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


World of Wedgwood, Staffordshire July 2017

by Emma Bumpus on July 18, 2017

Careertraveller takes a 90-minute train journey North from London’s Euston railway station and arrives in the beautiful city of Stoke -on -Trent, which known as The Potteries, reveals Staffordshire’s World Capital of Ceramics.

Greeted by a bronze statue of Josiah Wedgwood outside Stoke railway station is an eye opener to the history and heritage of the pottery industry whose infamous Ceramics Trail stands proud in the heart of Britain.

A 10-minute taxi ride transports us to World Of Wedgwood, a glass fronted empire whose encompassing 240-acre Wedgwood Estate reflects a stylish open playground of fountains, courtyard and giant willow tableware sculptures that beckon play and stay.

We enter Josiah territory with a breeze past the giant modern (1957) bronze cast sculpture of the iconic craftsman, potter, philanthropist and entrepreneur and receive a creative welcome of 1,100 Wedgwood plates that cleverly display his portrait. An art installation towering 9 metres high and 6 metres wide brings Wedgwood alive with a palette of 18 distinctive glazes that shimmer with Wedgwood Experience Day allure.

A rather cool VIP-like check in with Guest Services presents an organised itinerary of treats that begin with an escorted guide through the tantalising Flagship Store, where wanderlust flavours of the Far East to England infuse in the sophisticated Wedgwood Tea Emporium.

We breakfast with dignity from a collection of over 50 blends across the continents, choosing a pot of green tea Empress Catherine from the Lord Wedgwood Collection, a smooth mellow green tea blend that tributes the Russian enlightened ruler dating back to 1762. Served handsomely in a bone china teapot, displaying North Yorkshire’s stately home Castle Howard, is Wedgwood’s distinguished Parkland Collection of English heritage tableware, unique to the Flagship Store.

Fuelled and inspired we head to the guided Factory Tour that takes us back to the roots of clay, bone china and production processes performed by talented artists and craftsmen. From casting and glazing to 22 carat hand gold painting, the rafters of Barlaston factory dazzle us with skills and dedication that salute Josiah’s desire for perfection and quintessential British tableware including Jasperware, Black Basalt and Queen’s Ware.

Factory lingo brings diddling sticks and sponging to the tour and steers us towards the Master Craft Studio where opportunity presents itself in the form of a potter’s wheel and skilled guidance. Whilst some grab an apron, others venture to the Wedgwood Tea Emporium for some seriously scintillating and sensory Wonderlust Tea tasting that lifts the soul. Variety comes in a teacup of telescopic colour, radiating travel and history amidst a perfume of white blend ylang ylang and ginger to rose petal, camelia and aloe vera green tea.

Inspired by art and culture we set sail for the Decorating Studio to decorate some genuine Wedgwood straight from the factory. Taking inspiration from Kit Kemp’s Mythical Creatures bone china collection, which sits upon a ceramic fairy-tale dragon built with crockery, we toy with design and illustration in a tardis of striking colour!

Corner to corner of the tantalising Flagship Store is one big adventure bursting with Wedgwood inspiration and cutting edge design from designers including Jasper Conran and Vera Wang. Luxury dinner and giftware delivers promise, passion and renowned Prestige; Wedgwood’s collection of hand painted bespoke pieces including Careertraveller favourite Floral Eden Collection. Botanical and grandiose, this Royal Horticultural Society flower inspired trove is designed and hand painted on site in the Wedgwood Studio, a hub of great British enterprise and heritage that celebrates Made in England.

Afternoon Tea in the fashionably airy Wedgwood Tearoom is an opulent affair of refined tea, tableware and delectable freshly cut finger sandwiches that smile alongside exquisitely dainty pastries. Served on Wedgwood’s Parkland crockery is the ultimate mark of excellence. Surrounded by subtle shades of Wedgwood Jasper Trials and strikingly bold floral print Wedgwood wallpaper embellished with gold, brings a touch of Vera Wang’s fine bone china Hibiscus collection to the table. Stunning!

A final meander round the Wedgwood Museum consolidates the Wedgwood Experience Day with a snapshot of Josiah memorabilia, whose experiments, determination and vision preserve the Wedgwood legacy and artisan skills in the 21st century.

A glimpse of neighbouring new store Brand Junction is an excuse to peruse the latest Waterford, Royal Doulton and Royal Albert collections together in one big trendy warehouse of luxury chic lifestyle goodies brimming with tradition and style.

World of Wedgwood is an exclusive experience bursting with fun, flavour and flair, hence no surprise Stoke-on-Trent has been shortlisted to become UK City of Culture 2021.

Further information:

World Of Wedgwood
Visit Stoke
Enjoy Staffordshire


RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, Derbyshire June 2017

by Emma Bumpus on June 19, 2017

Dramatic lush Derbyshire countryside and 555 square miles of exquisite national parkland take Careertraveller to Chatsworth House in celebration of the first RHS Chatsworth Flower Shower 2017.

History and horticulture explode with virtue and vision as we enter the heart of the Peak District, which south of Sheffield and north of Derby transports us to the market town of Bakewell, home to Bakewell Tart or pudding. Steeped in Anglo –Saxon history we enter a land of charismatic stone built houses and quintessential boutiques on the banks of the River Wye and are intoxicated by the diverse landscape within England’s breath-taking Peak District National Park.

Natural beauty and rural romance take hold with the majestic sight of Chatsworth House, whose 1,000 acre fertile green landscaped estate and 15 kilometres long dry stonewall gives a traditional introduction to the foundations of RHS Chatsworth.

Greeted by a plethora of pop up tents of artisan food, drink and gifts awaits a showground of lavish blooms and gardens that celebrate the work of Joseph Paxton, Head Gardener at Chatsworth in 1826. Underpinning the show stands a floral plaque in tribute to the plant hunter, landscape architect and glasshouse designer, whose famous works at Chatsworth include the Emperor Fountain whose record height is 300ft high!

