Blackwell House. The Arts & Crafts House

Blackwell House

Just outside Bowness-on-Windermere is Blackwell House, one of the UK’s finest examples of Arts and Crafts architecture.

This Grade 1 listed building is an absolute must if you’re interested in the Arts and Crafts movement. We think it’s an absolute must even if you’re not.

Designed by noted architect, Mackay Baillie Scott, Blackwell House was built at the turn of the 20th century as a luxury country retreat for Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy Manchester brewer. Situated in a stunning setting overlooking Windermere, the house boasts glorious views of the Lake District landscape and the Coniston fells. This would have been the perfect holiday home.

Today the house maintains many of its original decorative features. From intricate carved panelling to stained glass windows, decorative plaster and metal work to bespoke fabrics, much of the house remains exactly as Sir Edward Holt and his family would have seen it over one hundred years ago.

It is also home to a wonderful collection of furniture, objects and paintings, many of which have their origins in the Arts & Crafts style. Visitors are also able to take in the multiple displays which are available to see throughout the year, exhibitions and events which offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the Arts and Crafts movement.

The Arts and Crafts Movement

The Arts and Crafts movement began in the late nineteenth century and marked the beginning of a change in how society viewed how things were made. There was a renewed interest in hand-made and traditional crafts. This was not only a direct reaction to the fear that mass production would create a characterless, bland world, but also an attempt to boost the relatively lowly status of the decorative arts.

The development of the movement was driven by figures such as John Ruskin, who lived at Brantwood on the shores of Coniston Water, and the designer, William Morris.

Taking its name from the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, a group founded in London in 1887, the movement reformed the design and manufacture of everything from buildings right through to jewellery.

For more information about the Arts and Crafts movement, visit the Victoria and Albert Museum website.

Blackwell House – a potted history

After the First World War, the Holt family stopped visiting Blackwell, but continued to employ a small staff to maintain it.

Like so many other large country properties, Blackwell House was home to a school which had been evacuated due to the threat of air raids. The girls from Liverpool’s Huyton College are said to have enjoyed their time at Blackwell. Following the war, the house continued to be used as a prep school for girls.

In 1999, the Lakeland Arts Trust, which also owns Abbot Hall in Kendal, acquired the house and in 2001 it first opened its doors to the public. Twenty years on, we’re looking forward to being able to visit this magnificent house once again, to soak up its atmosphere and to take in its beauty and craftmanship.

The gardens and tearoom are well worth a visit too.

For more information take a look at the Lakeland Arts website

The Lakes of the Lake District

The lakes of the lake district

How much do you know about the lakes of the Lake District? For instance, do you know how many lakes there are in the Lake District? It’s a trick question of course, because the answer is one. Although the Lake District is home to many meres, tarns and waters, Bassenthwaite Lake is the only official lake in the Lake District.

There are actually sixteen bodies of water which give the Lake District its name, not to mention hundreds of beautiful, smaller tarns. With such breath-taking scenery, it’s no wonder it has become one of the UK’s most desirable holiday destinations.

Hopefully our quick whistlestop tour of the sixteen ‘major lakes’ in the Lake District National Park will give you a little insight into what each of them offers.

We’ll start close to home, just a few minutes from many of our Matson Ground cottages.

Windermere

At 10.5 miles long, Windermere is the Lake District’s largest lake and arguably the best-known of them all. It has become a favourite amongst watersports enthusiasts, and with the steamers and ferries making their regular trips up and down (and across) the lake, it’s a hub of activity. From windsurfing to sailing, rowing to sup-boarding, there’s something for everyone, whatever your level of expertise. And for those who prefer dry land, there are a number of walks in the surrounding hills, including Orrest Head, from where Alfred Wainwright first fell in the love with the Lake District.

