Taking it easy in the Lake District

The Not So Old Man Of Coniston
The Not So Old Man Of Coniston

TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

One of the advantages of being an empy nester is the option to take breaks outside of the school holidays. Instead of battling with the crowds and paying more for the privilege, you can find space and peace in the low season.

Last week Dougie and I spent two nights reviewing a luxury lodge in the South Lakeland Leisure Village and one night in a very cosy but chic Woodland Retreat at Fell End holiday park. The atmosphere in both parks was relaxed and this set the mood for the whole break. Never mind climbing mountains or clambering over cliffs in waterproof trousers, this week we would seek out gentler pursuits.

We joined the ranks of the Last of the Summer Wine brigade, seeking out picturesque towns and villages where we might enjoy a toasted teacake and a bit of mooching.

Kirkby Lonsdale, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, was particularly beautiful. We made a beeline for the Lunesdale Bakery, found a spare table in their cafe and ordered two bowls of Scotch Broth. Sitting in the warm surrounds of the bakery, we heard the murmur of quiet conversation and the crackling sound of cagoules being removed.

A riverside walk, pausing to watch some fearless wet-suited youths swimming in the water, we were glad to just be spectators and remind ourselves of that time we went white-water rafting in Iceland when Dougie left his wallet in his pocket before leaping from a rock into the icy river.

In England’s Book Town, Sedbergh, we were enchanted by book shops with wonderful names like the Sleepy Elephant and Patch & Fettle. Rocking up at Fairfield Mill, a couple of miles away, we found our Still Game compatriots in another enticing cafe and rested our weary bones with another full-fat latte and fruit scone.

A similar day followed with a late morning visit to Blackwell House, a stunning Arts and Crafts property overlooking Lake Windermere. The architecture and furniture were quite breathtaking and so too was the quality of the food in the tea room. Dougie feasted on Blackwell tea bread which came with such a big slice of Wensleydale cheese, it’s a wonder Wallace and Gromit haven’t taken up residence.

After this we went for a drive. With no specific destination in mind, we tootled round the east side of Windermere and kept driving until we reached Coniston. It was here we found the perfect stopping place. Away from the inevitable crowds in Bowness and Ambleside, even at this time of year, we parked in an empty lay-by at the edge of Coniston Water and had the view to ourselves for a few glorious minutes.

The joy of that moment kept us nourished for the rest of the afternoon or at least until The Big Chip in Arnside opened its doors at 4.30pm. Overlooking the estuary of the River Kent, this splendid chippie came highly recommended and with good reason. Sightseeing is hard work and a tasty haddock and chips with mushy peas and a mug of tea is just reward for two tired travellers.

You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk