• One of the best ways to keep children out of mischief is to keep them entertained and what better way than exploring the great outdoors on two wheels. We are spoilt for choice in the Lake District for places to ride whether on scenic country lanes, cycleways, off road adventures or forest trails. The hardest part is deciding where to go!


    If you are bringing your bike with you then we have everything you need from a secure place to lock your bikes away, to facilities for washing off the Lake District mud and even a drying room so your kit is ready to go again the next day.


    The Lake District National Park have put together a handy leaflet showing 5 easy cycling trails for families or those that want to take things a bit easier and enjoy the views.  Take a look at a few of the rides below and if you would like more information download the full guide here.

    Langdale Trail

    Distance 16 miles - starting from Ambleside
    Riding mostly on minor roads and bridleways with one small section of main road on the way back, it’s a lumpy ride with two steep sections. You will be rewarded for the hills with glorious views of Skelwith Force waterfall, Elterwater Meadows and the impressive Langdale Pikes. If that doesn’t persuade you (or your family) then the cafes and pubs along the way most definitely will.

    Grasmere Trail

    Distance - 12 miles starting from Ambleside
    This is a great trail away from the main road that takes you to the pretty village of Grasmere - home to the famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop (leave room in your pockets to bring some back it’s delicious!). Following lake-shore trails with a couple of steep sections you will ride through woodlands and over an iron cycle bridge to cross the River Rothay ending up at Grasmere lake - a great place for a picnic. Don’t eat too many sandwiches though as there is a cheeky little uphill straight after!

    Windermere’s West Shore

    Distance - 16 miles starting from Bowness
    Although this route has a couple of short sections on the main road it is filled with variety, a ferry ride and an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of Bowness. After the added adventure of a ferry ride you are soon heading along a woodland track on your way to Wray Castle where there is a lovely cafe and activities for the kids if they have any energy left! Then it’s back onto traffic free trails for your ride home apart from a small main road section.

    We have some great offers on room rates throughout February half-term so why not start planning your biking adventures now.

  • 14 December 2017

    Festive Food Traditions

    We all have our old favourites and traditions but how do other countries celebrate the festive season? Does everyone tuck into turkey and sprouts followed by an overly large portion of Christmas pud before settling in for the night with a box of After Eights?

    Take a look at some traditions from around Europe and try some alternative Christmas treats this year.

    Portuguese sweet tooth

    If you have a sweet tooth then Portugal is the place to be. Eaten at numerous celebrations but a staple Christmas tradition ‘Sonhos’ (Christmas dreams) are similar to a doughnut but slightly lighter and fluffier. Probably the most popular sweet treat is Bolo Rei (King’s Cake) a sweet bread with nuts and candied fruit, also eaten on 6th January - Kings’ Day.

    Christmas pudding…...but not as you know it

    If you are planning a Danish Christmas then you need to serve Risalamande, a cold rice pudding with whipped cream, chopped almonds and a hot cherry sauce. If you find the whole almond buried in your bowl you win a prize! Not sure how us Brits would react to a bowl of cold rice pudding instead of our usual alcohol drenched spiced fruity pud!

    Surprises in Stockholm

    The Swedes don’t do things by half, when they have a Christmas feast they have a full smorgasbord or Julbord (Christmas table). It’s a strange array of foods but expect pickled herring salad, meatballs, potato-anchovy casserole, lutfisk (speciality white fish dish) and Dopp I Grytan (bread dipped in pork broth) all finished off with Julmust - a root beer type drink usually only drunk at Christmas. Not great being a vegetarian at Christmas in Sweden.

    Non Stop Italian Feast

    The Italians are known for their love of eating so when it comes to Christmas they pull out all the stops. The festivities start on Christmas Eve with a Feast of the Seven Fishes and continue on Christmas day with antipasto, pasta then a main meat dish of either roasted veal, baked chicken, sausages or braised beef. By the time you get to Boxing Day it’s a wonder there is room for any more food but they carry on the celebrations by inviting people round to devour the leftovers. Also known for their desserts the traditional and delicious biscotti, panettone and torrone (nougat candy) will all make an appearance too.

    Whatever you are sitting down to this Christmas we hope you have a great time over the festive period and look forward to seeing you all again in 2018. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  • It might be getting a bit chilly but don’t let that put you off getting outside and into the hills. Find that warm winter jacket, grab your bobble hat and gloves and fill a flask with something hot and you’re all set for a great day out.

    Here are some great walks to try

    Windermere Western Shore

    This is a great one if you fancy a picnic along the way as there are a couple of really good spots to stop. Picnics are even better in winter, especially if you have hot chocolate in your flask. The walk is low-level along the lakeshore and takes you through some really pretty woodland and parkland and you can even go exploring around Wray Castle.  

    More details here 

    Tom Gill to Tarn Hows, Coniston

    This one has a bit of everything, waterfalls, woodlands and great views. It’s only short, so great if you want to give the legs a quick outing, but there are some steep bits so you still earn your cake. Along the way you will pass Tom Gill Beck and a waterfall which drops 30 feet and looks especially spectacular after heavy rainfall (visiting in winter you should see it at it’s best!)

    More details here

    Mickleden Valley Trail - Langdale

    Heading into the very popular and stunning Langdales you are in for a treat if you want to see some of the best Lake District fells including two ancient mountain passes. Although the trail is mostly on a well-defined and level path you still get a real sense of being out in the open fells with an exciting sense of wilderness. A couple of hours easy walking but with simply stunning views.

    More details here 

    Yewdale Valley - Coniston

    Want a bit of Lakeland history on your walk, then this is the one for you. The walk takes in plenty of views of typical rugged Lakeland fells and you can even visit the remains of a disused lime kiln that would have been used to bake limestone. Lime was a much needed resource of farmers as it would be spread over their land to neutralise the acidic soil.

