I write this whilst sitting by the crackling fire in our B&B, as I come to the end of a lovely, long weekend in the Lakes. There is something satisfying about sitting in a chunky knit, next to a roaring fire, whilst the wind is howling outside. It just sums up a good British winter experience and it is one of my favourite feelings during the winter months.
We decided to spend the weekend in Windermere as a late birthday treat for me. We stayed at a cosy B&B called 1 Park Road and I cannot recommend it enough. I think B&Bs are under rated, particularly in the younger generations. I love staying in B&Bs, I find the more personal approach and amazing breakfasts much more appealing than chain hotels, for a short break. I do however, find myself considerably younger than the majority of the other guests, and I find this to be a shame because a good B&B experience is not to be missed.
The hosts were very welcoming and engaged in conversation in passing. The room was delightfully decorated and came with complimentary chocolates, which is always a winner for me! We had an ensuite double room which came with all the usual amenities, a tea tray, TV, DVD player, chairs and robes. I love when you get a robe included. There was a DVD library available for borrowing DVDs and given the weather we ended up making use of this. I doubt it gets much use during the summer months, but it was a nice touch.
The breakfasts were really good and started the days off well. My boyfriend had a cooked breakfast both days which he really enjoyed, although he did say he would have liked beans to have been offered with the breakfast. He felt it was a bit on the dry side, but I suppose that is personal taste. I had smoked salmon and scramble eggs on one day and poached eggs the next, both of which were delicious. There was also a good selection of fruits, yogurts, cereals and toast toppings (peanut butter, homemade marmalade and jams).
The weather throughout the entire trip was less than desired. We had hoped to do a lake cruise on Windermere but the weather had other plans. Unfortunately, the ferries were cancelled the entire time we were there, so it will have to be something for another time. We wandered around Windermere and in and out of the boutique shops that lined it’s streets. I love exploring unique shops and finding trinkets that are individual to their location. I have a home full of items I have collected from my travels. I was extremely excited when I came across a handmade Christmas bauble and immediately proceeded to purchase the same (I have, for as long as I can remember, bought a Christmas decoration from every destination I travel to). We eventually took refuge from the icy wind in a little café called Homeground. It had the typical, simple décor of wooden tables and chairs with a more detailed choice of lighting. To my delight, they served all day brunch on the weekend. I love places that serve breakfast all day, sometimes, you just want eggs or pancakes at 4pm!
After wandering a bit more around Windermere, we retreated back to the B&B and got extra wrapped up ready for the Winter Lights Parade. By a lucky coincidence, we had booked to stay the weekend of the Christmas lights switch on in Windermere. We watched the parade from our window in the B&B as it went directly past. The parade was somewhat bizarre. It consisted of a fire engine, a sleigh with Santa on and an ambulance. Followed by a congregation of locals and tourists with a variety of lights, torches and glowsticks. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting but we headed down and joined the congregation as they headed towards the park, just down the road from the B&B.
There was a great atmosphere in the park and there was a constant buzz of chatter, laughter and excitement. We wandered over to the refreshments section and got a mulled wine and mince pie, and then took up our position ready for the fireworks. The weather was horrendous, and I found myself hugging my, only slightly warm, mulled wine, whilst waiting for the fireworks. It was worth persevering though, as the firework display was truly spectacular and there were a few ooo’s and aaa’s from the crowd.
As soon as the display finished, everyone made a quick exit to get out of the cold. We were relieved to be back in the warmth of the B&B, and quickly got ready to head out for our evening meal. Now, I am an extreme planner, I take planning to a whole other level, and sometimes I get made fun of by my family and friends (lovely, I know). So, in a bid to be more spontaneous, I hadn’t made a booking for the Saturday night. I mean, it was a Saturday, in the middle of winter, in Windermere, I never thought there would be an issue. It seemed a safe bet for a planning freak to try to calm it a bit. How wrong I was. We walked in and out of almost every restaurant in Windermere, trying to find a vacant table. Everywhere was fully booked and with each failed attempt, we found ourselves more embarrassed at how stupid we had been. Eventually, we stumbled across a restaurant which could fit us in, Wild & Co. You can see the full review here.
Whilst in the lakes, we also visited the Dickensian festival in Ulverston which had the unfortunate twitter tag #dickfest. Which was picked up by national media, so it was probably a genius marketing strategy! Although the wind was particularly strong that day, we had a good time wandering around the various stalls and observing the locals in their Dickensian costumes. We witnessed a few stalls almost blow away with all the merchandise, and saw a few panicked faces trying to cling on to their products for dear life! Had the weather been more favourable we would probably have stayed for longer to explore the array of local products on offer. However, we soon retreated back to the car and drove on to Bowness.
I was particularly excited about visiting Bowness because they have a Beatrix Potter attraction and I have loved her books ever since I was a child. I felt like a big kid wandering around the exhibits which brought to life her famous stories. I had my picture taken with Jemima Puddleduck and explored Mr McGregors garden. I also experienced my lack of will power whilst exploring the shop at the end. I literally wanted to buy everything. In the end I settled on a Peter Rabbit keyring before my boyfriend dragged me out of the shop and to spending safety!
We ended our day in Bowness with a hot chocolate at ChoccoBar. They serve proper, melted chocolate and after reading reviews about it, I knew I had to pay a visit.
After wandering around the shops of Bowness, we eventually gave in to the ever worsening weather. We were literally being blown over by the end of the day. We came back to the B&B and made a cup of tea, and made use of the DVDs. We watched the Imitation Game, which was a brilliant film, although it was incredibly sad. I would recommend a supply of tissues at the ready if you choose to watch it.
For our last night in the Lakes, we had booked (yes, we planned ahead after the previous debacle) a table at El Porton, the local Spanish restaurant. I had read some really good reviews on tripadviser, and my boyfriend and I absolutely love tapas so we were excited to try it. The meal completely lived up to expectations and you can read more about it here. After our meal, we then headed to a bar in the centre of Windermere called The Lighthouse. It was lit up with numerous Christmas lights and had such a festive atmosphere. It got me all excited for Christmas. I had a Christmas cocktail, which came served with a candy cane, which was delicious. We had a couple of drinks whilst listening to the festive music and it was a lovely way to spend our last night in the Lakes.
Before we left, we visited Cartmel and I went to the home of my favourite sticky toffee pudding. I literally cannot rave about this enough. It is incredible and you just have to try it. If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out. There is not much else I can see on this except to reiterate the amazing, yumminess of their sticky toffee pudding. Yum.
We had a quick break in The Mallard Cafe in Cartmel and enjoyed a couple of hot chocolates and some crumpets before beginning the journey back.
We had a really good weekend in the Lakes and are looking forward to our next trip, hopefully when the weather is much better. I would love to hear if you have any suggestions for our next visit to the Lakes?