Driving to The Lakes from London for just a weekend is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea. It’s just for those too curious and determined to explore the English countryside and not ready yet to sacrifice a week in summer at the Mediterranean for the unpredictable weather in the North.
It’s 6h drive from London, so quite far indeed. Haven’t checked the train, as going by car gives you the freedom to better explore the surroundings.
Unfortunately it’s been raining most of the time and I was definitely not well prepared. No wellies and no raincoat and we had to spend most of the time indoors.
Where to stay?
Lots of research is going in finding the right place to stay, so it’d better be good. Even more when the weather is not as planned, and staying indoors is the only option (unless you’re Brit and walking in the rain does not bother you at all, cause in the end you’re used to it:) )
Brownber Hall is a boutique guest house in Cumbria, which offers easy access to the Lake District. The house is gorgeous, with a picturesque view of the valley and the mountains. Nothing compares to waking up to this view and the noises of nature. Baa-ing of the sheep and moo-ing of the cows at the back of the house, birds chirping and the rain falling.
There are 8 cozy rooms on the first floor, with a spacious living room and dining room on the ground floor. Loved the honesty bar, nothing better than sipping a cocktail before dinner, while reading a book and looking out on the window. There was good music playing in the house.
We’ve arrived quite late Friday night, the traffic from London was pretty bad. Peter and Amanda were still around, baking for the next day. We could instantly feel the smell of freshly baked bread, dreaming already about the breakfast next morning.
Freshly baked loaf, toasted, with butter and homemade orange jam was everything I could ask for. My husband had the scrambled eggs with spinach both days, delicious. I’ve also tried the waffles with bacon, did not capture that as was too hungry:)
What’s even more amazing about Brownber Hall, is that Peter and Amanda also serve dinner for their guests. So we had the chance to try their sourdough pizza. And as my husband told Peter, their pizza is much better than ours. We definitely need to prepare our own starter for the dough.
What to do?
Go to Ambleside. Check out the Bridge House, a 17th century survivor. It served for various purposes in time, from tea room to a chair maker, to a home of a family of eight. Yes, eight.
Buy some chocolate at the Old Bank house chocolate shop. Once you enter, it’s hard to leave the place without buying some goodies. We could resist either and we bought some nice coconut chocolate truffles.
Taste some gin at the Kindred Spirits and don’t leave the store without one.
Have a coffee and a doughnut at the Apple Pie cafe.
Next stop, Grasmere.
Buy art or just stop for a coffee at Heaton Cooper Studio. Craving for something sweet? Check out the Gingerbread Shop. Or just have a walk to the Allan Bank National Trust. The view over the town Grasmere and the mountains is worth the easy hike.
If you’re a foodie and you plan to go to Grasmere, make sure you book lunch at Forest Side,awarded with a Michelin star. Wonderful fine dining experience, probably one of the best we’ve had.
The place is like a fairytale, and the whole experience is one of a kind. Housed in a Victorian Mansion, Forest Side has been transformed in a hotel, with the restaurant ran by Keving Tickle who’s passionate about foraging and terroir.
On arrival they first invite you to the lounge: high ceilings with big windows, velvet sofas and Victorian fireplace. You can sip a drink while checking on the menu. The menu, again, was probably one of the best written and original menus I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. And the prettiest as well.
Kitchen was ready for us and we were invited to the dining room. A table next to the window was prepared for us. What a beautiful view to the garden. We even spotted a red squirrel and a baby deer while enjoying our lunch.
When it comes to food, each and every dish was delicious. From the amuse bouche, to the seeded loaf with butter, to the sea trout and the dessert. Each dish was just making me more curious to move to the next one and discover more flavours. And the plating was beautiful.
Last stop of the day, before heading back to Brownber Hall for dinner, was for a coffee in Hawkshead. Kittchen is a great spot for a rainy afternoon. Not only their coffee is great, but they’ve also got 7 cats. I’d say cats to play with, however they’re rather lazy and too precious to give any attention to anyone, except the staff. Even so, it’s been very relaxing just watching them being fussy. Our first time in a cat coffee place, but definitely will repeat the experience.
There’s so much more to explore in The Lakes, you just need to have good weather to be able to enjoy the nature and the amazing views.
Hope to get luckier next time 🙂