Tag Archives: lake district
December 31, 2017

The Quirky Traveller Top Travel Tips of the Year

The Quirky Traveller - Quirky Travel Tips of the Year

At the end of the year, it’s become a tradition with travel bloggers to look back over the past 12 months and review our top trips of the year. Here are a few of my Quirky Travel highlights from a year when I made a conscious decision to do less overseas travel and explore more of the magical British Isles. Hopefully they will give you some inspiration and ideas for your own holiday plans.

Quirky Travel Holiday Tips

Take a ride on North Wales Vintage Railways

Ffestiniog steam train in Snowdonia in North Wales - photo Zoe Dawes

Ffestiniog steam train in Snowdonia

Taking a trip on one of many wonderful North Wales steam trains is to journey back to a time when rail travel was less frenetic and life moved at a more leisurely pace. I spent a few days trying out various options, including the quaint Ffestiniog Railway, Welsh Highland Railway and the Llangollen Railway, enjoying genteel luxury in elegant carriages pulled by a variety of impressive steam engines. I also fulfilled a life-long ambition to get to the top of the highest peak in Wales on the Snowdon Mountain Railway. You can usually get refreshments including meals and afternoon tea. I’d recommend you book in advance to ensure you get the best deal or choose one of the many package deals on offer from specialist railway travel companies. Read about my railway tour of Steam Railways of North Wales here.

Discover Nuremberg, an elegant Bavarian city of historic significance

Nuremberg city centre Germany

Nuremberg city centre

World-renowned artist Albrecht Dürer was born in Nuremberg in Bavaria, one of the most interesting regions of Germany. It’s the largest walled city in Europe and has been lovingly restored after heavy bombing during World War II. Nuremberg Castle, dating back to 1140, overlooks the oldest part of Nuremberg and there are plenty of splendid museums and art galleries, the Opera House and historic buildings to get a feel for its distinguished past. Make sure you try some of the hearty Bavarian food and excellent beer. I can also highly recommend a tour of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds to see how well the Germans are dealing with a challenging aspect of their history. During a press trip to the Germany Travel Mart we were given a glimpse of the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market – read about it here.

Mooch about Ottawa, Canada’s fascinating capital city

River view of Ottawa Canada - photo Zoe Dawes

River view of Ottawa

Often overlooked by visitors to Canada, Ottawa is a compact, friendly capital city with plenty of things to see and do to keep quirky travel visitors very busy for a few days. The excellent Museum of Canada encapsulates the essence of Canada whilst the Rideau Canal demonstrates the engineering capabilities of the early pioneers. I stayed in Byward Market, one of the liveliest areas, with loads of great bars, cafes, shops and restaurants. You can get really excellent food and drink in Ottawa; read about my Funky Food Tour of hipster Ottawa here.

Visit the newest World Heritage site in the UK

Sunset over Windermere in English Lake District - photo Zoe Dawes

Sunset over Windermere

In June 2017 the English Lake District finally won UNESCO World Heritage status. After many years of trying, this beautiful part of the world was awarded this prestigious accolade, the first UK National Park to do so. The inscription says:

‘Located in northwest England, the English Lake District is a mountainous area, whose valleys have been modelled by glaciers in the Ice Age and subsequently shaped by an agro-pastoral land-use system characterized by fields enclosed by walls. The combined work of nature and human activity has produced a harmonious landscape in which the mountains are mirrored in the lakes. Grand houses, gardens and parks have been purposely created to enhance the beauty of this landscape. This landscape was greatly appreciated from the 18th century onwards by the Picturesque and later Romantic movements, which celebrated it in paintings, drawings and words.’

If you can, stay for a few days and really explore the area. It’s got so much to offer including stunning scenery, adventure activities, quaint villages, charming towns, loads of great pubs, restaurants and hotels plus a lively arts scene, historic houses and also many ways to get off the beaten track in Cumbria. Read about my weekend break with Good Life Lake District Cottages in the heart of the Lake District World Heritage site here.

See the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

The Quirky Traveller at the Taj Mahal India

I’ve left the best to last … Just about everyone has heard of the Taj Mahal but many have not seen it. I finally got to achieve a life-long dream to see this iconic building on my very first trip to India this year. It did not disappoint. Built by Shah Jehan between 1632 and 1643 in honour of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, it is breathtakingly lovely, much bigger than I expected and quite probably the most beautiful building in the world. India is one of the few places in the world where I’d strongly recommend visiting on a tour; read my article on Top 10 Reasons to Choose an Escorted Tour in India.