Entertainment galore is a traditional and tropical mix of, gardens, flowers and Talk Theatres that start with sustainable winemaking in the Artisan Kitchen Theatre and Villa Maria, whose naturally organic methods bring nature to the vineyard. Stalls including The Cheshire Cheese Company offering award winning Black Bob extra mature cheddar to Bloomers of Bakewell hand crafted pastries are a culinary journey around the mouth watering Derbyshire Dales!

Crossing the free flowing River Derwent that streams harmoniously through the grounds of Chatsworth looms a taste of the exotic with careertraveller favourite Palladian Style-Bridge, whose vibrant floral artistry delivers a spectacular carnival of willowy snake succulents. Red heart anthurium lilies and fresh cut banana leaves intertwined with giant globe artichokes and sunflowers weave a tapestry of strikingly green foliage that illuminates the show’s ultimate theme ‘Design Revolutionaries’, celebrating 21st century garden innovation.

The bar is set high with 8 stunningly beautiful Show Gardens that beam with honest intelligence, style and expression, the type that derives from soil enriching learning, devotion and pure creativity. Water, grass and stone emerge as loyal and local contributors bursting with historical significance. The IQ Quarry Garden captures Chatsworth with featured gritstone stone sourced from the very quarry that first built Chatsworth House and subsequent wing.

Designed by Paul Hervey–Brookes with support from Horticulture students at Nottingham Trent University stands a plot of mineral extraction and self-seeding wild flowers created for native birds to increase biodiversity.

Accessorised with slate monoliths, recycled kerbing and pre-formed concrete stands Ann-Magreth Bohl’s ‘Passing Light’ sculptural installation, a monumental screen of quarried corten steel that brings the outside in with use of light, shadow and form. Inspired by the Institute of Quarrying’s 100th anniversary and nature’s relationship with hand crafted stone is an award winning ‘Best Show Garden’ award that cements Chatsworth’s place in the RHS calendar.

Moving onto pastures green shines the enchanting Experience Peak District & Derbyshire Garden whose contrastingly 2-part garden conveys Derbyshire countryside joy. A central mown path rising to 17th century statue and country house Italianate planting is beautifully surrounded by rough grass meadows that beam with native wild flowers and life-sized metallic cows. Inspired by local metal mining and surrounding Derbyshire Dales tributes Garden Designer Lee Bestall, with local sponsor C.W. Sellors Fine Jewellery, whose hand-carved insect jewellery is spotted in the trees!

RHS Chatsworth partner Wedgwood bring gardening alive with ‘Gold’ award winning designer Sam Ovens Wedgwood Garden, whose haven of travel inspired colours from Europe and Asia are the source of Wedgwood’s latest Wonderlust Tea and teaware collection. Mood enhancing blackcurrant blooms and pollinating magnet Penstemon ‘Raven’ with heart shaped Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans‘ present a romantic mix in an elegant cocoon of dry stone walls and canal- like trough of water, shimmering with Josiah Wedgwood excellence.

Freeform Installation Gardens bring added extra to the show for the first time with RHS, presenting 8 totally different thoughts and concepts behind gardening and a connectivity between art and people. Careertraveller favourite is The Inspire and Achieve Foundation’sThe Good Within’ garden, whose vandalised roofless building displays hope in the form of a centrally placed uplifting beacon. Designed by young people whom the charity support, with partners architects Guy Taylor Associates and plant centre Hortus Loci, survives a building that represents the journey of time and growth for young people.

From Bug Hotels to Outdoor Classroom of bush craft and den building we get lost in the verdant grounds of alfresco wildlife and take to the Floral Marquee for some show stopping plant and flower exhibits under canopy. Rows of sweet peas to peonies present award winning eye candy amongst sprays of multi-coloured dahlias and gladioli that reach for the sky, proving nothing is too much for RHS Chatsworth.

A final mooch around Plant Village is our chance to discover new blooms and species before entering the inflatable Great Conservatory, which 14 metres high represents Joseph Paxton’s original glasshouse or ‘Great Stove’ of tropical plants. Originally built between 1836-1840 at Chatsworth, we stand amongst the sultry palms and banana plants that inspired the legendary Design Revolutionary and take a piece of RHS home to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place (RHS).

Further information:

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017
Chatsworth House
Visit Peak District & Derbyshire – Official Tourism Board


Broadstairs, Thanet, May 2017

by Emma Bumpus on June 7, 2017

Coastal adventure with a twist of 4 star luxury and heaps of quintessential seaside entertainment drives careertraveller and family to the Isle of Thanet, an infinite shoreline adventure.

Azure blue sky and billowing sail like clouds bring the Mediterranean to this picturesque harbour side town teeming with historical and unique treasure, including The Yarrow Hotel. Driving in to the generous red tiled car park is a VIP experience as the eyes soar high to capture this rather majestic and imposing Victorian Grade II Listed building. Greeted by sunny rays, random parakeets and East Kent College, whom own and operate the hotel, we enter the UKs first and only training hotel run by a further education provider.

Inside the lobby awaits a pristine white open space whose lofty ceiling adorned with contemporary pendant lights oozes a fresh panache that comes with a recent, 2016, £10.5 million makeover. Black and white checkerboard floor tiles create an elegant and strikingly timeless entrance with a traditional hexagonal symmetry that shows respect for the building’s history and British heritage.

A welcoming check-in brings an introduction to a range of facilities that lead the eye round a tastefully decorated luxury boutique hotel, which set in a former convalescent home built in 1893 by Sir Alfred Yarrow, offers guests a stimulating mix of leisure.

A fashionable lounge decorated with modern seating and warm spotlights brings a pleasing Edwardian inspired palette of contrasting creams and royal blue, which interspersed with fuchsia pink cushions brings a chic ambiance to the adjacent bar area that sparkles with 21st century hospitality and modernity! A Salon & Spa mooch takes us to a calm Dermalogica skin health fitness oasis, which brimming with leather sofas, gifts and treatments bursts with revive and relaxation.

