When people visit an area you love for the first time, you want it to look its best, to show it off in all its glory. I remember going to Skåne, Sweden on my first group blog trip one summer; it was dull, cool and cloudy with ‘occasional showers’ almost every day and the Swedish Tourism rep was so upset. She kept saying, “It’s usually sunny at this time of year. Please try to imagine what this resort would look like in the sunshine.” Well, it was a bit like that recently when Travelator Media gathered in Cumbria for a working weekend.
Fellow Travelator Media team member Heather Cowper (Heather on her Travels) and Kathryn Burrington (Travel with Kat) both live in the south of England and neither had been to the Lake District or Cumbria before. It was winter and this area is famous for its ‘weather’, not just at this time of year, but any time. Yes, we are one of the wettest places in Britain, but we also get LOTS of gorgeous sunny days. I’d warned Heather and Kathryn to bring along wet-weather gear, but the week before they came, we’d glorious weather, so I was hopeful …
However, the rain gods decided to show them the Lake District at her wettest. It rained for two days but we did get some breaks in the downpours to look around this stunning part of the world. They kept smiling throughout!
Daw Bank Cottage
We stayed from Friday to Monday at delightful Daw Bank cottage in Chapel Stile in the heart of the Langdale Valley It’s one of the many Good Life Cottage Company properties all around southern Lakeland. Daw Bank has three good-sized bedrooms, including a large master bedroom in the loft, and all the facilities you’d expect from a quality self-catering property. We had got together to discuss Travelator Media 2016 campaigns (highlights will include Menorca in the Spanish Balearics and a road trip across Canada) and some exciting projects we are working on. The other key member of the Travelator Media team, Gary Bembridge (Tips for Travellers), was on a world cruise so couldn’t be with us.)
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Lake District highlights
The cottage provided a great venue for our working weekend but we also had plenty of time to see some of the area’s attractions. These included:
Blackwell Arts and Crafts House
Built in the early 20th century and set above Windermere, Blackwell The Arts and Crafts House is a great example of Lakes Culture. Designed by architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865 – 1945), it showcases not only exquisite interior detailing ie leaf-shaped door handles and irridescent stained-glass windows, but also furnishings and lovley objects from the pinnacle of the Arts and Craft movement. Jeanette Edgar told us about the new bedroom that’s being opened later this year and some of the other events Lakeland Arts is involved in. As well as permanent displays at Blackwell, there are regular exhibitions of artwork both local and international.
The Britannia Inn
On the Friday night we had dinner with Natalie Barker, Manager of the Good Life Cottage Company, at the Britannia Inn in Elterwater village. A hearty Cumbrian meal, real ale and a warm welcome gave Heather and Kathryn a genuine taste of Cumbrian hospitality. Natalie explained more about the company and the different properties they have. Read about my stay at luxurious Braegarth Cottage in Elterwater here.
Elterwater Lake and Chesters by the River
Having spent a few hours on Travelator Media business, on Saturday afternoon we left our cosy cottage to go for a walk along the shores of Elterwater. It’s a lovely little lake, which was gently overflowing its banks in places due to the recent heavy rain. There are usually many Herdwick sheep grazing but they must have been in hiding that day. Further on from the village is Chester’s, a ‘life-style’ shop crammed full of designer household goodies and an excellent cafe. We got there just too late to sit down for one of their scrumptoius cakes so took some back to Daw Bank to enjoy later.
The Langdale Estate
Nick Lancaster showed us round the Langdale Estate and its 4-star Langdale Hotel, Terrace Restaurant, Spa Therapies, Leisure Facilities, Brimstone Hotel and 5-star self catering lodges. Since my last stay at the Langdale Hotel a lot has changed. The main restaurant has been totally revamped and reopens soon. The Spa and Pool area is currently being completely redesigned and should be a real stunner when it reopens in the autumn. However, it’s Brimstone that has the WOW factor now. A boutique hotel in attractive woodland surrounding, it has 16 contemporary boutique rooms and luxury suites. Built from local Lakeland slate, it is the ultimate in style and elegance;we all loved it, as does everyone who stays there.
Wainwright’s Inn, Chapel Stile
A few minutes’ walk from Daw Bank, Wainwright’s Inn is a well-known Lake District pub serving good food in friendly, comfortable surroundings. On the night we went, there was a very welcome fire blazing with a couple of sheep dogs stretched out in front, lots of families, couples and friends enjoying food and drink. Heather had the smoked food platter; the chef is a big fan of smoking all sorts of different meat, fish, cheeses etc.
Hawkshead is famous for the Grammar School where Wordsworth studied, the Beatrix Potter Gallery where her hsuband William Heelis had his office, and now well-known for Hawkshead Relish, and beer from Hawkshead Brewery (now actually based in Staveley). Its quaint old buildings and narrow, traffic-free lanes are a magnet for tourists but on a wet February day we had it almost all to ourselves.
Beatrix Potter’s House – Hill Top
Hill Top was the home of children’s author and farmer in Near Sawrey, Beatrix Potter. She married local solicitor William Heelis and moved over the road. She left Beatrix Potter and a great deal of land to the National Trust. It’s still very much as it was during her lifetime and setting for many scenes from her tiny books can be identified around the house. Fortunately, being winter, the house wasn’t too busy and we had plenty of time to look round and also enjoy the gift shop. This year is a celebration of 150 years since Beatrix Potter was born on July 28th, 1866. Kathryn couldn’t resist buying her very own Peter Rabbit to take home as a souvenir.
Afterwards, we had a pub lunch in the Tower Bank Arms, seen in The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck. Owned by the National Trust and run by a tenant, it’s small, cosy and does an excellent smoked salmon sandwich.
Other places visited by the Travelator Team included Coniston and the Blue Bird Cafe, Grasmere, the Gingerbread Shop and Wordsworth’s Grave, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Trust Museum, Lake Windermere and Bowness, Wilf’s Cafe in Staveley and Lovingly Artisan at Oxenholme station, Kendal.
Many thanks to Good Life Cottage Company for providing us with the perfect base for our stay in the Lake District. Read more about our weekend on Heather Cowper’s article A weekend of culture in the Lake District (or what to do if it rains). Whether it rains or not, this is quite simply one of the loveliest places in the world …