Ullswater

If you’re staying in Cruck Barn, Elm How or Eagle Cottage, you’ll be very familiar with Ullswater, the Lake District’s second largest lake. At around 7.5 miles long, Ullswater is much quieter than Windermere. One way to explore the lake is on the famous steamers, which can be boarded at Glenridding’s jetty. For land lovers, the 20-mile Ullswater Way which circumnavigates the lake is another great way to explore the lake and its surroundings. If you’re more adventurous, England’s third highest peak, Helvellyn, is a popular climb for visitors to the area.

Derwentwater

Located near the popular tourist town of Keswick, Derwentwater is the third largest lake in the Lake District. With dramatic landscapes which change from one minute to the next, depending on the time of year and the weather, it has become a photographer’s dream. There are a number of walking trails around the lake, including the family-friendly hike up Catbells. And for those wishing to explore the lake itself, why not hire out one of the colourful rowing boats or hop on one of the Keswick Launches?

Bassenthwaite Lake

Not only is Bassenthwaite Lake the only ‘official lake’ in the Lake District, it is also the most northerly of the major lakes in the Lake District National Park. Furthermore, it’s the shallowest at just 70 feet deep. The lake is a popular destination for birdwatchers. Herons and cormorants are a common sight, while the summer months herald the return to its shores of the Ospreys. At the northern end of the lake, you can visit Dubwath Wetland Nature Reserve, home to curlews, reed buntings and meadow pipits, among others.

Coniston Water

This picturesque lake provided some of the inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s famous children’s book, ‘Swallows and Amazons’. It’s a popular destination for families, looking to recreate some of the stories from the book, or simply enjoying some fun on the water. Alternatively, enjoy the scenery aboard the beautifully restored Gondola, a Victorian steam-powered yacht which sails gracefully up and down the lake in the summer months.

Haweswater

Haweswater is a reservoir, controversially constructed in 1929 to supply water to towns and cities in the north-west of England. In order to achieve this, the villages of Mardale Green and Measand were flooded; nowadays, in times of drought, the foundations and ruins of these villages can be seen, a sight which brings in visitors, curious to get a glimpse of a bygone time.

Thirlmere

Thirlmere is another ma-made reservoir which was created in 1894 to supply water to Manchester. The residents of the villages of Wythburn and Amboth were relocated – only the church of Wythburn village survives. The reservoir is surrounded on all sides by enchanting forests, where the residents include red squirrels and red deer. The small car park adjacent to Wythburn Church is an excellent starting point for those planning to tackle Helvellyn.

Ennerdale Water

Despite being arguably one of the prettiest lakes in the Lake District, Ennerdale is possibly the least visited. And with no roads running its length, it is also one of the most peaceful. Only canoes and kayaks are allowed on Ennerdale (although you do need to have a permit). There are also some glorious walks which follow the shoreline, or for the most adventurous, why not tackle one of the surrounding fells?

Wastwater

Described by William Wordsworth as “stern and desolate”, Wastwater is England’s deepest lake at 260 feet. It is also home to one of Britain’s favourite views, the narrow valley with the peaks of Red Pike, Great Gable and Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. In fact, the outline of the three peaks which stand at the eastern end of lake (Lingmell, Scafell Pike and Great Gable) was selected as the symbol for the Lake District National Park.

The lakes of the lake district

Crummock Water

This pretty lake lies at the foot of Grasmoor Peak and is home to the tallest waterfall in the Lake District, Scale Force. For those looking for adventure on the lake, rowing boats are available for hire along the shore. It is also popular with wild swimmers who love the sheltered shingle beach by the slate boathouse. Like Thirlmere, if you’re lucky you might spot a red squirrel in the woodlands o the lake shore.

Those are the ten largest lakes in the Lake District National Park. The remaining six lakes are: Esthwaite Water, Grasmere, Buttermere, Loweswater, Rydal Water and Brothers Water. Each of these wonderful lakes is worth a visit, each one offering a network of trails for those looking to explore.

