Tag: lake district

National Walking Month

The view from Brantfell - a fantastic walk for National Walking Month

May is National Walking Month, as if we need an excuse to get out and enjoy the stunning Lake District. But to celebrate National Walking Month, we thought we’d share a few of our favourite Lake District walks we’re enjoyed with our children.

From little hills to England’s highest mountain, there’s something for all ages and abilities. And we’re going to start very close to home, Brant Fell.

Brant Fell

Brant Fell sits right at the heart of the Matson Ground Estate, so it’s perfect for anyone staying in our Windermere Cottages. From the centre of Bowness, it’s a relatively short stroll to the summit, and the reward on reaching the summit is well worth the effort, with views across the lake to Grizedale Forest, the Langdale Pikes and the Coniston range.

The walk begins in the centre of Bowness where you can grab a bite to eat before setting off up Brantfell Road, leaving the hustle and bustle of the town behind you. The early part of the walk takes in the Dales Way, before passing Post Knott viewpoint on your way to the summit of Brant Fell.

At the top you’ll see a rocky crag, only a few feet high, but another exciting adventure for the children. You’ll also come across a pair of heavy stone gateposts which were once part of a viewing platform. Sadly, it’s long since gone, but rest assured the inspiring views remain.

Gummers Howe

At the southern end of Lake Windermere is Gummers Howe, a mini mountain which has long been a firm family favourite. It feels like a mountain and there’s even a scramble to the summit should you decide to veer from the path.

The beginning of the walk is a gentle climb through fields and woodland before becoming a little steeper en-route to the summit.

This is a walk that will make your little ones feel like mini-mountaineers.

Tarn Hows

When you see Tarn Hows laid out before you, it’s hard to believe that it’s actually man-made. It looks as though it’s been part of the landscape for thousands of years.

This is one of the most popular spots in the Lake District and a fabulous place for those with young families. The circular path is just under two miles and is ideal for pushchair and wheelchair users. Small beaches add to the excitement, the perfect spot for a picnic, or simply stop at one of many benches are take in the views.

Aira Force

For anyone staying in our Ullswater Cottages, this is an absolute must.

Aira Force is arguably the best-known waterfall in the Lake District, as well as one of the easiest to get to – there’s a National Trust car park off the A592, halfway between Glenridding and Watermillock.

The circular route is another great walk for the youngsters. It could take just under an hour, but by the time they’ve hidden behind trees, marvelled at the 65-foot waterfall and spent time trying to spot red squirrels, it could be almost double that.

Catbells

At 451m, Catbells is not the highest mountain in the Lake District. But it’s a fantastic walk for children.

Located on the western shore of Derwentwater, this will feel much more like a mountain – challenging at times, with a few steep scrambles, but nothing too technical.

Parking can prove a little tricky, especially at the height of summer, so why not take a Keswick Launch to the Hawes End Jetty and start your walk from there?

Scafell Pike

We’ll finish at the top of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. This is not a walk for really little legs.

There are a number of routes to the summit, but if you take the direct, shortest route from Wasdale Head, the trickiest part of the walk will be crossing the river shortly after setting off, where big boulders act as large stepping stones.

The path to the top is pretty obvious, although it becomes more of a boulder scramble as you approach the summit. This can be tricky to navigate, especially in cloudy conditions, so we would advise that you are accompanied by someone with experience of the Lakeland fells, and in particular, Scafell Pike.

But the sense of achievement on reaching the summit is immense. You’re literally on top of the world – well England anyway!

If you’re planning a trip to the Lake District and want to be part of National Walking Month, then hopefully there’s something here for you – from the complete novice to the more adventurous, from little legs to experienced hikers. But whatever your level of expertise, please remember to pack appropriate clothing and equipment. Walking boots, waterproofs, layers of warm clothing, a rucksack, a first aid kit, snacks, a mobile phone in case of emergencies and, of course, a map and compass. And a camera – make sure you have memories of your day in the fells.

For more information on what clothing and equipment to take with you, click here.

And don’t forget, if you’re staying in one of our Ullswater Cottages, we can offer private guided walks. Click here for the walk from Elm How or Cruck Barn, and here for the walk from Eagle Cottage.