We take a Yarrow break and hit the promenade; a 5-minute stroll that takes us to the well-manicured cliff top Victoria Gardens that boasts a pretty fertile green with bandstand, clock tower and nearby Lillyputt Minigolf. Here 12 championship holes, not forgetting the lucky 13th, take us on a amusing family outing around windmills, obelisks and rather quirky fishing boat with imitation shark and nets. A gentle reminder we play amidst the biggest fishing industry in the south east!

Situated in a fragrant and beautifully maintained garden of architectural evergreen and sub tropical palms we putt amongst a rainbow of sun-loving borders teeming with vividly vigorous coneflowers and warm climate Atlantic plants, including the towering jewel Echium Pininana!

Brunch is a feathery light teacake, which delivered fresh from local bakers Crusties to the famous canopied Tea Garden is an insight to this charming family run business, which since 1995 has cleverly preserved the former Jack Nun Putting Green. Advertised in the 1930s with having ‘seven powerful’ floodlit’ lamps overlooking the sea, we begin some serious time travelling in the renowned ‘Jewel in Thanet’s Crown’ and set sail for scholarly treasure at the Dickens House Museum. A charming wrought iron gated garden with summer meadow flowers is an invitation inside the Victorian author’s inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in his novel David Copperfield.

A guided tour by Curator ‘Lee’ is a superb insight to the life and history of Charles Dickens, whom we discover relished holidaying in Broadstairs, hence reflected in the museum’s authentic display of memorabilia, including letters, books such as Nicholas Nickelby and mahogany desk. A recreation of Betsey Trotwood’s Parlour is a tribute to the literary hero whose seaside sojourns echo the adjacent The Charles Dickens gastropub, whose devoted Copperfields Restaurant delivers Broadstairs on a Fishermans Platter overlooking Viking Bay.

Stunning views of the curved sandy ‘Seaside Award’ beach and timber harbour illuminate Dickens love and reference to the area in his literature, which prepares us for a lavish trawler of locally sourced fish. Fresh and plump creamy oysters start the show and bring the smell of the seashore to the table, which accompanied by delicate devilled whitebait fried perfectly with spice and seasoning ignites the seafood appetite for some seriously good light and golden crunch salt and pepper squid that hums with Thanet’s salty air! Dessert menu options bring a showpiece to the table with a Kentish Cherry and Orange Cheesecake Crumble that sits pretty in a glass topped with juicy cherry and orange zest cascading down to salivating tiers of cream, vanilla ice cream and crispy biscuit.

Revitalised and replenished in such wondrous scenery is a reminder of Dickens affection for Broadstairs“Our English Watering Place”. A leisurely afternoon spent indulging independent art shops and gelato at Morellis ice cream parlour takes us past the vintage flint fronted Palace Cinema whom take pride in offering a harbour side digital sound, large screen cinema with 111 seats! Amongst an abundance of eateries and traditional seafront crabbing paraphernalia we take the Viking Bay boardwalk and lap up the surf and sandy cove rides.

Evening brings dining delight at the Yarrow whose 64-cover restaurant boasts a glistening wine glass chandelier, caramel coloured leather seats and teal decorated walls adorned with period photos that depict the Yarrow legacy. Pictures of students captured in the 1960s add a stylish glamour to the menu, which designed by award winning chef Ben Williams, a former lecturer at the college, brings a deliciously native appeal to the hotel’s kitchen.

Flawless hospitality reflects the college’s recent ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report and reveals a team of dedicated, friendly and customer focussed staff that care about their guests. Whilst the ‘little un’ is helped with an alternative menu the adults take unadulterated pleasure with the tender selection of Kentish lamb main, which placed artistically alongside a trio of dainty potato cake Pomme Anna with splash of dainty broad beans and delicately cooked baby carrots, brings plot to plate.

Raspberry soufflé to milk chocolate earl grey mousse with chocolate brownie and banana ice cream offer a bold and inspiring choice for this unique training hotel, offering catering and hospitality students hands on experience and a seal of excellent customer service.

Wined, dined and impressed we retire to our interconnecting Suites, whose calming Edwardian inspired powder blue walls and spacious Victorian inspired black and white bathroom radiates extravagance and luxury travel. High ceilings with white woodwork and ceilings enhance the light- filled space and display a subtle twist of old and new. Original period fireplace and modish furnishings such as trendy pendant lamps and neutrally cool and comfortable sofa and chairs are enough to make us want to move in!

Breakfast at the Yarrow is a fine affair with hot and cold choice of continental versus full English, not forgetting the vegetarian option and plentiful fruit in the restaurant. We take ours in the conservatory like ‘Solarium’ that runs along the building, absorbing Thanet rays that once improved the health of the poorly whilst overlooking verdant grounds.

Ready for some coastal adventure we make waves for 7 sunny bays around Broadstairs. Intact with Thanet’s new Coastal Explorers Pack we hit the prestigious Blue Flag beaches for some fun and friendly family rock pooling. Equipped with fishing net, compass, binoculars and maps we uncover seaweed and chalky white cliffs that lead us to sea caves, wildlife and candy coloured beach huts at Stone Bay. Ascending to the North Foreland Lighthouse we cloud spot en route to surfers dream Joss Bay and savour stunning cliff top views along the famously infinite Viking Coastal Trail.

Clean beaches, rocky shores and saltwater air return us to Viking Bay where we make a pit stop of Charles Dickens legendary holiday home Bleak House, which sits mysterious and majestically like a fortress above the harbour. Inside his former ‘airy nest’ rests a handsome four floor Grade II Listed elegant home and mansion, which built in 1801 booms with history. Room to room is a step back in time with tales of the local fort captain during the Napoleanic War to the creation of Dickens works Bleak House and David Copperfield.

A tour of the historical accommodation opens our eyes to this present day wedding venue and luxury Bed and Breakfast, whose rooms named after characters Fagin and Little Doritt are a sophisticated tribute to the novelist whose study still contains his original desk overlooking the North Sea. It is the Copperfield Bridal Suite that grabs the Careertraveller limelight with sumptuous period furniture, luxury bathroom double bath and romantic balcony overlooking Viking Bay that marks ‘the residence he most desired’.