We hope this has given you a little insight into the major lakes of the Lake District. If nothing else, at least you’ll know the answer to the popular quiz question: How many lakes are there in the Lake District?

Locally Sourced Lake District Food

Locally sourced Lake District food

All our guests can now enjoy some wonderful locally sourced Lake District food delivered to their cottage, courtesy of local business, ‘A Days Walk’.

We’ve worked with ‘A Days Walk’ to put together some fantastic local produce hampers. If you want to make sure you’ve got the essentials waiting for you when you arrive at your Matson Ground cottage, simply get in touch with us to place an order.

We can include classic artisan muesli, brimming with almonds, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and raisins; organic apple juice, made in the heart of the north Cumbria countryside; some delicious Cumbrian butter made from free range cream, direct from Winter Tarn Farm near Appleby; and some succulent Cumbrian country-cured back bacon.

The perfect start to any stay in the beautiful Lake District National Park.

An example hamper includes:

One large white farmhouse cob from Grange Bakery
Six eggs from Geldard Free Range Eggs
Artman Classic Muesli from Lakeland Mues
Organic Apple Juice from Eva’s Organics
Butter from Winter Tarn Dairy
Two pints of whole milk from South Lakes Organics
Tea and coffee from Rinaldo’s
Olives from Silver Green in Penrith
Bacon (900g) from Woodalls

We will also add biscuits and crisps.

If you want to upgrade your hamper, we’ve can also include some top-quality cooked ham, cured and full of flavour from Taste of the Lakes in Maryport; a luxury, creamy Eden Valley Brie from the Appleby Creamery; and the finest Cartmel Valley Game Smoked Salmon, smoked in their own Cumbrian smokehouse, bringing a flavour of the fells to this delicate fish.

For details on costs and alternative options, please do get in touch.

A Day’s Walk

Every item A Day’s Walk supplies comes from a local farmer, grower, producer or business within a day’s walk of the heart of the Lake District.

Using the Lake District as its larder, it stocks some of the finest food and drink in the country. And the fact that it is locally sourced, means it’s fresh. What’s more, it’s clocked up next to no food miles, is often produced in small batches and is seasonal.

Why not take a look at A Day’s Walk website and let us know if there’s anything else that catches your eye? We can add it to your order and make sure it’s waiting for you on your arrival.

Books for a Matson Ground Holiday

Matson Ground holiday reads

This week we celebrated World Book Day and it got us thinking about what books we would we pack for our Matson Ground holiday.

With literally millions of books to choose from, this would need some serious thinking. To make it a little easier, we decided to focus our search close to the Lake District. After all, it’s well-known for its wonderful literary heritage, boasting writing talent such as William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome.

But we’re not necessarily after poetry or children’s books. We’re looking for gripping page-turners. Something you can really lose yourself in.

Our final list features a number of excellent books. What’s more, each one is set in the Lake District and based on the reviews, they’re on our list.

Happy reading!

The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid

It’s summer in the Lake District, and heavy rains have uncovered a tattooed body. Could it be linked to rumours that Fletcher Christian, mutinous first mate on the Bounty, did secretly return to England, where he was sheltered by Lakeland poet, William Wordsworth?

Local Wordsworth specialist, Jane Gresham, wants to find out. But as she follows each lead, death is hard on her heels. Jane soon finds herself at the heart of a 200-year-old mystery that still puts lives at risk.

Haweswater by Sarah Hall

Haweswater tells the tale of a centuries-old community that has survived into the 1930s largely unchanged, until Jack Liggett arrives from the city.

Liggett is a spokesperson for a Manchester waterworks company which has designs on a vast new reservoir. The valley in which the community has stood for hundreds of years will be evacuated, flooded, devastated.

This is a story of love, obsession and the destruction of a community.

Also by Sarah Hall, The Wolf Border.

The Windermere Witness by Rebecca Tope

Florist Persimmon ‘Simmy’ Brown has moved to the Lake District following a personal tragedy, content to lose herself in her work. But the peace is short-lived when, at the wedding of a millionaire’s daughter, the bride’s brother is found dead in the lake.

