Tag: lake district national park

Christmas Fairs and Markets

Lake District Christmas Fairs and Markets

To quote one well-known festive tune, “It’s Christmas”… well, not quite. But with a little over seven weeks until the big day, the festive season has started, and with it the region’s Christmas Fairs and Markets.

Although they originated in Germany, Christmas fairs and markets are now a firm fixture in the Lake District, an opportunity to enjoy delicious food, live entertainment and to search for that perfect Christmas gift.

Below we’ve included a few of our favourites. However, please do check they are going ahead before making special plans.

Holker Winter Market: Friday 5 – Sunday 7 November

The Holker Winter Market is a great way to kick-start the festive season, to wander through a variety of stalls selling everything from quality food and drink to delightful artisan gifts. With bags of lively entertainment and plenty of hot food, not only is this a fantastic day out, but you could even get Christmas all wrapped-up in one go.

Gates open at 10am each day, closing at 4pm. Tickets are £5pp. Children under 16 go free.

Christmas in Cartmel: Friday 26 November

Christmas in Cartmel will be making a return this year, complete with festive market stalls, live music, delicious food and drink and Father Christmas and the beautiful black horses. The market will begin at 11am and continue on into the evening.

Ulverston Dickensian Christmas Festival: 27 November

The market town of Ulverston is transformed each year, winding back the clocks to the Dickensian era. This is a Christmas market like no other. Horse-drawn carriages, street food vendors, Dickensian costumes, a Victorian helter-skelter and live street entertainment. This really is a step back in time.

Hawkshead Christmas Fair: Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 December

Why not head to the picturesque village of Hawkshead for a weekend of festive fun and Christmas cheer, when the cobbled streets play host to local crafts and produce, festive stalls, live music and plenty of food and drink.

Christmas Fair at Rydal Mount (Home of William Wordsworth): 11 and 12 December

Live music, mulled wine, mince pies, craft workshops. What a relaxing way to spend a day. And all in the surroundings of the former home of William Wordsworth. Tickets for Christmas at Rydal Mount are £12 for adults and £6 for children and include access to the house and all of the exhibits. There will also be a local trade stands selling a variety of festive goods, including local art, ceramics and jewellery.

We have also some Christmas Markets in North Lakes, perfect for guests staying in our Ullswater Cottages.

North Lakes Christmas Market – Penrith: Sunday 14 November

The event takes place at the North Lakes Hotel and Spa and where you’ll be able to explore over thirty local businesses providing everything you need to make Christmas extra special.

Keswick Victorian Fayre: Sunday 5 December

With live entertainment by local artists, bands, choirs and dancers, as well as over thirty charity stalls selling an array of homemade crafts and produce, the Keswick Victorian Fayre is a great opportunity for local charities to raise their profile as well as some much needed funds.

Taste Cumbria Christmas Festival – Cockermouth: Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 December

Taste Cumbria showcases all that is amazing about the county’s food and drink. And in December, it will be given a festive twist.

The event will take place in the heart of the town, where there’ll be a packed producers’ market, a hot food court and plenty of live music, as well as family activities (including a fairground), and children’s arty workshops.

Free entry from 10am – 3pm.

If you’d like any further information, please do get in touch.

Lake District Stargazing

Lake District Stargazing

It’s just over a month until the Cumbria Dark Skies Festival, a celebration of the fantastic Lake District stargazing opportunities.

National Parks remain some of the most unspoilt, darkest places in Great Britain, providing us with the perfect opportunity to really explore our star-studded skies throughout Autumn and Winter. From first-time stargazers to astrophotography experts, the wonder of the night skies will never cease to amaze.

Where to stargaze

Our Matson Ground cottages offer some excellent stargazing opportunities thanks to the dark skies overhead. Whether you’re staying in one of our Windermere cottages, or one of our Ullswater cottages, if the skies are clear the sight is simply spellbinding.

Alternatively, you could venture out. Ennerdale, Wasdale and the Borrowdale valley are some of the best places in the Lake District to really soak up the night skies. But closer to home, Grizedale Forest is pretty easy to get to and has a number of car parks. There are also a number of stargazing events at Grizedale, including star gazing if the skies are clear.

Alternatively, head up to the Langdale Valley, where the steep-sided valley shelters the Langdales from any town lights, meaning minimal light pollution. The ideal place to really connect with the night sky.

Lake District Stargazing Tips

There are a number of things you can do to really enhance your stargazing experience. We’ve highlighted a few below:

Adjust your eyes. It can take up to 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, so factor in enough time ahead of your stargazing.

