Santa Claus is coming to Cumbria!!

Looking up to the beautiful Langdale horseshoe, the tops glisten in the freshest white snow. The magic of winter and Christmas is just around the corner.

The weather has been wonderful over the past month, with the frost and sunshine that makes postcard material.

If you are planning on joining us for the festive season, there is plenty to do. I have picked out a few of my favourites below:

2nd December – Cockermouth Lantern Parade

See Cockermouth lit up by candlelight and beautiful handmade lanterns. The shops are open late as well, and since Cockermouth is bursting with independent shops you are sure to find that perfect gift for someone.

3rd December - Windermere Christmas Light Switch On

We don’t do things by halves round here. This is a nearly a full day event, starting with a craft fair in the morning at the Ladyholme Centre in Windermere, then local choirs providing some festive tunes at 4pm to lead into the parade at 4:45pm. The parade goes through Windermere and Bowness with a very special guest making an appearance (hint – he has a suit and a white beard, and looks like he’s eaten all the pies). To finish, a spectacular display of fireworks on the park rounds off the day brilliantly. Don’t worry, there is plenty of mulled wine available to keep you warm!

3rd – 18th December – Lakeside Railway Santa Express

Santa opens his grotto aboard the Santa Express, taking you on a 1.5 hour journey between Haverthwaite and Lakeside with some assistance from his elves. There will be carols, a seasonal drink for the adults, a festive treat for the kids and plenty of on-board entertainment. A great trip for the whole family.

10th December – Big Chill Swim in Windermere

OK, so not exactly a traditional Christmas event, but it is around these parts. Setting off from Low Wood Bay, Ambleside, hardy folk think it’s a good idea to plunge into the freezing cold waters of Windermere and race their peers. It’s usually held in February but has moved to December as there is some renovation works planned in February at the Low Wood Hotel. If you don’t fancy swimming yourself, it is a great event to come and support anyway and quite a sight to see so many people doing their bit for charity.

10th – 11th December – German Christmas Market in Windermere

Nothing quite says Christmas like a German Christmas Market, and Windermere is hosting it’s first ever on the weekend of the 10th December. Bring your pennies for currywurst, schnitzel, mulled wine and some great gifts.

18th December – Santa Cruise on Ullswater

No Lake District Christmas is complete without Santa taking one of the cruises out on t’lake.  Join him from Glenridding as he brings some magic to Ullswater, and meet the elves helping him throughout the festive season. There are activities on-board, a magic show, and a free mince pie thrown into the mix. Under 3’s are free.

18th December – Yule Sing on Hoad, Ulverston

A short drive to Ulverston will offer up this unique chance to sing inside a lighthouse! The Hoad monument towers above Ulverston, and it’s opening its doors so that everyone can join in a good ol’ fashioned sing song of yuletide classics. Make sure you wrap up as it can get a bit chilly on top of those hills!

17th – 22nd December – Santa Express at Ravenglass Railway

A bit of a drive away from the lodge, but a wonderful experience for those with kids as Santa sets up grotto on board the steam train Dalegarth. If you are wanting to make a full afternoon of it, then book a Christmas lunch as an additional extra!

Until 23rd December – Santa at Hayes Garden World

This gets booked up fast, as Santa is a busy guy you know! The big man has set up his grotto at Hayes Garden World, Ambleside, so that the kids can go and see him and his elves prepare for Christmas. Each child will get a little gift, and a photo to mark the occasion.

 

It also gives the adults a perfect excuse to find that special Christmas decoration for this year from the amazing display that Hayes have to offer. That’s worth a trip in itself.

30th December – Stargazing at Grizedale

Professional astronomers are joining the team at Grizedale Forest to take everyone through the secrets of the stars above us. A wonderful chance to reflect, and a magical opportunity for the budding Brian Cox amongst the group.

 

 

What is your favourite thing to do over Christmas in the Lakes? 

So long and thanks for all the fish!

If you are a fan of exotic fish and marine wildlife, then head over to the shore of Lake Windermere and visit Lakes Aquarium. If you go by one of the steamers, they do a discount as they are operated by the same company.

As you walk through the aquarium, the areas are split into geographical locations, starting with a local twist displaying marine life founds in our own county’s lakes and rivers. As you go through America and the Tropical Rainforests, the fish just get brighter and you may even spot a unique site of a treefrog on the glass like this:

See otters in the otter enclosure, and then walk through the tunnel with sharks swimming above. Get there early if you want to miss the crowds in this section especially!