    More details here

     

    There’s plenty more walks to explore so why not come and visit us this winter. You never know we might get some snow and then it’s time to find the best hills to sledge down!

    If you need some top tips on how to keep safe this winter for heading out into the fells, then there is some great advice from the Lake District National Park, they also do a number of guided walks that run from the end of March right up to Boxing Day.

  • 07 November 2017

    Cumbria's top 5 famous foods

    Cumbria and the Lake District are famous for many things; the stunning scenery, Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and bagging Wainwrights, but it is also home to some local culinary delights. From award-winning restaurants, locally brewed beers, Lakeland lamb and other foods which have been keeping us well-fed since the 19th century.

    Here are our top 5 tastiest local treats

    Cumberland Sausage

    In 2011 the trusty ‘traditional’ Cumberland Sausage was given Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, meaning that it can’t be produced anywhere outside of our region and still retain this ‘trade marked’ name.

    The Cumberland Sausage is long compared to a normal sausage and is sold rolled up in a coil. Produced using only the best cuts of pork the meat is chopped rather than minced to give it a chunkier texture with a variety of spices and herbs added for seasoning. If you like a hearty, satisfying sausage then this one is definitely for you!

    Grasmere Gingerbread


    If you have never tried Grasmere Gingerbread then you are in for a treat, it’s nothing like the traditional gingerbread cake that you might be used to. It has a very distinctive and powerful ginger flavour packed into a shortbread type consistency. Amazingly it has been made in the same tiny building in Grasmere, once the village school, since the 1850’s and to exactly the same recipe created by Sarah Nelson in 1815. Thankfully you can now buy Grasmere Gingerbread online but we are only a short drive away if you need an excuse to visit, the warm and comforting aroma within their shop is well worth experiencing.

    Kendal Mint Cake


    Possibly one of the most famous foods to come out of the Lake District, production and consumption of this super sweet peppermint flavoured confectionery is still going strong from its home in Kendal. Famously Sir Edmund Hilary and Sirdar Tensing ate mint cake while they admired the view below from Everest.

    According to history books mint cake was created by accident when a Kendal confectioner took his eye off the pan he was supposed to be making glacier mints in, resulting in a cloudier liquid which gives us the yummy mint cake we know and love today.

    Damsons


    Who doesn’t like a drop of Damson Gin sat relaxing after a hard day in the hills? The Lyth and Winster Valleys, in-between Kendal and Windermere (not far from us) are famed for their Westmorland Damson orchards. A member of the plum family, damsons are grown in other parts of the country, but the unique flavour of the smaller Westmorland Damson is said to be the best there is and is used in both Damson Gin and Damson Jam.

     

    Sticky Toffee Pudding


    Synonymous with Cartmel, a small village in the South Lakes area of Cumbria, Cartmel Village Shop proudly claim to be the ‘home of sticky toffee’. A family owned company they have been making Sticky Toffee Pudding to their traditional and secret recipe for the last 25 years.

    It is unclear exactly where this pudding was first discovered, but the more favoured story is that it was first served as a dessert at the exclusive Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel, on the shores of Ullswater, Cumbria, in 1960. We have been loving this amazing steamed, sponge cake ever since. Filled with finely chopped dates or prunes, drenched in a toffee sauce and often served with lashings of vanilla custard or ice-cream, what’s not to like?

    Yet another great excuse to come and visit us in the lovely Lake District, you definitely won’t go hungry!

  • Nan Bield Pass - Kentmere

    A classic route, attempted by both locals and visitors. Not for the beginner though as there is a big hike up and a techy, but awesome, ride down. You will be rewarded, after carrying your bike up a rocky path that seems to go on forever from Small Water, with amazing views across the hills and a totally fantastic descent off Nan Bield (watch out for walkers, this is a popular route for them too). Expect alpine type hairpin bends, super fast stony singletrack, badly placed ruts and lots of breath holding as you fly down numerous rocky and techy bits. Definitely one to tick off the list.

    Helvellyn - Glenridding

    If you want some epic views then this is the ride for you. Helvellyn is the third highest peak in the Lake District, and probably one of the most visited by walkers, but don’t let this put you off, you are in for a treat. The route is a good mix of steep and gentle riding, rocky and technical bits, swooping singletrack and some fast descents. It can be quite a challenging ride, but well worth it if you have the skills (or bags of confidence!) to tackle it. You won’t be disappointed.

    Claife Heights - from Windermere

    This is a typical Lake District mountain biking route, plenty of uphill, but that just makes the coffee and cake taste better at the end (or at Hawkshead if you can’t wait that long). The start of the ride is on the ferry from Windermere where you then head to Sawrey (up the first of the hills). With quite a mix of terrain and views you will never get bored as you pass by meadows, ride through woodland and descend rocky tracks to a lake shore. You even pass through Grizedale Forest, where there are some great trails if you want to add a bit more fun into your ride before you head back on the ferry.

    Three Rivers - Staveley

    For anyone who lives locally this is frequent route and also makes a fantastic night ride. It’s fun, relatively easy riding but still with enough techy bits to make it worthwhile doing again and again. Starting from Staveley there is a small road section before you hit Green Quarter but then the fun begins. The ride has everything from smooth grassy fast bits, rutted muddy bits, rocky and technical, hard trails, a few big uphills and some splashing through water (hence, three rivers). If you only wanted a really short ride you could head back along the road about half way round when you reach Kentmere Hall, but few do. Instead you carry on with a long and steady climb (with a few bits of proper puffing steep sections) then you are mostly on one long and amazing undulating descent that will have you smiling all the way back to Staveley. This is simply a really good ride out, it’s got everything that mountain biking is about. Enjoy!

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