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The Lake District: A five-star holiday for four-legged friends

© Getty ImagesButtermere in The Lake District.
Buttermere in The Lake District.

Would you like a bowl of water? And how about a toy or a belly rub? If you don’t have a dog, you’d probably smile politely – while crossing the establishment firmly off a list of places to visit again.

Should you have a four-legged friend, though, a genuine greeting for your hound can help really make a break.

So, with a new member of the family to consider – that would be Maisie, a loveably daft Labradoodle – we headed to the Lake District to see how warmly the welcome mat was rolled out.

While much is most easily seen by car, first up was an opportunity to leave it behind for the day and let the boat provide the transportation.

Parking at the free car park at the Lakeland Motor Museum ( we got a good look at motoring history.

The classic vehicles are parked bumper to bumper and there was a gripping, but ultimately sobering, step back into the past.

The Campbell Exhibition tells the story of Malcolm and Donald Campbell’s efforts to dominate world speed records, culminating in Donald’s tragic attempt on Coniston in January, 1967.

A 10-minute hop on a shuttle bus and there was an altogether more leisurely watery trip on England’s longest lake.

It was Maisie’s first boat trip, but she was far from the only canine on the Windermere Lake Cruises ( journey to bustling Bowness-on-Windermere where hounds were certainly catered for.

The Lake View Garden Bar has a terrace overlooking the lake right by the piers, and there was a beer keg of water to top up the bowl by the entrance.

There was another cracking watery treat on another day, hopping on and off the equally historic Ullswater Steamers (, taking in views of some of the Northern Lakes highest peaks.

Just outside Keswick, we found that mat rolled out in style at Lingholm Estate (

“Dogs are VERY welcome” read the sign on the gate leading to a path by a tumbling stream and up to the Lingholm Kitchen Cafe.

It was bright and modern, with floor-to-ceiling windows and, right by the door, there was a box of towels for mucky pups and a big box of treats.

The cafe is obviously a magnet for walkers – dog and otherwise – and it was easy to see why as, apart from the scrumptious and generously portioned fayre, the views are quite sensational.

Bill and Maisie at Lingholm.

The leaves were fully on the turn and the rich panoply of colours, from dark russet to light yellow, were hard to beat.

Lingholm was a regular holiday haunt of Beatrix Potter who had ten summers there.

She wrote some of her most treasured works in the grand house and in the lovely Walled Garden you can read why the grounds were the inspiration for Mr McGregor’s garden.

It was just a few minutes to Keswick and there were a couple of cracking options should you find it a rainy day – yes, there are just a few in this neck of the woods.

The Puzzling Place and the Pencil Museum both fulfilled the dog- friendly criteria.

Your eyes will play tricks confronted by the illusions at the full-of-fun Puzzling Place.

And grab a clipboard and see if you can answer 20 teasing questions as you take a stroll through the history of local pencil production.

Pencil provided, of course. The Theatre by the Lake was a prime spot for a bite with a view. Grab a window seat for the best panorama of Derwentwater. Like so often, a water bowl and some treats came without having to ask.

And should you want to have some fun while giving the hound a healthy big walk, Lowther Castle and Gardens ( ) will fit the bill admirably.

The rise, financial fall and rise again of the massive estate is told in the classy exhibition, while the grounds are just magnificent.

We explored them in four-legged fashion by looking for the 12 plaques on the It’s A Dog’s Life trail that was fun and offered up fabulous views.

And the FYR restaurant at the North Lakes Hotel in Penrith really sealed the doggie deal. We got a great meal, and Maisie even had a dog bed brought for her to lie on!

The Lakes are a year-round magnet for visitors, but the quieter months when there’s still loads to do are perfect – for both humans and dogs.

Many pubs, like the cracking Wainwright in Keswick, are very happy to welcome dogs. You can vote for your favourite in the Rover Dog-Friendly Pub Awards (


Information on all there is to see and do can be found at the official Lake District site