Paradise found: just off the M6 motorway in Cumbria!

lake district attractions

Windermere is just a couple of hours drive from many UK towns and cities, including London which is less than five hours away.

Approaching junction 37 of the M6 motorway (there are several alternatives routes), the A591 is seen by many as being a gateway to this paradise, and results in audible sighs of relief and eager anticipation as visitors guess what this Lake District holiday break has in store.

As you unload the car at your B + B in Windermere, the largest of the lakes, it seems that fellow guests’ already have very clear plans. With luggage consisting of significant numbers of haversacks, boots and walking apparel, and with boats and paddles strapped to car roofs, their intentions are clear.

Windermere has it all though. Whether you’re here to enjoy walking – lonely as a cloud – along the numerous recommended routes, or cycling to see the area’s breathtaking scenery that bit quicker, this relaxing region serves as an antidote to today’s pressures and is on the doorstep for many in the UK.

An essential element of any holiday is the choice of Lake District B+B accommodation. There are hotels and guesthouses catering for all tastes and requirements and they don’t come any more versatile, or ideally placed, than the family run Hawksmoor Lakeland Guest House. This cycling friendly, luxury B+B in Bowness-on-Windermere is difficult to beat and just to give you a flavour of what is on offer here; they even have a secure cycle store and boot room for the use of more energetic cycling and walking guests.

So, the holiday is nearly over, but with this Lake District region being within such easy reach, you’ll soon be thrilling again as junction 37 comes in to view!

Plan a festive (or post-festive) break to the Lakes!

festive-break

If the thought of another festive season spent stuffing the turkey and listening to the Queen’s speech leaves you cold, how about having something different planned for this year?

Family seasonal gatherings can be fun but also exhausting, especially if you are doing the brunt of the organising, shopping, cooking and everything else that has to be done.

So why not escape right afterwards and treat yourself to a midwinter break at our B&B in Windermere at the Hawksmoor Lakeland Guest House, and let someone else take care of you for a change? Or see in the New Year in style?

After all, New Year’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, so you only need to book the Friday off to get a clear four day escape.

As long as you set out early enough, wrap up warmly and take all the usual common sense precautions, it’s actually a lovely time of year for cycling and walking, with the countryside
looking starkly beautiful.

Stay in our Lake District B&B accommodation and you’ll find endless walking and cycling opportunities to burn off those festive calories. Mind you, with so many excellent local eateries, we can’t guarantee you won’t fall prey to temptation all over again.

From music to poetry and more, there’s plenty going on in these parts if you prefer to not walk or cycle all the time, even in the dead of winter.

And, if you visit us later in January, there are events on from the Royal Northern Sinfonia Concert on January 31st in Kendal to the local Arts and Books Festival which runs from January 23rd to 25th. Meanwhile, the Grasmere and the Great War Exhibition runs all the way through until March.

Book now to recover from, extend or round off this year’s Christmas and New Year celebrations!

Are you a hiker, a rambler or an ambler?

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Whichever description best suits your walking preference, the area around Windermere has plenty of routes. As the largest and most visited National Park in England and Wales, the Lake District’s stunning scenery provides a wonderful backdrop to walking, whatever the pace and distance!

For a short walk you could stroll up to Orrest Head from the town of Windermere itself, giving you an excellent vista of the Southern Lakes from 784 feet above sea level.

If you prefer a longer outing, Windermere’s Western Shore route offers stunning views across the lake to Bowness, and beyond to the Troutbeck Hills. Passing along a wooded shoreline, across pebbly beaches there is plenty to explore and perfect spots for picnicking and relaxing.

The stony tracks and sheer drops of Scafell Pike provide a challenge for the more experienced hiker – but on a still day the breath-taking reflection of sky and surrounds in Wast Water make a fantastic reward for the effort!

The unique situation and sometimes unpredictable weather in the Lake District ensures that walkers should take particular care. Comfortable clothing is advised, and waterproofs are essential. Sturdy boots with strong, tracked soles are another must. Accommodation that appreciates the needs of walkers is invaluable; here at the Hawksmoor Lakeland Guest House we are exceptionally walker-friendly, with a boot room and drying room in the event that you are caught in an impromptu shower! We also supply a free flask top-up to ensure that your day bag is suitably equipped with warm drinks.

What’s on in Windermere this autumn

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If you thought holiday time was over once the children were back at school, think again. We can’t promise sub-tropical temperatures, but there’s plenty going on around our B & B in Windermere to make the autumn a perfect time of year to visit.

Not only can it be quieter without the summer crowds, but the autumn colours are truly spectacular in this part of the world and it’s a great time of year to be out and about, walking and cycling.

When you stay at our bed and breakfast Windermere is just on the doorstep, and, for a small town, it punches well above its weight.

For example, there are regular lunchtime concerts locally where you can enjoy a feast of light music played on a 1927 Wurlitzer Organ.

Another nostalgic option on November 1 is a showing of the 1925 classic Phantom of the Opera, with musical accompaniment from the Wurlitzer Organ.

If that doesn’t appeal, there are also informal “walk and talk” sessions focused on edible mushrooms, which take place in Windermere’s gorgeous deciduous woodland. You could find yourself learning more about safely identifying, collecting and cooking all kinds of fungi.

Not only that, but there’s an arts season of drama, film and music on at the Old Laundry Theatre until December, and an arts and crafts show of The Glasgow Style 1890-1930. This runs at The Arts and Crafts House, Bowness, until New Year’s Eve.

So whether you’re looking for a Lake District cycle friendly hotel in Windermere this autumn, or need a base for endless cultural excursions, the Hawksmoor Lakeland Guest House is perfectly placed.

The great outdoors in Bowness-on-Windermere

bowness

Bowness-on-Windermere, situated on the banks of Lake Windermere in Cumbria, has been a tourist hotspot since the arrival of the railways in the 1800s, and continues to be popular to this day. Its natural beauty combined with its fascinating history and rolling countryside make it an idyllic location for a break.

The best way to absorb this magnificent part of England is by taking one of its many memorable walking or cycling routes which sprawl around the countryside and around Lake Windermere’s banks.

The western shore of Lake Windermere has some excellent cycling routes that are also suitable for young children. Simply hop on the Windermere car ferry and you can cross the lake to enjoy its western shore. If you don’t have a bike with you, there are plenty of opportunities to hire bikes from several shops within the town.

You can enjoy a family cycle to Wray Castle, or enjoy Grizedale Forest with its mountain bike forest trails, or a more sedate track from Skelwith Bridge to Elterwater.

Of course, there are plenty of cycling routes around the town to choose from too, ranging in length and difficulty. If you want to cycle somewhere beyond, you can simply hop on the 800 “Bike Bus” service, which will let you explore the wider Lake District.

Here at Hawksmoor Lakeland Guest House, we have a secure cycling shed and a boot room, and after a long day’s hiking or cycling you can unwind in the Lake District Spa, which guests staying with us can make use of.

Pubs near to the Hawksmoor Hotel

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A long day walking or cycling in the Lake District can build up a thirst. Fortunately, there are some decent pubs in both Windermere and Bowness, within walking distance of our Guest House. Real ale lovers in particular are well catered for in the Lakes with local breweries producing some fine beers. Here are some of the best pubs in our local area:

The Albert

The Albert at Queens Square in Bowness is a cosy pub with a selection of decent beers and wines. It serves food all day, ranging from bar snacks to hearty home cooked meals.

The Angel

For the best beer garden in Bowness, stop at the Angel just before you come into the village itself. A cold beer outside on a summer evening is the perfect way to relax after a day of cycling in Lakes.

