Despite the numerous picturesque villages through which it passes, the A65 north west towards Cumbria from Yorkshire is not always a pleasant place to be on a Friday evening.
All the commuters, caravaners, getaway trippers and agricultural vehicle drivers urgently trying to get home or away often mean that no-one goes anywhere fast.
If there’s an immediate antidote to travel-weariness, however, it’s the breath-taking heather-covered Cumbrian hills emerging into view as you wend your way towards Ullswater Lake on the A592.
We were treated to this magnificent sight as we headed for Glenridding House – our accommodation for two nights in the Lake District.
Our mood had already improved significantly by the time we arrived at the terracotta-coloured bed and breakfast. It only got better once we were settled in.
At the risk of gushing, it’s difficult to articulate how perfect Glenridding House is. The location itself is beyond idyllic – not so much a stone’s throw as a pebble’s roll from the lake and its magnificent surroundings.
Once a holiday retreat for the father of evolution theory, Charles Darwin, this 1820s Regency building, was lovingly restored by owners Stephen Hutchinson and Lynne Eaves over the course of six years.
Our room, Place Fell, was palatial – big enough for two rooms and luxuriously appointed with a four-poster bed, chaise longue, sofa and television and an enormous bathroom with a free-standing bath. We could happily have spent the whole weekend sitting in the room – or on the large balcony – drinking in the views.
The following day, however, we jumped aboard the Ullswater Steamer to take a trip to Aira Force waterfalls.
The Cumbrian tourist board is on a mission to encourage visitors to ditch their cars and get about on public transport, including the new 508 Ullswater bus service, and the steamer is a must for anyone visiting the lake.
Having hopped off at the pier below Aira Force – the newest on the lake – we walked up to the falls themselves, which are said to have been an inspiration for the works of William Wordsworth. It’s easy to see why – they are poetry in motion.
A pleasant three-mile stroll back to Glenridding along the lakeside followed and we had a couple of hours in the pretty village before making our way to Clifton, north east of Ullswater, for a perfect autumnal dinner in the welcoming surroundings of the George and Dragon pub-restaurant. An 18th century coaching inn, the building has been lovingly restored by local craftsmen. The food is also locally-sourced and crafted with a similar attention to detail.
It was superb.
Before our reluctant departure from the Lakes the following day we had time to squeeze in a visit to the impressive Dalemain House, parts of which date back to the 14th century and which has been in the Hasell family since 1679.
The house tour is fascinating, as is the estate’s connection to marmalade – it hosts the annual World Marmalade Awards and Festival, to be held in March 2016.
Our visit was an eye-opening way to end a weekend that, in many ways, left us wide-eyed with delight.
Rooms at AA five-star rated Glenridding House start at £155/night double B&B. Tel: 01768482874
We ate at the The George and Dragon
Click here Ullswater Steamer for full details on fares and timetables
Full details on Dalemain House
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