PS – Pye Motors Brand Ambassador

The new Ford Fiesta beside Morecambe Bay - The Quirky Travelller

My new Ford Fiesta beside Morecambe Bay

At the end of memorable year of quirky travel I was delighted to be chosen as Brand Ambassador for Pye Motors, a family-run Ford Dealership in North West England. I’m going to be out and about in my new Ford Fiesta, exploring lesser known areas around the Morecambe Bay area as well as across the UK. Watch out for #followpye updates in the coming blog posts.

I hope this article has given you some inspiration for a few new places to visit in the coming year. Do share your own suggestions in the Comment Box below. May all your quirky travel dreams come true …

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The Quirky Traveller Travel Tips of the Year

 

November 29, 2017

The joy of a charming cottage with a cosy fire in beautiful Cumbria

Logs on fire at Rose Cottage Elterwater lake District - photo Zoe Dawes

Fire at Rose Cottage Elterwater

There’s something very special about sitting by an open fire on a chilly night, logs crackling, coal sizzling, flames dancing brightly as the heat radiates out around the room. Maybe there’s a pre-historic memory of sitting in cave round a fire, protected from the sabre-toothed tiger prowling around outside. Maybe it’s just the warmth and cosiness, being full of life that makes us feel much more content than a radiator or electric heater. It’s even better if you’re on holiday and can really relax and enjoy it, knowing you’ve nothing more urgent to do than, keep it fed with fuel, top up your drink and maybe curl up with your loved one. It’s one of the simple joys of life and for those of us who don’t have an open fire at home, staying in a holiday cottage with a fire is real treat.

Rose Cottage in Elterwater Lake District- Good Life Lake District Cottages

Rose Cottage

On a recent visit to the Lake District with Good Life Lake District Cottages, I stayed for a few days in Rose Cottage, Elterwater with a friend from college days. This delightful 2 bedroom self-catering accommodation is in the heart of the village, a hop, skip and a jump over the road from the Britannia Inn. With a comfortable lounge, well-equipped kitchen-dining room, a twin-bedded room and en-suite double bedroom, it had everything we needed. We very quickly made ourselves at home, having a cuppa and biscuit whilst working out what to do over the coming days.

The advantage of staying in Elterwater in the Langdale Valley, is that you’ve got everything you need on the doorstep; charming accommodation, a traditional pub serving excellent food, a shop, a bowling green (OK a bit random but if you’re a bowls fan …), a bus service, stunning scenery and Herdwick Sheep roaming freely around the village.

The Britannia Inn opposite Rose Cottage - photo Zoe Dawes

The Britannia Inn

We decided to have dinner that evening at the Britannia Inn. I’ve eaten there lots of times and it’s always good food. If you want to eat in the dining room then make sure you book. Otherwise you can take potluck at getting a table in the bar or hall. We shared a table with a couple from Derbyshire who come up to the Lakes every year and absolutely love the Langdale Valley. There’s always an excellent array of local beers here, and the weekend we stayed the pub was hosting a beer festival so it was packed with beer lovers from around the UK and abroad.

Britannia Inn Beer Festival Elterwater Cumbria - photo Zoe Dawes

Britannia Inn Beer Festival

I’d chosen the Three Sausages with mashed potatoes and onion gravy; an enormous plate of venison, boar and chef’s recipe traditional Cumberland sausages, creamy mash and seasonal veg. Pat had the Five Bean and Vegetable Chilli, which she pronounced delicious and we both had local beers. There were lots of dogs around room, sitting, lying down or gazing beseechingly at their owners’ meals in the hope that some tasty morsel might come their way. A roaring fire kept us all warm; in fact, after our meal we had to move away as we got very hot …

Log fire at Rose Cottage

Having got heartily fed and warmed up, we returned to Rose Cottage to light our own fire. We’d arranged to have kindling and logs delivered and there were firelighters and matches above the fire-place. I used to live in a cottage with a wood burning stove, and grew up with coal fires, so I very much enjoyed trying out my latent pyromaniac skills. Very quickly we had a grand blaze burning away merrily. Pat produced a couple of glasses of wine and we settled down to enjoy the rest of the evening.

