MY better half and I enjoy playing the “If we won the Lottery, where would be buy a holiday home?” game.
I’ve previously plumped for either the East Neuk of Fife or the trendy Marais in Paris – both overruled by her indoors – and for the past while we’ve agreed that “somewhere in Italy” would be the best option in the event of those six numbers coming up.
But after spending a weekend in the superb Stables at Knott Farm overlooking Troutbeck Bridge on the shores of Lake Windermere, all bets are off.
A grade-II listed conversion of a former stables perched on the fellside, it enjoys gorgeous views of not only the largest freshwater lake in England but of some of the best climbing in the country.
One morning dawned crisp and clear and from our bedroom window I was able to point out the snow-covered slopes of the Langdale pikes, the Fairfield horseshoe and the Old Man Of Coniston.
Alas, Mrs S would have rather her old man got the breakfast ready which wasn’t a problem as the Stables is situated a 20-minute stroll down a country path from the town of Windermere.
The aforementioned summits are all included on Alfred Wainwright’s list of 214 Lake District fells and we’ve been enthusiastically “bagging” them for the past few years – 165 and counting, since you ask.
And just a half-hour’s stroll from the Stables’ front door is where it all began for our Alfred, Orrest Head.
In 1930, the then 23-year-old Wainwright took the train from his home in Blackburn to Windermere and upon alighting headed straight up to the viewpoint.
You can do it in not much more than 20 minutes but the modest height belies a beautiful view.
So transfixed was Wainwright that it changed his life and he started writing his Pictorial Guides that help draw visitors to Lakeland, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Orrest Head’s not high enough to be one of the main 214 fells to be bagged but it does have its own chapter in his volume on the Outlying Fells, and many make the pilgrimage to “the place where it all began”.
Speaking of heights, I was treated to a few dizzying ones at Treetop Trek, a woodland adventure playground in which you can swing, climb, balance and fly through the lake shore’s ancient oak woodland canopy up to 15 metres above the ground.
Now, I knew I was safe and secure in my harness but I’ve not got the greatest head for heights and so I have to admit that the occasional shriek slipped out as I teetered above the forest floor.
At least I triumphed in the final 250m parallel zipwire descent though Mrs S, never a good loser, did point out I had, ahem, gravity on my side.
That was partly due to discovering the Crafty Baa in Windermere, the AA’s Best Pub In England 2018/19. The beers were to die for, the jumbo chilli dogs and posh toasted sandwiches out of this world. It’s a great place to get your land legs back.
You may have lost them up in the trees or out on the lake as Treetop Trek is to be found at Brockhole where the Windermere Lake Cruises boats also call in.
You can head up to Waterhead and then stroll into Ambleside or jump off at Bowness-on-Windermere for a pint and a bite to eat.
You could even head to Lakeside at the southern end where you’ll find an aquarium, motor museum and La’al Ratty, more properly known as the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, one of the oldest and longest narrow-gauge railways in Britain.
Or, as there are bars on all the boats, you could just stay aboard and enjoy the views.
These include some spectacular lakefront properties, but once Mrs S had picked out her favourite, she decided she’d found the perfect holiday home at the Stables.
Coppermines cottage have 90 cottages dotted across the Coniston and Windermere area that sleep from two to 22, visit coppermines.co.uk
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