As the wedding florist, and one of the last people to speak to Mark Baxter alive, Simmy becomes embroiled in the relatives’ grief and anger.

When events take another sinister turn, Simmy finds herself at the very heart of a murder investigation.

Also by Rebecca Tope, The Ambleside Alibi and The Coniston Case.

The Woman from Browhead by Audrey Howard

If the psychological / crime genre isn’t your thing, how about a bit of historical romance? Set in the late 1840s and early 1850s, The Woman from Browhead tells the story of Annie Abbott, daughter and only child of a poverty-stricken Lake District farmer, who ran away with a theatre group at the age of fifteen.

Hearing that her parents have died, she returns to lay claim to the farm. But with an illegitimate child in tow, virtually no-one will speak to her, with the exception of a local landowner. But he is engaged to marry another woman.

Also by Audrey Howard, Annie’

All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills

This is one we haven’t read yet but will be doing so very soon. By all accounts it’s hard to pigeon-hole in terms of genre; possibly a ‘tragi-comedy’. It’s been described as weird, funny, quirky. Perhaps it’s this ‘hard to define’ element which makes it all the more appealing.

As for the plot itself, it’s the end of the Summer in the Lake District, the sun is lower in the sky and the tourists have gone home. Our unnamed narrator decides to spend a few weeks in the Lake District, enjoying the quiet, before embarking on a motorcycle trip to India.

The book description reads: “But then the owner of the campsite asks him to paint a fence and he innocently obliges. Soon other odd jobs pile up until little by little he becomes ensnared in the ominous ‘out-of-season’.

Sounds intriguing.

We hope this list provides a little inspiration for you when it comes to books for a Matson Ground holiday. If you fancy buying something while you’re staying in the Lakes, why not pop into Fred’s Bookshop where you will find a diverse range of books.

Snowdrops on the Matson Ground Estate

Snowdrops on the Matson Ground Estate

Every year, as the cold, dark days of Winter begin to take their toll, we are buoyed by the arrival of snowdrops on the Matson Ground Estate. The sight of their tender, green shoots is a sign that Spring is finally on its way. No wonder the snowdrop has been labelled the ‘Flower of Hope’.

While we look forward to seeing their pearly, white heads, how much do we actually know about this pretty little flower which brightens up the Matson Ground Estate every February? Well, very little actually. So, we thought we’d look into it in a little more detail.

German Folklore

One of our favourite tales is one from ancient German folklore. Legend has it that when everything on earth was brand new, Snow needed a colour, so it asked the flowers. One by one they turned their backs on Snow, believing it to be cold and unpleasant.

The tiny snowdrops took pity on Snow and offered their colour, which Snow gratefully accepted. In return, Snow rewarded the snowdrop by letting it bloom first and making it impervious to the ice and bitter temperatures. Ever since, Snow and snowdrops have lived side by side as friends.

Actual Snowdrop Facts

  • The scientific name for the snowdrop is Galanthus Nivalis, which literally translates as ‘milk flower of the snow’.
  • Other names for the snowdrop are: Fair Maids of February, Candlemas Bells, White Ladies, Little Sister of the Snows, Snow Piercers and Dingle-dangle
  • Snowdrops were named after earrings and not drops of snow. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, women wore dangly, white drop-shaped earring known as ‘eardrops’.
  • Snowdrops produce Galantamine, which has been found to be effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Snowdrops contain a natural anti-freeze which means that even if they collapse in freezing weather, they can recover once the temperature rises. In fact, they were harvested during the First World War to make anti-freeze for tanks.
  • Snowdrop enthusiasts are called Galanthophiles and they have been known to pay an awful lot of money for these sweet, little flowers. In fact, in 2015, a single Galanthus Plicatus (Golden Fleece) sold for a whopping £1390 on eBay. Nowadays, you can pick one up for about £200.
  • When temperatures reach 10°C, the outer petals open up, revealing the nectar inside, perfect for bumble bees who come out of hibernation when the temperature rises above 10°C!
  • There are over 2,500 varieties of snowdrop. They vary in height from 7cm to 30cm and are divided into approximately 20 species
  • Collecting snowdrop bulbs in the wild is illegal in many countries, so please don’t go digging any up.
  • On a sunny day, snowdrops are highly scented and give off a honey smell.