A final peek in the basement Smuggling Museum, revealed in the 1970s, is a treasure trove of shipwreck relics washed into Viking Bay and highlights why Broadstairs is just one big holiday! Just 85 minutes from St. Pancras International in London with Southeastern’s high speed service, one trip is never enough!

Further information:

Yarrow Hotel
Lillyputt Minigolf
Dickens House Museum
Bleak House
The Charles Dickens
Visit Thanet – official tourist board
Coastal Explorer Pack

Details of the Broadstairs Dickens Festival, which celebrates it’s 80th anniversary this month can be found on the following link Broadstairs Dickens Festival.


Chelsea Physic Garden, London England, May 2017

by Emma Bumpus on May 16, 2017

Careertraveller uncovers fertile pleasure-giving treasure on the edge of the River Thames where scent and science take us on a journey to London’s oldest botanical garden.

Entry to this 4 acre walled garden with wrought iron Swan Walk gate and pendulous leafy green vine is a romantic opening to what feels rather clandestine and intimate in the capital’s borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Greeted by fifty shades of mesmeric green oxygenating space awaits a playground of trees, borders and plants, which set in a variegated oasis of colour delivers an elixir of botany that smacks of scientific research and worldwide learning.

Established in 1673 as a centre for learning and study of medicinal plants by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, we time travel back to a period of European Renaissance inspired plant curiosity and botanical exploration across the continents.

Entrenched in global travel and maritime history we uncover the transportation and exchange of plants behind botanical medicine on a free-guided tour conducted by knowledgeable volunteers. A poignant meeting point at the garden statue of benefactor Sir Hans Sloane sows the seeds for a reflective insight to the life of young apothecaries who once studied plant-based medicine.

The Garden of Medicinal Plants takes us on a flight from India to Oceania beds with evidence of cardamom to tea tree traditional herbal medicine, which leads to The Pharmaceutical Garden, a collection of roughly 60 plants used for a variety of modern day ailments. From Oncology to Dermatology we uncover a display of clever medicine boxes revealing modern day medicine in its form, most befitting of a contemporary physic garden, built for peace as well as visitor information and services.

Gardens and herbs galore, our trail of fragrant Mediterranean Rosemary and Lavender to Ginko biloba of China takes an extraordinary U turn in a neighbouring corner of exotic looking architectural plants labelled “poisonous, do not touch”. Strikingly exotic blue, purple flowers of the Himalayan Monkshood cunningly conceal their poison or aconitine toxin and underline the diversity and study of plant chemistry that comes with the origins of a botanical garden.

An educational meander past the traditional Order Beds comes a division of Dicotyledon and Monocotyledon plant families, which define botany with their linear arrangement and artist’s palette of colour bursting with orderly organic growth and bustling wildlife.

Hues of violet blue and sunny yellow and orange assist urban pollinators exceed their potential amongst a spray of flowers, including Phacelia Tanacetifolia, known as Fiddleneck to luminous Eschcholzia Californica or Golden Poppy. It is of no surprise to discover the latter is the official state flower of California and used as a herbal remedy for tooth pain and anxiety.

Getting lost amongst the birds and bees defines this Physic working garden in progress and draws us towards a multitude of gardens within a garden fit for purpose. Artistic yet functional, we uncover a collection of plants used for everyday life such as sugar beet in The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants. Amongst providing high-energy food for Man we discover the vegetable’s use in farming, which raising soil PH levels and feed for livestock, connects us with plants.

From Asia and Australasia to South America we enter the plant-hunting world of Joseph Banks and Robert Fortune in The World Woodland Garden and embark on an evergreen voyage of shade tolerant plants. Beneath the sheltering forest-like palms and sidewalk giant saucer-like hostas we consider the effects of deforestation amidst the lush vegetation and tropical plantation timber and admire the botanists universal species.

The ancient Ginkgo Biloba tree is a Careertraveller favourite with it’s tumbling Rapunzel like shoots that twist and twirl to the ground between dainty fan shaped leaves used for western herbal medicine. Native to China we admire this endangered species known as ‘living fossil’ and step into the world of Chinese traditional medicine, which over the centuries has led to extensive homeopathic research in the fields of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Our plant hunting tour ends at the Tangerine Dream Café where a garden fresh salad and glass of fine chardonnay deliver spring on a plate. Alfresco dining overlooking enchanting grounds are the ultimate garden party and an excuse to sign up for a seasonal course in botany or beekeeping, the list is endless!

A final mooch in the nearby Glasshouses ignite the Careertraveller wanderlust in The Tropical Corridor of medicinal plants from the faraway steamy and sultry tropics and subtropics. Home to the climbing Vanilla Planifolia orchid and latest first chocolate pod from the cacao tree, Chelsea Physic Garden is a breath-taking cauldron of science and travel, which as an independent charity salutes Sir Hans Sloane, volunteers and Friends of the Garden who donate their time and funds to maintain London’s secret garden.

Further information:

Chelsea Physic Garden
Walks, Talks & Workshops


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew London March 2017

by Emma Bumpus on April 4, 2017

Spring explodes on the banks of the River Thames with botanical wanderlust as Careertraveller takes a 30-minute journey from Central London to Kew’s famous UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Greeted by a jungle of green urban space and kaleidoscopic colour we enter a biosphere of pure natural beauty and intelligence derived from a love and curiosity for the arts and science. Up above rests a verdant skyline of oxygenating trees whilst below awaits a curvaceous carpet of Palm House Parterre buttery yellow daffodil beds that escort us to paradise.

Overwhelmed by the initial size and array of plants, glades and gardens we hop on the Kew Explorer land train for a delicious show of outstanding attractions and seasonal highlights. A jolly 45-minute ephemeral commentary brings Kew’s history alive with stories of royalty and conservation dating back to 1759 when Princess Augusta founded the gardens.

A tour around 326 acres of diverse landscape reveals secluded treasure in the form of 38 listed buildings including Kew Palace, temples and glasshouses. From 18th century Orangery, whose classical building once housed ornamental citrus plants to Chinese folly Pagoda, a fashionable gift for the princess we discover 18th century architecture and architect Sir William Chambers.