By the fire Rose Cottage Elterwater, Lake District Cumbria - Zoe Dawes

Sitting by the Fire in Rose Cottage

In front of the fire, there was a rocking chair complete with woollen rug, so we took it turns to play ‘grandma on the rocker.’ It was so peaceful rocking backwards and forwards, wrapped in the rug, reading a magazine, listening to the gentle crackle and hiss of the wood. The smell of wood smoke and pine wafted around us and for a while the cares of everyday living faded away …

Over the next couple of days, Pat and I explored the area, enjoying being in such glorious scenery. We went for a leisurely walk beside the river to Elter Water (Norse for Swan Lake), the nearby lake after which the village is named. It only takes about half an hour to I’d recently taken ownership of a brand new Ford Fiesta from local dealership Pye Motors, so took great pleasure in driving Pat around and showing off the car’s many features.

New Ford Fiesta on Elterwater Common, Lake District Cumbria UK - zoe dawes

Fiesta on Elterwater Common

We went up the Langdale Valley and had a drink in the Old Dungeon Ghyll, where another welcoming fire warmed up the many walkers making the most of a late autumn weather to get out on the fells.  One wet afternoon we visited the quaint little Armitt Museum & Library in Ambleside. It has a permanent display of illustrations, writing and objects belonging to famous botanist, author and farmer Beatrix Potter. There’s also an excellent library and we saw an exhibition of paintings by German artist Kurt Schwitters, who lived in Ambleside for many years, and also Chapel Stile, down the road from Elterwater.

Armitt Museum Library Ambleside Cumbria - photo Zoe Dawes

The Armitt Museum & Library

We had a wonderful stay here and, without doubt, the best part was getting that fire lit each evening and rocking back and forth in front of its glowing warmth.

Quirky Travel: Guided Tour of Rose Cottage

Good Life Lake District Cottages

We stayed at Rose Cottage as guests of Good Life Lake District Cottages. Many thanks to Natalie and the team for another very enjoyable break. They have plenty of very special Lake District places to stay throughout the year. Ask them about their properties with fires – but book early as they are very popular!

Good Life Lake District Cottage Company Office Elterwater Lake District - photo Zoe Dawes

Good Life Lake District Cottage Company

More lovely places I can recommend to stay with Good Life Lake District Cottages in this part of Cumbria.

Church Gate Cottage, Chapel Stile

Daw Bank Cottage, Chapel Stile

Jonty’s Cottage, Elterwater

Braegarth Cottage, Elterwater

Knipefold Barn, Outgate 

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Enjoy a cosy fire in the Lake District cottage - image Zoe Dawes

 

 

 

October 16, 2017

What are Britain’s ULTIMATE happy places and favourite holiday activities?

What makes you happy on holiday? Where are you happiest? Recent research by SACO shows that 2/3 of us would not bother to go abroad for our holidays if we could guarantee good weather. Our happy places include Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands and happy activities include a pub lunch in the Cotswolds, building sandcastles in Blackpool beach, visiting the Roman Baths in Bath, exploring Exmoor and, of course, walking in the Lake District.

Britain’s Ultimate Happy Places

Britain's Ultimate Happy Places

I love that one of our favourite activities is getting rained on. So very British! Looking for somewhere special to stay when enjoying your happy places? There are plenty of choices on this blog. Just search accommodation or check out serviced apartments such as those on offer in London by SACO.  My favourite activity is stroll with friends beside a lake on an autumn day anywhere in the Lake District. What’s yours? Do share your own suggestions in the comment box at the end of this article 🙂

This post is brought to you in collaboration with SACO.

August 5, 2017

The Langdale Valley, majestic heart of the Lake District World Heritage Site

Blea Tarn Langdale Valley in the Lake District World Heritage site - photo Zoe Dawes

The hard work and commitment of a great many people has paid off and the Lake District World Heritage site now joins other renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia, Mount Teide in Tenerife and the Rocky Mountains in Canada. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will know how much I love the Lake District and also visiting World Heritage Sites, so to have this on my doorstep is VERY special. You can read more about the Lake District World Heritage site here. A few days after the result was announced I went to stay in the very heart of Lakeland, in the Langdale Valley. Here are some of its highlights.

