When I still lived in Finland the word ‘holiday’ had a very different meaning in my mind than it does today. Holiday was a chance to escape the silence and the monotony of the everyday life in the small town where I was located. A chance to experience the hustle and bustle of a city, stoking up in diversity and immersing myself to colourful new experiences that would provide a lot of inspiration for months to come. Naturally now living in a big city of London, there is no need to search for these things from my days off. Having something in abundance creates an inevitable shortage in something else, and now I’ve found myself increasingly looking for tranquility, breathing space and nature when going on holiday. It could be also a sign of getting older, but hey, not admitting to that just yet.
I’m lucky that I’m living in England which has got a lot to offer in fantastic nature breaks. Of course you are always taking a risk with the weather and need to adapt your activities and wardrobe depending on the moods of the capricious climate on this island. It is also very hard to find a place which is truly desolate and even the most beautiful spots can be ruined by herds of other tourists. However, when you get past this, holidays in the English countryside can be the best option for those running away from the fuss of the cities. In a need for one of these breaks, me and five friends headed over to “the Lakes”, the Lake District National Park in the North West county of Cumbria. In order to avoid Easter traffic jams we took a Virgin train from London Euston to Penrith which was just over 3 hours and got us to the Lakeland before lunch time. However, hiring a car for Penrith was the best decision as the National Park is vast and mountainous with limited public transport, particularly during bank holidays.
We stayed three nights in Graglands Guest House in Keswick. The B&B was nice and comfortable with lovely English-Irish owners who were always full of jokes and advice for what to do in the area. However, if I was going to the Lake District again, I would probably choose one of the period buildings next to the lakes, such as the Pheasant Inn in Cockermouth, where we dined on one of the evenings. The towns and villages in the Lakeland tend to be pretty sleepy and not as cutesy as I had imagined. That’s why, staying in as far in the middle of nowhere as possible but with modern comforts and stunning food offerings, feels like the best option for lodging, me thinks.
Researching options for dinner time is also a good idea, no matter where you decide to stay overnight. Although the Lakes are known for several Michelin star chefs who have based themselves in the National Park, finding local produce, healthy food is not something to take for granted. The most popular restaurants also get booked out quickly, which can be quite disappointing especially if you need to settle for restaurants like Siennas Bar & Steakhouse Grill in Keswick when you could also enjoy yourself in Holbeck Ghyll or one of the other nice restaurants in the area. A few recommendations from me are Mortal Man in the Troutbeck Valley, restaurant in the Pheasant Inn and Croft House Farm Cafe in Buttermere.
Going to the Lake District and not eating anything nice would still make it a worthwhile trip. Snow top mountains and fells are incredibly beautiful, seeing the sun glistening on the lakes, watching little lambs playing on the fields and, simply breathing fresh air. The Lake District is also fantastic for cycling. It may be known for its numerous mountain biking routes but as we are keen road cyclists, we found some really challenging routes to train on and get exhausted with (try going up Honister or parts of the Fred Whitton Challenge for example).
For a rainy day, Theatre by the Lake is a nice option. We saw “Rogue Herries”, a play about a monster of a man, who lives high up in the mountains in the Lake District with his family and side by side neighbours who are horrified about his unpredictable character. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the amateur actors who acted along with eight professional ones in a well rehearsed and put together play, as well as to place the play in the sceneries which we had just marvelled during the day. However, it was still unnecessarily long and lacked a credible story line. The theatre in itself was lovely with a nice stage and auditorium and picturesque setting by the Derwenwater lake.
Other touristic activities that we enjoyed were the Windermere Lake Cruises, seeing the Castlerigg Stone Circle near Keswick and visiting Aira Force Waterfall near the stunning Ullswater lake. The best part of the holiday, however, was to take a little respite from the city life and remind ourselves how stunning the North of England can be.
Castlerigg Stone Circle
Keswick, Cumbria CA12 4TE
Penrith Road, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4LJ
Tel: 017 6877 4406
The Pheasant Inn
Bassenthwaite Lake, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 9YE
Tel: 017687 76234
Siennas Bar & Steakhouse Grill
21 Station Street, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5HH
Tel: 017 6878 0430
Croft House Farm Cafe
Buttermere, Cockermouth, CA13 9XA
Tel: 017 6877 0235
The Mortal Man
Troutbeck, Cumbria, LA23 1PL
Tel: 015 3943 3193
Theatre by the Lake
Lakeside, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5DJ
Box office: 017 6877 4411
(c) Nordic Odyssey 2013. All rights reserved.