Lake District, Cumbria England, August 2017

by Emma Bumpus on October 20, 2017

Careertraveller and family take a short break in the Lake District and step into a magical kingdom of lush valleys, imposing mountains and shimmering lakes, that fittingly honour the national park’s recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Scenic roads, heavenly skies and breathtakingly landscape transport us to a romantic county of poetry, pretty stone farmhouses and tumbling waterfalls amidst a backdrop of infinite peaks and fells. Blown away by nature our adventure begins with a stay at YHA Keswick, a riverside oasis bustling with travellers, hikers and families galore.

A trendy bistro style Riverside Bar and Restaurant is a hearty welcome and introduction to 21st century youth hostelling, whose historical roots steeped in health, education and recreation remain at the forefront of YHA today. Amidst a friendly mix of swish leather seating and fashionable pendant lighting we stylishly check in and discover this 26 room hostel comes complete with modern self catering facilities, free wifi, dry room facilities and unforgettable river facing views. Whilst ground floor aesthetic and light enhancing French doors bring the outdoors in, it is our first floor en-suite bedroom with private balcony that puts Keswick firmly on the Careertraveller roadmap!

Overlooking the stony fast flowing River Greta we inhale verdant views of Fitz Park, whose community sporting facilities and neighbouring Keswick Museum sit pretty below the mesmerisingly rugged Latrigg and Skiddaw skyline. Positioned in pure English countryside we take to this northern Lakes market town brimming with life and culture, which on the shores of Derwent Water includes attractions such as the famous Theatre by the Lake and iconic Keswick Alhambra Cinema, a UK picture house built in 1913.

We get lost in the flavours of Cumbria amidst a surplus of cafes, restaurants and pantries that introduce us to a range of ales, cheese and award winning fudge, the type that lure the discerning Foodie to local farmers markets and celebratory food festivals.

Surrounded by a plethora of dog friendly pubs, independent gift and specialist outdoor clothing shops we discover Moot Hall, an imposing grade II listed building that stands proud in the town’s cobbled market square as Keswick’s tourist information centre. Adventure beckons from this exciting former prison and town hall, which steeped in history dating back to 1813, serves an enthusing mix of tourists, country walkers, cyclists and locals.

An irresistible trip to Derwent Pencil Museum, home to one of the world’s largest colour pencil, is a rainy morning excuse to grab a slice of Cumbria’s graphite history. Inside this playground of colour we trace the roots of the first pencil, not forgetting some fun with the kids in an art class!

Enlightened by Keswick’s ‘all weather’ mix of indoor and outdoor hot spots is an appetising reminder of the Lake District’s ‘cultural landscape’, which takes us to Derwent Water, Cumbria’s third largest lake. Greeted by this ‘queen’ of the English Lakes we take a cruise with Keswick Launch and step into the literary world of Arthur Ransome and discover his Lake District inspired novel Swallows and Amazons. An eight jetty hop on hop off tour takes us round National Trust islands including St Herbert’s Island, an acclaimed film location for Ransomes’s children’s classic turned movie in 1974 and 2016.

Whilst Lodore wows us with its 90-foot cascading waterfall called Lodore Falls, the western shores bring Lingholm, whose lakeside access smacks of unique experiences in the form of artisan produce, private walks and Beatrix Potter, all wrapped up in the beautiful Lingholm Estate. Disembarkation is a 5-minute walk to a prominent grade II listed Victorian house, Potter’s favourite Lakeland holiday home whose octagonal Walled Garden crafted Peter Rabbit!

It is here we meet Alpacaly Ever After and embark on an extraordinary alpaca walk that takes us on a quirky private tour of the grounds, which with alpacas in tow, retraces the footsteps of Beatrix herself. Our guide is Terry, whose love and respect for the animals and estate reveals an exclusively innovative and nurturing approach to social enterprise that benefits all.

Lakeside is our chance to paddle with the alpacas who revel in the stunning Derwent Water shoreline, accrediting the likes of Squirrel Nutkin. Discovering these gentle and curious creatures amidst a backdrop commanding crags and fells is a Cumbrian tonic that leads us through enchanting woodland of romance and health. Beneath Cumbria’s inky blue skies we make friends with the Peruvian livestock who we learn are good with children and make excellent pets.

Amidst the sweet pea and cabbage lined Kitchen Garden, nothing phases these calm camelids and as we return them to their pastures for feeding we learn the ropes and feel blessed to have uncovered this natural piece of paradise.

Inside the Lingholm Shop we observe the alpaca gifts including wool socks and hand knitted alpacas and smile in the knowledge that nothing is wasted and that alpaca wool softer than cashmere and seven times warmer than sheep’s wool!

The smell of homemade Cumbrian artisan bread in the café is our cue to take afternoon tea in the beautifully restored 19th century Greenhouse where cake and sandwiches come served on a cool vintage like milk stool. No surprise the bakery made 2017 finalist in the Taste Cumbria Award!

An evening back at YHA Keswick comes in the form of a sunset drink on the riverside balcony and a tapas style meal that brings new choice and modernity to youth hostelling. Chicken tikka skewers and a selection of nachos and grilled Mediterranean vegetables are plenty, which washed down with a family friendly game of Monopoly by the river makes our stay with YHA social, educational and inspirational.

Bedtime is room with a view, which with the usual revitalising lime green duvets and modern comfortable mattresses we slumber to the streaming River Greta, whose rhythm prepares us for climbing England’s highest mountain Scafell Pike the next day. Up at dawn we breakfast in full English style and enjoy an escorted Lakeland Mountain Guides ride to Seathwaite where our leader Matt shepherds us 978 metres high to the summit with sensational Lexi the dog, an experienced working Labrador who brings added value and distraction to the 9-mile circuit!

The Corridor Route introduces us to pools and cliffs including Styhead Tarn and Broad Crag and quite simply we are dazzled be the beauty of Cumbria. As we lunch amidst the clouds and mountain mist it is clear why so many writers and artists take inspiration from the world heritage site and in the words of Lakeland writer Alfred Wainwright we embrace ‘the summit of England’.

Further information:

YHA Keswick
Alpacaly Ever After
Lakeland Mountain Guides
Go Lakes – official tourist board for the Lake District, Cumbria

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