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Travel: Experience a Great British lake off in the Lake District

© Shutterstock / stocker1970Lake Derwentwater at Keswick, Lake District.
Lake Derwentwater at Keswick, Lake District.

They were always an option, adored by devotees who swore by them time and time again.

But never has a cottage break in the UK been more desirable – nay, virtually perfect in every way.

In this suddenly changed world, having your own safe haven, a security blanket bubble, has become the hottest ticket in town, or, most likely, countryside.

A home from home where the view isn’t that relentlessly unchanging one out your own window, but a perfect, scenic panorama.

Trusted favourites Sykes Cottages’ new Staycation Index report found our holiday habits have altered, with almost half of Brits polled now saying they were more likely to consider a break here than pre-pandemic.

Pet-friendly property bookings had also surged, and it was to such a Sykes cottage that we packed up and headed last month.

Threlkeld sits just a turn off the busy A66, but one that takes you into a whole other world. In a minute you’re in the meandering main street, whitewashed and stone-built and all full of character.

Kiln How is up a narrow track that’s easy to miss. We did. Once there, though, it blended right into that whitewashed, characterful vibe of the village and inside was every bit as inviting.

© Shutterstock / Andrew Roland
Grasmere village, the Lake District, Cumbria, England.

The thick walls and exposed beams were testament to a centuries-old past but wizzy wi-fi, all the telly streaming services and a cracking rainforest shower were every bit here and now.

The two bedrooms look out either on to little St Mary’s church or the woodland Apath leading up to towering Blencathra directly behind.

The picnic bench in the garden is next to the bubbling stream that runs down by the path. There was no better start to any day than sitting with a coffee watching red squirrels scamper along the stone wall or sheep wander down to see what was happening.

The pooch, thankfully, was as unfazed by the sheep as they were by her and was in hound-heaven with the wilderness that was, suddenly, her new back garden.

If you didn’t do anything but enjoy this rural idyll, savouring the hills, countryside and village life, it’d still be a great break.

But bustling Keswick is just four miles along the road and after a bit of browsing at the market, it was off to Crow Park where the grassy slopes down to the shore offer the best views right along Derwentwater.

A 50-minute round trip on one of the Keswick Launch boats got us up even closer. There really is no finer way to experience the beauties of the Lake District than getting out on the water and that’s definitely the case at Ullswater, a mere 20-minute drive away from Threlkeld.

Like Derwentwater, mountain ranges disappear higgledy-piggledy into the distance and Ullswater Steamers’ Clyde-built Raven has been chugging up and down past them for more than 130 years.

There’s history, too, in the Windermere Lake Cruises craft that take tourists on the biggest lake.

© Shutterstock / Jez Campbell
Summer on Ullswater in the English Lake District.

With a Freedom of the Lake ticket we were able to spend 24 hours hopping on and off as we pleased at Ambleside, Bowness and Lakeside.

Grasmere is forever a favourite and, out of the hustle of the village, the trail around the lake was glorious with the circular route back by the main road taking us past Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage.

It worked up quite an appetite and the terrace of Grasmere Tea Gardens, right by the River Rothay, was the most perfectly peaceful place for a bite.

If you want to stretch your legs a bit more than Grasmere, head to the sheer magnificence of Buttermere. It’s a pretty easy 4.5-mile trek with just a couple of rocky sections to clamber over and the views more than made up for any effort over a lovely couple of hours.

Back at Kiln How at the end of each day, morning coffees in the garden could be replaced by something a little stronger.

But with the Horse and Farrier pub virtually on the doorstep – 70 paces actually but who’s counting? – it seemed rude not to check out the beer garden and the great restaurant.

As a hugely popular haunt, dinner booking was most definitely needed.

But as it’s been there since 1688, it has obviously, like the Lakes, been doing something right for a very long time.


Honister Pass, familiar to millions as young Joe’s regular musical walk in BBC hit The A Word, is a wonderfully winding scenic drive. It’s also well worth tackling it to get to the Honister Slate Mine.