Finally, we’ll leave you with this. Hans Christian Anderson wrote a short story called ‘The Snowdrop’, which follows the fate of a snowdrop from a bulb striving towards the light to picked flower placed in a book of poetry. You can read it here.

We’ll certainly be enjoying the snowdrops on the Matson Ground Estate while they last and we hope that you have some pretty pockets of this fabulous little flower wherever you are. Spring is on its way.

Birdwatching in the Lake District

Birdwatching in the Lake District National Park

This weekend marked the RSPB’s 42nd Big Garden Birdwatch, the perfect excuse to get out the binoculars and go birdwatching in the Lake District.

This is an annual event which actually began as an event for children. In 1979, the RSPB got together with Blue Peter and asked children to let them know which birds they had seen in their garden. Hundreds got involved, sending in their findings. Today, it is the UK’s largest garden wildlife citizen science project, last year attracting around half a million participants.

So, not only was this an excuse to go birdwatching in the Lake District, but It was also the ideal opportunity to help the UK’s bird population. All the data gathered will help the RSPB increase its understanding of the various challenges faced by wildlife.

Wrapped up warm, binoculars and cameras at the ready, we headed out on to the Matson Ground Estate.

Matson Ground Estate

With over 1000 acres of estate to explore, we began the day by stretching our legs, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying some of the fantastic views of Lake Windermere and the Lake District fells beyond. Pheasants, buzzards, a sparrowhawk and even a jay meant we had a good start to our morning of birdwatching.

Legs stretched, we decided to head to the office for our official RSPB hour (followed by a little admin following a flurry of weekend bookings – this is definitely turning in the year of the staycation).

While it’s no RSPB reserve, we have always had a number of bird feeders hanging up around the building, so we knew we would be guaranteed a steady stream of visitors.

Our Big Garden Birdwatch

We were not disappointed. While our personal highlight was the flock of about a dozen long-tailed tits, we also saw a nuthatch, a robin, blackbirds, coal tits, great tits, sparrows, chaffinches and dunnocks. We are certainly very lucky to have such an abundance of wildlife just outside the office window.

For more information about the comings and goings of birds in UK gardens, the RSPB website is a fantastic place to start.

In the meantime, we’ll keep the feeders full and we’ll carry on enjoying the antics of some of the UK’s favourite birds.

For details on the best places for Cumbria birding, or any other information you’d like about the Lake District National Park, please contact us.

Birdwatching in the Lake District National Park

 

 

Our favourite places to eat near Windermere

Places to eat near Windermere

Recently, we were discussing our favourite places to eat near Windermere, and it turns out the list is a long one. From small cafés to Michelin Star restaurants, we’ve all got our favourites. Some are great for a light lunch, others perfect for a celebration evening out.

Of course, once upon a time, a trip to the Lake District was all about adventure and the breath-taking scenery. And while that’s still very much the case today, with seven Michelin Star restaurants, you’re just as likely to visit for the fantastic food, as you are to scale a summit.

Given the current situation, it’s more important than ever to support our local businesses. So, we thought we’d share five of our favourites with you, covering everything from a special occasion to a catch-up brunch, and everything in between. What’s even better about this list, is that they are all within five miles of our Windermere cottages.

HRiSHi

First on our list is the Michelin starred, four AA rosette HRiSHi, where Head Chef, Hrishikesh Desai, uses locally sourced ingredients to create modern British cuisine with a twist.

