A Short Break in the Lake District
I’ll be honest, my geography is terrible. When I searched the Lake District on my maps, I had no idea it was so far up the country or so west. Having lots of family in Glasgow, and various road trips over the decades, I don’t know why I’ve never visited before. And as for Jack, well he’s never been further than Liverpool until he met me, not even north of Watford, some cliches are strange but true.
I was unsure what to expect when arriving at The Swan Hotel & Spa, one thing I did not expect were so many shades of pastel pink, which is not a complaint AT ALL. Please note everywhere in the UK, more pink decor please. Alongside their hotel rooms, The Swan also has self catering holiday cottages on site which are called Nests. We were staying in The Owl, and it’s not often I say this about stay away but I could have happily called the moving van and relocated there, absolutely no problem.
The kitchen was all kinds of open plan, with white floorboards, baby pink worktops and appliances. There was a much desired white log burner, and stunning views of the Lake District out of our window. The little touches on arrival really made it for me, there was an array of bath time ducks for June, fresh crayons, bedtime story books, plus a welcome package in the kitchen of: butter, bread, lemon cake, shortbread, orange juice, bacon and jam.
With having the hotel next door it kind of makes things really easy, I love self catering, but I always forget something or sometimes it takes a couple of days to get up and running to find your bearings / things to do. We popped next door and used the swimming pool every day, which has taken quite some time for June to stop asking for on a daily basis. There is also a games room, with a LILAC pool table, a restaurant which serves the biggest portions I’ve ever seen, and their gin is served with edible flowers in it! As the name would suggest there’s also a spa on site, and I had a very relaxing facial and Jack had a back massage, we felt very spoilt indeed.
In terms of things to do, you’re in the Lake District…turns out it is VERY popular so in terms of things to do.. the list in endless. Which is totally understandable, as I don’t think I’ve seen anything so beautiful in England (sorry Cornwall and Margate). For our first adventure we took a short walk to Newby Bridge Halt Station (with our ‘Pack up’ aka lunch that was all prepared by the amazing staff at The Swan. Another brilliant service they provide). Here Lakeside Railways still operate a steam train service. A steam train has been on my bucket list for quite some time, they also do a Christmas themed ride with Father Christmas on board, worth noting down. Once we arrived at our destination, we went for a boat ride on a Lake Windermere, check out Windermere Lake Cruises. WELL I fell in love, the lake is just stunning, set against a backdrop of the most stunning mountains, some even dusted in snow. There’s so many houses and jetties that go out on the lake, I was fully expecting Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayzee to be running through a Dirty Dancing routine on one of them. The boat we were on also serves drinks and snacks I’m not sure there’s a better feeling than being inside a boat, with a sleeping toddler, drinking a hot cup of tea (with a biscuit) cruising over Lake Windermere as the rain hammers down. Some of you might be thinking, you can probably name 100 other things, but whatever floats each others boat…sorry couldn’t resist.
The half hour boat trip takes you to the town of Windermere, and if you haven’t yet been to this beautiful town it’s full of cute cafes, shops and more importantly The Beatrix Potter Museum. This is so age appropriate, I can’t imagine taking June to any other museum at her age (she is 2) and her actively engaging with everything. All the models are just the right height, and the whole thing is the perfect length for her to go around without getting distracted. We really loved it! Be warned the gift shop is full of wonderful things, I lost all sense of self in there and had a basket of things to bring home, if you want to avoid spending money I’d run out of there with your eyes shut, and fast. We didn’t do much else in Windermere, as it was nap time and the time of the next boat coincided perfectly. But I’d definitely return to potter about, walking past so many lovely places on the way home without going in showed tremendous willpower on my behalf.
One of the first things I noticed in the visitor’s guidebook, tell me I’m not the only person who reads those cover to cover, was the option to have milk and cookies delivered at bedtime. Three heart shaped shortbread biscuits were hand delivered with a mason jar of milk (you can have it hot or cold), and the child inside me loved it. The little touches at The Swan were what really made it for us, and give which gave it that special ‘we are on holiday’ feeling.
The next day, we went to Lowther Castle, sadly we didn’t get the most out of our visit here as June was having ‘one of those days’ and didn’t fancy a day out. We didn’t even make it to the adventure playground which I hear is the highlight. There’s loads of open space in the grounds, and Lowther themselves often put on lots of different activities, and there are also garden tours, you can check out all that’s happening on there ‘What’s On’ page. On the way home we stopped at Tebay Services, which Jack has told me is a favourite of his number podcast hosts Elis James and John Robins. Whilst I have quite the love/hate relationship with those two (I really enjoy their podcast, but I feel like I hear their voices in our house more than anyone else) they know their service stations. £60 down and over an hour later we emerged from Tebay services with several cheeseboard elements, a selection of vegetarian pasties, a fair isle jumper that was in the sale and one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. We still talk fondly about Tebay around the dinner table, we can’t wait to return one day, although my purse definitely can…thank goodness we don’t live any closer.
When we got home to the owl nest that night, we returned to a set table with dinner all cooked and waiting for us, it’s an option at The Swan to order dinner to your nest, and if you want a holiday from cooking, it’s the perfect treat. After a testing day with a two year old, I audibly gasped at the size of the Eton mess in the fridge, and the vegetarian lasagne was delicious. As we don’t have a dishwasher at home I was pretty excited to give that a whirl, I’m all about having a holiday from the washing up. More time sat in front of that log fire not moving, the better!
After four days it was time to return to our actual home, but not before popping into Hawkshead for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. I’m already marking The Swan as a place I would love to return too, it was such a stress free mini break, and with so many more things I want to in the Lake District, we’ll be back again soon. If you would like to book a stay in one of the Nests, they have kindly offered a 40% discount on a 4 night or more stay. Just enter ‘CJACKLIN40’ at the checkout, valid outside the school holidays until the end of June 2019.