A Short Break to the Lake District

A View From a Canoe Over Ullswater
Ullswater from a Canoe © Jessica Gatfield

In the height of the holiday season this summer, we exchanged jumping on a plane in search of a warmer climate  for a trip within the British Isles to the Lake District. The 5 hour car journey would take us from the perimeters of Essex to the heart of Cumbria along the straight and narrow  M6 for approximately 297 miles. Our destination was situated in the North East of Cumbria, overlooking the second largest lake: Ullswater.

Watermillock & Ullswater

We booked to stay at the Rampsbeck Hotel in one of their self catering cottages, perched upon a small hill overlooking the water’s edge. For £125 a night we were presented with the Holly Cottage, a bungalow that sleeps up to four people, twinned with a breathtaking view, a fully equipped kitchen (minus a frying pan!) and a luxurious boudoir. Much to our delight we discovered underfloor heating in the bathroom, tea and coffee in the kitchen and the comfiest bed known to man. Let’s not forget the herd of Highland cows with their calves and flocks of Scottish Blackface sheep that surrounded the hotel that served as a daily reminder of the beautiful British Wildlife.

Ramsbeck Grounds © Chris Yorke

A late evening arrival left little time for exploring further afield so we opted for the Hotel grounds instead. We were granted access to a small shoreline at the edge of the water, full to the brim of both skimming and skipping stones and moss covered rocks to perch upon. The 60m deep lake wended its way around surrounding peaks, with bobbing boats clasped to the water’s minimal movements and tourists embraced by the tranquility. The monotonous motorway soon felt like a distant memory and we were shortly engulfed by the Lake District’s beauty.

Canoe on Ullswater © Jessica Gatfield

Canoeing in Glenridding 

After a magnificent night sleep in an extremely comfortable bed, we were ready to face the first adventure of the day: Canoeing.  Situated a few miles south of the hotel, the little village of Glenridding was home to the Glenridding Sailing Centre. Best known for it’s sailing school and hire facilities, we jumped at the chance to rent a canoe for the morning to get up close and personal with Ullswater herself. Equipped with life jackets and a picnic hamper, for a fee of £40 we were given free reign of the water for a total of three hours with access to small islands and National Trust protected offshore beaches to rest upon. We made many a stop along the waters edge as well as perching upon small isles for a spot of lunch and a cup of tea. We lasted two and a half hours on the water, returning to the dock with sore arms and soggy clothes from the small downpour of rain that we encountered.

Keswick & Derwent Water 

A late afternoon trip was made to explore Keswick and the nearby Derwent Water. The English Market town is home to the Theatre by the Lake, the illusory Puzzling Place and the Cumberland Pencil Museum to name a few. Situated a short walk away from the town centre lies Hope Park, a large open space inhabited by black faced sheep, wild geese and ducks too. The park borders the north of the Derwent Water with Ithmus Bay to the right and Keswick Landing to the right. Derwent Isle is visible from the shore line, a small wooded island which is home to an 18th century house, open to visitors for 5 days of the year. Canoe trips to and from the Isle are available from Keswick Launch which include a tour of the manor as well as the Chapel and nearby Fort.

Keswick itself is a modern thriving town with no shortage of places to eat or drink. Whether you fancy a traditional pub lunch, having a taste of Cumbrian Specialties or would like to venture further afield to try worldwide cuisine, it seemed as though Keswick offered a lot of choice. In terms of Vegan and Vegetarian Options, it seemed a little harder to find. We eventually stumbled across Cafe Bar 26, a Spanish Tapas Bar that offered a wide selection of tapas dishes, flatbreads and an array of cocktails. We tried the vegetable bean stew, homemade Hummus with Ciabatta, and Vegetable Flatbreads (made without cheese ofcourse). The food was fresh, the service was quick and the cocktails were punchy!

Scenic Drive through Hartsop © Jessica Gatfield
View from Hartsop © Jessica Gatfield

Scenic Drives through the Lakes

Whether you are exploring the Lake District by car or by foot, you are never short of witnessing spectacular scenery around every bend. Along the A592 towards Windermere, passing through the small village of Hartsop, you will find yourself immersed between peaks and trickling streams. Further along the Kirkstone Pass you will find two fells; Stony Cove Pike to your left and Red Screes to your right. The road ahead seems infinite, lost around sharp bends and appearing once again on the horizon. Many lay-bys can be found along the route which makes the view accessible to drivers and hikers.