Diners can choose from a variety of modern British menus, including plant-based options, with a delicate hint of Indian influence in some of the dishes.

Whether you opt for a traditional three course meal, a stunning seven-course tasting menu, or a decadent take on afternoon tea, you will be captivated by the wonderful array of flavours.

Gilpin Spice

Next door to HRiSHi is the two AA rosette Gilpin Spice, a more informal dining experience boasting an open kitchen serving tapas-style pan-Asian sharing dishes.

The menu at Gilpin Spice is inspired by Cumbria’s rich history as a centre of the spice trade, with influences picked up along the spice trail including the Philippines, the Indian sub-continent, Malaysia and Japan.

Gilpin Spice is well worth a visit – wonderful, creative dishes and fantastic service.

The Brown Horse Inn, Winster

Nestled in the beautiful Winster Valley, the Brown Horse Inn is cosy and welcoming in all seasons. This 1850’s coaching inn has been beautifully decorated, retaining the original features, giving it a warm, traditional feel.

On warm, summer days, you can sit outside and soak up the wonderful views. When the nights draw in, enjoy comfort dishes with a touch of elegance, including slow-cooked meats, Stornoway black pudding or Thai green curry.

The owners try to keep the menu as local and as close to nature as possible. And you will definitely receive a warm welcome.

The Angel Inn, Bowness

In the centre of Bowness is the Angel Inn, a firm favourite with families, serving fantastic locally sourced beers, a superb range of wines and freshly prepared food.

The Angel Inn was ‘born’ in 2005 and has been run by the same family since it opened. Their ethos is to provide a warm and friendly atmosphere and welcome for all ages, whether you’re sitting down to eat or just popping in for a quick drink.

Homeground

Our final choice is Homeground in Windermere. Established in 2015, Homeground is a boutique coffee house which was winner of Cumbria Food and Drink Awards ‘Best Café’ in 2016 and 2018.

Open during the day for walk-ins only, this is the place to go for a skinny flat white, a slice of cake and warm, friendly service. It does a great brunch too. It’s our go to for important meetings!

Of course, we’ve barely touched the surface when it comes to great places to eat near Windermere, let alone the rest of the Lake District. I’m sure we’ll get on to them at some stage. But rest assured, if you are visiting, give one of the above a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Fell Pony Adventures at Matson Ground

Fell pony adventures on the Matson Ground Estate

Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to enjoy a fell pony adventure on the Matson Ground Estate, courtesy of Tom Lloyd, owner of Fell Pony Adventures. This is just one of the tailormade activities we offer our guests, and we had the opportunity to experience it first-hand. And what a fabulous day it was.

This is an adventure suitable for families and groups of all ages, and the perfect way to introduce people to horses. Tom is very patient, so even if you’ve had no experience of horses, you’ll soon feel at ease. Tom is also all geared up for social distancing, as everything takes place in open spaces – a chance to breathe in some fresh, clean air.

What’s more, it’s an absolute treat at any time of the year. The stunning Lake District scenery is never the same from one day to the next, so you’re guaranteed a different view every time. It’s even great fun in the rain, as we found out on our fell pony adventure.

As the saying goes; “There’s no such thing as bad weather. Only unsuitable clothing.”

This is what memories are made of

We began our fell pony adventure at Birkdale House, where we met Tom and his daughter, Flo, along with Faye and Pansy, our fell ponies for the day. Once we had loaded them up with the essentials for the day – picnic, shelter, camping stove, spare harnesses and tethers – we set off.

We gently led the ponies along the byways and lanes of the estate, stopping in an organic hay meadow for lunch. We tethered the horses, put up the waterproof shelter and settled back to take in the breath-taking views.

Tom had prepared our lunch – cranberry balsamic vinegar, Appleby Brie, Garstang Blue, mixed olives, smoked humous, homemade leek and potato soup (his own family recipe) and artisan bread. Absolutely delicious.