Great Langdale Valley

Langdale Valley in the Lake District World Heritage site - photo Zoe Dawes

The Langdale Valley includes some of the most impressive mountains (called ‘fells’ in the Lakes) in England. These craggy peaks provide a dramatic backdrop to an area where man, beast and nature live together in relative harmony. Langdale means ‘Long Valley’ in Old Norse, a hint to the ancient history of this quarrying and farming area. Very often the fells are shrouded in mist in this valley, adding to its moody magnificence. Dry stone walls ribbon across the mountain sides, sheep meander willy-nilly and picturesque farm buildings create its architectural charm. The peaks of Crinkle Crags, Pike o’ Bisco and the jagged ridge of the Langdale Pikes are the grand masters of this landscape.

Elterwater

Elterwater Common Langdale Valley Lake District World Heritage site - photo Zoe Dawes

The village of Elterwater (meaning Swan Lake) spreads out across valley, vying for space with the Herdwick sheep which wander its lanes and graze on the Common.  An easy stroll takes the walker to Elterwater tarn; good flat path but can get very muddy if it’s been raining recently. The Britannia Inn is the hub of the village, serving excellent ales, an interesting choice of wines and superb food. There’s also a cafe and a bus stop, a couple of hotels, a large time-share property and plenty of self-catering cottages for all the visitors who come to stay here. Good Life Lake District Cottages has their main office here, housed in a quaint stone building which usually has a Herdy wandering about outside the door.

Chapel Stile

Chapel Stile village in Langdale Valley, Lake District World Heritage site - photo Zoe Dawes

The Langdale Rambler (Bus 516) stops on the main road through Chapel Stile, dropping off visitors and locals in this tiny hamlet. A narrow lane of old quarrymen’s cottages wends it way up twards Silver Howe. The 19th c Parish Church of Holy Trinity was built on the site of the original chapel, in the local green slate which has been quarried here for centuries. Chapel Stile is well-served by the excellent Langdale Co-Op. This shop sells absolutely everything you could wish for, whether you’re camping, self-catering or out for the day. Tasty Cumberland sausages, Hawkshead Relish (I can highly recommend their Black Garlic Ketchup!), micro-brewery beer, tent pegs, wet-weather gear, fridge magnets, tea towels and oh so much more. Upstairs in Brambles Cafe, gossip is exchanged and walkers rest their feet whilst having a cuppa or more hearty meal. Every year they hold the Langdale Gala here, a classic Lake District show with Cumberland Wrestling, fell races and dog show.

The Old Dungeon Ghyll

Old Dungeon Ghyll, Langdale Valley in Lake District World Heritage site

Towards the end of the valley lies the Old Dungeon Ghyll, one of the most famous pubs in the Lake District. Tucked right up against the mountain side, this venerable old hotel was the meeting place for climbing clubs from around the country, drawn by the challenging peaks outside the door. I love the Hiker’s Bar, which has remained unchanged for decades and features the original cow stalls and stone floors.

Hiker's Bar Old Dungeon Ghyll - Langdale Valley

You can get a great pint, a coffee, lunch, dinner and if you’re lucky with the weather, sit outside and enjoy the scenery.

Little Langdale Valley

Little Langdale Valley in the Lake District - photo Zoe Dawes

From the Old Dungeon Ghyll the road winds up towards Blea Tarn and into the charming Little Langdale Valley. Driving up here takes nerves and good brakes as the road has some steep, sharp twists and is very narrow. Kamikaze Herdwicks wander out in front of the car and the view is most distracting.

Blea Tarn

Blea Tarn Langdale Valley Lake District - photo Zoe Dawes

There’s a National Trust car park for Blea Tarn (tarn = little lake); it’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with brown pike in the water, alpine flowers in spring and tiny orchids in summer. However, it’s the view of the Pike o’Bisco and the Langdale Pikes laid out for your delectation that tops all that. I’ve walked here a few times but Blea Tarn has never looked as lovely as it did that July afternoon with marshmallow-soft clouds reflected in the shallow water and sunlight flittering across the peaks.

