Three generations on holiday in the Lake District
It was my first family holiday in a while – my wife and I, Kitty (our seven-month old daughter) and her three grandparents. According to a recent report, one fifth of the nation’s grandparents will be joining summer family trips this year and it’s not difficult to see why.
Grandparents, many of whom can live hundreds of miles from their children, get to spend longer, extended periods of time with their grandchildren, quality time which is far more relaxed and engaging.
Children love being taken out by their grandparents, not just for the attractions but also the treats. Kitty managed to come away from her holiday with Peter Rabbit and a bright pink, all-in-one, waterproof suit – what more could anyone want from the Lake District?
And for the parents… well, the grandparents can act as ‘holiday nannies’, allowing you both to enjoy some much-deserved time together, something that can be in short supply, particularly in a child’s first year.
It’s all quite different from the family holidays of my teenage years with parents and siblings. For a start, pretty much everyone can drive now, so I no longer have to be corralled against my will to visit some ancient Greek orthodox church or go shopping for local, handmade bracelets. Plus, we don’t all live together for the rest of the year, making it something of a novelty.
We stayed at Ormathwaite Coach House with cottages4you, just outside of Keswick in the heart of the Lake District. It was renovated as recently as 2006, and perfectly blends original features and modern facilities. Three bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and underfloor heating, a vaulted kitchen and a stunning lounge/dining room that straddles the entire first floor of the building.
The grounds, which are shared with the neighbouring Ormathwaite Hall, are akin to something out of The Secret Garden, with lawned terraces, a cascading stream, paved walkways, a kitchen garden and a mature beech and oak woodland, home to deer and the elusive red squirrels.
Behind the property rose the imposing sight of Skiddaw, the fourth highest mountain in England, and to the front, fields of farming animals framed exceptional panoramic views from Derwentwater and Borrowdale Fell across to Bassenthwaite Lake.
Skiddaw is one of the easiest of the Lake District mountains to climb and the views from the various peaks of this massif are simply breathtaking, reaffirming everything you’ve read about this unspoilt rural paradise.
As you further explore more of the Lake District by foot or on bike, it’s difficult not to think that the patchwork of lakes, hills, valleys and woodland found here make it one of the best places to get out and enjoy the Great British outdoors.
There were a few rainy days (something you should expect in a region renowned for large puddles of water), and whilst the summer showers and racing clouds only seemed to emphasise the grandeur and beauty of the area, there are also plenty of less active attractions available. The Lake District has been home to many literary and artistic greats over the centuries, and we managed to squeeze in visits to Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth’s homes.
Visiting Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, funded by royalties from her first book, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, is like stepping into one of her stories. You can visit Mrs Tiggywinkle’s kitchen, waddle around Jemima Puddle-Duck’s farmyard and admire the carrots in Mr MacGregor’s cottage garden – just try to avoid taking any with you. Apparently, you can get into trouble.
William Wordsworth’s birthplace in Cockermouth revealed little about the poet himself, but did provide a fascinating insight into life for a middle-class family in the 18th century, including a cook preparing meals from actual recipes of the time.
By the time we visited in June, Wordsworth’s beloved daffodils had been and gone, but it wasn’t hard to see why the dramatic scenery of this area had been the muse for endless generations of artists and poets. Our three generations were certainly inspired and it may have been our first visit to the Lake District, but it certainly won’t be our last.
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