It’s days like this when we realise just how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country. This is what memories are made of.

With the packsaddles loaded up, we set off back to Birkdale House. What a wonderful way to spend a day. For a few hours we had been transported to a different time entirely, far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Fell Pony Adventures

Fell Pony Adventures is based at the southern end of Lake Windermere, where Tom keeps a herd of about a dozen semi-feral ponies.

The herd was originally established by Tom’s father, Walter, but Tom made the decision a few years ago to switch careers – he had been a film producer – so that he could keep the herd going. He took his mountain leadership course and set up Fell Pony Adventures.

Nowadays, Tom works the ponies, leading families and groups on day trips around Windermere, following old pack-horse routes through meadows, woods and fells.

For our guests, the Matson Ground Estate provides a ready-made route. What a perfect day out.

Huge thanks to Tom, Faye and Pansy.

Attractions and Activities near Windermere

Attractions and activities near Windermere

In October, Cumbria Tourism launched its #AttractionsActivitiesMonth, and while October may have been and gone, we thought we would share some of our favourite attractions and activities near Windermere. Now, more than ever, it’s so important to support our local businesses.

To include all the amazing attractions on offer to visitors to the Lake District would be a very long read, so we’ve focused on just five, but all within easy reach of our Windermere cottages.

What’s more, there’s something for all ages, something for the more adventurous among us, and something for those who prefer it a little calmer.

Let’s start with the World of Beatrix Potter and our favourite character, Peter Rabbit.

The World of Beatrix Potter

Located right in the middle of Bowness-on-Windermere, the World of Beatrix Potter is an exciting family attraction and an absolute must if you’ve got young children.

Here, the author’s best-loved characters are brought wonderfully to life through a series of charming sets, including Jemima Puddleduck’s woodland glade, Squirrel Nutkin on his raft and Mr McGregor’s garden, complete with Peter Rabbit’s coat.

As the website says, “you’ll feel as though you are walking through the pages of the little books”.

At the end of your visit, pop into the world-famous giftshop and take home a piece of Beatrix Potter magic, followed by a tasty treat in the family café?

Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House

Designed by noted architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott and built at the turn of the twentieth century, Blackwell is a stunning grade one listed property and one of the UK’s finest examples of Arts and Crafts architecture.

The house, which overlooks Lake Windermere and the Lake District Fells, is nothing short of awe-inspiring, retaining almost all of its original Arts and Crafts features. It’s also home to a wonderful collection of furniture and objects from some of the Arts and Crafts period’s leading designers and studios, including William de Morgan and Simpsons of Kendal.

From stained glass windows to inglenook fireplaces, carved wooden panelling to rare hessian wall hangings, Blackwell is definitely one of the most interesting, not to mention enchanting, houses in the Lake District.

Windermere Jetty

Just a few hundred yards from The World of Beatrix Potter is Windermere Jetty, a museum of boats, steam and stories.

Located right on the shores of Lake Windermere, this spectacular new museum boasts a stunning collection of around forty boats and sailing vessels, including steam launches, record-breaking speed boats and motorboats. These boats cover the history of sailing on Windermere from as far back as the late eighteenth century. You will also have an opportunity to see ongoing restoration projects and to chat with the restorers.

Other vessels include Swallow and Amazon, the boat used in the BBC film adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s famous book; Osprey (1902), one of the museum’s fully-restored Edwardian steam launches; SL Dolly (1850), the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world, and still in running order; and TSSY Esperance, owned by a chap called Henry Schneider who used it every day to take him to Lakeside, where he boarded the train to Barrow.

Before you leave, why not enjoy some of the delicious food available in the museum café. The café itself overlooks Lake Windermere and has arguably one of the most stunning views in the Lake District.

Brockhole and Tree Top Treks

A short drive towards Ambleside brings you to Brockhole House and Gardens. Brockhole is another stunning Arts and Crafts house set in extensive grounds on the shores of Lake Windermere.

