It’s February and storms are battering the length and breadth of the UK as we crawl south along the M6 towards the Lake District.
It feels counter-intuitive to be heading to a part of the country that is experiencing some of the worst floods in years but thankfully our destination, just outside Bowness-on-Windermere, has escaped the worst of Storm Ciara.
When we reach High Lindeth, our home for the next four days, we find the 17th Century farmhouse sits on a ridge with arresting views over rolling hills and fields.
As soon as we step inside, our six-year-old son tears off to explore the warren of corridors and higgledy-piggledy rooms.
The main living area is a vast lounge on the upper floor which is cosy with a rustic floor-to-ceiling slate fireplace.
It’s late afternoon and the light is fading by the time the rest of our party arrive. This is a real family affair with my mother, aunt, two uncles, my sister, her husband and daughter joining us. No one fancies venturing out into the rain again so we set about preparing food in the well-equipped country kitchen.
After dinner we wile away the evening in front of a roaring fire, drinking wine, and plotting the days ahead.
The next morning we wake up to a miracle – the rain has stopped and the faint glow of sunlight is colouring the air.
After a cooked breakfast, we all head into nearby Bowness.
It’s walkable with care, along winding country roads, but the pavement stops and starts so it’s safer to drive if you have young children in tow.
Bowness is a charming town on the banks of Lake Windermere, packed with shops, cafes and restaurants.
It’s also home to the Beatrix Potter Museum. Potter is, of course, one of Cumbria’s most famous daughters, and her animal tales have enchanted generations of children, so it was a must-see for my son and seven-year-old niece.
They love exploring Mrs Tiggy Winkle’s parlour and Mr McGregor’s veg patch where they spot Peter Rabbit and pals.
After lunch we take the half-hour boat trip to Ambleside on the north shore of Windermere.
We spend a pleasant couple of hours browsing gift shops and stopping off for a delicious scone at a sweet little tearoom called Mr H’s Tearoom (Scone Spy would approve).
Back at base, we spend another lazy night eating, lounging and chatting.
The Lake District has a distinctive landscape and its easy to understand why it inspired that other great Cumbrian literary icon, William Wordsworth.
This year marks 250 years since the poet’s birth so it felt rude not to pay our respects, especially as his family home Rydal Mount is only a 15-minute drive away.
Wordsworth lived at Rydal with wife Mary and their two daughters, Dorothy and Dora, from 1813 to his death in 1850. The 16th Century home is still owned by the Wordsworth family and is filled with letters, personal possessions and artwork. There’s a portrait of Robert Burns in the drawing room, and I discover Wordsworth was a fan and moved to pen At The Grave Of Burns after his this death in 1796.
Wordsworth also had green fingers and we enjoy exploring his garden. A stone path from the house leads through thick rhododendrons to a grassy terrace where you glimpse Grasmere sparkling below.
The Lake has not only been an inspiration for poets and writers, it has also attracted adrenalin junkies determined to smash the world water speed record including Sir Henry Segrave who broke the record (98.76 mph) in 1960 but sadly drowned in the attempt. We learn more about this as well as the more genteel history of the lake at the Jetty Museum on our last day.
It’s home to a collection of steam launches and vintage speedboats. The museum is a beautiful space and we enjoy a delicious lunch of seafood chowder and a bean stew in its café, which has spectacular views over the water.
On our last night me and my partner escape to Bowness for dinner at the House Of Siam where the food is authentic and delicious.
It was a lovely end to a thoroughly relaxing break, catching up with family.
And it seems it’s just in time – the next day we head home as the second storm in as many weeks starts to cause trouble…
P.S. For locations that inspired Wordsworth take a trip to Ullswater to see the “golden host of daffodils” around Glencoyne Bay or walk up to Aira Force waterfall which features in The Somnambulist.
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