fred Whitton, Keswick to Barrow walk and Brathay to Windermere marathon. But the outdoors can still be enjoyed at a slightly more leisurely pace whilst still be outside and active.

Cycling is a way to enjoy the outdoors and more miles are covered than on foot. This year yet more cycle routes have been created enabling safer and more enjoyable cycling around the Lake District National Park especially around Windermere.

But one route that is proving very popular and now links up to other routes is the Lake Windermere west shore cycle trail. See Windermere from a different angle looking across to Bowness on this much improved route. A suggested route starts from the Windermere car ferry which operates regularly from Ferry Nab at Bowness across the Lake. A leisurely 4 miles on mainly bridleways and the newly renovated paths with a small amount of quiet road cycling. A quick hop back on the ferry and visitors are back to their hotel before they know it.

windermere cycle trail

Windermere west short cycle trail

For those wishing to cycle a little further, the west shore trail links up to the brand new Ambleside – Langdale trail which is a proving a great success since its launch earlier this month enabling safe cycling over to the Langdale Valley.

Guests staying in Windermere without a bike or helmet can easily hire these at Windermere Station where route maps are available so too from the Tourist Information centre there. What better way to work up an appetite for a delicious dinner back at the hotel than a bike ride!

Hotels close to the station for ease include Applegarth Villa Hotel & Restaurant. A hotel with restaurant and a bar but also centrally located for banks and other facilities. More information can be found here http://www.lakesapplegarth.co.uk/

Ambleside Sports only a month away

We’re combining sports with travel in this post, quite apt for this blog really!

One of the biggest sporting days in Cumbria and which has been for years now is Ambleside Sports, “The Traditional Lakeland Sports” which has been held in its current location of Rydal Park since 1946. Its history and tradition cannot be disputed with both visitors and locals alike flocking on the last Thursday of July each year to witness or participate in the huge variety of events. This years event takes place on Thursday July 31st.

A total of 45 events make up Ambleside Sports so for spectators there is a huge amount to watch. The events fall into 5 categories, Fell, Track, Cycling, Hounds and Wrestling with youth to senior classes within each (even in the hounds!) and both male and female.

ambleside sports

4 of the many events at Ambleside Sports

Fell racing, hound trailing and of course Cumberland & Westmorland wrestling are events most traditional sports days will not include. Cumberland & Westmorland wrestling for example if thought to date back 1000 years introduced by the Vikings. Hound trails feature highly in nearly every Cumbrian show or sporting event and if you’ve never witnessed these amazing animals in full flight then it really is a must to watch. Fell racing, well Cumbria is home to some of the country’s best fell runners and the last Thursday in July brings most of them together. Fell running is not just about running up hill but also the nerve of the steep descents.

Along with the plethora of sports there are also trade stands including Made in Cumbria crafts, food stalls, a BBQ and a licensed marquee. The large tented area means whatever the weather, spectators are “covered”!

ambleside sports rydal park

Rydal Park, home of Ambleside Sports

With Rydal Park being just half a mile from Ambleside, it is such an ideal location for those visiting from out of the county. Ambleside is sure to be buzzing on sports day with the athletes as well as the extra visitors. Accommodation is booking up fast as it is also the school summer holidays but Rothay GarthAmbleside have a small amount of availability during that week and at a very affordable rate. Click here for more details.

For complete information on Ambleside Sports, visit their website here http://www.amblesidesports.co.uk

International acclaim could be a reality for one Lake District Hotel

It’s unbelievable to think that on Friday the Brimstone Hotel will be represented at their 3rd design awards in less than a year of opening.

On Friday June 20th it is the biggest yet, the International Hotel & Property Awards Hosted by leading interior design magazine design et al. The International Hotel & Property Awards (IHP Awards) reward the best in hospitality interior design and architecture from across the globe.

design awards hotel cipriani

Hotel Cipriani, Venice. Location for the 2014 International Hotel & Property Awards ceremony.

Brimstone and its architects Unwin Jones Partnership have previously reached the finals of the European Hotel Design Awards and the Northern Design Awards where they won the Eco/Sustainable Build category but these are the first international awards for Brimstone. The awards ceremony will be taking place at the ultra luxury Hotel Cipriani in Venice located on the tip of Giudecca Island overlooking the lagoon and Doge’s Palace. This is a very special hotel for a very special awards ceremony.

brimstone hotel langdale

Brimstone Hotel @ Langdale – Exterior and interior examples

Brimstone at Langdale’ is in the Hotel Under 50 Bedroom category entered by the architects of this revolutionary hotel, Unwin Junes Partnership. The other 9 finalists range in location from Japan to Washington, Luxemburg to Brazil so a far cry from little old Lake District and the offices of Unwin Jones in Carlisle.

From first conception to design, build and now as it is run is completely Cumbrian. From the Cumbrian architects Unwin Jones and constructors Thomas Armstrong to the local sub contractors used through to the locally sourced materials and now the predominantly Cumbrian suppliers to the hotel. Throughout the whole Langdale Estate, this ethos is highly evident and it is exciting to see this being followed through at Brimstone and now showcasing all these attributes, and the Lake District as a destination, globally.

So here’s to wishing the best of luck to Brimstone and Unwin Jones representing Cumbria and the UK in these international awards.

By Jenny Andrew

Don’t be sheepish; sign up for the Herdwick 10k on Saturday 5th July!

Less than 3 weeks away is this new race organised by The Great Langdale Road Races which is in support of local Herdwick farmers. A few other organisations will be working in conjunction with The Great Langdale Road Races to organise this event, Herdwick Breeders Association, Princes Countryside Fund, Taste Cumbria, Herdy Company, Cumbria Life and the Langdale Gala. In a variety of ways, these businesses and organisations support Herdwick farmers knowing how tough it can be for them but what an amazing product it is and so important to Cumbria.

With up to 500 entrants, it should be a quite a spectacle especially as sheep themed fancy dress is welcomed! Each runner will receive free entry to the Langdale Gala the following day, a Herdy Company china mug and refreshments from More! the artisan bakery. At just £13 for runners attached to a club and £15 for non attached runners it is well worth donning the running shoes.

herdwick langdale 10k run

Herdwick 10k Run – Langdale Saturday 5th July 2014

Great gifts aside, what better place for a 10k run than the Langdale Valley? The races organised throughout the year by The Great Langdale Road Races are arguably some of the most scenic in the UK. This 10k being in (hopefully) sunny summer, in the Langdale Valley and supporting the local Herdwick farmers is sure to be a great race and even great for spectators.

If you’re feeling super fit then the Langdale Gala on the Sunday has fell races as well as Cumbrian wrestling and children’s races and activities. It is well worth going along to and again, this event raises money for a variety of local community projects and organisations.

There are self catering and hotel options at the nearby Langdale Hotel who are also supporters and friends of Great Langdale Road Races and the Langdale Gala.

More information on the Herdwick 10k click here and for the Langdale Gala, here.