Built at the end of the nineteenth century, Brockhole enjoys breath-taking views of Lake Windermere and the Langdale Pikes. The gardens were created by renowned landscape designer Thomas Mawson and are well worth exploring, as are the art gallery and gift shop.

And if gentle strolls and careful perusing are not everyone’s cup of tea, you can always visit Treetop Trek and swing, climb, balance and fly across the thirty-five exciting treetop challenges, including rope bridges, wobbly logs and an adrenalin-fuelled 250 metre zip wire on the shores of the lake. What a way to end your treetop trek.

Brant Fell and Orrest Head

Not all attractions and activities near Windermere require booking. If you fancy getting away from it all, escaping the crowds, then Brant Fell, which sits at the heart of the Matson Ground Estate, is a relatively easy climb.

Overlooking Bowness-on-Windermere, the trek to the summit of Brant Fell is a little steep in places, but well worth the effort. You’ll be rewarded with views of Lake Windermere, glistening in the sunshine (obviously we can’t guarantee the sun), and the Lake District fells beyond. To the north you’ll be able to spot Orrest Head, from where Alfred Wainwright was treated to his first view of the Lake District fells and the inspiration for his series of books.

Orrest Head is an easy walk, although you will have to head up to Windermere. But, as it’s a little over a mile, why not take a stroll, browse the various shops on the way, or stop for coffee and a cake – there’s plenty of choice.

The climb itself starts on the A591 by the large Orrest Head signpost and follows a narrow lane for most of the way. At the summit the views are incredible, especially on a clear day – no wonder Wainwright fell in love with the Lake District.

Just remember to bring your camera.

If you would like any information about attractions and activities near Windermere, please get in touch. Our friendly team will be more than happy to make any recommendations.

Vies Jamaican Rum Cakes

7th August 2020

We are delighted to have teamed up with fledgling local business, Vies Jamaican Rum Cakes. Based right here in Cumbria, these delicious treats offer cake lovers a true taste of Jamaica.

Owner of Vies Jamaican Rum Cakes, Elaine, recently launched her #ViesNeedsAVan crowdfunding campaign, and we were only too happy to support her. In total, 131 supporters stepped up to help Elaine, with Matson Ground Holidays and Birkdale House becoming her new corporate sponsor. Make sure you look out for her van next time you’re in the Lake District.

The Rummiest Cake in the Lake District

Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes are made using a secret recipe handed down through generations. Brim full of juicy fruits and Jamaican rum, Elaine uses her mother’s closely guarded recipes to produce this delicacy. And she does it all here in the Lake District, with a strong commitment to sustainability.

All her cakes are made with local free-range eggs and flour. The special edition Christmas cake is made with Jefferson’s Extra Fine Dark Rum from the Rum Story in Whitehaven.

What’s more, the cakes are baked in a local, award-winning bakery which has achieved ‘green certification’ and has a gluten-free kitchen. And the icing on the cake (pardon the pun), is that they are packaged using biodegradable, compostable food grade bags and raffia.

Traditionally, the gift of Rum Cake is a token of friendship and respect, so we have decided to include this delicious treat in all of our welcome packs. The perfect start to your Lake District break.

The History

Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes are named after Elaine’s mother, Agnes Viola Henry, aka ‘Vie’. Like many Jamaicans who travelled to Britain in the 1960’s in search of a better life, Vie settled down and worked hard for her family. But she never forgot her Jamaican heritage.

Sadly, Vie passed away in 2018. However, Elaine vowed to create a legacy and Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cake was born, not only a fitting tribute to her inspirational mother but also to her Jamaican heritage.

The Cakes

There are six cakes from which to choose. Three original options and three gluten free options. For more details on the rummy, rummier and rummiest cakes and how to buy them, please click here.

If you would like to get in touch with us, please click here.

We’re off for some cake!