Towards the end of the aquarium you can take a look at the open tank full of stingrays and larger marine life. The kids particularly enjoy this bit, although it is nerve wracking watching them peer over the tops!

Regular feeding sessions and talks are held throughout the day, and are displayed on the website and at the entrance on arrival. 

The Delight Of Cobbles Underfoot

Ulverston is a place brimming with quirkiness and eclectic, eccentric folk. The beautiful cobbled streets of this market town is host to an array of festivals all through the year, including lantern festivals and the traditional Dickensian festival held at the end of November. There is even a breastfeeding festival that originated in Ulverston, but had to move to Manchester due to popular demand!

It is easy to see why people are attracted to this beautiful town, with something for everyone.

You can take a walk up to the Hoad and take a look around this lighthouse that dominates the skyline overlooking the town, then wander down and through the community funded Ford Park where you can stop for a lovely cup of coffee and a cake overlooking the edible garden (of which the produce is used in the café and maintained by volunteers).

If you fancy a film, the Roxy cinema is an Art Deco piece of beauty, and shows carefully selected films, both modern day and historical or art-house gems. They even continue the traditional intermission where you can buy an ice cream from a seller at the front of the room.

Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame was born in Ulverston, so it’s no surprise that there is a museum dedicated to the comedy duo right next door to the cinema.

As you stroll through the streets made up of independent shops and cafes, you may notice quite a few Buddhist monks walking around. That is because the town is host to Conishead Priory, currently home to the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre. There are also other Buddhist groups such as the Yeshe Buddhist Group which are smaller but very active in the local community.

The Priory grounds are open to all, and the café onsite serves wonderful cakes and hot drinks, as well as small lunches. You will never find a café so relaxing!

 The Coronation Hall  is a surprisingly large entertainment venue which hosts everything from antique fairs to concerts from large name artists. The panto held by the local acting society is definitely one to book tickets for!

 

Best part is that it’s only a 50-minute drive from our lodges, and is a great day out with plenty to see and do.

Orrest Head - The First Fell Wainwright Walked

Views of Lake Windermere......

If you are looking for a short but extremely rewarding walk, then look no further than Orrest Head in Windermere, and remember to take your camera.

You access the foot of the walk from the main road, opposite Nat West bank. A path swerves through woodland, passing the wonderful blacksmiths - Steve Hicks, and leads you to the kissing gate onto the start of Orrest Head. The path, if you can indeed call it that, leads to a steep scramble right at the end. But then you are rewarded with this beautiful view of Lake Windermere:

Lake Windermere

The RAF do a lot of training over the Lake, so get your camera ready and you may get a shot like this:

Orrest Head is a hill in the English Lake District on the eastern shores of Windermere. It is the subject of a chapter in Wainwright's The Outlying Fells of Lakeland, and the first fell he climbed. He describes it as "our first ascent in Lakeland, our first sight of mountains in tumultuous array across glittering waters, our awakening to beauty" and also as "a fitting finale, too, to a life made happy by fellwandering".

If You Go Down To The Woods Today..........

A short drive past Hawkshead brings you to the wonderful woodland that is Grizedale Forest. Part of the Forestry Commission, Grizedale is wonderfully kept and is much more than just a few trees. Helped by volunteers, you get to enjoy it all for free with the obvious exception of certain activities.

 

For the adventurous there is Go Ape Tree Top Adventure. You often see people hurtling themselves down a zip wire above your head on a walk out in the forest.

 

There are some beautiful walks of every difficulty from easy, flat one hour strolls to tiring five hour hikes across the changing landscape. Far from being a quiet walk, turning corners can provide some unique sights such as clockwork trees….

With over 40 sculptures dotted about the forest every walk has some artistic influence accompanying it. These sculptures were the first ever site-specific installation in the UK, starting in 1977, and more are being added regularly. The walking route maps are available to buy in the shop, and there is one walk dedicated to the art trail.

Cycling is a massive thing at Grizedale Forest. They host various races, and also hire out bikes if you are unable to fit your own in the car. Dedicated cycling route maps are available in the shop on entry.

A more unusual way to explore the forest is on a Segway, and despite what people tell you it IS possible to fall off one…believe us!

If like us, you think about your stomach most of the time, there is a lovely café onsite but also plenty of picnic tables for you to enjoy your sandwiches on. Even if the weather is a bit drizzly, take advantage of the sheltered picnic tables as you enjoy lunch watching the rain fall. Then put up your hood and discover more what the Lakes have to offer. Remember the words of Wainwright – ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing.’