An Arboretum of almost 14, 000 trees introduces Redwood Grove, an introduction to giant cone-bearing trees where Kew’s tallest tree, a coastal redwood, stands majestically 39.3 metres high. Continuing past oaks and conifers to pine and ancient maidenhair tree Gingko biloba, we uncover the work of Kew’s scientists who study the traditional uses of seeds for medicinal purposes. Amidst bursts of red and pink Rhododendron Dell and Azalea Garden we inhale the romance of ornamental magnolias and Japanese cherry blossom ‘Prunus Shirotea’ trees, whose horizontal branches twinkle with snow white fragrance.

A hop off at The Hive is an opportunity to experience the secret lives of bees by stepping into a 17 metre high installation created by artist Wolfgang Buttress. On the basis that honeybees communicate primarily through vibration, this 170,000-aluminium piece hive-like structure is a fantastically winning experience of multisensory low humming sound, light and vibration. Inviting the visitor to engage by biting a wooden stick connected to a conductor provides a sense of vibrational messages through the bones in the head, which surrounded by wildflower meadow plants, introduces the Pollination Trail.

Hive activities take us on an educated detour to Kew’s own beehives and order beds which situated near the the Jodrell Laboratory underlines the scientific research and projects behind the scenes. A declining bee population is reflected in the Garden’s Pollinator Strategy and explains the Bumblebee Backpacks, whose tiny radio devices help Kew’s scientists track the pollinators preferred flowers. Inspired by the beekeeping and wild flower nectar producing beds, it becomes obvious why The School of Horticulture at Kew is the centre of excellence and worldwide botanical education.

Bee and wild flower identification take us to tropical orchids via the Princess of Wales Conservatory, whose hot and cool climatic zones explain how conservation preserves Kew’s reputation as world leader in study of the species. Opened by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1987 we get lost in this glasshouse of 10 climatic zones covering rainforests, humid mountains and fruits of the desert and embrace orchid mania. Sultry, fragrant, and exotic wild flowers are an explosion of colour through a steamy voyage of mangroves and water lilies to glossy coffee and cacao plants! A mixture of dry tropic architectural cacti brings the spirit of Mexico alive with the succulent blue Agave tequilana, which aged in the plant for up to 12 years produces tequila!

A breeze past the endangered Chinese Paper Bark Maple with an ornamental stature and coppery orange bark justifies a jaunt to Xstrata Treetop Walkway. Climbing this 18 metre high platform defines the word arboretum, which in Latin translates ‘a place with trees, where we are blown away by nature. Sky-high London views are a lens for wildlife, tree species and seasonal landscape blooms that stretch West to the Sackler Crossing whose S-curve bridge provides lakeside eye candy.

A homebound stroll past the romantic King William’s Temple and iconic glass Palm House is another excuse to sample more of Kew’s listed buildings offering inspiration, open space and relaxation to all. Inside this restored Victorian house, built to house worldwide tropical palms and trees, awaits a rainforest of medicinal and bizarre species across the continents from The Americas to Africa and Australasia. Under the hot and steamy stainless steel rafters we uncover science in the form of fruit, wood from the Ebony Tree and a better understanding of the planet’s DNA and ecology.

Summary, Kew is a utopia of knowledge and perfection that deserves more than a day’s visit. As for the Waterlily House, Marianne North Gallery and Temperate House et al, to be continued!

Further information:

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew


Eneko at One Aldwych, London February 2017

by Emma Bumpus on February 20, 2017

Traditional food and flavours at Eneko at One Aldwych take careertraveller on a gastronomic journey to Northeastern Spain’s ‘Basque country’, where full-bodied colour, culture and gastronomy position adventurous ingredients at the centre of the table.

Located in the heart of London, Covent Garden awaits a culinary experience that smacks of style, imagination and tradition inside the fashionably renowned boutique One Aldwych Hotel.

Inside this glamorous former ‘Morning Post’ newspaper HQ, first impressions come in the form of a stunning copper-plated staircase that descends to a stylish ‘theatre-like’ basement of sizzling colour. Piquant red booths and white leather armchairs stylishly offset a plethora of beautifully hand-sculpted tables made in solid wood of Basque Chestnut trees.

Smooth, curvaceous and textured haute couture wood provides a stimulating backdrop for some serious Mediterranean brunch with Spanish roots steeped in green fertile Navarra Pyrenees Mountains and coastal Bay of Biscay Atlantic beaches.

Impressed by the subtle butterfly joint inlay that radiates bespoke craftsmanship fit for an artisanal feast of playful sensations, the show commences with a clever Bloody Mary twist of spice-infused vodka, golden tomato juice and celery foam in the name of aperitif ‘Golden Mary’. Opulently presented in a bountiful cocktail glass brimming with lively seasoning and bursts of Vitamins A and C sets the scene for a show of lively ingredients and fun dynamic of sharing food.

From the depths of his hometown Bilboa, we discover Three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa whose Basque inspired menu brings a party to the table with regional Euskal Azoka ‘Street Food’ and a carnival cocina to the palate. Vibrantly eye catching and engaging we brunch through Traditional Talo whose fresh corn tortilla base showcases a spectacular spring bouquet of fresh herbs and edible flowers positioned beautifully upon layers of meaty and sunny coloured heritage tomatoes.

Elegantly fruity and bursting with heirloom superior juice we taste summer on a plate and progress to the Basque pizza-style Talo, whose contrasting dash of anchovies and farmhouse Idiazabal cheese brings a mildly salty and smokey influence from the Atlantic coast and mountainous highlands!

Taste buds climax with the arrival of Gallinero ‘Eggs’ and Arraultzak, whose salivating golden fried eggs served on a succulent piquillo pepper and onion coated Flour Crisp define brunch in one morsel. Accompanied by a rustic earthenware pan of creamy mash and chives we traverse deep into Navarre country and delight in the truly seasonal spindly wild asparagus and sweet and spicy “little beak’ chilli peppers.