Three Shires Pub

Three Shires Inn Langdale Valley

Voted Cumbria Tourism’s Pub of the Year 2017, the Three Shires Inn is at the conjunction of the three old counties of  Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire, now bundled together as Cumbria. It’s a pretty pub with decent food and lively atmosphere, though limited parking which meant on this recent visit I had to give it a miss. The road heads off towards the twin passes of Wrynose and HardKnott; not for the faint-hearted. A short walk brings you to one of the most photographed sights in the Langdales, Slaters Bridge, an old pack-horse bridge and also enormous Cathedral Cave.

Stay in Church Gate Cottage

Church Gate cottage in Chapel Stile Langdale Valley Lake District

I stayed in Chapel Stile with Good Life Lake District Cottages in a charming holiday home called Church Gate. Tastefully restored and attractively decorated, it sleeps four people in two bedrooms. The kitchen has a large fridge-freezer, dishwasher and large oven. A cup of tea tastes so much better in one of the cute Herdy mugs. There are games and books in the dining area and a wood-burning stove for cosy nights in. The back door leads out to a sheltered little cottage garden, ideal for evening drinks outdoors. Impressive views can be seen from the bedrooms across the village towards the mountains. I slept really well in the very comfy double bed and on Sunday morning woke to the sound of church bells and sheep bleating in the field opposite – perfect.  More details and how to book Church Gate cottage here.

With the village shop just down the hill and a pub, Wainwrights Inn, five minutes’ walk away, Church Gate is an ideal place to stay and enjoy the Lake District World Heritage site. Many thanks to Natalie and the team at Good Life Lake District Cottages for another very enjoyable weekend.

More lovely places I’ve stayed in and around the Langdale Valley.

Daw Bank Cottage, Chapel Stile

Jonty’s Cottage, Elterwater

Braegarth Cottage, Elterwater

Knipefold Barn, Outgate 

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Langdale Valley in the Lake District World Heritage Site

 

June 19, 2017

A quartet of very different Lake District books

Four special Lake District Books Cumbria

“I’m coming to the Lake District on holiday. What book would you recommend?” Well, that really depends on what kind of book you’re looking for. There are so many Lake District books: traditional guide books, walking books, novels, biographies, photography books, children’s books … Here are four of my favourites.

Lake District Books

I Never Knew that about the Lake District - Christopher WinnI never knew that about the Lake District by Christopher Winn

Did you know that Fletcher Christian, he of Mutiny on the Bounty, was born in Cockermouth? Or that the ‘Yellow Earl‘, past owner of Lowther Castle, was the only man other than Winston Churchill to have a Cuban cigar named after him (the Lonsdale Cigar)? Well, if you read ‘I never knew that about the Lake District‘ you’ll find out hundreds of fascinating snippets and facts about the area. The book is divided up into geographical sections ie The Central Lakes, The Lakeland Coast, Windermere, so it covers Cumbria, not just the Lake District National Park. Charming illustrations by Mai Osawa add to the this delightful book’s appeal. It would make a great gift for a fan of the lakes; I was given it as a birthday present and regularly dip into it. Note to the author: the 201o edition could do with updating as a few things have changed eg many more local breweries and visitor attractions now.

More about I never knew that about the Lake District and other books by Christopher Winn

 

Dances with the Daffodils - Matthew ConnollyDances with the Daffodils by Matthew Connolly 

I chose this book from a host of books by local authors laid out on our tables at the Cumbria Family Business Awards 2017. (Well done to the organisers for an original way to support Cumbrian writers.) Author Matthew Connolly explained how the novel was inspired by the story behind one of the most famous English poems, William Wordsworth’s Daffodils. The poet’s sister, Dorothy Wordsworth, wrote an entry in her diary on April 15th 1802 referring to a walk she and her brother took beside Ullswater where they saw daffodils that ‘tossed and reeled and danced’ in the wind. In the book, Luke, who’s returning to the area after 20 years of travelling, visits the lake and sees a ‘thin, gypsy-tanned woman … hopping along the lane like a chaffinch,‘ admiring the daffodils, beside ‘… a tall and ugly mantis of a creature.’ (William). Luke is immediately attracted to Dorothy, ‘as she knelt among the daffodils like some pagan goddess.’ I thoroughly enjoyed this poignant love story, especially seeing Dorothy in a different light, as a feisty young woman, torn between her love for her brother and another. It’s also a love story to south Lakeland, its local culture and heritage, which the author clearly knows well.