Use red light to maintain your night vision – for instance, paint the end of your torch with red nail varnish, or cover with a red sock or simply use a back light from your bike – anything to avoid bright lights.

Wrap up – at this time of year it can get cold, so make sure you’ve got some warm and cosy clothing with you. And take something you can put on the ground so that you can stretch out.

Binoculars / telescope – both will help you see far more than just with the naked eye. Even a pair of binoculars will increase what you see by a factor of up to 50.

Stargazing apps – there are plenty of apps for your phone which will give you the names of the stars and constellations overhead.

Check the moon calendar – the last thing you want is to be stargazing when there’s a wonderful full moon!

The Importance of Dark Skies

We’re not the only ones who love dark skies. Lack of light pollution is a welcome sight for so many animals. After all, about 60& of animals are nocturnal, following the light of the moon and the stars. If you’re out and about stargazing there’s a chance you might also see bats, foxes, deer, badgers, owls, hedgehogs… the list goes on. However, light pollution can disrupt their sleeping, feeding and breeding behaviour.

They are also critical for our own wellbeing. For thousands of years we’ve looked up at the night sky and seen the Milky Way, wondered at shooting stars and pointed out the constellations. Nowadays, it’s estimated that over 80% of the UK population has never seen the Milky Way, due to the increase in light pollution.

In short, dark skies are critical to wildlife and to our own sense of wellbeing. A star lit night is a truly uplifting sight, and one that we tend to remember. So let’s hope that this sense of wonder continues for generations to come.

Photo credit: Paul Mitchell

Waterfalls in the Lake District

Waterfalls in the Lake District

After a wonderfully warm Summer, Autumn has arrived in the Lake District and with it a change in the landscape. The colours are changing, the skies are growing heavier and our waterfalls are once again in full spate.

Thanks to its many rivers and just a little rain from time to time, the Lake District has an abundance of waterfalls. You’ll come across a waterfall of some description on most rivers, but if you’re looking for something a little more spectacular, a little more exhilarating, we’ve highlighted a few of our favourite waterfalls in the Lake District in this post.

Aira Force and High Force

Arguably the best known of our waterfalls is Aira Force. It’s also one of the easiest to get to, especially if you’re staying in one of our Ullswater cottages. There is a National Trust car park off the A592, halfway between Glenridding and Watermillock, and from there a circular footpath leads through peaceful woodlands to Aira Force.

If you want to make a bit more of your visit, why not take one of the paths which lead beyond the falls to Yew Crag, where you’ll find excellent views east towards Ullswater. Or you could continue uphill from Aira Force until you come to High Force. High Force might not be quite as spectacular as Aira Force, but it’s usually less crowded.

Lodore Falls

Lodore Falls is about an hour in the car from Windermere and slightly less from Glenridding, but well worth a trip if you have time. Situated at the southern end of Derwent Water, the pouring and roaring, whirling and curling falls inspired Robert Southey’s famous onomatopoeic poem ‘How does the water come down at Lodore.’

The falls, which are formed by the beck from Watendlath Tarn cascading over huge boulders, can be accessed by a roadside path. The nearest place to park is the National Trust’s Kettlewell pay and display car park. From there it’s quite a short walk but with dramatic results, especially after a period of rain.

Rydal Falls

Rydal Falls are located just a short walk from William Wordsworth’s home at Rydal Mount and surely one of the most photographed waterfalls in the Lake District.

There is parking along the lane leading off the A591, or in busier times a small car park just south of Rydal Mount. Take the lane leading to Rydal Mount, passing the house on your left, and keep following the stone wall through the woodlands to the waterfall.

Make sure to visit ‘The Grot’ at the base of the waterfall. Built in 1668, this small stone hut is considered to be Britain’s first purpose-built viewing station.

Stock Ghyll Force

Stock Ghyll Force is about 15 minutes on foot from Ambleside. The walk takes you through a classic woodland setting until you reach the falls, which fall around 70 feet in two distinct steps, forming a lovely ‘V’ shape when they meet.

There are a number of mini falls along the way to whet the appetite, and once you’re at the main attraction, there are several viewing platforms, including special viewpoints for those with wheelchairs or pushchairs.

Skelwith Force

Another waterfall relatively close to our Windermere Cottages is Skelwith Force. At around 15 feet in height, it’s certainly not one of the highest falls in the Lake District, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t lack drama. The combination of the waters from the River Brathay and Langdale Beck mean the word ‘force’ is an apt description, especially after a period of heavy rain.