Next we enter the verdant vineyards of Eneko’s own family winery Gorka Izagirre where we sample a glass of the flagship wine Txakoli, whose youthful sharp fresh tones take us to the hills of the Txorierri Valley. In a land of green hilly regions and oceanic climate we step into charming rural countryside and discover Eneko’s neighbouring Michelin-starred Azurmendi restaurant, which just 20 kilometres from Bilboa is surrounded by vineyards and built into a Biscay hillside!

Full of surprise and imagination we brunch further into wizardry with a taste of the Asador – ‘Grill’ menu and dip into the provincial town of Guernica or Basque name ‘Guernika’. A drooling platter of sliced golden seared Duck breast and Gernika peppers, named after the town bombed during the Spanish Civil War, rests tenderly against a formation of green and mild officially protected Basque pepper. Fried in olive oil and lightly seasoned with sea salt ticks the careertraveller favourite dish of the day for pure melt in the mouth culinary flair and rustic simplicity that stems from a rich culinary heritage.

Last but not least arrives dessert and spoilt for choice we opt for a dolce combination of Basque country elements and gastronomic expertise that inspires, educates and lifts the soul.

Taste and texture take us from the traditional Torrija, an authentic vanilla sponge with light caramel crumble ice cream to zesty Strawberry sorbet, whose flawlessly dainty rose marshmallow is weightlessly delectable. However, it is the Salted Caramel Mousse that rests politely on a bed of homemade cookie crumble with complementary genuine sheep’s milk ice cream that takes centre stage, placing Basque country travel firmly on the careertraveller radar.

Further information:

Eneko at One Aldwych
Brunch can be booked online or by calling
020 7300 0300. Walk-ins are also welcome.


New Year in Ramsgate, Kent January 2017

by Emma Bumpus on January 10, 2017

New Year celebrations kick off in Thanet as Careertraveller and family take to the active Ramsgate coast where handsome beaches and only Royal Harbour in the country present a playground of historical treasures.

Amidst the bustling eateries and harbour side shops adorned with festively welcoming decorations stands our fashionable water front haven The Oak Hotel, which strikingly tall and colourfully continental stands proud above the distinguished sea facing marina.

Maritime delights appear from our Superior Sea View room that smacks of coastal adventure within a spacious suite of a bedroom, whose crisp white sumptuous bed linen and debonair leather arm chairs make us want to relax and set sail! Essential Wi-Fi and Flat Screen TV please the little sailor and tick the boxes for all mod cons, with added bonus of in-room desk and en-suite bathroom, whose pristine power shower brings seafaring joy.

Tea and coffee making conveniences enhance our Harbour window outlook with portside sight of the Maritime Museum, which housed in an elegant 19th century Clock House is Ramsgate’s unique engineering masterpiece and Meridian site from which the town’s own Mean Time is 5 minutes 41 seconds ahead of Greenwich.

Below quayside rest famous floating exhibits Sundowner, the famous Dunkirk Little Ship that served both WW1 and WW2 and USN P22 United States Navy Gun Boat whose conspicuous American Flag reminds us of it’s roots steeped in Cold War history.

Starboard views of yachts and Royal Parade red brick Victorian arches lead the eye up to a rise of Georgian and Regency rooftops that beckon the Town Rounders Regency, Royal and Riviera Town Walk, an energetic trail of architecture, landmarks and cafes.

A harbour side coffee at the Ship Shape Café is a nautical boost, which cruises us past a trendy array of one-off restaurants, open art studio and eclectic Petticoat Lane Emporium, a vintage anchorage of antiques with old-fashioned tearoom.

Unexpected treasure awaits with the gothic inspired Sailors Church and Harbour Mission, a 19th century refuge which built in 1878 pays homage to the sailing smacks who fished outside Ramsgate including ‘smack boys ‘of Ramsgate. As the eye stretches out towards the West Pier lighthouse and challenging waters we reflect upon the lives of those rescued from the shipwrecks of Goodwin Sands and First World War and embrace our sheltered position, just 35 miles away from the French coast.

Our footpath continues with a steep climb up Jacobs Ladder, a historical staircase that transports us back to 1754 when carpenter Jacob Steed built the ladder in stone with wooden steps. Basking in the footsteps of smugglers once believed to have used them for the harbour, we soar new heights and applaud the prominent regency town houses that echo former residents Vincent Van Gogh and John Gibson Lockhart.

Amongst the stream of Blue Plaques and manicured town squares we inhale the cultural contrasts of Ramsgate with it’s 4 Gold Anchor Awarded Royal Harbour Marina and adjoining freight handling seaport.

From the West Cliff promenade we admire Ramsgate’s picturesque dock and turn into St Augustine’s Road where we enter the world of designer and architect Augustus Pugin whose former home The Grange and St Augustine’s Church honour his love of Ramsgate.

Built by Pugin himself we step into the flint church and admire the Altar of The Sacred Heart and North Cloister, which displays a long polychromed terracotta panel depicting the Stations of the Cross, designed and added by Flemish sculptor Alois De Beule in 1893. The striking Neo- Gothic Altar designed by Pugin’s son is a show of dedicated craftsmanship and example of Ramsgate’s listed buildings, approximately 900.

As blazing sunset shades of gold and yellow reverberate the words of artist J.M.W Turner “The skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe,” we retreat to Harbour Parade where New Year’s Eve festivities take shape with sight of The Oak Hotel. An illuminated exterior and established friendliness beckon a tipple from the sociable Lounge Bar tavern that stirs a crowd.

Caught in a welcoming plethora of guests, tourists and locals it is easy to understand how this contemporary port of 34 en-suite rooms, just yards from Ramsgate’s sandy award winning beach, attracts a bustling trade and brings the outside in.

Next-door in their Restaurant 66 is a convivial stylish diner with attractive spotlights and leather-banqueting chairs fit for a celebratory feast twinkles with stellar hospitality. Overlooking the harbour we dine amidst the revellers and share a glass of bubbly as the midnight fireworks sprinkle good health and fortune over Ramsgate’s glitzy marina.