More on Dances with Daffodils here

Photographer's guide to Lake District by Ellen BownessThe Photographer’s Guide to The Lake District by Ellen Bowness

‘The Lake District is a beautiful part of the UK and it’s jam-packed with photogenic locations, from lakes and fells to waterfalls and caves.’ The opening to this gem of a book says it all; here is a comprehensive guide to the best places to get the perfect photo of the top sights in the Lakes. Local Ellen Bowness is a self-confessed travel photography addict who shares her professional knowledge of the area so the rest of us can find the perfect location. The book includes directions, maps, parking and satnav information as well advice on the best time of year to visit. Many popular sites feature, including Cat Bells overlooking Derwentwater, Grasmere and Castle Rigg Stone Circle, but also lesser known gems like Innominate Tarn,a favourite of Lakeland walker Alfred Wainwright and Ritson’s Force at Wasdale Head. One for photographers of all levels from beginner to expert.

More on The Photographer’s Guide to the Lake District here

Small island by little train - Chris ArnotSmall Island by Little Train – a narrow-gauge adventure by Chris Arnot

OK, this book is not only about the Lake District; it’s a journey round the nation’s narrow-gauge railways, but it has a very interesting chapter about one of this area’s most popular tourist attractions. In a chapter entitled ‘Return Ticket to Red Squirrels’ author Chris Arnot travels on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Light Railway. which runs through some of the most beautiful scenery in England. He also meets some of the enthusiasts who run L’al Ratty, as it’s known locally. He talks with Peter Van Zellar, who sums up the appeal of this country railway. “You are conscious of being part of the scenery but, beyond the track, that scenery changes every day. You might see a buzzard one minute and a herd of red deer the next.” The author shares some local history and has a humorous style reminiscent of Bill Bryson and his Notes from a Small Island, on which this book is vaguely modelled.

Disclosure: I was sent this book by publishers The AA for review. It fits very nicely within into the Quirky Travel niche.

More on Small Island by Little Train here.

I hope you have enjoyed this review of some Quirky Travel Lake District Books. What’s you favourite book about where you live? Please leave your thoughts and any recommendations in the Comment Box below 🙂

April 19, 2017

The top 3 health benefits of walking in the great outdoors

Walking is man's best medicine - Hippocrates Photo: Nk'Mip Desert Centre, Osoyoos Canada

Nk’Mip Desert Centre, Osoyoos, Canada

In today’s non-stop world of digital input and 24 hour news, with people stuck for hours at a PC or almost permanently attached to a smart phone, many of us struggle to find time for ourselves. External pressures create stress and mental health issues are surfacing at a more rapid rate than at any time in our history. Eating habits have changed, with more people putting on weight and we’re generally far less active than we used to be. One simple activity has been proved to help alleviate all these problems for just about everyone, irrespective of age and circumstances. WALKING is available to most us – and it’s free.

The Health Benefits of Walking

1.  Walking improves your physical health

Walking in Rwanda jungle

Walking in Rwanda jungle

‘Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.’ NHS UK

It’s great news that such an easy form of activity can produce such significant effects. Simply swapping the escalator for the stairs or walking to the shops instead of going in the car makes a difference. A recent study on the health benefits of regular walking says it can add 7 years to our lives and help repair DNA. Ideally we need to be doing 10,000 steps a day but any walking can help. I don’t manage anywhere near that most days, but then at weekends aim to do at least that, if not more. You can walk alone or with family and friends. There are plenty of walking groups and hiking holidays if you’re looking for company.

HF Walking Holiday Castle Howard

HF Walking Holiday Castle Howard

On a lovely walking holiday in Yorkshire, I hiked about 5 miles a day; the oldest walker in our group was 78 years old and I couldn’t keep up with her!

2. Walking improves your mental health

Guided walk on Galapagos Islands Ecuador - photo zoe dawes

Guided walk in the Galapagos Islands

‘A good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. … Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing. It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.’  Walking for Health

For many years I have been prone to depression; not the crippling clinical depression that some poor folk suffer from. More a low-level, debilitating feeling of gloom and pointlessness. There’s usually a reason; money-worries, relationship problems, health issues, family stuff. I’ve had counselling and therapy, which has helped and my doctor has always recommended old-fashioned ‘fresh air and exercise’ to counteract it. (Family members and friends who have it much worse than me have been helped by medication, CBT and other therapeutic techniques). On a trip to the Galapagos Islands I was feeling very low due to some personal problems, but walking in this stunning landscape, communing up close with nature (and swimming with sea lions!) and a good chat with a friend, left me feeling heaps better.

