Always intrigued to look at the work of local artists and photographers, the art gallery in Bowness-on-Windermere naturally grabbed our attention as we walked past.
“Shall we take a quick look in?”
Knowing that we have no wall space left in our house to cope with yet another piece of art work we wander in to have a quick perusal with no real conviction. Within minutes the pounding on our heads stops us in our tracks; the weather outside has yet again changed. The cold is biting but now we have to contend with hail stones as large as real stones bashing down on top of us. The “quick perusal” turns into a 20 minute stakeout whilst we wait for the storm to subside.
I find myself asking the question: “Why does it always rain when we are in the Lake District?”
On several occasions throughout 2013 we have attempted to visit this beautiful area of the country and every time our plans have been thwarted. Even in the summer months, when we had planned to go camping, we were told by friends that we would be sleeping in a bog rather than a field it was so wet. No wonder the Lake District always looks so green, it has on average 200 days of rain each year – that could get depressing!
So it would seem that once again the weather this Christmas has definitely strived against us and won. We headed to the lake district to hike and walk off all of the calories we knew we would consume over the holiday season and yes, the hiking boots have been aired but for no more than a couple of hours at a time.
From our vantage point, high above Lake Windermere, the rolling hills welcome you, they dare you to explore the open space but when the mist descends those mountain hillsides become treacherous and unforgiving. Even in the summer months when the fog arrives it comes from nowhere and fast. This year, the frequent, freak downpours, the hail storms and the mist meant that two feet were replaced with four wheels whilst we explored both the Southern and the Northern lakes.
Glad that we had hired a cottage for this break – after all our normal abode for a Lake District trip is a tent (I don’t think so in December!!!) – we were able to relax and enjoy the warm, inviting grade II listed delight probably more than we expected to. The log burning stove in the living room provided my husband with a challenge each day; to light it without a struggle or me laughing at yet another failed attempt to ignite a fire in under an hour. This added to the charm of our stay and was a must on the list of requirements we had when looking (the log burner that is not the challenge!!)
Having never booked a cottage break before we didn’t quite know what to expect, but fears were quickly diminished when the keys arrived through our letter box 10 days before our departure date. The pictures on the website were good, after all that’s what our decision was based on, but in truth they did not do the cottage justice. It was enchanting, quaint and everything you would want from a cottage retreat. A Pub down the road finished it off nicely, although I have to say it also nearly finished us off on Christmas Eve after the hike back up after a few social drinks with the locals.
So why choose a cottage over a hotel? Firstly, we could cook what we fancied rather than what was on the menu which is a big plus. I couldn’t imagine Christmas Dinner anywhere other than at home, food piled higher on your plate than at any other time of the year and then sitting in a big armchair all afternoon unable to move because you feel completely stuffed. Secondly, we had space. We could relax and not feel obliged to go out every day just so our room could be cleaned. We put Christmas decorations up and it felt like a home away from home – would that happen with a hotel? Stockings were hanging by the fire, presents sat under the Christmas tree and we were warm and toasty inside whilst the weather battered us outside.
What a perfect way to spend Christmas.
We booked our cottage through www.heartofthelakes.co.uk and would definitely recommend them to others. Their website is easy to navigate, questions are answered quickly and they represent the lodgings offered well. We stayed at Knott’s Cottage near Troutbeck and can honestly say that we will be returning in the future. Yes, others have complained that the road is an issue, you are situated on the roadside leading to the Kirkstone Pass but it is neither busy nor quiet, and after the first day we did not notice it; it would not be a reason to discount it next time. So, if you are after a charming little cottage with beautiful rolling hill views this is definitely one to check out.