Parallel to the A591, you will find the A592 that also leads to Windermere. Not far from Keswick, you will find the Thirlmere Aqueduct, situated to the right of the Helvellyn Mountain. The watercourse stretches for an astounding 83 miles and happens to be the largest gravity-fed aqueduct in the UK. The water itself is surrounded by forested valleys, coloured in rich greens and dark blues for as far as the eye can see.

A Peak View from Grasmere © Jessica Gatfield

 Windermere & Bowness

On our third day in the Lakes, we ventured from Watermillock to the town of Bowness-On-Windermere. Named after the Lake, this popular tourist destination is home to lake cruises, an array of water sports and traditional shops offering afternoon tea. The Cruises deparst from Bowness Pier and completes a round trip to Ambleside and Brockhole. Adult tickets cost a mere £10.30 and can be booked in advance or on the day. The ticket entitles you to hop on and off of the boat as you please, embarking on as many different cruises as you like within the day.

Another popular attraction in Bowness-on-Windermere is The World of Beatrix Potter. Open all year round, the museum combines exhibitions, interactive films, outdoor gardens and virtual walks to name a few. Adult tickets are priced at £6.95 and children are admitted for £3.95. An attraction we sadly missed due to a high volume of tourists and coach loads of visitors!

Windermere itself however is a little more quant. Situated north of Bowness, the small village is home to a cosmopolitan of dainty shops and restaurants as well as a train station frequently connecting tourists to Blackpool and Manchester. We stopped for a cup of tea and a spot of lunch at Coffee Bar 7, a small restaurant specialising in homemade cakes, sandwiches  Gluten Free Options on the menu. In terms of vegan food, the only option happened to be a jacket potato with baked beans and a salad. Not only an easy choice but also a hearty and warming one after a long morning of walking and working up and appetite.

Lancrigg Vegetarian Country House & Hotel Grounds
Fake Fish & Chips & Dark Chocolate and Orange Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream

Finding Vegan Heaven In Grasmere

Finding places that cater for Vegans in your home town is a tough challenge not to mention looking further afield.  With a little research prior to our trip, we were lucky enough to stumble across a Vegetarian Hotel located in Grasmere. Formally occupied by William Wordsworth, the country house dating back to the 1600’s, known as the Lacrigg Vegetarian Country House and Hotel, offers a wide range of wholesome dishes complimented by a magnificent view over their 30 acres of land. The menu itself offers a selection of vegan options, many are also Gluten Free ranging in Veggie takes on traditional British Food, wholesome salads and melt in your mouth indulgent desserts. For mains, We tried the Vegetarian Fish’n’Chips; Tofu wrapped in nori seaweed coated in quinoa made with homemade chips, a side of peas and a homemade tartare sauce and a brazil nut and mushroom roulade served with celeriac mash, roasted vegetables and red cabbage. For the indulgent desserts we chose the Summer Fruits Crumble served with homemade vanilla ice cream and finally the Dark Chocolate Orange Pudding also with ice cream. Both dishes were completely vegan and absolutely delicious. The restaurant itself was extremely peaceful, shared only with hotel guests who welcomed our presence with open arms. We would highly recommend the restaurant and consider staying at the hotel too!

A View over Ullswater at Sunrise © Jessica Gatfield

Watching the Sunrise over the Lake 

As the holiday was drawing to a close, my stomach still happy from the exquisite food consumed only hours before, I set my alarm for 5am and ventured outdoors to watch the sun rise over Ullswater. Sitting alone by the waters edge draws upon a little time for thought and reflection, a sacred space to take in the view in all of it’s beauty and experience  deep gratitude for all that is. I watched as fog drew across the water from the nearby fields and faded into the distance, the water gently rippling over the rocks at my feet. I believe that the sun rise is a neglected worldy wonder, something that goes unnoticed from day to day and is not admired in its full form. It marks a new beginning, a fresh start and least of all an ending. For each day is a blessing and a gift, and I am eternally grateful to live amongst such wonder and beauty only miles away from home.

“Nature unfolds her treasure at the first ray of sunrise.” ― Kishore Bansal © Jessica Gatfield
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