Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The hills (well, the mountains) are alive...

...with the sound of me!!

I've just got back from a totally fantastic holiday in the gorgeous Lake District (so apologies for the small delay in optimistic scribbling!)

If you've never been, you have to go... Not only is it the place that inspired Wordsworth, Ruskin, Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome to write (amongst others), but it also boasts some of the most breathtakingly stunning scenery anywhere in the world.

The Lake District (or Cumbria, to give it its county name), is absolutely the best place for a weary optimist to recharge... You can't fail to be inspired with so much magestic beauty all around you (and I'm not just talking about Bob...)

We stayed in the Langdale Valley, in the tiny village of Chapel Stile (near Elterwater) - an excellent base for a holiday with loads of wonderful places nearby.

What you need to know about my family and the Lakes is that, for every year of my childhood, we headed here for our family holiday. And it usually rained. Constantly! Despite that, we always managed to have truly magical weeks there - and we still revisit many of our childhood holiday haunts. This holiday was no different - except that we had brilliant weather :o)

I went with my parents, sister and brother-in-law - and the lovely Bob came with us, too! (Our first holiday together - another milestone!) As it was Bob's first visit to Cumbria, my Dad was in his element - so the childhood haunts were even more on the agenda than usual.

We visited the pretty little village of Hawkshead and had great cake from The Minstrels Gallery tearoom (which has gone uber-upmarket since I was little - Orange Pekoe Tea now, fnar, fnar...) I have to say, however, that this tearoom won the prize for most over-the-top presentation of an afternoon tea - a silver cake stand with three plates: scone on one, tiny butter pat and cream sample on next and miniscule jam portion on top... Talk about over-presentation...

On every Dickinson Family holiday, a trip on the big boats on Windermere is a must - but you have to pick the coldest, windiest day of your week to travel and you have - repeat, have - to sit on the open top deck, huddled up against the elements. No sitting in the comfy, warm coffee deck, oh no. Warmth is for wimps... So, true to form, we picked the coldest, dullest day and sat, like true Brits, snuggled up watching the seagulls battling against the cross-winds and trying to eat fudge with frozen lips! We travelled from Ambleside to Bowness on the 'Tern' and the return journey on the 'Swan' (my favourite one, so I was mightily chuffed.)

We also visited Wastwater (recently voted 'Britain's Favourite View' in an ITV1 survey - hence the crowds there). It's the deepest lake in England and overlooked by Scafell Pike, England's tallest mountain, so the views are amazing, with the scree slopes from the mountains falling right into the lake.

Grasmere was as pretty a town as ever - and as full of rude, arrogant Brits as usual, as a lot of the posh hotels are nearby (one particularly pampered pooch decided to wee up Bob's leg and its owner didn't even seem concerned!)

We climbed up by Aira Force near Ullswater and Stock Ghyll Falls behind Ambleside - both beautiful river walks with impressive waterfalls.

We also visited Tarn Hows (amazing man-made lake high in the hills), Coniston (pretty little market town on the shores of the lake where Donald Campbell's water speed record was set) and tackled the edge-of-your-seat-thrilling rides over the Hard Knott and Wrynose passes (just don't look down..)

Our favourite cafe was a stone's throw from our cottage in Chapel Stile - Brambles Cafe (above the Co-op) was absolutely the best place for breakfast... and the cakes looked amazing, too. The staff were so friendly and the views stunning - if you get a chance to visit, you have to check it out!

I'll post some photos next time... Until then, if I've whetted your appetite, check out the places I visited on the Lake Distict website at:


and have a look at Brambles Cafe by clicking this link or pasting it into your browser:


Only trouble is, I want to be back there right now...


Frances said...

We've just got back from a family holiday in the Lakes too. I hope I wasn't one of the rude, arrogant Brits that you met in Grasmere!

We started a walk from the car park at the top of the Kirkstone Pass. The clouds which had been nowhere much to be seen when we started, suddenly desceded. The rain rained. My son was the only person in the universe without a coat. We made it back to the pub though - just.

Miranda Dickinson said...

Ah, the joys of Lakeland rain!!

You definitely weren't one of the rude, arrogant Brits I met - they were all at least 100 years old!

My family holidayed in the Lakes every year when my sister and I were little - and every year, no matter when we went or how nice the weather had been the week before we went, it rained incessantly! But, it means that you get to appreciate the Lakes in all their dramatic splendour - and the joys of new anoraks and cosy tearooms, too!

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