We were very privileged to take a family trip ‘up north’ at the end of November. We visited friends in Manchester for the weekend on the way up and decided to stop in Blackpool for the morning on our way to The Lakes. I’ve been a few times to Blackpool in my life time and I have to say it hasn’t really changed. As it was a Monday morning in the middle of winter there was not loads open but we managed to fit in the sites and saw the Winter Gardens and Blackpool Tower. We had a very cold and windy walk on the long sandy beach, stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat and had a little go in the penny arcades. Blackpool was full of pound shops and seaside gift shops but also had some popular attractions including Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life Centre and we enjoyed our little whistle stop tour to the seaside.
Then we headed on to The Lake District, once you arrive you are instantly hit by the rugged countryside – hilly and covered in miles of drystone walls and stone cottages. A huge contrast to Berkshire plus the wind and cooler temperature were a bit of a shock! But the Lakes are truly stunning and the more you drive in to the national park the more awesome it gets.
We stayed in a wooden lodge on the edge of Lake Windermere itself. The self catered lodge provided loads of space for all our stuff and was extremely cosy, reminding me a little of Canada. We had an indoor pool to and play park on the same site as the lodge which were great to use after a busy day exploring.
We visited Bowness on Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere. Each had their own charms and all were great little towns. Bowness on Windermere’s main feature is Lake Windermere itself, there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and pubs. There were some lovely shops including my favourite The Peter Rabbit and Friends shop which was great for a holiday souvenir and Christmas shopping. As you maybe aware Beatrix Potter herself hailed from the Lake District so her books play a huge role in the local area. In Windermere itself there is The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction which we did not go into on this visit and several of the National Trust sites have links to Beatrix Potter. I really wanted to visit Allan Bank as I believe they have an art and play room for children plus Beatrix Potters House which was seen in the last Breatrix Potter film, Miss Potter released in 2006. Sadly this was closed on the days we had planned to visit (but it’s a great excuse to come back again!)
We also visited Grasmere which is a beautiful little village, much smaller than Windermere and Ambleside. Again it has some lovely gift shops and walking shops plus hotels and cafes for drinks and food. Plus the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. The shop is tiny and can only fit about one family in at a time but oh my goodness the gingerbread is amazing, so soft and not like any other gingerbread I have ever tasted before – yum! A pack of 6 pieces was £3.50 and totally worth it. Plus for the experience of the shop itself it’s worth a visit.
We visited Ambleside via water. Catching the boat in Bowness on Windermere and getting off at Ambleside Harbour. It was about a 20 minute walk to Ambleside but there was a good wide pavement all the way but the path did run alongside a busy road. Ambleside was full of artisan shops offering honey, chocolate, fudge, books, gifts plus your obligatory walking shops. We went to a great little cafe Mr H’s which had a Charlie Chaplin themed styling, delicious hot chocolates and although we didn’t eat at the cafe as we had bought a picnic for the boat journey home, the food looked good, especially the cakes!
Just by driving around the lakes to get from one town to another you are surrounded by the countryside and the stunning ‘mountains’. If you have children who are willing / able to walk a good distance there are lots of walks to explore. We took a drive on the KirkStone Pass to really get a feel for the lakes, it was well worth it as the views were just something else, despite some of the roads being a little nail-biting.
We spent four nights in the Lakes and could have easily spent a week or two without getting bored. I suspect in the summer months it would be a lot busier in the tourist spots, in the winter it was cold but as long as you come prepared and wrap up warm and are prepared to head outdoors then don’t let the Lakes in the winter put you off. I am sure the Lakes would be stunning in the summer and spring months. In the winter, the tourist attractions are still open, just check the websites before visiting to make sure they are open on the day you plan to visit.
*I have written this blog and made a video of our family holiday to The Lake District (via Blackpool) as I felt it would be of interest to the Berkshire Mummies readership. We paid for the holiday and everywhere we visited. Click here to view the Berkshire Mummies disclaimer.*