The Queens

A walk into Windermere will take you past the Queens Pub and Restaurant where you will find cask ales and generously portioned meals. Grab a table outside and watch the walkers and cyclists arrive back in Windermere after a day on the fells.

The Elleray

The Elleray is a traditional pub and restaurant in the heart of Windermere village. Serving real ales and continental beers, it’s a pleasant place to unwind. Try and grab a table by its real fire on a cold evening.

There are plenty of other decent pubs within walking distance of the Hawksmoor. Just remember to drop off your bike before you head out for a drink!

The Best Lake District Cycle Trails

Easy Mountain Bike Trail by Lake Windermere

The stunning hills and fells surrounding Windermere are ideal for cyclists of all ages and ability. The Grizedale Forrest Park, just across Lake Windermere, is home to a number of popular cycling trials.

Silurian Way

Silurian Way is the longest of the Grizedale Forrest trails at 14 miles. Cyclists are able to take in many pieces of art work along the Grizedale Valley as well as wonderful views on this part Forest and part public road route. Cyclists should be prepared to encounter some hills though!

Hawkshead Moor Trail

Hawkshead Moor Trail is a 10.5 mile trail along the Forest Road. Like the Silurian Way route, the Hawkshead Moor Trail commences from the Visitor Centre and offers amazing panoramic views towards Ambleside and Coniston Old Man. The shortest Forest road trail is the Goosey Foot Tarn Trail. At 2 miles long, the trail can be completed in half an hour and features the smaller climbs in the park.

North Face Mountain Bike Trail

For proficient mountain bikers with good off-road riding ability, the purpose built North Face Mountain Bike Trail is a popular option. The 10 mile trial incorporates a number of single-track descents, many intensive climbs and numerous challenging boardwalks. For an even greater challenge, mountain bikers can follow the Black MTB Trail. At 0.8 miles, the route incorporates a fast and flowing combination of jumps, berms and steep descents.

The Hawksmoor Bed and Breakfast is a cycling-friendly hotel and a great base for those who want to explore the Lake District using pedal power. In addition to our luxury Lake District B & B accommodation, our guests have access to a secure cycling shed and an extensive cycling boot room.

Follow the Wordsworth Trail around the Lake District

wordsworth

The Lake District is intimately associated with William Wordsworth. One of English literature’s greatest poets, Wordsworth lived in the Lake District for most of his life, and the locations of many of his poems can be found in the area. When you plan your visit to Windermere, a tour of these places can be a wonderful way to spend a day.

The poet was born in Cockermouth, where his birthplace and childhood home are now a great tourist destination. You can also visit his later homes, where he wrote many of his most famous poems.

Wordsworth lived in Grasmere from 1799 to 1808. His home there, Dove Cottage, is home to the Wordsworth Trust. From there, you can walk the Coffin Path to Wordsworth’s later home, his beloved Rydal Mount. The Coffin Path offers a beautiful walk complete with views of the lake and gorgeous mountain scenery. Wordsworth’s grave, and the graves of his family, can be found in Grasmere’s village cemetery.

Of course, you don’t need to limit your Wordsworth tour to the places the poet lived. You can also include the many sites around the Lake District that he made famous in his poems. These include Hawkshead, Kirkstone Pass, Coniston Water, and River Duddon.

From our B and B in Windermere, you can set off on a beautifully poetic tour of the Lake District’s most inspiring locations. Don’t be surprised if you come back ready to pen a few verses yourself!

Beautiful Bowness-on-Windermere

bowness

A beautiful, scenic town on the very coast of Lake Windermere, Bowness provides a vast wealth of attractions to suit all personalities and weathers. Situated just a brief cycle ride south of Hawksmoor Lakeland Guest House, Bowness will easily become the centre of your Lake District holiday.

Savour the sights at the lake

Bowness and its adjoining bay make it a perfect destination for those seeking the beauty of the lake. Lake Cruises sail from the dock at Bowness, including a Bike Boat to connect avid cyclists to the beautiful, traffic-free, western shore, as well as many options to simply relax and enjoy the sights of the Lake District from the centre of its largest lake.

Rainy day options

In gloomier weather, Bowness has lots to keep the holiday going. The World of Beatrix Potter – a tribute to the great children’s author and the natural beauty of the Lake District that inspired her stories – is perfect for youngsters. Aside from this, the marvellous Royalty Cinema boasts an original 1930s theatre and Wurlitzer Organ, perfect for a silent movie showcase.

Dining out

Whatever your fancy, Bowness will be able to serve. A wide range of restaurants of various settings and cultures is guaranteed to satisfy any appetite. From the refined menu available at the Porto Restaurant, to the rich flavours of the Emperor of India, you can eat your fill followed by a few local ales at The Hole-in-the-Wall, before carefully cycling to the Hawksmoor Lakeland Guest House

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Bowness’s offerings make it a wonderful jewel to the already beautiful Lake Windermere. Come see for yourself.

Restaurants and Eateries in Windermere

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With the dying days of summer just on the approach, there’s still time to enjoy the best that Windermere has to offer, and whilst you’re staying at the Hawksmoor Lakeland Guest House, there are plenty of restaurants and eateries to enjoy in the surrounding area. Looking for places to eat shouldn’t be stressful during your stay, so here is a list of places you can put into your travel plans before you even start.

Italian Restaurant

The The Villa Positano is an Italian restaurant fairly close to the hotel, and offers a cosy and intimate environment for any occasion. They also offer a specials menu alongside their regular evening choices, so there’s certainly going to be a great choice whenever you go.

Caffe Italia

If you’re more of a coffee person then perhaps Caffe Italia would be a great stopping point just north of the hotel. Designed to be more of a bistro than other establishments, there is a wide choice of hot drinks and it’s renowned for its fine seafood range. It’s perfect for a casual, informal meal in the middle of the day.

Hooked (Fish & Chips)

Sometimes though, you fancy something a bit more substantial, and fish serves as the main attraction at our next restaurant. The cleverly named Hooked is proud to use locally caught fish and its menu changes on a daily basis depending on local stock. Their menu is influenced by Mediterranean, South-Asian and Australian cuisine, proving that a few changes can really spice up a meal.

Remember that our Windermere hotel is cycle friendly, so you might find cycling to these destinations an enjoyable experience. Bowness-in-Windermere is a safe and friendly area so you can certainly consider bringing a bike with you on your stay. These restaurants have plenty to offer families and couples alike, so keep them in mind during your stay.

Free guided bike rides in Windermere available this August

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The Lakes – A Cyclists Paradise

Although Windermere is already full of keen cyclists, especially when the weather is as warm as this, the free guided bike rides on August 20th run by Go Sky Ride are definitely guaranteed to bring even more cycling crowds out. Aimed at both young families and leisure cyclists, there are rides to suit all ages and abilities. Cyclists should go onto the website to see the available rides and to book a place.

Beautiful Cycling Routes

With so many beautiful cycling routes to choose from, many visitors to the Lake District choose to stay over for a few days, and with a great choice of B&B accommodation in and around Windermere there really isn’t any reason not to.

Cyclist Friendly Geust House

Some guest houses in Windermere are favoured by cyclists, The Hawksmoor Guest House in Windermere being one of them, especially as we have a secure cycling shed and boot room for guests to make use of. Packed lunches can also be made up on request for walkers and cyclists should you require them.

Get a Bite to Eat

But after a day cycling up and down the hills in the beautiful areas in and around Windermere you will no doubt have worked up an appetite. Now whilst our luxury guest house doesn’t offer evening meals, there are a good choice of restaurants to choose from in the area that are only a few minutes walk away. From traditional hearty pub grub, the Jintana Thai Restaurant, Jerichos traditional English restaurant, Indian cuisine and Hooked seafood restaurant you certainly won’t go hungry.

