Boasting the largest lakes, the highest mountains and the most breathtaking scenery in England, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what to do if you’re staying in the Lake District this Christmas. Here’s a little inspiration – our favourite winter walks from our Matson Ground Windermere cottages. Dig out your walking boots, wrap up warm and enjoy an adventure.
Brant Fell lies right at the heart of the Matson Ground Estate, so it’s a relatively easy walk. The views from the top are stunning and well worth any effort. What’s more, you can be there and back in under an hour – the perfect start to the day.
Orrest Head is said to be the place where author and fell-walker, Alfred Wainwright, first fell in love with the Lake District. And once you reach the top, it’s easy to see why. The views of the Lake District fells and Lake Windermere are simply stunning.
It’s a little under two miles to the summit of Orrest Head from Bowness. Head up to Windermere where you’ll find start of the path to Orrest Head opposite the Windermere Tourist Information Centre. What’s more, it’s been fully tarmacked, making it accessible for those with wheelchairs and prams.
The Dales Way
The Dales Way runs right through the Matson Ground Estate and it’s entirely up to you how much of the 80-mile trail you walk – it stretches all the way to Ilkley in West Yorkshire. This is an easy-to-follow route through beautiful countryside, and when you’ve gone far enough, you can simply turn around and head back to Bowness and a long, leisurely lunch. Or follow one of the other footpaths that lead off the Dales Way if you fancy a more circular option.
Cockshott Point and Ferry Nab
For an easy lakeside ramble, Cockshott Point and on to Ferry Nab is absolutely perfect. Stroll down into Bowness and head to the lake. Walk past the jetties (to your right) and into Glebe Road. Follow the road until it bears to the left at which point you carry straight on through a gate and into fields. Cockshott Point, with its lovely lake views, is a short distance to the right. To reach Ferry Nab, simply follow the lake shore (keeping it on your right).
We’ll finish with a toughy, but for those of you who are up for an adventure, what a day out. Head up to Windermere and take the track to the summit of Orrest Head, before dropping drop down the other side into Toutbeck, where you can begin your ascent of Wansfell Pike. The views all the way to the top are simply amazing. From the top you can just turn around and come back, but why not make a day of it and head down into Ambleside for a well-earned bite to eat before catching a bus back to Bowness (or even one of the Windermere Lake Cruises)?
There are so many winter walks you can enjoy around Bowness and Windermere so if you’d like any more information about these or any others you may have head of, please do get in touch – we’re only too happy to help.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
A little over a mile from the southern tip of Lake Windermere you’ll find the Lakeland Motor Museum. With over 30,000 exhibits ranging from vintage fire engines to collectible toys, this is an absolute must for any motor enthusiast. In fact, even if cars and bikes are not your thing, it’s a fantastic day out, as the museum offers so much more than just cars. And after your walk through motoring history, why not pop into Café Ambio for a bite to eat?
The museum is located in a converted mill in the village of Backbarrow, just off the A590. Among the 30,000 or so exhibits are around 140 classic cars and motorbikes, as well as a host of other ‘automobilia’. Take a trip down memory lane as you wander through over 100 years of automotive history, as well as some local history, authentic recreations and period shopping displays. Learn all about the Isle of Man TT race and marvel at the huge collection of bicycles, pedal cars and caravans.
The extensive car collection will no doubt provoke a sense of nostalgia for many visitors, and for the younger ones a sense of intrigue – they’ll be amazed at the amphicar, built in 1966 and designed to swim through water at the push of a lever. In fact, one was even driven by the former owner of Belle Isle – the largest of Windermere’s eighteen islands – making it a regular sight gliding across England’s largest natural lake.
For those of us with a few more miles on the clock, we’ll no doubt remember family cars, first cars and cars we wish we’d held onto! From vintage and veteran to weird and wonderful, there really is something for everyone.
The Campbell Bluebird Exhibition
Opposite the main building is a separate exhibition dedicated to the work of Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son Donald, who between them set twenty-one land a water speed records. The exhibition includes a timeline of their achievements, as well as full size replicas of the 1935 Bluebird car, the 1939 Bluebird boat and the 1967 jet hydroplane, Bluebird K7.
Once you’ve explored the museum and the Bluebird Exhibition, make sure you visit Café Ambio where you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of options. Open from 9.30am to 5.30pm every day, it’s a great way to finish your visit to the Lakeland Motor Museum. And if it’s a nice day, why not sit outside by the river?
We are delighted to be able to offer our guests Lucy’s of Ambleside private dining services. Fantastic food delivered straight to your Matson Ground cottage. Meaning you get a very well-deserved night off – after all, you are on holiday.
Whether you’re in the Lake District for a special occasion or simply spending time with family and friends, why not enjoy a delicious dining experience from Lucy’s Inside Out? Take away the headache of shopping, putting away, preparing, serving, washing up. Instead, choose from a selection of dishes, prepared using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.
All meals are catered for, from small and intimate to large and loud. If you fancy something ready prepared for when you arrive, maybe you’re celebrating a special occasion during your stay, or you simply fancy a night away from the cooker, let us know and we’ll send you some menus.
What’s on the menu?
Lucy’s of Ambleside private dining offers a range of dishes. Choose from the ‘Hot and Hearty’ savoury selections, perfect for small and large parties. If you’re gathering guests together for a celebration, enjoying a simple kitchen supper or you want something warm and tasty after a day walking the fells and don’t feel like cooking, these dishes are the perfect solution.
The ‘Super Salads’ menu has been designed to accompany most of the dishes at Lucy’s Inside Out, while the ‘Delicious Desserts’ menu will have you sorely tempted to ditch the diet for the day, offering over twenty luscious, sweet treats. From Westmorland Toffee Apple Crumble Tart to Damson and Sloe Gin Fruit Fool, Lancashire Lemon Tart to Sublime Sticky Toffee Pudding laced with rich butterscotch sauce, we challenge you not to indulge.
Lucy’s of Ambleside
Lucy’s of Ambleside comprises Lucy’s On A Plate, Lucy’s relaxed and friendly Ambleside-based restaurant, as well as Lucy’s Inside Out, for those who fancy a taste of Lucy’s On A Plate but in the comfort of their own home.
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.
We’ll start close to home, just a few minutes from many of our Matson Ground cottages.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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 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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.