New Year’s Day brings a selective hearty breakfast of porridge with banana and honey in the hotel’s Café Bar before embarking on the legendary local Ramsgate Blitz Walk, a step back to WW2 when the seaside resort was heavily bombed. We uncover former bombsites, 20th century architectural remnants and nostalgic stories of the people who survived and set sail for reinforcements at Ramsgate’s traditional fish ‘n’ chip shop Peter’s Fish Factory.

Ramsgate Main Sands ‘Blue Flag’ Beach is enough to unleash the Careertraveller wanderlust with a vigorous 5-mile return Ramsgate to Broadstairs walk. Accompanied by sea spray, sandy beaches and chalky cliffs, peppered with a garden of Rock Sea lavender and Rock Samphire, New Year activates a heart-pumping itinerary of delicious coastal gems.

Italianate Greenhouse and pretty coloured Dumpton Gap beach huts escort us to award winning beach Viking Bay in Broadstairs, whose enchanting horseshoe shaped seashore shimmers with nostalgic family holidays including the likes of Charles Dickens!

Amongst the ramblers and dog walkers to cyclists and joggers, we grab a taste of this quintessential seaside town and vow to return for more of Thanet’s stunning coastline!

Further information:

The Oak Hotel
Thanet Tourism
Active Ramsgate
Ramsgate Maritime Museum
Ramsgate Blitz Walks
St Augustine’s Church


Staying Cool at The Rotunda, Birmingham December 2016

by Emma Bumpus on December 14, 2016

Careertraveller and family take Christmas to new heights with an urban city stay in Birmingham’s Staying Cool sleek serviced apartments, the type that bring an added glamour and luxury to travel.

Perfectly situated in the heart of the city stands the iconic Rotunda, an 81 metre high Grade II Listed cylindrical tower that smacks of history, culture and entertainment. Situated just minutes away from central New and Moor Street railway stations is the green light for 24 hours in one of the UK’s most diverse and multicultural cities.

Reception is a trendy LED chandelier of overhead neon LED tubes with smart concierge service that transport us flawlessly to 20th floor heaven aka Roadster Penthouse. Luxury family travel takes on new meaning as we walk into a fashionable boutique pad that oozes high-rise Manhattan radiance.

A swanky Poggenpohl designed and installed kitchen with solid and Corian countertop and stainless steel accessories bounce high quality light off floor to ceiling glass doors that display Birmingham’s stunning city skyline.

Out on the wraparound balcony awaits a panoramic metropolis of shimmering architecture and regenerative open space bursting with attractions and festive Christmas spirit. Inside is a haven of modish mod cons from ipod docking station and Francis Francis illy espresso machine to classic monopoly and giant jenga, which brilliantly offsets the contemporary naughtone portion sofa and 60s inspired wall art.

Calming grey hand made upholstery accessorised by candy coloured buttons and select vintage wool cushions created by Heather Linnet at Eclectic Chair radiate psychedelic shades of orange, pink and red, reflective of this wonderfully rejuvenated building built in 1965.

Encapsulated in a rotund harbour of exemplary design, detail and love we uncover traces of Staying Cool’s eco tourism philosophy and are educated by their recent silver award in green excellence by Green Tourism. Dazzled by this subtle and visionary exclusive penthouse we marvel in a heady mix of sustainability and natural cutting-edge recyclable materials that transcends into citrus orange and bergamot hand-blended aromatherapy products. Marvellous!

Ready for action we hit land with the city’s famous annual Frankfurt Christmas Market, which just outside reception is a plethora of wooden chalet style huts brimming with würstel, gluewien and strudel. Aromatic hints of cinnamon and gingerbread are an edible trail of festive gifts and shops that take us through the famous Bullring Shopping Centre. Positioned beneath the landmark Rotunda, whose presence never leaves our sight, reside over 160 shops, cafes and restaurants that twinkle with 21st century department stores and retailers.

Amidst the tinsel and snowy alfresco Winter Social showcase of Black Country award winning street food and local favourite ‘Peaky Blinder’ ale, we enjoy getting lost amongst the city’s mixture of old and new buildings that convey Birmingham’s rich cultural heritage across the centuries. From the Selfridges space age exterior covered in 15,000 space age spun aluminium disks to St Martins Church, an 19th century gothic Victorian masterpiece, we continue our historical journey to the city’s creative quarter Digbeth and discover Alfred Bird’s legendary Custard Factory.

Once home to Bird and Sons Ltd we enter the land of egg free instant custard powder, which invented by the chemist Mr Bird himself, stands the former factory premises reinvented with innovative independent shops, artist space and intimate Mockingbird Cinema.

Inspiration carries us west canal side towards Brindley Place, a fabulous fusion of cafes, restaurants and attractions fit for all. Award winning Ikon Gallery to ICC Symphony Hall are a footpath of cultural eye candy to Centenary Square where festive Ferris wheel and ice skating rink illuminate the majestic careertraveller favourite Library of Birmingham. Imposingly palatial stands this modern centre of excellence with 10 floors of art gallery space, 7th floor garden, outdoor amphitheatre and legendary Shakespeare Memorial Room. Spectacular!

As day becomes night we grab a cab to Birmingham Botanical Gardens to capture the Magical Lantern Festival, which celebrates the city’s art and culture with original handcrafted Chinese lanterns from China. Set in 15 acres of stunning gardens stand giant illuminations that enchant and enthuse in a playground of carnival wonder full of East meets West animals, symbols and traditional Christmas cheer. Beautifully entertaining and playful pandas, interspersed with colossal birdcages and the likes of Santa, epitomise the city’s Brummie Bull, known lovingly as the ‘people’s mascot’.

Birmingham rocks and as we retire to our desirable Rotunda Roadster Penthouse we take an alfresco 360° inner-city vista nightcap before retiring upon deluxe pocket sprung mattresses in our king size beds fit for quality sleep.

Morning brings an enlightening tonic at the Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum, which just a 15-minute walk from the Rotunda introduces us to some of Birmingham’s pretty green space at Eastside City Park. Set in a public square detailed with canal feature and jet fountains awaits a fun morning of interactive discovery from health and technology to wildlife and astronomy.

