We have just returned from a week’s holiday in the Lake District in Cumbria, possibly my favourite place in the world, and what a glorious week it was. It is a beautiful place anyway, but we were blessed with warm weather every day – the raincoats never came out of the bags, which was a first for me – I have been coming since I was 16 and expect to get rained on as part of the deal! The heavens did open on our last evening and it bucketed down all night and most of the way home, but we didn’t mind that.
We did some fabulous short walks. I would have happily dragged everybody a bit further, but I know there are limits when persuading teenagers up hills and across the fells. We walked around Rydal Water, popping in for tea at William Wordsworth’s house en route. We visited the John Ruskin house overlooking Coniston Water and had our lunch in his gardens. We went up to the waterfalls along the edge of Ambleside to wear everyone out, then drove to Glenridding in Ullswater and snuck into the grounds of a hotel to get to the water’s edge and admire the fabulous views of the lake and mountains beyond. We ate delicious cakes at Chester’s Cafe at Skelwith Bridge, just behind the caravan park we stayed at, recommended by my Mum. It was certainly very busy and popular. We also went to Wordsworth’s birthplace at Grasmere and saw the family graves in the local church. Grasmere is a pretty enough place, but these days really just a collection of gift shops.
We had a lovely short boat trip across Windermere to Wray Castle and then the visitor centre at Brockhole. However we made the mistake of paying to go into the castle. I am usually a fan of the National Trust but we were not impressed. It is in the process of being restored and is unfurnished. There is really nothing to see except a lot of rooms waiting to be refurbished and mostly covered in woodchip wallpaper. They had tried to make it more of a family attraction by filling the rooms with toys and dressing up outfits, but that wasn’t much good to us. I resented paying the entrance fee to be honest and felt we had been duped. I would say don’t bother unless you are NT members – just have a look round the outside for free.
If you have a camper van or tourer caravan I can absolutely recommend the Skelwith Fold caravan park just outside Ambleside : lovely generous pitches in a beautiful setting and the park itself is spotlessly clean and tidy, with a good shop and helpful staff. I am very lucky to have my generous cousins who don’t mind letting the extended family stay in their static from time to time.
I brought the ingredients for many of our meals in advance from Aldi, and most of the time just had to buy meat or salad to go with the pasta, salad or rice we already had. We also bought fresh bread every day from the campsite shop and took a picnic and flask out with us. We had one big blow out, eating at Zeferelli’s restaurant in Ambleside. I had forgotten it was actually a vegetarian restaurant, and thought there might be a mass walk out when the family realised, but they stayed and we a had a most delicious meal (for example, I ate a wellington filled with nut roast and DD3 had a most creamy and delicious blue cheese lasagne).
My holiday fund is well and truly depleted and it is frugal all the way now. Fortunately I have a language student coming for three weeks from Sunday, so I need to prepare! Onwards and upwards! Are you going anywhere nice for your holidays, or planning a staycation?