Lake District Wild Swimming

Lake District Wild Swimming

With so many lakes and tarns in the Lake District, it’s hardly surprising that wild swimming is proving more and more popular. What’s more, there so many benefits associated with wild swimming and cold water immersion. Perhaps it’s time you gave it a go (if you haven’t already!)

Among the health benefits are improved circulation; a boost to your brain power; a boost to your immune system; reduced anxiety and stress; increased alertness; feelings of euphoria and achievement; and if you’re swimming with others, a sense of community.

No wonder this adventurous hobby gained in popularity during the pandemic. And where better than in the lakes and tarns of the beautiful Lake District? But where are the best spots for a bit of Lake District wild swimming?

Here’s our guide to a few of our favourite places. We’ve tried to keep our choices relatively local to our Matson Ground cottages in Windermere and Ullswater. We’ve also included Wastwater because no Lake District wild swimming list would be complete without it.

Windermere

We’ll start with Windermere, England’s largest lake and home to the Great North Swim. Within easy access of our Matson Ground cottages is Miller Ground. It is easily walkable, but there is a car park for those who want to warm up in the car as soon as possible following a dip in the lake.

Alternatively, head up to Ambleside where Borrans Park at Waterhead is perfect for your first dip; or down to Fell Foot at the southern end of the lake, forty-three acres of beautiful parkland perfect for paddling, wild-swimming and picnicking.

Coniston Water

For somewhere a little quieter, Coniston Water is often less busy than some of the other major lakes and with plenty of small bays and beaches, it’s a great option for Lake District wild swimming. The eastern shore in particular has a number of parking spots and shallow water, perfect for those who are new to wild swimming.

Loughrigg Tarn

Loughrigg Tarn is considered by many as one of the best places to swim in the Lake District. And with the Langdale Pikes as a backdrop, it’s easy to see why. What’s more, the waters are relatively warm (we say relatively – this is not a hot spring!), making it the perfect spot to cool down after a hard day’s hiking.

Rydal Water

Sheltered on all sides by Lake District fells, Rydal Water is often a little stiller than other Lake District wild swimming spots. It’s also a touch warmer thanks to its lower altitude. This is a great place to swim for novices – the shallow beach on the far side of the water is about twenty minutes on foot, so despite the lake’s proximity to the road, swimming here still feels like you’re slightly off the beaten track.

Blea Tarn

When it comes to picturesque spots for wild swimming, Blea Tarn is right up there with the best of them. This is one of the most photographed locations in the Lake District, and with the Langdale Pikes perfectly reflected in the cool, still water, it’s easy to see why. Arguably one of the best views in the Lake District, and with a stony beach on the southern shore, it’s perfect for wild swimming.

Ullswater

For those of you staying in one of our Ullswater cottages, Glenridding at the southern end of Ullswater throws up a host of possibilities. Here, gently sloping beaches allow safe access to the water – perfect for families. It’s hardly secluded, but with large grassy banks and all the facilities available in Glenridding, you’ll find a spot you can call your own and enjoy a fabulous day out.

Wastwater

Our final destination is Wastwater. This is wild swimming with added drama. On the eastern shore, the screes drop down towards the deep, dark water and to the north some of the highest mountains in England, including Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Lingmell. A single track road runs the length of the western shore, with several places to park up and head for the lake. Just be prepared to feel a little chilly.

This list is just the tip of the wild swimming iceberg. We haven’t mentioned the likes of Easedale Tarn, Styhead Tarn or Buckstone Jum, all iconic wild swimming spots but which require a bit of a hike to reach. Another time maybe.

In the meantime, next time you’re visiting, why not dig out your swimming gear and take a dip? But do take care. Below is a list of wild swimming tips.

  • Acclimatise to the water slowly to avoid shock
  • Be aware of your limits
  • Avoid swimming alone
  • Always check the weather forecast
  • Take warm clothes and hot drinks for after your swim – a hot water bottle in your bag is a great idea
  • A wetsuit can help prevent your suffering from cold water shock – and it can also act as a buoyancy aid
  • Always check the depth of the water, especially if you’re jumping in
  • Don’t swim anywhere where there’s blue-green algae
  • Keep an eye out for boats
  • Make sure you’re visible – a brightly coloured hat or tow float would be ideal
  • If you do get in to trouble, try to float on your back with your arms and legs out
  • Always clean your clothing and equipment to help keep water free from non-native species

If you would like any further information about Lake District wild swimming, please do get in touch.