Visit The World of Beatrix Potter

World of Beatrix Potter

Less than a mile down the road from the Hawksmoor B&B in Windermere, you’ll find The World of Beatrix Potter. This popular attraction is just a ten minute walk from our door, and we thoroughly recommend a visit, especially for families with younger children. However, it’s not just for children, and anyone who has fond memories of Peter Rabbit from their formative years is likely to enjoy a visit to this unique attraction.

The World of Beatrix Potter

Children enjoy story telling at The World of Beatrix Potter

Inside you’ll find exhibitions depicting scenes from some of Beatrix Potter’s most popular stories, costumed characters and even a recreation of Mr. McGregor’s garden. There are also plenty of interactive elements throughout the attraction where you’ll find detailed information about the history of Beatrix Potter’s life, her literary works and inspiration.

The World of Beatrix Potter isn’t short on activities for children either, painting workshops, tea with Peter Rabbit himself and storytelling occurs throughout the day, all of which is certain to entertain the children.

There is also a tea room serving a range of light lunches made with fresh local ingredients and a selection of home-made cakes. The afternoon teas, that are served with sandwiches, scones and cream, are especially popular, providing some welcome relief for parents whilst the little ones enjoy themselves.

If you’re going to enjoy a day our in Bowness-on-Windermere during your stay at the Hawksmoor Guest House, then The World of Beatrix Potter is certainly worth a visit on a sunny afternoon. Visit their website for further information regarding opening times and admission prices. www.hop-skip-jump.com

The Windermere to Townend Walk

Troutbeck Valley

A moderately challenging walk, recommended by the National Trust, the trek from Windermere to the Townend 17th Century farmhouse in Troutbeck, will take you through an outstandingly picturesque countryside route that offers stunning views of the Troutbeck Valley on the return to Windermere.

With an optional longer route back to Windermere from Townend this is a great flexible walk. Whilst clocking in at ten miles, it shouldn’t prove too much of a challenge for slightly more inexperienced walkers.

The suggested starting point for this walk is Windermere Train Station, which is just under a mile from the Hawksmoor B&B in Windermere, so it can easily be reached on foot. If you want directions to the train station, then feel free to ask at reception, we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!

The Journey to Townend in Troutbeck Village

Once you reach the station, you need to take the road opposite the pedestrian crossing on your left. It leads to Orrest Head, so keep an eye open for the sign. Follow a tarmac road that will soon become a gravel track. Carry on down this path until you reach a wall and turn to the right. You’ll have to cross a stile, after which you’ll turn left and continue up to Orrest Head.

At the top of Orrest Head you’ll be faced with some truly excellent views of the fells surrounding Windermere and the town itself. We’d thoroughly recommend pausing here for a short while to take in the sights!

Once you’ve finished admiring the views it’s time to continue. Down the opposite site from where you ascended you’ll see a white farmhouse, head towards it. You will reach a stile in the wall, but you don’t need to cross it. Instead, turn left and carry on down the road towards Crosses Farm.

When you arrive at Crosses Farm you’ll see a footpath for Troutbeck. Follow it across fields to another farm, Far Orrest. Here, follow a sign for A529 via Dubbs Road. You’ll reach a road that you must cross. You’ll find a footpath opposite that you can follow through a field to the A529.

Townend

The interior of Townend near Troutbeck village

Take care crossing the A529 and turn right at the footpath that runs along the road. Turn left at this footpath through a field, you’ll have to cross the Troutbeck on a footbridge. By this point you’ll nearly be at Townend. Turn right when you reach the road and Townend is on the crossroads just at the top of the road.

There’s plenty of historical insight to be found at Townend, a traditional 17th Century farmhouse. You’ll see various historic artefacts that belonged to the family who lived there and learn how people lived without the modern conveniences we now take for granted. Find out more about Townsend at the National Trust website.

Return to Windermere

You’re presented with two options for the journey back to Windermere. You can either retrace the route you took to arrive at Townend, or for the slightly more intrepid amongst you there is a longer and more challenging route available. There’s some unmissable views along this route, so if you’re prepared to make the extra effort, it’s very rewarding.

At the aforementioned Moorhowe Road you’ll turn left and then take the first road you see on the right. You’ll meet a crossroads where you’ll need to turn right and follow the road past Near Orrest Farm and continue onto the Causeway Farm. From Causeway Farm you can retrace your steps across the fields to the top of Orrest Head and then simply head down the other side to Windermere Train Station.


This is a fairly long walk that’s strenuous enough to satisfy seasoned walkers, but not so tough as to be overly difficult for the less experienced fell walker. Either way, once you’ve finished this trek you’ll certainly be tired! Who wouldn’t want a cosy room at the Hawksmoor waiting for them, where you can relax in absolute comfort whilst your gear airs out in our drying room. For more information about walks and cycle routes in the area browse our blog. Also, do not hesitate to get in touch with us to check availability and book your stay.

Lake District Brewery & Beer Tours

Lake District Brewery Tours

The Lake District is famous for many reasons. Outstanding natural beauty, unspoilt dramatic scenery, superb hiking & cycling routes and perhaps one other thing… Beer. For the ale enthusiast, the Lakes is certainly something of a treasure trove, bursting at the seams with excellent traditional pubs serving beer produced by the region’s many celebrated breweries.

If quenching the thirst you worked up on a long trek over the fells with a hand-pulled pint of Lakeland’s finest ale sounds like your idea of heaven, then you really should consider visiting one (or several) of the breweries operating throughout the Lakes, or perhaps even taking a brewery tour. Take a look at the Hawksmoor’s run down of the best breweries to visit in the Lake District!

Hawkshead Brewery

Only five miles away from our B&B in Windermere, the Hawkshead Brewery is an ideal starting point for a brewery tour of the Lakes. Bristling with awards, this is one of the most well respected breweries in the Lakes, so don’t miss out.

The leisurely walk over the dales from Windermere to Staveley, where the brewery is located, is quite enjoyable and fairly easy going. Great news for those who’d like to seize an opportunity to enjoy the beers on offer rather than drive!

An ideal spot to stop off for a pint and a bite to eat, the brewery serves an interesting selection of ‘English style tapas’ to compliment the rather extensive range of ales on offer in their ‘beer hall’. Of course, there’s a shop where you can buy some bottles to take home. There really is a lot to choose from, so don’t be scared to ask their staff for some recommendations, they’re always keen to talk beer!

If you’re a real aficionado then we’d thoroughly recommend the popular brewery tour, which runs on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, giving you an insightful look into the processes and practices that go into creating some of Hawkshead’s famous brews. It’s best to book ahead, so check the Hawkshead website beforehand.

Recommended Pint – Hawkshead Bitter, 3.7%

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Whilst you’re there we’d suggest you try a pint of their flagship ‘Hawkshead Bitter’. Pale and hoppy, it’s a real thirst quencher, ideal for those warm summer days spent hiking. Also, at 3.7%, this award winning beer isn’t overpowering, so you can easily enjoy a pint (or maybe two) over lunch.

Coniston Brewery

About twenty five minutes drive from the Hawksmoor, Coniston Brewery doesn’t offer formal tours as such. However, the friendly chap I spoke to when I called to enquire informed me that if you catch them on a quiet day, then they’re usually happy to host a small handful of guests for an informal tour around the brewery. If you’re planning to head over with the intention of seeing the brewery itself, then we suggest ringing ahead just to make sure it’s okay! You may be one of the few lucky enough to be privy to an exclusive tour of Coniston Brewery. Just don’t tell everyone, alright?