St Patrick's Chapel Heysham Lancashire - Zoe Dawes

St Patrick’s Chapel

I often go to one of my favourite places near where I live, Heysham Barrows in Lancashire, which has great views across Morecambe Bay to the Lake District.  After a brisk walk and a sit down beside the ancient chapel, the moody blues are blown far away across the water …

3.  Walking improves your spiritual health

Walking boots - overlooking Grasmere in the Lake District

Overlooking Grasmere

There are spiritual benefits to walking (at least once daily) if you consider that walking is a solitary activity that allows the opportunity for prayer, meditation and high thought. But it is also a time to reflect and process as well as to express appreciation for natural beauty  Sharecare

Being outdoors in beautiful surroundings can be wonderful for the spirit as our minds and bodies. There has been a lot of talk recently about mindfulness, a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. In this way we tap into what some call our soul or spirit. Deepak Chopra, a well-known supporter of alternative medicine, advocates Mindful Walking as a way to, “ … provide a deeper connection to the spirit.” One of the reasons the Lake District and many other National Parks around the world, are so popular, is that they are places where our soul reconnects with its natural source. Strolling near water ie the sea, lake, river, pool, in or near mountains, amongst trees, flowers, grass and other natural sights can bring peace and harmony if you give it a chance …

Lake District Walking sign

Lake District Walking sign

TWO other benefits are for CREATIVITY and SOCIABILITY; I’ll be writing more about that in a future post. I wrote this article partly in response to the Easter interview with Prince Harry who spoke so movingly about the death of his mother and suffering from mental health problems as a result. He and his brother Prince William are raising awareness of mental health issues and their high profile contribution will hopefully help more people to talk about depression and mental health.

The other trigger was Julia Bradbury commenting on BBC Radio 4 about the physical and mental health benefits of walking. As a business coach, I offer #walkntalk coaching sessions where the client and I go for a walk to explore the issues that concern them. Invariably, just being outside and moving rather than stuck in an office, frees up the thought process and solutions to problems present themselves more readily.

“If you seek creative ideas go walking. Walk n Talk with The Quirky Traveller

Maybe this article will persuade you to get out and have a good walk more often; it’ll do you a power of good in more ways than you may have imagined. Do leave a comment sharing your thoughts on the positive impact walking has had on you any time – I’d love to hear from you.

Click here for info on Walk n Talk with The Quirky Traveller

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Top 3 Benefits of Walking

April 4, 2017

A fabulous night to remember at Cumbria Family Business Awards

Sue Coulson, Janett Walker and Sophia Newton - Cumbria Family Business Awards

CFBA organisers Sue Coulson, Janett Walker and Sophia Newton – photo Victoria Sedgewick

‘I gotta feeling’ by the Black-Eyed Peas rocked out from the speakers as Sue Coulson, Janett Walker and Sophia Newton stepped onto the stage to announce the start of the very first Cumbria Family Business Awards. Sue, whose company, Coulson Associates was one of the CFBA  sponsors, Janett and Sophia had worked tirelessly for many months in the run-up to the ceremony in March 201 7.  “From over 100 applications we had to whittle it down to about 30 finalists. The judging panel really had their work cut out!”  The tone for the evening was set as they held up the ‘Wrong Envelope‘; a reference to the recent Oscars fiasco when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty read out the wrong name of the Best Picture winner!