This is another waterfall which can be easily reached. We like to approach it from the village of Elterwater, following the path alongside the River Brathay, through the fields bordering Elter Water and into the woods towards Skelwith Force. The bridges criss-crossing the River Brathay give you excellent views of the falls.

The stunning views of the Langdales are an added bonus on this short walk.

Tom Gill Falls, Tarn Hows

We often mention Tarn Hows. It really is a beautiful spot and one of the most easy-access walks in the Lake District. But if you choose an alternative route, you could walk alongside Tom Gill, a tumbling stream boasting a stunning waterfall.

Instead of heading straight to Tarn Hows, park at the Glen Mary Bridge car park, just off the A593. From here, follow the signposted route alongside Tom Gill. After about a quarter of an hour you’ll reach the first waterfall, with the second, more impressive fall a little further along.

Having passed the waterfalls, you’ll come out at Tarn Hows, where you can enjoy a picturesque walk around the tarns.

Scale Force

No round up of waterfalls in the Lake District would be complete without mentioning Scale Force. It’s about an hour or so in the car from our Windermere and Ullswater cottages, but if you’re looking for a day out exploring the lakes, it’s well worth the excursion.

Scale Force is the tallest waterfall in the Lake District, located next to Crummock Water. It’s easily accessible on foot from Buttermere village. If you park in the National Trust car park, the round trip distance is about 2.5 miles (good waterproof footwear is essential).

With so much to see and do, we are truly spoilt, but a visit to one of the wonderful waterfalls in the Lake District is a must, especially at this time of year.

If you need more information, please do get in touch.

Picnic Spots in the Lake District

Lake District Picnic Spots - Fell Foot Park

July is National Picnic Month, so what better reason to share our favourite picnic spots in the Lake District? Picnics are one of the UK’s favourite traditions and the Lake District provides some fantastic places to throw down the rug, tuck into some fabulous food and soak up the amazing scenery. Below are a few of our favourites.

Brant Fell – a Lake District picnic spot on your doorstep

If you don’t fancy venturing too far from your Matson Ground cottage in Windermere, Brant Fell is perfect. Lying at the heart of the estate, you can be at the summit in no time at all, enjoying stunning views of Lake Windermere and the Lakeland fells.

Orrest Head

Staying close to home, Orrest Head is short walk up from the centre of Windermere. But the climb is worth the effort. So pack up a picnic and head for the summit where you are rewarded with amazing views of England’s largest lake with the Langdale Pikes, Scafell Pike, Coniston Old Man and Morecambe Bay as a backdrop. This is the spot where Alfred Wainwright first fell in love with the Lake District and once you’re there, it’s easy to see why.

Fell Foot Park

Fell Foot Park, at the southern end of Lake Windermere, is less than half an hour in the car from our Windermere cottages and a fantastic spot to enjoy a picnic. No need for a long hike, or even a picnic rug. Facilities at Fell Foot Park include picnic benches, toilets and a café (just in case you didn’t pack enough food). There’s an adventure playground for the children and boats for hire if you fancy splashing about on the lake. Parking in the pay and display car park is free for National Trust members.

Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater

Guests staying in one of our Ullswater cottages are also spoilt for choice when it comes to picnic spots in the Lake District. Just a mile from Glenridding is Glencoyne Bay, made famous by William and Dorothy Wordsworth as it was the inspiration for one of the most famous poems in English literature – “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. Obviously summer is not the time to admire daffodils, but the pebble beach is the perfect picnic spot, with views across the lake to Place Fell and down to Barton Fell.

Aira Force

Another must visit for our Ullswater guests is Aira Force. These spectacular falls, tucked away amongst ancient woodland, provide the perfect backdrop for a picnic. Arguably the most beautiful waterfalls in the Lake District, there’s plenty of space to enjoy a picnic, although the area directly by the waterfall gets very busy. However, you’ll easily find a more sheltered spot in extensive woodlands.

Buttermere – what a fantastic spot for a Lake District picnic

Finally, if you want to make a day of it, then a trip to Buttermere will not disappoint. The four-and-a-half-mile circular walk is easily accessible and will take about three hours to complete. However, factor in a little more time as the lake shore is dotted with little beaches you can make your own, so you can while away the time enjoying some al fresco dining. If you’re after some beautiful scenery and a bit of tranquility, Buttermere is the answer.

There are so many fantastic picnic spots in the Lake District, but we hope that we have given you a little inspiration. And it goes without saying, please always take you rubbish home with you, don’t light barbecues on the ground, and please, please don’t build bonfires.