A Grand Day Out

Do you fancy a Grand Day Out in Cumbria?

 

The Langdales is the place to be between 14th – 16th October as there is loads going on!

A Grand Day Out was originally set up to raise funds to assist flood victims, but is now an annual event bringing much excitement to the area in a traditionally otherwise quiet month. With fell and cycle races, guided walks, community projects, talks, big screen showings and outdoor activities, the weekend is set to be a very GRAND one indeed!

Take a look tat http://langdale.granddayoutcumbria.org.uk/ for schedules and information, and please join us in the Langdales to make this event even better than last year.

 

A Potter Round Tarn Hows

The Lake District has a walk for everyone and this is best exemplified by the National Trust’s Tarn Hows in Coniston. The short two-mile circular route is well maintained and has been carefully constructed to make it accessible for those with pushchairs or wheelchairs. It is also a nice short walk for those unpredictable days when you want some wonderful views but not the chance of getting caught out on top of a fell in the howling wind or rain!

 

Even though you are not that high up, the views looking out towards Coniston and the Langdale Pikes are inspiring. Remember to pack a picnic so that you can relax by the tarn over lunch. There really isn’t a more peaceful sight, watching the coots play in the calm water. You have a mixture of the best parts of the Lakes here – the tarn (water) and the hows (hills).

 

If you want to learn more about Tarn Hows you can join a guided tour (times changeable depending on season) and electric scooters, called trampers, are available for those with mobility issues. It truly is a walk accessible for all; exactly what the National Trust wanted in the heart of the South Lake District.

 

As with many routes around the area, the trail orienteering markers are present along the way, so those of you who are looking for more of a challenge can have some fun too.

 

If you would like more information about accessible walks in the Lake District, take a look at ‘Miles Without Stiles’.

Lowther Castle

A drive through the amazing views of the North Lake District and Eden Valley can lead you to the beauty that is Lowther Castle in Penrith.

A bit of history, a bit of nature and lots of fun can be had in traditional Medieval Cumbrian style here.

If you take a walk through the well maintained gardens you are rewarded with views like this across the Lake District National Park.

 

The castle resurrected itself from its practical ruins in 2011 with an intensive renovation project.

Grand Designs would have been awestruck as it was one of the largest renovation projects ever taken place in Europe. For the first time in 70 years, Lowther Castle opened its doors to the public once again.

You would think that with the relatively new opening that everything would have the modernised gleam to it, but this isnt further from the truth. The restoration has been done very conservatively and you get to enjoy the castle and the grounds in all its traditional glory. Just how a castle is meant to be. Restoration work is not complete but this adds to the curiosity as you wonder what they are working on next. They are still uncovering parts of the castle where the grounds have been left to take over the buildings. It is a truly amazing sight to see nature claiming its territory.

Lowther Castle has hosted royalty and celebrities. There is a summerhouse where the Queen has hosted events from. More recently it is the site for the biggest Cumbrian music festival Kendal Calling (which did start off life in Kendal until it got that little bit too big!)

The extensive grounds have deer and wildlife to watch, there are rope swings and even traditional stone baths in the gardens.They are grounds for sporting activities and sink holes in the most random places. You get a sense that this was a place where the upper class really got to relax and live. There is nothing better than a day out with the family to play in the pretence for at least a couple of hours.

After a few hours of exploring the gardens, the onsite café offers wonderful cakes, drinks and meals. Many of which are locally sourced.

Top Tip – get yourself a My Cumbria Card to get savings on various eateries, bars and activities in the county, including the castle.

Grizedale Mountain Bike Challenge

If you like a good mountain bike race, then head over to Grizedale Forest for the Grizedale Mountain Bike Challenge,on the 10th September. Its back after a five-year hiatus, and the 32 miles of ever changing terrain is no where near as challenging as the climb of 4200 feet!

Watching the thrill seekers hurtling past you at speeds you only wish you could travel on the

motorway on a Bank Holiday is a brilliant sight. Sooooo happy that its back!

Cake? Vintage fun? Lake views? Music? Count us in!

Practically next door to our lodges we have the beautiful Brathay Hall, who are also a wonderful local charity helping vulnerable young people.

They hold various events throughout the year, each promising to be a delightful community shindig. This next one sounds great. As part of there 70th year anniversary, Brathay are hosting ‘Cake by the Lake’ with music, vintage stalls, classic cars, cakes and lots of fun for the family.

Entry is free, but donations would be appreciated. Keep updated with the event on their Facebook page here.