Inside a Forensic Van we solve a crime scene, discover the stars in the Planetarium and find history in The Spitfire Gallery from 4 floors of jam-packed inventions, experiments and research. Blown away by this outstanding award-winning museum, which warrants a full day out, we place Birmingham firmly on the careertraveller return roadmap and thank Staying Cool for providing a unique insight to the most happening city.

Educated and replenished we adopt Staying Cool’s green philosophy and travel home from Birmingham Coach Station with National Express, whose spacious leather chairs and smooth journeying make Birmingham an accessible and wonderful tourist destination.

Further information:

Staying Cool
Visit Birmingham
Magical Lantern Festival
Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum
National Express


Snowdonia, North Wales October 2016

by Emma Bumpus on November 7, 2016

Jagged mountains and plunging waterfalls amidst green fertile valleys present one BIG adventure for Careertraveller and family.

Dramatically wild and rugged landscape sets the scene for 823 square miles of Snowdonia National Park culture and geography triggers alpine wanderlust amongst the rocky peaks of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales’ and England.

Our journey begins with a stop at the YHA Snowdon Llanberis where outdoors sheep and cattle graze peacefully below the highest peak in England and Wales, all 3560 ft. Indoors is a warm and friendly welcome ticket to a fresh and contemporary bunkroom whose surprisingly firm mattress and energising crisp lime green bed linen reflects sublime mountainous window views.

A wander round the hostel’s dry room, lounge, dining room and self catering kitchen is a 21st century introduction to the charity, who for 85 years has inspired and helped thousands of young people experience travel.

Reception is a hub of activity and information covering attractions, eateries, weather conditions and trails, the type that effortlessly beckons king Snowdon exploration. Equipped with details of 8 tracks, and legendary Snowdon Mountain Railway, which celebrates it’s 125th anniversary, we kick start the children’s appetite with a hearty YHA full English breakfast that beams with anticipation.

We opt for the shortest Pyg Track that starts with a brief scenic drive on the local Sherpa bus to mountain Pen-Y-Pass, a whopping 359 metres high above sea level! Within a primal panoramic playground of craggy boulders and mystical upland mist we join a community of Snowdon revellers from families and hikers to pet dogs and enter the third largest national park in the UK. Our ascent is a journey fuelled by friendly conversation, majestic geography and child friendly energy bars, the sugary kind that sweetly usher us to the top of the world!

Llyn Glaslyn, Welsh for blue lake is a unique pit stop that commands epic east flank views of Snowdon. It is here we accept Mother Nature’s changeable weather and ‘scrambley’ descend to the lake’s shore via the Miners’ Track with menacing views of Crib Croch’s knife-edge ridge.

Hankering summit views evaporate with sight of Llyn Llydaw, Snowdon’s largest lake with a legend of being the lake where Sir Bedivere (Bedwyer) threw King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur. Sight of a causeway and abandoned mine are curiosities for the kids who take kindly to the wide waterside walk. Smallest Llyn Tayrn signals home is near with a wide and even road that ends with a mirage like hop on Sherpa bus, summoning warm comforts of the YHA Snowdon Llanberis.

Dinner is an economically tasty 3-course menu of home cooked soup, fish n chips or vegetable curry with generous portion of chocolate cake that makes travelling complete. Evening entertainment in the lounge is a an oasis of board games and books with comfy leather sofas adorned with woolly throws, designed to relax and take in full bodied views of Snowdonia’s green pastures.

A Welsh mountain slumber brings further pleasure with a ride on the Llanberis Lake Railway, which just a 15-minute walk from the hostel is an exciting trail of quaint village shops, eateries and attractions. Narrow gauge- tracks and shiny short carriages unite when a rosy red steam engine blows it’s whistle under an authentic cloud of 19th century locomotive vapour.

Charmed by lakeside views of the Snowden Mountain Railway and Electric Mountain we discover the heart of slate country as we step into the former land of Dinorwic Quarry and Elidir Mountain where slate was first dug. A mountain tunnel reveals the original slate train route from the quarry and takes us past the National Slate Museum which once housed the main workshops for the whole quarry. Contrasting hues of blue and green dazzle us with mountain range views above lake or Llyn Padarn and woodland Padarn Country Park, whose wildlife recognises fifty species of birds.

Perched high above the shore stands Dolbadarn Castle, which built in the 13th century adds a medieval dimension to Snowdon’s village, completing our 5-mile journey from the track bed of the beautifully maintained Padarn Railway.

Mountains to coast take us north to Caernarfon where UNESCO world heritage site Caernarfon Castle brings waterfront beauty to Snowdonia. Shaped like a figure eight stands this romantic fortress built in the 13th century with impressive Eagle Tower overlooking the Menai Strait towards the Isle of Anglesey.

Three grand storeys and lofty turrets crowned with battlement stone eagles reflect Snowdonia’s hidden history, kept alive with innovative art installations such as Poppies: Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. This handsome display of handmade blood red ceramic poppies exploding from the parapets of the castle marks the commemoration of the WW1 centenary and tributes Snowdonia’s rich culture with pride.

Homeward bound is a an ultimate stop in Blaenau Ffestiniog, an up and coming industrial mining town boasting legendary Zip World, a former working Victorian slate mine brimming with adventure and imagination.

Outside is a playground of airborne zip wires fit for trapeze amidst the slate and mountains whilst deep down inside awaits Bounce Below, a whopping 400 square metre space of giant trampolines and modern slides. Built for pleasure seekers, neon lights heighten the ambience and highlight the rock-strewn caves and tunnels as we bounce, roll and jump our way up and down the Llechwedd Slate Caverns.

Between the nets we watch swashbuckling adventurers zip line their way across the craters and embrace this subterranean ingenious playground that offers fun for all the family. A glance at the 500 foot underground Deep Mine Tour is a historical insight to the miners who worked in semi darkness over 100 years ago and tributes this attraction for preserving the heritage of the Welsh mining industry.

North Wales is one big adventure!

Further information:

Visit Wales
Lanberis Lake Railway
Caernarfon Castle
Zip World, Blaenau Ffestiniog