Bon appétit!

The World of Beatrix Potter

The World of Beatrix Potter

If you have a young family then a trip to the World of Beatrix Potter is an absolute must. What’s more, it’s literally just down the road from our Windermere cottages.

The World of Beatrix Potter is a vibrant family attraction in the heart of Bowness-on-Windermere, a chance for visitors to explore the enchanting world created by Beatrix Potter. All twenty-three of her books are brought fabulously to life in a series of walk-through displays, where the sights, sounds and smells are recreated in stunning 3D.

The exhibition features the favourite characters from the book. Jemima Puddle-Duck can be found in a small, wooded glade, Jeremy Fisher making his way across the pond on a lily pad, and of course, Peter Rabbit and his siblings.

The Peter Rabbit Garden

Outside, the Peter Rabbit Garden is waiting to be explored. This is a small but perfectly formed show garden which brings to life Beatrix Potter’s illustrations. It captures all sorts of details from the stories, including the watering can in which Peter Rabbit hides from Mr McGregor, his blue jacket turned into a scarecrow and even the cos lettuces that Benjamin Bunny nibbled on.

Summer Events at the World of Beatrix Potter

This summer, events include the Peter Rabbit Summer Tea Party and a Celebration Afternoon Tea to mark the 30th Anniversary of the exhibition. These will be held on a number of dates throughout the summer in the Laundrama, just across the road from the attraction. For more information about these special events, click here.

A visit to the World of Beatrix Potter is a great adventure for the whole family. It goes without saying that younger children will absolutely love it, but we’re pretty sure adults will be fascinated too.

At the end of the visit make sure you visit the world-famous gift shop so you can take home a memento of your stay in the Lake District. And why not pay a visit to the family friendly café? It’s open every day from 10am for delicious treats, freshly baked by the talented café team.

Our Guide to Lake District Markets

Lake District markets

In an area renowned for its mountains and lakes, Lake District markets aren’t always the first thing that spring to mind. But the truth is we are well and truly spoiled when it comes to local markets. In fact, we think they’re the best in the country, but we are slightly biased.

From fresh vegetables to farm reared meats, homemade chutneys to artisanal breads, our markets are stocked with fantastic local produce from across the Lake District and Cumbria. If it hasn’t been grown or reared locally, it’s been baked or cooked locally.

This is a great opportunity for you to meet our wonderful producers. Talk to them and you’ll soon understand just how passionate they are about what they do. And you’ll get to sample some of the culinary delights the Lake District has to offer.

Cumberland Sausage, Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding, Herdwick Lamb, Grasmere Gingerbread and, of course, Kendal Mint Cake – to name but a few. All of these can be found in the array of farmers markets taking place across the Lake District National Park and wider county area.

There are also a number of craft markets which are not to be missed, the perfect place to find a keepsake from your Lake District break.

Below are a few of our favourite markets, all just a relatively short drive from Windermere.

Farmers Markets and Local Producers

Kendal Farmers Market is held between 9.00am and 3.00pm on the final Friday of every month in Market Place in the town centre. There is also a general market every Wednesday and Saturday in Market Place.

Milnthorpe Farmers Market takes place on the second Friday of each month in the village’s market square. There is a general market on the other Fridays.

Hawkshead Arts and Crafts Fair is located in the Market Hall and operates most weeks throughout the year. Lakeland Arts and Crafts is a collective of local artisan makers and craft workers offering a range of handcrafted items. Click here for the full list of 2021 dates.

Kirkby Lonsdale’s Thursday market attracts visitors and locals alike. There is a good range of stalls which offer everything from local produce to souvenirs, plants and jewellery.

Keswick may be a little further afield – about 40 minutes in the car – but a visit to the vibrant market is a great day out. It stands on Thursdays from February to December (and Saturdays all year round) in Market Square and has previously been voted ‘Best outdoor Market in the UK’. Keswick Farmers Market runs on the second Thursday of every month.

Orton and Sedbergh Markets

Other farmers markets worthy of mention are Orton and Sedbergh. Orton Farmers Market takes place on the second Saturday of every month, where over twenty-five local farmers, growers, producers and artisans come together to offer a variety of high-quality local produce and crafts.

Sedbergh Market is held on most Wednesdays throughout the year in Joss Lane car park just off Main Street. You can also visit the Artisan Markets which will run on 3 July, 31 July, 28 August and 18 September this year.

Please note that the information we’ve provided is as accurate as possible, but due to coronavirus restrictions please be aware that some markets may have been operating in a limited capacity.

 

 

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.

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.