Cumbria Family Business Awards - the Wrong Envelope

Sue, Janett and Sophia with the ‘Wrong Envelope’

An audience of 250 people, including the finalists, their families and friends plus sponsors, judges and the media, enjoyed a fabulous evening with delicious food, plenty of drink and a fair smattering of gossip. As Sister Sledge belted out ‘We are Family’ the celebrity host stepped up to the mike …

Cumbria Family Business Awards 2017

Dave Myers opens Cumbria Family Business Awards

Dave Myers introduces the finalists

Let’s face it, you don’t choose to have a business in Cumbria to make millions. You do it because it’s a great place to live and work.” So said TV chef Dave Myers as he opened this glittering event at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal on the edge of the Lake District. All the businesses nominated for the Cumbria Family Business Awards are family-run, and many have links with the area going back for generations. Some could move away from the area and probably be more profitable, but choose to stay in and around the Lake District because of its inspirational landscape and local links. There were 12 categories plus Ones to Watch. Finalists included well-known names such as Hawkshead Relish, English Lakes Hotels and The Herdy Company as well as lesser-known but equally significant business including The Churchmouse in Barbon, West Coast Composting and JB Banks, as small ironmongers in Cockermouth. Winners included Zeffirelli’s Restaurant and Cinema (Food & Drink Establishments), PHX Training Providers (Professional Business Services), Sally’s Cottages (Smalle Leisure and Tourism Business) and Bells of Lazonby who won Food and Drink Producers AND Outstanding Cumbrian Family Business of the Year.

Winners Cumbria Family Business Awards 2017

Zeffirellis, PHX Training, Sally’s Cottages and Bells of Lazenby

The beautiful glass awards were made by local artist Jo Vincent, ‘…. designed to reflect the intimate relationship between family businesses and Cumbria.’  The ‘star prize’ was an enormous ceramic bowl, created by Siobhan Newton. ‘It combines three iconic Cumbria materials: Egremont Haematite, Coniston Slate and Shap Granite – along with Cumbrian rainwater!‘ Full list of the Winners of Cumbria Family Business Awards here. I was seated on the Lamont Pridmore table, main sponsors of the event, along with Bells of Lazonby, who were clearly overwhelmed at winning both their category and the overall award. “It’s such a great honour. We really had no idea we’d win, especially against such strong finalists.”

Cumbria Family Business Awards Dinner - Castle Green Hotel Kendal

Dinner at Castle Green Hotel

Earlier, as guests arrived, a welcoming Drinks Reception Market served up sparkling wine and got us all in the mood. Photographer Victoria Sedgwick had us all posing for glitterati photos and Castle Green Hotel did us proud on the hospitality front.  We ate very well on local produce that night. I had Cartmel Valley smoked salmon, smoked salmon rillette, beetroot, horseradish and rye bread, followed by Eden Valley chicken, fondant potato, shallots, wild mushrooms and broad beans, finished off with delicious Windermere Ice Cream and Grasmere Gingerbread. All served with excellent wines – thank you Graham Lamont! Every table had Wax Lyrical candles, bottles of Hawkshead Relish’s new product, Black Garlic Ketchup, prints by artist Daniel Cooper and also signed copies of books by Cumbrian authors to take home. I chose Dances with the Daffodils by Matthew Connolly.

Paula Scott, Sue Coulson and Zoe Dawes at Cumbria Family Business Awards

Paula Scott, Sue Coulson and Zoe Dawes at CFBA Awards – photo Victoria Sedgwick

Dave Myers was an excellent host, bringing his inimitable humour and a local awareness that was much appreciated by everyone. He stayed on until every award had been given, every hand had been shaken and every selfie had been taken. A real gent and a great Barrovian ambassador. This photo of the winners sums up a great evening of fun and laughter, business excellence and Cumbrian friendliness.

Cumbria Family Business Awards winners 2017

Cumbria Family Business Awards winners 2017

Many thanks to Sue Coulson of Coulson Associates, Janett Walker of Make it Happen and Sophia Newton, The Good News Girl for inviting me join in such a wonderful celebration. More CFBA photos by Victoria Sedgwick here.

Castle Green Hotel

I stayed overnight in the Castle Green Hotel, a four star hotel on the outskirts of Kendal, in one of their very luxurious Executive Bedrooms, complete with a huge four-poster bed. See what the room really looks like; watch this short video recorded on my arrival, before the CFBA evening started.

For many years I was a member of the hotel’s excellent gym; use of their Health and Fitness Club with swimming pool and spa was included in my stay. Breakfast was delicious and I was pleased to see local produce including Hawkshead Relish sauces, Cumberland Sausage, Lakeland Mues muesli, organic milk and bread from More Bakery in Staveley.

Breakfast Castle Green Hotel Kendal

Breakfast at Castle Green Hotel

Find out more about Cumbria Family Business Awards and Cumbria Family Business Network here.