Despite not offering official tours, we felt that Coniston Brewery was worth a mention, simply because their beers are truly excellent! You can find their beers all over the Lakes, and the Black Bull pub, just a short walk from the brewery, has a number of Coniston beers available of cask.

Recommend Pint – Old Man Ale 4.2%

CONISTON-Old-Man-webNamed after the imposing fell, the Old Man of Coniston that overlooks the town, this ruby coloured beer has a really strong fruity aroma. With a light malty taste and some hints of toffee thanks to the roasted barley used when brewing, this is a classic English ale that is definitely worth a try.

Jennings Brewery

You certainly won’t be walking to Jenning’s Brewery if you’re staying at the Hawksmoor, but it can be reached by car. The drive up to Cockermouth is approximately 50 mins, but we think it’s worth it to visit this excellent brewery!

Jenning’s offer a very thorough tour of their premises that’s sure to satisfy even the most hardened of ale fanatics, who’ll be keen to see the time-honed traditional methods still in use by Jennings to create their range of ales. You’ll find out how they brew their beers on this guided tour, which of course ends in the brewery’s own bar, the Old Cooperage, where you’ll be treated to plenty of samples. A very hearty post-tour lunch is available if you prebook and there are also evening tours with a meal available. The tour schedule varies throughout the year, so check out the Jenning’s website in advance.

Recommend Pint – Sneck Lifter 5.1%

Sneck Lifter - Lake Distrcit Brewery ToursThis is a reddish ale with a variety of strong and very rich flavours, guaranteed to satisfy those who prefer their beers a little on the stronger side. The unusual name comes from traditional northern dialect. Sneck is a door latch and ‘sneck lifter’ meant a person’s last sixpence that allowed them to lift up the ‘sneck’ of a pub door for one final pint, hopefully meeting somebody generous enough to get another one or two in!

As it’s quite strong, the designated driver might want to stay away from this and perhaps take a bottle home instead. However, passengers can feel free to indulge and we suggest you do!


 

We hope you enjoyed our guide to just a few of the many breweries throughout the Lake District. There are many more producing a wide variety of great traditional ale and some that offer tours. If you’re staying at the Hawksmoor Guest House and would like to know about some of your favourite Lake District breweries, then don’t hesitate to ask a the reception. You never know, we might be able to point you in the direction of pub pulling your favourite pint!

Cycling Route – The Windermere Lake Shore Mountain Bike Trail

Easy Mountain Bike Trail by Lake Windermere

This is an easy mountain bike run along the Western shore of Lake Windermere. Starting at Harrow Slack and ending at Wray Castle, the route is entirely traffic free and offers some absolutely stunning views across the lake. At just under 7 miles it’s a great ride for cyclists of all ages and abilities that we thoroughly recommend!

Lake Windermere Cycling RouteThe best way to get to the starting point, Harrow Slack car park, from the Hawksmoor Guest House is to take the ferry across Lake Windermere, which leaves from a pier just South of Bowness. Feel free to ask how to find to the ferry at our reception desk, we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Once you arrive on the Western shore you’ll find yourself at Harrow Slack car park, it’s right next to the queue for the ferry. From the car park turn left and follow the tarmac section where you’ll often see people picnicking. After 1km the road becomes a track after a cattle grid and open gate.

A Ride through the Woods…

Next you’ll find yourself riding into the woods for 2.2km on a wide and stony trail. This section of the route has a number of steep & short climbs and descents that can easily be ridden at a sensible speed with due care. However, groups with young or inexperienced riders may need to walk through some very brief sections of the track. Also, keep and eye out for the parts of the path that have eroded, creating small trenches either side of the track.

Soon you’ll reach Belle Grange and a sign post indicating a left turn off onto a bridleway. However, continue on ahead and stay right on the main track heading onwards to High Wray. From this point the track is smooth and flat, making it an easy ride. Do keep an eye on your speed though, as you’ll encounter walkers around the corner.
After approximately 500m you’ll arrive at Red Nab car park. Ride on through the car park and follow the signs to Wray Castle. Look out for a rather low wooden barrier as you set of from this point! This section of the ride is along the shore of Lake Windermere, so prepare yourself for some great views. Continue along the lakeside track for 1.6km until it turns away from the lake and goes uphill for 500m. The part of the route is sign posted ‘The Castle Gatehouse’. Continue on the Castle drive to reach Wray Castle.

Enjoy a Picnic by the Lakeside

It’s around this point of the ride you may want to pause and walk down to the lake shore where you’ll find some really beautiful spots for a picnic. Don’t forget that here at the Hawksmoor B&B in Windermere we’re able to provide packed lunches on request.

From Wray Castle you can take the same route back Harrow Slack car park and ride the ferry back over to Bowness. However, if you’re feeling up for it then you could even continue onwards to the village of Hawkshead.

This ride along the shore of Lake Windermere is a nice and simple route, perfect for groups with younger members or as a warm up for some more challenging rides during your stay in the Lake District. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at the Hawksmoor if you’re looking for accommodation close to popular cycling routes in Windermere. We have great facilities for cyclists, including a secure bike shed monitored by CCTV and a drying room for all your muddy gear.

February Windermere Guest House Cycle: Lakeland Loop Cycle

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This one will sort the wheat from the chaff: a 65 mile loop around the lakeland area of the Lake District is one for only the more accomplished cyclists of you out there. We recommend beginning this cycle in Elterwater as there is plenty of carparking, however you can join the loop earlier if you are heading out straight from our B&B in Windermere – it’ll only put that extra few miles on the clock! The cycle is a thrilling, tiring and challenging ride covering much of the lakeland area. With unrivalled scenery across such a large area you will see all of the top tourist spots as well as a few of some of the less frequented corners.

There will be plenty of places to stop for a drink or some food and we recommend taking a good supply to keep you full of energy. A special Windermere Guest House breakfast will get you ready for the day, full up to the brim to take on the challenge well fueled.

Elterwater is a delightful little village is worth taking in before heading towards Colwith where you will turn right and be hit immediately by Wrynose Pass which is your first significant challenge. Enjoy the last stretch of level tarmac to Little Langdale and then get ready for the pass. The incredible steepness of the ride up means there will be a stunning cycle down to pick up the pace and you will hurtle down towards Cockley Beck but with little respite as you will soon be winding your way straight back up Hardknott – as pleasant in reality as it sounds, but fortunately that bit shorter than Wrynose pass.

 

We recommend taking it slower on the descent into Eskdale as the corners can be tight and the road is known for its occasional pot-hole; we don’t want any broken bones coming back to our Windermere Guest House! The good news is that having made it this far you have taken on the two biggest of climbs so it’s good to have got them out of the way! From now on back to the Windermere Guest House will be ever so slightly easier.

Follow the valley down to Eskdale Green before taking on a short climb over to Santon Bridge. From here there are some easy lanes to manage to Gosforth and pick up the A595 briefly as far as Calder Bridge. There are some great views of Scafell from here that are well worth glancing up to see.

From Calder Bridge take a right past the church and head towards Lamplugh on a 300m climb that isn’t too difficult at any point. More remarkable scenery to take in as the western seascape is on show and on a clear day the distant Isle of Man can be seen from your vantage point.

Down to Ennerdale Bridge and turn right and a quick left into Kirkland and Lamplugh, heading north from here on the A5086 very briefly. The pass of Fangs Brow is next on your list north-eastwards. Turn right next and descend at speed past Loweswater and Kirkstile, climb up Scale Hill and look out for a quaint little lane signposted Hopebeck which has fantastic views in all directions. Hit the main Whinlatter Road which climbs into the forest centre before a fast descent into Braithwaite.