Michelin Star Restaurants in the Lake District

Michelin star restaurants in the Lake District

The 2022 Michelin Guide was recently published and it was good news for Cumbria. Not only does the county now have the highest number of Michelin starred restaurants outside London, it also has the most recent recipient of three Michelin stars – L’Enclume in Cartmel.

Which means, if you’re looking for Michelin star restaurants in the Lake District, you’re actually spoilt for choice. Here’s our roundup of these top eateries what the 2022 Michelin Guide has to say.

L’Enclume, Cartmel

Run by Simon Rogan and his partner, Penny Tapsell, L’Enclume is the only 3-star addition to the 2022 Michelin Guide.

The cooking in this lovely old smithy has never stopped evolving and the energy emanating from the kitchen is as palpable as ever. Classic dishes have been reworked and refined, while stunning new dishes have slotted seamlessly into the set menu.

Rogan & Co, Cartmel

Staying in Cartmel, L’Enclume’s laid-back cousin sits in the centre of the village and occupies a pretty cottage beside a stream.

Simon Rogan’s influence is clear to see on the appealing menu, which lists skilfully prepared, understated dishes which make great use of creative ingredient and flavour combinations. His clean, uncomplicated approach keeps the focus firmly on each main ingredient.

HRiSHi, Bowness-on-Windermere

Just a short drive from our Matson Ground cottages is HRiSHi, located at Gilpin Hotel, where Head Chef Hrishikesh Desai’s aim is to awaken the senses by using flavours and textures to evoke certain memories.

Dishes are precisely prepared, original and very attractively presented – the vegetarian options are packed with flavour and some dishes blend local ingredients with subtle Indian or Asian spicing.

The Old Stamp House, Ambleside

Just up the road from Windermere is The Old Stamp House in Ambleside where the owners have a passion for all things regional, which is summed up in the name of their tasting menu: ‘A Journey Around Cumbria’. The skilfully prepared dishes have been well-thought-through and carefully balance bold and delicate flavours; each has a story – sometimes historic, sometimes personal – and often a sustainable element too.

Forest Side, Grasmere

According to the team, “Forest Side is designed to be a reflection of the landscape in which it sits”.

Provenance and sustainability play a major role. Ingredients come from their Victorian kitchen garden and local suppliers, as well as being foraged for by the team and, as such, menus are micro-seasonal. Skilfully prepared, creative dishes are full of vibrant colours, textural contrasts and sublime flavours.

Allium at Askham Hall, Askham, Penrith

Located in the beautiful Eden Valley, not far from our Ullswater cottages is Allium at Askham Hall, where Head Chef Richard Swale offers a concise menu with two choices at each course.

These accomplished dishes are driven by the seasons and the availability of produce from the Lowther Estate, in which the building sits. The gardener plays an important part in guiding the menu, advising which ingredients are at their peak.

Dog and Gun, Skelton, Penrith

Staying close to Ullswater, The Dog and Gun Inn is the latest Cumbrian restaurant to be awarded a prestigious Michelin star.

It’s a proper village pub which does what pubs do best, by providing warmth, honesty and food that puts a smile on your face.

Dishes satisfying and recognisable, showcasing local ingredients in pure, understated compositions with plenty of depth, where flavour comes above all else.

The Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite, near Keswick

The Cottage in the Wood really is a cosy little place: in winter sit in the dining room; in summer take in the view over the fells and valley from the conservatory.

Top quality ingredients and classic techniques take the lead, and there is a certain sophistication to the well-balanced flavour pairings – and while skilfully making the dishes look eye-catching, chef Ben Wilkinson manages to avoid over-elaboration.

With a total of ten Michelin stars and some amazing local produce, not to mention so many pubs, bars and restaurants offering amazing culinary experiences, Cumbria truly has become a world-class destination for a gourmet escape.

For more information about Michelin star restaurants in the Lake District, please get in touch.

TV and Films Set in the Lake District

TV and films set in the Lake District

The Lake District attracts millions of people every year, drawn to the stunning scenery and breathtaking landscapes. Hardly surprising, as it’s been the inspiration for so many artists, writers and photographers over the years. And nowadays it’s proving to be a popular location for TV and film-makers.

