Lake District: Splendour of scenic getaway

Lake District press trip

Lake District press trip

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Sunlight caressed the mountain peaks and lush, green hillsides which were reflected in the mirror-like surface of the water, writes Richard Marsden.

The stunning scene as our boat travelled along Lake Windermere was almost poetry in motion and you could see why the region inspired masters of verse such as Wordsworth.

Lake District cruising boat Teal

Lake District cruising boat Teal

Our boat, Teal, had been plying its trade on the lake since the 1930s and is one of several providing cruises for tourists.

Regular journeys run daily between the south end of the lake and the scenic towns of Bowness and Ambleside.

Both offer interesting winding streets packed with shops, cafes, art galleries and other attractions including the Beatrix Potter Museum at Bowness.

The boat cruises are best enjoyed in fine weather when you can sit out on deck and take in the view.

Lake District press trip

Lake District press trip

There are also comfy seats indoors plus refreshments available, including a licensed bar.

Continuing the relaxing theme – in contrast to Cumbria’s more adrenaline-inducing activities on the fells - at the south end of Windermere is the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.

Steam and vintage diesel engines haul heritage carriages, panelled with walnut veneer instead of modern plastic, on the three mile journey.

A bygone era was evoked as our train puffed sedately through dappled woodland to its terminus where train spotters lined the footbridge to take pictures of our arrival.

Lake District press trip

Lake District press trip

Haverthwaite Station is home to a shop and the engine sheds, an enthusiast’s paradise where visitors can have a look around the different locomotives used on the line.

Transport heritage of a different variety is on show a few minutes up the road at the Lakeland Motor Museum where an impressive collection awaits.

Exhibits include some of the very first vehicles ever made, unusual models such as a bubble car, a bullet-proof car similar to one used by American gangster Al Capone, a German-built car which also turned into a boat and a Delorean – famous from the Back To The Future films.

Currently, there is a detailed and interesting exhibition about the Bluebird jet-propelled cars and boats, which broke the land and water speed records years ago.

The display pays tribute to racers Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son Donald, who followed in his footsteps but was killed when his Bluebird boat crashed on Coniston Water in the 1960s.

The boat trip, steam railway and motor museum are all recommended as top family attractions.

Another place well worth visiting is Blackwell – an art deco mansion, designed by architect Mackay Baillie Scott for a Manchester industrialist, which was later a girls’ school.

The 112-year-old building had become run down in recent years but has been given a multi-million pound refurbishment to become an arts and crafts house – with many original features restored.

Wander around to see highlights including the contrast between the grand wood panelled Main Hall, designed around a billiards table which once occupied its centre, and the White Drawing Room, all delicate decoration, columns and bright daylight.

Numerous items of art are on display along with modern sculptures in the grounds.

The awesome splendour of the Lake District scenery can be enjoyed even if you don’t fancy pulling on a pair of boots – by taking a road trip.

Keep a watchful eye for unexpected hazards, however. On part of our journey, our route was briefly blocked by a sheep and lambs who had escaped from their field.

There are plenty of small villages and country pubs to stop for a drink or bite to eat.

The Derby Arms, a historic coaching inn at Witherslack, off the A590 near Kendal, is nearly 200 years old and has large open fires, candlesticks on the tables and traditional paintings on the walls.

The food is locally-sourced, tasty and with generous portions. At lunchtime, there is an offer with two meals for £12.

My meal was slabs of black pudding to start, with boiled egg that had also been lightly fried to give a crisp texture.

The main was steak with onion rings and chips done to perfection and washed down with a beer from the range of ales available.

We were staying a few miles away in one of the immaculate holiday homes at Yealand Redmayne, between Carnforth and Kendal.

Greenfold Holiday Cottages are modern, stone properties set in a sleepy village which can house between five and six people in spacious, comfortable conditions.

The kitchen is well-equipped; towels and bed linen are provided, and a table is filled with brochures giving details of a wealth of activities around the area.

Outside is a patio area to sit and relax in the evening, in addition to the large living and dining room.

We felt so at home in our country cottage, in its quiet, picturesque location, that it felt a bit of a wrench to leave.

The cottages are just a half hour drive from the heart of the Lake District and run by Holgates, which also has several caravan parks around the area.

The small town of Milnthorpe is close to Greenfold cottages, providing several pubs and local facilities.

A few miles further on, Kendal is home to a larger array of shops and restaurants.

Holgates’ main park, at Silverdale and a couple of miles from our cottage, has a swimming pool which is available free of charge to people staying at the holiday homes.

The park also has a shop, bar, restaurant, amusements and golf course, which is subject to an extra fee of £2.50 per person.

In short, everything to keep you stocked with supplies – and to stay busy when the weather is bad.

And nearby are walks across the picturesque beaches of Morecambe Bay as waves lap at your feet.

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