Take the lanes through Portinscale and into Keswick, which lies at the northernmost point of Derwentwater. Climb out of Keswick on the narrow, suburban Ambleside Road and take a right onto the A591 and follow it over the flank to descend into St John’s Vale.

Find a narrow road to turn right onto along the western side of Thirlmere and enjoy the beautiful waterside views and scenery. Follow this through lovely forestry and rejoin the A-road at the southern end. From here you’ll climb to Dunmail Raise, which is a short one before heading back down and at speed to Grasmere.

Leave on the Red Bank Road and with the last of your energy before heading back to your Windermere Guest House for the night, crank up the effort towards the Youth Hostel. Take the right fork for the short drop back to Elterwater and into the car for your drive back to the Windermere Guest house.

February Windermere Guest House Walk: Kentmere Horseshoe Walk

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This delightful walk starts in the equally delightful and quaint village of Kentmere only a short drive away from our B&B in Windermere. The walk is quite a challenging twelve miles in length and should take you between five and eight hours depending on your walking ability so do plan your walk well in advance. There are some steep climbs but with steep climbs comes stunning views of breathtaking fells making this walk one of the best in the lakes.

With many spectacular views on offer we recommend doing this walk on a clear day to really get the best of it. Obviously you can never predict the weather but if you’re staying at our Windermere Guest House for several days, hopefully you can plan this walk on the best forecasted day. Get yourself well breakfasted for this one as you’ll be out most of the day, and at our Windermere Guest House we will make sure you don’t leave the door without a proper breakfast in your stomachs!

Be well prepared, the weather can change quickly so make sure you pack for all eventualities with plenty of food and warm clothing. Kentmere is just a few minutes walk and the best spot for parking is by the church which is towards the north of the small village. Once parked up the signpost you are looking for is Crabtree Brow which shouldn’t be too hard to find on the western edge of the village.

You are immediately on the ascent towards Garburn Pass and the views are sublime even from this early stage so do take them in. From here you are heading towards Garburn Nook where you will begin the ascent to Yoke Fell, the first of several on this walk that you will be taking on.

It might be a good idea to take a break for a snack and some coffee or tea that you’ve packed to give yourself a much needed energy boost to the breakfast you had at our Windermere Guest House. Before getting to Yoke Fell, you’ll reach the top of Ill Bell, a magnificent conical topped mountain and a good spot for your brew and biscuit with stunning views to enjoy and a beautiful side to itself. Stunning peaks in sight include Bowfell and Scafell and a remarkable view over Windermere; take a moment to see if you can spot the Windermere Guest House from where you have set out from!

From Ill Bell you’re heading to Frostwick which is almost identical in shape but quite a bit smaller so the climb here is not as strenuous. From Frostwick you come to the sweeping ridge of High Street, which, as its name implies was remarkably once a Roman Road and even a racecourse. In the 18th and 19th centuries Lakelanders used to head up onto the heights to race horses as part of their summer fairs – quite a remarkable idea!

From High Street you’re heading to Mardale Ill Bell and from there to Harter Fell affords some spectacular views over Blea Water as well as Haweswater Reservoir beyond. Beautiful fields of green grass cover the expanse of your walk to Kentmere Pike, particularly so if you’re walking in late spring or summer. Kentmere Pike is quite plain in itself but once again the views across to Windermere and Morecambe Bay are stunning and if you can find some shade it is a brilliant spot to stop for some lunch and relax before heading on.

Southwards now on a comfortable descent to Shipman Knotts, the last fell you’ll be taking on on this walk. With relatively easy terrain to deal with during this section of the walk, you can really build up some pace and enjoy stretching your legs. Shipman Knotts is a collection of interesting rock outcrops which can be explored at length before heading onwards on your descent back to Kentmere village.

Continue south to Wray Crag and further south to the high pass between Kentmere and Longsleddale. Turn west from here to Stile End with stunning views of Kentmere village, your final destination before heading back to the Windermere Guest House. Join High Lane onto Hallows Bank before turning south onto the Low Lane track over a stepped wall and head across a small field to a footbridge straddling the River Kent and head on back into the village.

January Windermere Guest House Walk: Two Falls and a Fell

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Wonderful Waterfalls

You might think that the rainy season of January does not lend itself to great days out in the Lakes and it might well have you all reaching for the Monopoly set on a Sunday afternoon. However, one thing rain does bring is running water and running water makes for wonderful waterfalls. Whilst we love the sunshine at our Windermere Guest House, we also cherish the rain as it give us an opportunity to see the Lake District’s spectacular waterfalls in all their glory.

Waterfalls are fascinating, romantic, adventurous, majestic, exciting, picturesque and enchanting all in one. The Lake District might not have the world wonders of Niagara or Victoria to its name but our National Park does have some beautiful falls none the less. From our Windermere Guest house you do not have far to go to enjoy the finest Lake District waterfalls in all their splendour. This walk will detail a splendid circular route that visits the two cascading forces of Skelwith Force and Colwith Force.

The walk incorporates a chance to take in the pleasant Elter Water as well as a short fell climb to High Hacket; it is not too challenging and should be OK to take on whatever the weather. Indeed, the walk never rises above 200 metres meaning it should not being too difficult for all levels of fitness including senior walkers and families. As mentioned, the waterfalls are at their best after a downpour so the rain will never be an excuse to stay in! A good bit of rain will mean you will hear the falls from some distance, revving up your anticipation before you see them for yourself.

The First Fall

Our route begins in Elterwater Village but with it being circular could quite easily be rearranged to start at Skelwith Bridge or Little Langdale. Either way, it’s not far from our Windermere Guest House and there is a car park closeby to a bridge that spans Great Langdale Beck allowing you to park up and set off on your watery adventure. At this point it’s not the time to realise you haven’t packed your waterproofs so make sure you’ve got some appropriate clothing and a change of clothes for when you get back to your car!

Set off eastwards on Cumbria Way which runs alongside the River Brathay and Elter Water. If the clouds have cleared, the view back to the Langdale Pikes from Elter Water is stunning but if the clouds are still lingering around you might have to make do with imagining the view. After all, we’re setting off to see the waterfalls, all else is a bonus!

From our starting point in the village of Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge, the route boasts fantastic scenery throughout; winding through fields alongside River Brathay to Elter Water and then through beautiful woodland dripping wet and alive with the smell of a recent rain. The closeness of the woodland is heightened by the intensifying and anticipatory sound of crashing water that informs you that you are close to your first waterfall of the day. Skelwith Force is a small but impressive fall, particularly so after a rain. The Brathay narrows as it comes to the fall allowing for a funneling and powerful performance that you can sit and enjoy.

The Second Fall and Fell

From Skelwith Force head into Skelwith Bridge and don’t miss the Kirkstone Slate Galleries. There is some really impressive pieces of work and it is well worth checking out as one of our Windermere Guest House recommendations. From Skelwith Bridge it is time to head west towards Colwith Force for our second fall of the day.

Pass Park Farm and emerge from the fields crossing the road to enter Tongue Intake Plantation. The woodland is delightful once again but it is not long before the sound of falling water revs up the anticipation once more.

Colwith Force is somewhat different to Skelwith Force as it is a series of falls with an impressive height totalling 40 feet. Each stage is more spectacular than the last and the double spout at the bottom is the most stunning aspect of the feature. The surrounding woodland provides perfect solitude for you to take in the fall in all its beauty.

