During February half term we took a little break to the gorgeous Lake District in the North of England. We booked a B & B for our stay and decided to drive up from London so that we’d have transport for exploring the area. It was a fantastic few days despite the rainy and dull weather, here’s what we got up to…
My Lake District Journal
We left London after a late lunch and as the drive progress we realised we wouldn’t arrive by check in time. So we phoned ahead to our B & B to let them know we’d arrive after check-in time. A while later they called us back only to inform us that our booking was for March not February and they didn’t have any space for us. Cue panic as we had already been driving for four hours, thankfully at the service station we managed to book something for the following few nights and the trip went ahead. We arrived late into the evening at Rothay Grath, a beautiful B & B run by the nicest Scottish lady who met us as at the door. She explained about breakfast and showed us the quaint communal lounge before taking us up to our room on the first floor. The room was simple but perfect and we went to sleep dreaming of the views we would see come morning.
I woke excited to see the views around as we’d seen nothing last night due to arriving in the dark. However, before that could happen we had a full English breakfast to devour! They were even able to provide me with a gluten and dairy free option and I’d given them no prior notice. Our first stop for the day was Keswick a town north of where we were staying. As we walked out to the car park the views were already impressive with hills in all direction but as we began the drive the views only got better. The colours of the landscape were orange and green, shades which reminded me of Scotland and some of the adventures we had while living there. Keswick was a cute town with pretty architecture, your typical high street stores were housed in the most beautiful and unique buildings. We wandered around the town and even stopped to enjoy the market before diving into a cafe to warm up with a hot drink.
The next stop was Barnard Castle to meet a friend, I naively thought we were going to a castle but it turns out that is the name of the town. Barnard Castle was smaller and even cuter than Keswick, the town centre was full of independent shops and restaurants with barely a chain name in sight. The streets were wide with parking down the middle and strangely reminded me of some of Australia’s small towns. We stopped for lunch in a swish looking Italian where the price did not reflect what it looked like. Before the drive back we made a stop at Bowes Museum, a beautiful old country house which now displays a range of art work, furniture, pottery, historical artefacts and more. The building reminded me of those grand chateaus that France is famous for.
The drive back to Ambleside took around an hour and fifteen minutes and the views didn’t disappoint. I was thankful we had left early enough to do the journey in daylight and appreciate the beauty of this area. Our evening was spent in The Lily pub, it was the first place we came across upon walking from the B & B into town and it was a great find. We entered around 7pm on a Thursday evening and the place was packed, there wasn’t a free table in sight. Luckily it didn’t take long for one to free up and we made ourselves cosy by the fire while sipping wine and deciding what to eat that evening. We both ended up with the same dish: fish and chips, mine just came without the batter to make it gluten free. A delicious meal, a lively setting and friendly staff, I’d highly recommend.
The next morning we tucked into another delicious full English and then thought we wander around the town of Ambleside. It was cute like the towns from the previous day and as the mist sat on top of the hills I was transported back to one of our adventures in Scotland again. Ambleside town was packed with outdoor shops, pubs, restaurants and B & Bs, there was no high street fashion store in sight and I quite liked it. As the dull weather seemed to not be lifting we were struggling to decide on a plan for the day. We weren’t sure we fancied a walk in the rain but it seemed silly to come to the Lake District and not do any walking. We drove in the direction Windermere town and by the time we arrived JP had found a short popular walk from the train station. The trail was easy to find and follow with plenty of signs pointing to Otres Head. Unfortunately for us the weather didn’t clear and we weren’t able to enjoy the amazing view this point has to offer, we did however continue our walk through the surrounding fields and back through the woods totally around an hour.
As we made our way back to the car we stumbled upon Homeground a cute cafe that reminded me of the cafes we loved in Copenhagen. We had a hot drink to warm up but skipped the food as we were still stuffed from breakfast. The cafe was packed the entire time we were there and the bunch menu/other people’s food looked amazing. We decided to carry our outing on and headed south for Bowness-on-Windermere, a town right on the lake’s edge. Again the town was cute and many of the high street shops were in beautiful old buildings but we decided not to stop in the town and carried on through to the edge of the lake. This whole area was being renovated but it was still super busy, probably because this is the spot for taking boat tours around the lake. We didn’t stay long, just enough time to grab some photos and see the swans and ducks being fed far too much food by the tourists.
We took a detour back to Ambleside by crossing the lake using the ferry and the driving up the west side taking in more amazing views. I was disappointed by the lack of stopping places to take photos so you’ll just have to believe me when I say it was pretty! The drive didn’t take long and we spent the afternoon chilling at the B & B. For our last night in Ambleside we had made a reservation at Lucy’s on a plate, a restaurant recommended by the B & B for having a vast range of gluten free options. We’d made a reservation for 6.30pm and upon arriving I was instantly in love with the restaurant. It had a very Scandinavian feel to it with lots of cosy lighting, candles and gorgeous decor. The menu for this restaurant is changed every night and had a little blurb at the top to describe the day, the guests dining that night and some of the day’s main news. It was a cute touch. We enjoyed a starter to share of paté, I then had a South African stew dish and JP had an amazing belly pork, to finish I had eaton mess without the cream and JP had bread and butter pudding. I tell you this because every dish we had was amazing! The staff were super helpful with my dietary requests and the atmosphere in the restaurant was cosy. It was certainly a unique dining experience and a place I would highly recommend. We finished the night off in The Lily for live music.
Our final day was spent learning about Bluebird and Donal Campbell at the Ruskin Museum. Unfortunately the weather didn’t pick up on our final day so after an hour in the museum we decided to start heading back to London but first we drove down the edge of Lake Coniston. The road was a tiny narrow path but the views it offered over the lake were gorgeous and thankfully there were plenty of places to stop and take it all in.
We had a brilliant few days in the Lake District despite the weather and I’d love to return at some point to really appreciate all of the amazing views you’d get on a clear day.
Have you been to the Lake District? I’d love to hear what you thought of this gorgeous area of Northern England.