We’ll soon be back on those fells, enjoying some Lake District sunshine. But until then we need a way of whiling away those cold, February evenings, so we thought we’d take a look at TV and films set in the Lake District. Get comfy, pop the TV on and enjoy the Lake District from the comfort of your own sofa.

We’ll start with 1987 black comedy, Withnail and I, starring Richard E Grant and Paul McGann. The plot follows two unemployed actors who, in need of a holiday, head to the Lake District to stay in Uncle Monty’s cottage. What ensues is far from the restful weekend they’d hoped for.

Dramas

The Lake District is often featured in TV dramas, including some firm favourites – Safe House, The A Word and Deep Water. The dramatic landscapes certainly help add to the tension.

Safe House stars Christopher Eccleston and Marsha Thompson, who are persuaded to turn their picturesque guest house into a safe house for a family who have been forced to go on the run.

And Christopher returned to the Lake District to film The A Word, the story of a young family and their autistic son. The drama ran for three series and was filmed in various locations including Coniston, Keswick, Thirlmere, Buttermere and Kendal.

More recently, Deep Water, took us to the shores of Lake Windermere and into the lives of three women, each of whom is trying to do their best for their families, although often with messy repercussions. The six-part drama was adapted from the Windermere series of novels by acclaimed author Paula Daly.

Hollywood

It’s not just UK production companies who head for the Lakes, Hollywood has got in on the act too. Last year, Tom Cruise was here filming the seventh film in the Mission: Impossible franchise, leaping from a helicopter and gliding into the Buttermere area.

And while Star Wars is set in a galaxy far, far away, parts of the 2015 box office hit, Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, were filmed around Derwentwater and Thirlmere.

Back in 2006, Renée Zellwegger played Beatrix Potter in Miss Potter, a biographical film about the author’s life. As you might expect, filming took place in various locations across the Lake District, including Loughrigg and Grasmere.

The film about Beatrix Potter’s best-loved character, Peter Rabbit, was also unsurprisingly filmed here and boasted an all-star cast including James Corden and Margot Robbie. It was shot in Ambleside and Windermere, very near to the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere.

Documentaries

If fantasy and fiction are not really your thing, there are a number of documentaries about the Lake District. The Lakes with Simon Reeves (available on BBC iPlayer) sees Simon Reeves travelling through this amazing place, revealing some of the secrets of this iconic part of Britain.

Also on iPlayer are A Year on Helvellyn, A Year on Blencathra and A Year on Scafell Pike, a closer look at three of the England’s best-known mountains.

Grab the popcorn and settle in for an evening’s viewing. TV and films set in the Lake District – there’s quite a choice!

Cumbria Dark Skies Festival

Cumbria Dark Skies Festival

This month sees the return of the Cumbria Dark Skies Festival and a host of really exciting events celebrating the wonder of the skies.

From Dark Skies Forest Walks to Forest Bathing, Astrophotography Lessons to UV Rockpooling, there is something for everyone in a series of events aimed at getting you closer to nature. This is an opportunity to truly appreciate the skies overhead.

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 this month. From first-time stargazers to astrophotography experts, the wonder of the night skies will never cease to amaze.

Stargazing on the Matson Ground Estate

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. Take part in one of the Dark Skies Forest Walks, experiencing the sounds and sights of the forest after dark. Or dig out the camera and join award-winning astrophotographer Ben Bush for the night on 25th or 26th February, where he will show you around the sky and what’s possible to see and capture.

Other events include Dark Sky Canoeing, Forest Bathing and UV Rockpooling, to name just a few. Or if you’d rather just soak up the night skies on your own, or with friends and family, why not head to Ennerdale, Wasdale or the Borrowdale Valley, arguably some of the best places in the Lake District to stargaze.

Closer to our Windermere Holiday Cottages, the Langdale Valley, where the steep-sided valley shelters the Langdales from any town lights, meaning minimal light pollution, is the perfect place to really connect with the night sky.

And for guests in our Ullswater Holiday Cottages, how about a Dinner and Stargazing Experience at the fabulous Inn on the Lake, Ullswater? Enjoy a two-course meal followed by an opportunity to stargaze on the lakeshore with astronomy expert Robert Ince.