From the fall it’s northward bound back to Elterwater Village via the fell of High Hacket and through Fletcher’s Wood. High Hacket is not strenuous and should be the icing on the cake to this picturesque walk before you head back to our Windermere Guest House for some Winter warming food and drink!

January Windermere Guest House Cycle: Claife Heights

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This route is one for the mountain bikers and as such you can expect the terrain to be somewhat more difficult to navigate than the open road. You also know to expect hills when you’re in the Lakes so do prepare for a lot of climbs on any cycle you go on. This route typifies a great Lake District ride starting out with a climb on tarmac towards the off-road tracks that take you across Claife Heights. From there you will descend quite sweepingly on hard packed and well drained tracks towards Hawkshead which offers a great place for a good break. From Hawkshead your route heads up into Grizedale taking in the North Face Trail before finally dropping down to Lake Windermere.

We recommend leaving your car at our Windermere Guest House and heading to the ferry to cross Lake Windermere on your bikes. It’s not far from our Windermere Guest House and this way you will save a lot of money and time rather than waiting in the traffic to cross with your car.

The Ride

Once you’ve crossed the lake and taken in the wonderful views as you do so, get your helmet on and head along the road towards Sawrey. You’re immediately twisting, turning and climbing so don’t say we didn’t warn you! Just before you get to Sawrey Hotel, you will reach a bridleway on the right and if you take this you will follow a slate track pass the Sawrey Institute and up towards our destination of Claife Heights.
Eventually you will come to woodland where you will start your first significant descend at speed. The track is rocky so do take care, we don’t want you returning to our Windermere Guest House with any broken bones or dislocated joints! You will come to the lake shore and if you follow the track along this shore you will come to another bridleway on your left that takes you back up the the heights of Belle Grange.

The bridleway is cobbled and develops into rocky steps on steep ground which can be difficult to negotiate. Nevertheless keep on going and cross over two other closely located bridleways for another fast paced descent. With a good balance and line choice you will hit high speeds as you head all the way down towards Hawkshead.

Hawkshead’s a great place to stop for a bite to eat or just a drink from a great selection of eateries, pubs and cafes. Once you’ve got your breath back and filled up your bellies, cycle up through the village passing the Kings Arms and Minstrels Gallery Tea Rooms on your left. Head under the arch and up towards the bridleway leads you to Grizedale Forest. This track is steep but well surfaced, getting you up into the forest quickly to join the North Face Trail. This trail is found roughly ¼ mile upwards into the forest on your left. Follow this trail until you come to Moor Top car park.
From the car park take the tarmac road through the forest until you see signs that lead you into the forest again to the left. Keep right at the first forking and follow this for some distance as it weaves through the trees. When you come to the next junction take a left and as the track curves around, a bridleway sign leads you onto some great off-piste, which weaves through the trees and speeds you downhill again.

Exiting onto tarmac turn right and cycle along the singletrack road before picking up the bridleway off to the left and heading down once more through trees. From here you will join a good tarmac road, turn right, pass the junction to the left, before taking a final bridleway at the edge on your left which leads down towards Cunsey. Follow the lakeshore north and you will arrive back at the ferry which will take you back across the lake to your Windermere Guest House.

December Windermere Guest House Cycle: Lyth Valley – Damsons & Daffodils

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South Lakeland is one of the most idyllic and quietest parts of rural England and thus it is one of the best places to explore by bike. Nowhere is too far from our Windermere Guest House especially if you’re on your bike so we’re always on hand to give you advice on places to cycle to.

The Lake District has something for every cyclist to enjoy, from challenging off-road mountain biking routes to gentle country lanes so whatever it is you’re after you can count on the Lakes to provide for you. There are plenty of winding road cycling with stunning views which is ideal for a gentle spin or a great journey. There are plenty of safe and enjoyable family rides for all ages and abilities as well.

On this Lyth Valley journey you will wind your way between rocky knolls and small woods. The town, famous for its damson orchards, is just a short way south of our Windermere Guest House accessible south via the A5074 towards Levens and onto Sizergh Castle. The ride starts by the gates of the magnificent Sizergh Castle – itself a place well worth visiting – and takes in enclosed wooded landscapes, flat open farmland, open straight roads and pretty orchards set amongst rocky outcrops. A steep detour provides a spectacular view over south Cumbria and the Lakeland fells as well as the perfect place for a picnic; the view definitely makes the climb worthwhile! Attractive at any time of year but the wild daffodils and damson blossom in Spring make this an especially beautiful ride during the Spring and Summer months.

The distance of the cycle is a short 13 miles but if you cycle directly from our Windermere Guest House it is an extra 10 miles on top. The cycle is moderate in difficulty but if you do choose to take on the optional detour, the steep climb can be quite tough for unseasoned cyclists. If you need any refreshments en route you can find pubs in Sizergh, Levens, Underbarrow and Brigsteer.

The Route:

From Sizergh Castle pass the Strickland Arms and turn left immediately. You will come to a T on a steep hill, turn right and cycle uphill. Follow this direction into Levens taking care on the hill.

Once in Levens, bear right at the town’s Post Office, then follow the sign marked Grange.You will come to a sharp right marked route 20 and take this. From here, turn left at the bottom of a short hill over a bridge onto flat farmland. Take the next right to Brigsteer, entering village up another short hill. Brigsteer is a quaint and lovely village which you must keep left in, joining the main road at an angled junction. Take the very next right you come to which will bring you out at another T junction. Turn left here – signed Crosthwaite and Bowland Bridge – and continue to Underbarrow via a steep and bendy hill.

Once in Underbarrow take the first right – signed Crook – and continue to Underbarrow Church where splendid drifts of wild daffodils carpet the churchyard in spring. Fron here, return towards the village, taking a right fork into Mill Lane and turning right onto the main road.

Keep an eye out for a sign for Milnthorpe and Levens on the left and take this. Your next sign will be for Brigsteer and if you keep left back into this village you can head to the Wheatsheaf Pub if you fancy a tipple before moving on.

For the detour to Helsington viewpoint continue uphill and approximately 300m past the Wheatsheaf take third track on the right. Follow the bridleway past houses and through gate onto open farmland and diagonally uphill to stone track at top. Take a left towards Helsington Church and you can’t miss the viewpoint with its spectacular views! Once through, retrace route to Wheatsheaf or continue past the church to rejoin the road and turn left downhill towards Brigsteer.

Follow the sign for Levens and from here you can either enjoy the town of Levens or return to your Windermere Guest House after a cracking day out.

December Windermere Guest House Walk: Ambleside to Skelwith Bridge Walk

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This Ambleside to Skelwith Bridge walk is a pleasant and perfect introduction to walking in the Lake District. The walk is only a short distance away from our Windermere Guest House and so is easily accessible whether you drive to the starting location yourself or wish to use public transport. If you do choose to take public transport though just make sure you know the times and if you need any advice just ask before you leave as we will be able to provide public transport information at our Windermere Guest House.

The walk is popular and is suitable for people of all ages whether you’re thinking of bringing the whole family or popping along by yourself you’re sure to have a great time. The route has all the features you would expect from a standard Lakeland walk with some basic climbing and clambering over a fell as well as a visit to one of the wondrous tarns. The initial climb out of Ambleside to Loughrigg Fell is the toughest part of the walk so it’s always best to begin this walk in Ambleside to get the blood pumping and allow you to relax on the remaining part of the walk which is a pleasant experience at an elevation with stunning views. Loughrigg Tarn is particularly special as it is in a lovely setting and when the walk is completed you can celebrate with a drink of your choice in Skelwith Bridge. You can always walk back too as the walk isn’t incredibly strenuous, depending on your own comfort.

Once you are in Ambleside make your way to Rothay Park and cross the river via a footbridge. This will lead you along a road for a few yards before cutting off on a lane towards Brow Head Farm and then to Miller Brow. It’s a good climb so do be prepared and then continue on skirting Deer Hows wood onto Loughrigg Fell. The fell affords some lovely views back to Ambleside, incorporating the tip of Windermere lake. There are plenty of paths criss-crossing and leading in all directions all over this popular walking area meaning you could continue to explore it for a long, long time and there is also something rather comforting knowing that it is a well trodden area.

However, on with the route and we continue heading west and off the fell after passing Ivy Crag. Once off the fell, follow a path enclosed by walls on either side to a gate from where you cross north over two fields. You’ll know you’re on the right path when you come to Loughrigg Tarn.  Take a moment to take it all in, the sights and surroundings of the tarn are truly fantastic. It’s a great place to stop and pull out the flask, enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat before ploughing onwards. You can always pack a lunch from our Windermere Guest House before you set off to save you buying one on your way.

Tracking south towards the end of the walk you come to Crag Head and Little Loughrigg before descending into Skelwith Bridge where you can enjoy a drink before deciding what to do next. One option is to head north following the River Brathay no more than a mile to Elter Water from which it drains. It would actually be a shame not to visit the river’s source saying as your so close and Elter Water does have it’s own great views. Once done it’s time to head back to your Windermere Guest House.

November Windermere Guest House Cycle – Ambleside to Wray Castle and Hawkshead Hill

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This cycle starts in Ambleside and is looped so you can either cycle up from our Windermere Guest House or drive depending on how keen you are with your cycling! Whichever you decide you will be taking in some splendid views as you drive or cycle along the eastern shore of Lake Windermere up to Ambleside using the A591.

Once you have reached Ambleside, leave the A591 and head towards Clappersgate on the A593. Head onto the B5286 once you’ve passed through Clappersgate and go over Brathay Bridge alongside Brathay Dub. You’ll now be heading in the direction of Hawkshead but be sure to take a left, signposted Wray and its plain sailing from there with the occasional climb that shouldn’t be too tough for any cyclist.

You will arrive at the stunning Wray Castle, a perfect spot to stop for some lunch or a coffee to keep the fire burning before heading onto a few miles of great ascents and descents until you arrive at Colt house. From here you can follow signs to Hawkshead and go onto the B5285. Make your way through Hawkshead and turn left before the bridge signposted Coniston and Hawkshead Hill, staying on the B5285.

At this point you’ll be taking on your toughest climb of the cycle as you head for the summit of High Cross. About half way up there’s a sign marked ‘Hill Top’, but don’t be fooled, you’ve still got a fair bit of peddling to do before High Cross. Take in the incredible view from there and after such a tough climb you might well want to treat yourself to a pint. Either way, at the upcoming crossroads turn right following signs to Barngates, go through Hawkshead Hill and you’ll arrive at the Drunken Duck pub. Grab a rest, a drink and a bite to eat if you like or continue straight on until you get to the B5286 junction, at which point, turn left and retrace your route back to Ambleside.

The ride is little over 10 miles but quite taxing unless you’re a seasoned cyclist, but with some of the best 360 views of any ride in the Lakes, it’s one that can be enjoyed by all and is worth taking time over to take in the scenery!

November Windermere Guest House Walk – Millerground and Adelaide Hill

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The Millerground and Adelaide Hill walk may be one of the shortest walks around Windermere, but with fantastic access to stunning views across Lake Windermere along the eastern shore and lots of distractions along the way, it’s a great walk for all ages and all members of the family. You can get it done in 20 minutes if you really want but we’d advise spending a good hour, relaxing and taking in the great views the walk has to offer.

The walk begins at the car park on Rayrigg Road, not far from our Windermere Guest House at all so it is within easy walking distance from us. Let us know that you’re heading out and we’ll set you off in the right direction. Once you arrive at the car park, follow the path down to the lake shore. You’ll take a left and walk along the shore path taking in the beautiful views of Windermere Lake. Keep your eyes open for a distinctly large rock looking somewhat out of place in the lakeside landscape. It is said that Queen Adelaide – consort to King William IV of England – came ashore in this spot on her visit to the North of England and a plaque has been put up for you to have a look at.

Millerground Cottage
You can carry on southward toward a kissing gate to take in more of the stunning views and perhaps enjoy a picnic taking in the wonderful scenery but ultimately you will need to double back on yourself towards the jetties. Continue northwards from here past the boathouse and sailing base before you come to a quintessential Lake District cottage named Millerground.

Once you’ve taken in the cottage the path leaves the lake and heads on an easy enough climb by some fantastic waterfalls. As with all falls, they’ll be at their best after rainfall so it’s one of the few times we hope for rain around these parts!

Adelaide Hill
You will eventually find yourselves back on Rayrigg Road, take a right and find the gate and follow the path up to the top of Adelaide Hill. Although it’s only small, Adelaide Hill affords wonderful views over Lake Windermere so crack open the flask and have a brew while you sit atop the hill.

 

Once you’ve warmed your cockles, drop down the other side of the hill and you’ll find your way back to the car park.

Our Windermere Guest House Walk- Hawkshead to Windermere

Hawkshead

windermere-guest-house-hawkshead-to-windermere At this time of year the weather deteriorates quite rapidly and people visiting Windermere are often looking for easy to moderate walks to enjoy so they don’t have to worry too much about the weather scuppering their plans.

That’s why we think this beautifully scenic walk would be right up your street if you’re staying at our Windermere Guest House over the coming weeks. It is a very popular walk from the beautiful village of Hawkshead to Lake Windermere incorporating the wonderful nature of the Lakes as well as the quaint village life of the surrounding area.

We would certainly advise visiting Hawkshead at some point during your stay and a scenic five mile walk would go hand-in-hand with a trip to the village. Hawkshead is superbly kept with quaint streets, unique shops and a great selection of pubs and cafes. The centre is compact and pedestrianised so you can potter through the shops at your leisure. Public transport is available so you can get their nice and early, explore the village, treat yourself to some lunch and set off back along this trail.

The walk over low fells and woodland is extremely well signed so even the less experienced walker should feel comfortable finding their way back to Windermere. Some of the views from the fells over Windermere are breathtaking incorporating the mountains, hills and lakes of the surrounding area. The walk begins with beautiful rural scenes beyond Scar House Lane and continues east to Crofts Head. From Crofts Head pass into Colthouse Plantation and the moderately steep walking begins. It’s not too much of a climb but it will certainly get your heart beating! After about a mile the walk becomes a gentle undulation through woodland and clearances, and with lungs heaving it is an ideal place to stop for a coffee and drift away while the birds sing within the echo of the woods and you get your breath back.

Paths criss-cross this popular rambling spot but fortunately there are well signed guideposts at path junctions so you will always know which way to turn. At times the wood is dense but for the most part it remains quite clear and should be easy enough terrain for all to feel comfortable. The walk does take a steep turn and you will be able to enjoy the views from across Windermere through the treetops which is simply magical. Another great spot to take a few minutes rest before you plough on for the descent which is a little bit steeper than the rise. You’ll make your way to Claife Station and this is where you’ll meet the biggest challenge as the scale of the descent will mean you’ll have to be very careful and cautious at times.

It’s all about taking your time and being thankful you’re not going in the opposite direction! After the descent you’ll find your way to Windermere Lake where you can get a ferry back to our side.