Stargazing Tips

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Stargazing apps – there are plenty of apps for your phone which will give you the names of the stars and constellations overhead.
  6. 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.

For more information about events during the Cumbria Dark Skies Festival, please do get in touch.

Image credit: Alan Graham

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.

Vegetarian Restaurants and Cafés in the Lake District

Vegetarian Restaurants and Cafés in the Lake District

Last Friday, 1 October, was World Vegetarian Day, a day showcasing the benefits of vegetarianism. It also gave rise to October being observed as Vegetarian Awareness Month.

There was a time when the likes of  Mushroom risotto, stuffed peppers, nut roast or portobello mushroom burger were considered fancy vegetarian options. While we’re sure these can be extremely tasty, thankfully the world of vegetarian cuisine is now far more exciting.

Fortunately, we’re blessed with some of the finest places to eat in the UK, including some amazing vegetarian restaurants and cafés in the Lake District.

We’ll start close to our Windermere cottages, before heading north to Penrith and a couple of fantastic options for guests staying in our Ullswater cottages.

Zeffirellis, Ambleside

Mention vegetarian to anyone in Windermere and the chances are they will recommend Zeffirellis in Ambleside. Zeffirellis has been a firm favourite for over 40 years and is great for family, friends and couples alike. It also houses an award-winning cinema.

The menu offers Italian-themed pizza and pasta dishes, with daily specials freshly prepared by a team of passionate chefs. What’s more, there’s enviable wine list to match.

For the complete evening out, why not book a 2-course dinner with a reserved cinema seat?

Fellinis, Ambleside

Fellinis is a new, modern ‘Vegeterranean’ restaurant which caters for the most discerning vegetarian palette. The food is inspired by the warmth of Mediterranean, with a frequently changing menu to reflect the seasons and the availability of local ingredients.

After dinner, why not head upstairs for a unique cinema experience, where you can see the latest art house and niche film productions, as well as live satellite links to world class opera, ballet and theatre events.

Gandhi’s Café, Ambleside

Staying in Ambleside, Gandhi’s has gained a reputation for producing high quality, home cooked vegetarian and vegan food. From relaxed breakfasts to an afternoon pick-me-up, wholesome burgers to tasty pad-Thais, this quirky little café is packed with big flavours.

Chesters by the River

Chesters by the River at Skelwith Bridge is the perfect spot to stop for a bite to eat before, after or during a good walk. Situated on the banks of the River Brathay, the food is wonderfully crafted with plenty of choice. There is some parking, but as it’s ‘out of town’ you may need to plan ahead a little. One option is to park at Elterwater and follow the path alongside the River Brathay, past Skelwith Force, enjoy a good lunch followed by a leisurely walk back to the car.

Upfront Gallery Restaurant, Penrith

For our next stop we’re heading to Penrith, just a short drive from Glenridding and Patterdale. Perfect for our Ullswater guests.

There’s more to Upfront Gallery than just food. It’s a gallery, puppet theatre, music venue and restaurant located in beautifully converted 17th century farm buildings near Penrith.

The licensed café serves a delicious range of vegetarian options throughout the day, beginning with breakfast. Pop in for a range of delicious meals, snacks, cakes, puddings and coffees.

The Yard Kitchen

Our final choice is also in Penrith. The Yard Kitchen is a popular café with a wide range of vegetarian and vegan choices.

The café is located in Brunswick Court, alongside an eclectic mix of specialist sellers, including a bookshop, a wine merchant and a grocers. In fact, the yard is now home to more than 20 independent dealers. So browse to your heart’s content and then enjoy some delicious vegetarian fayre.

That’s it. Our round up of our favourite vegetarian and vegan restaurants and cafés in the Lake District. If you happen to visit one of them, please do let us know what you think. And if you would like more information about dining in the Lake District, please get in touch.

Photo credit: Photo by Farhad Ibrahimzade on Unsplash

Summer on the Estate

Summer on the Matson Ground Estate

Summer has definitely arrived in the Lake District and the Matson Ground Estate is in full swing. The holiday cottages are full of guests enjoying this beautiful part of the world and life on the farm is as busy as ever.

We’ve had great weather and made lots of silage, a store of winter feed for our cattle and sheep, while our colleagues have been conducting surveys on grasses, flowers and moths.

Grasses and Flowers Surveys

As part of our Countryside Stewardship agreement, we regularly survey the grasses and flowers. This provides us with vital information about the health of the fields and wetland areas. The scheme helps us to look after and improve the environment by, amongst others, conserving and restoring wildlife habitats, increasing grassland biodiversity and preserving historical features on the landscape.

One plant which we have in our wetland areas is this pretty, yellow Bog Asphodel, Latin name Ossifragum. Did you know that Ossifragum literally translates as bone-breaker? This unassuming plant acquired this violent name because it was believed that the livestock that grazed on it developed brittle bones. But don’t worry, there’s no truth in it. It was actually the calcium-poor pastures that caused the problem.

Bog Asphodel, Latin name Ossigragum

Moth Survey

Reedbeds and wetlands are important habitats for many species of moths throughout the British Isles. As July is a particularly good time for moth populations in these habitats, we were looking forward to the survey results. And with the weather on our side we were not disappointed!

Our surveyors trapped the moths in a lightbox overnight, catching 515 moths in total, spanning 100 different species. The best moth find of the night was the round-winged muslin, which was only the third recording for South Cumbria since 2000. However, the prettiest moth of the night was this lovely Elephant Hawk Moth.

We were thrilled with the findings. Moths are a fascinating yet often overlooked group of insects and an important part of the UK’s biodiversity, as they pollinate plants and provide food for birds, bats and other wildlife. However, since the late 1960s total moth numbers have declined by around a third.   We hope our wetland projects, and many others nationally, will help the recovery of moth numbers.

Elephant Hawk Moth

Afternoon Tea in the Lake District

Afternoon Tea in the Lake District

There’s something about afternoon tea in the Lake District. It just feels right. A quintessentially English tradition that goes hand in hand with the pace of life. Think three-tier cake stand, dainty sandwiches and pastries to die for. And those views. Is there a more perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or to simply indulge yourselves while you’re on holiday?

This year, Afternoon Tea Week runs from 9 – 16 August, so what better reason to share some of our favourite local spots to take afternoon tea?

Below are our top five places for afternoon tea in the Lake District. Four of them are either a walk or a short drive from our Windermere cottages, while the final choice – the Inn on the Lake – is perfect for guests in our Ullswater cottages. Please do remember to book in advance.

The Tea Room at Blackwell

The tea room at Blackwell Arts and Crafts House offers a range of delicious light lunches, cakes and tempting treats using the very best local ingredients. And if the sun is shining, the elegant outdoor terrace is the perfect spot to relax and soak up the breathtaking views of Lake Windermere and the Lakeland fells beyond.

Macdonald Old England Hotel

With Lake Windermere as its backdrop, the Macdonald Old England Hotel in Bowness is a more than suitable venue to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea. And whether it’s served in the lounge or on the terrace, the views are stunning.

Storrs Hall Hotel

The talented team of pastry chefs at Storrs Hall are passionate about creating an afternoon tea worthy of this great British tradition. And the results are fabulous. The afternoon tea itself is a thing of beauty. Delicious homemade cakes, pastries and freshly baked scones served alongside a selection of sandwiches and savouries. There’s even a Tiny Tots Tea for the younger family members.

Lakeside Hotel

Our final choice is Lakeside Hotel, located right on the western shore of Lake Windermere, about half an hour in the car from Windermere. The delicious afternoon tea is served in the elegant conservatory, or outside on the terrace when the sun is shining. Both offer amazing views in a beautiful setting.

To be honest, we could have mentioned so many other fantastic places. Traditional afternoon tea is something we take very seriously in the Lake District, so wherever you go, you’ll find friendly service and a range of delicious treats.

Inn on the Lake, Ullswater

There’s a really relaxing atmosphere at the Inn on the Lake which makes it the perfect place to enjoy afternoon tea. During the winter months, the roaring log fire ensures warmth and cosiness, while in the summer months the large outside terrace and gardens offer a bright alternative. Inside or outside, the views of the lake are nothing short of spectacular.

Traditional afternoon tea is something we take very seriously in the Lake District, so to limit our choices to these five has proved quite tricky. What we can say is that wherever you go, you’ll find friendly service and a range of delicious treats.

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!