Our Windermere Guest House Walk of the Month: Red Nab to Wray Castle

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Wray Castle Walk

If you’re planning on staying at our Windermere Guest House over the next few months then this is a great and easy walk that is magical in the autumn sunshine, plus the cafe at Wray Castle castle itself is open until the end of  October so you can look forward to a nice pot of tea or coffee to warm you up afterwards if it’s a bit chilly. The walk is a little over 3 miles long and mainly follows the wooded shoreline of Lake Windermere itself. The  Red Nab carpark can be a little tricky to find as it doesn’t have an assigned postcode for sat navs (longitude 54.386056, latitude -2.947503) however  you can get there by heading towards High Wray Farm (Ambleside, LA22 0JE), then take a left and follow the fork in the road to the left. After about 600m down the road you’ll see signposts for the Red Nab car park and the walking track that goes through it. If you’re in any doubt have a chat to us before you leave for the day.

The route itself

This walking route has been improved recently by a number of regeneration and accessibility programs so it is now fully accessible for the less able and even pushchairs. This means that everyone can not only enjoy this walk but also get right the way through to Wray Castle.

Point 1: Red Nab Car Park

The track heads north out of the car park and runs between both the lakeshore and Arthur Wood which is made up of a mix of Ash, Oak and Silver Birch trees. As you walk you’ll see the fantastic views across Lake Windermere of Brockhole on the opposite shore and on a clear day you’ll even see Wansfell. After just over a mile you’ll come to a gate which will bring you out onto the large grass covered area of High Wray Bay. Depending on the weather this is a fantastic place to stop and relax and I know from experience it’s a great place for photography.

Point 2: High Wray Bay

You’ll be able to see the track sign posted and it’s only about 500m to the Wray Castle entrance. Please note that if you are in a wheelchair there are slight gradients which may prove difficult for solo wheelchair users. You’ll then come onto a tarmac drive leading you to the castle.

Point 3: Wray Castle

Wray Castle itself is a Victorian neo-gothic building which since 1929 has belonged to the National Trust. The castle and its grounds  have only recently been opened up to the public allowing people to view the range of specimen trees (Wellingtonia, redwood, Ginkgo biloba and weeping lime) which the castle grounds are renowned for.

The castle was built for a retired Liverpool surgeon, Dr James Dawson,  in 1840. He also used his wife’s fortune to build Wray Church which is located near by. The estate was passed down through Dr Dawson’s family.
The house has an association with Beatrix Potter who spent the summer there in 1882 (she eventually bought nearby Hill Top in 1905 with the profits from her first books). She then went on to buy quite a few bits of land in the area including most of the land around the castle. The castle itself has been used for a variety of purposes, including a youth hostel, the offices of the Freshwater Biological Association and a training college for Merchant Navy radio officers (RMS Wray Castle).

Cycling in Windermere from Our Guest House

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Claife Heights Ride

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Just under eleven miles taking in one of the most picturesque and historical areas in Windermere. It’s a fairly easy ride and can take between one and three hours based on your speed and ability. There are a few steep uphill sections but they are fairly short.

Point 1: Windermere Ferry

This is the route starting point. The Ferry itself has been used by travellers for over five hundred years. Originally the boats were rowed across Windermere which then gave way to steam ferries which were later followed by the diesel driven boats you’ll use today. Besides being a great way to see the lake the ferry also serves to help limit the traffic congestion on the roads around the lake.

The ferry takes people, vehicles, horses and cycles across the lake, reducing traffic on the surrounding narrow roads and easing congestion and pollution.

 

Point 2: Lake Windermere itself

The lake is approximately 10.5 miles long, a mile wide and up to 220 feet deep. This makes it the largest natural lake in England.

 

Point 3: View from Far Sawrey

Both Near Sawrey and Far Sawrey come from around the fourteenth century, when Near Sawrey was known as ‘Sourer’, later becoming ‘Narr Sawrey’ by the seventeen century which leads many to suggest that Far Sawrey must also have been recognised by that time. Both villages contain a pub but Far Sawrey also has a village shop.

 

Point 4: Hill Top

Beatrix Potter lived at Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey in her early thirties and a little known fact is that various areas of the villages around this area were used in her books including The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Fairy Caravan and The Tale of Tom Kitten.

 

Point 5: Esthwaite Water

If you look out over Esthwaite Water to the left you should be able to see Coniston Old Man.

 

Point 6: Hawkshead

Hawkshead grew as a market town after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537. Hawkshead actually belonged to the Furness Abbey until the twelfth century however the town itself dates back to Norse times. The Hawkshead Courthouse is owned by the National Trust and a lot of the village still maintains much of its historical features.

 

Point 7: Wray Castle

Well it’s not classed as a real castle due to it being constructed as a private residence built in the Gothic Revival Style of the mid eighteen hundreds. Originally built for retired Liverpool surgeon Dr Dawson it is also now owned by the National Trust. A little known fact is that the house was actually built using his wife’s inheritance from a gin fortune and on viewing the house for the first time she flat out refused to live in it.

 

Point 8: Windermere Lakeside Track

You will now join the cycle track which runs four miles alongside Lake Windermere to your left.

 

Point 9: Belle Isle

Like a lot of Windermere Belle Isle is steeped in history. The circular house on the island was originally built in the seventeen hundreds and named Belle Isle House. The house and the island itself were then sold for £1,720 to Isabella Curwen in 1781 and the island was permanently renamed after the shortened version of her name. Her descendants continued to live on the island until 1993.

The island itself was known locally as the Great Island or Long Holme before its renaming.

 

Our Guide to choosing the right guest house, hotel or B&B from a Windermere Guest House owner

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From my experience choosing the right B&B can be a bit of a trying task (obviously if you’re looking for a Windermere Guest House the Hawksmoor is your only real choice). If you combine that with all of the special offers and promotions in place across hundreds of sites all clamouring for your business it can prove very difficult to even a seasoned hotelier like myself. From my perspective it all comes down to finding the right fit for you which will often be a combination of individual wants and requirements.

 

What’s most important to you…

Take it from someone who knows; define your critical factor before you start looking and this will provide the best base to search from. Does location supersede price? Do you have a limited budget? Do you need certain facilities for an activity you’re doing (for example our Windermere Guest House has dedicated drying facilities for walkers)?

 

Now target you searches.

Price driven? Every booking website gives you the option to filter by price, utilise this function as soon as you get to the search results page. There are also a number of dedicated websites that will now aim to find you the best deal online. Once you’ve narrowed down your search it’s always worth either having a look at the hotel directly or picking up the phone and calling them. Granted this might add an extra couple of minutes to your search but you can pick up some amazing deals due to the hotel not having to pay commission to a booking site and they will often be happy to pass the saving directly on to you. Plus, you get to know the manager or hotelier on little bit more of a personal level which I find often adds to the quality of a person’s stay; even in today’s modern world people still prefer to do business with people rather than faceless programmes or robots.

 

Location driven? Due to advancements in geo-targeting and detailed web listings most hotels can be pinpointed on a map quickly. This also means that most booking sites can show all the hotels in a specific area quickly and effectively. Google maps also allows you to plot certain points of interest and then you can see which hotel is the best fit for you for getting around everything you want to see. The additional benefit of this is that Google Street View means that you never have to walk round lost or stop everyone asking for directions.

 

Authenticity driven? Now is a great time for holiday makers and travellers as the majority of small independently owned hotels, guest houses and B&Bs now list with the major booking engines and/or have their own sites. Gone are the days of booking a hotel, turning up and being surprised (for all the wrong or all the right reasons) which still used to be a possibility up until six or seven years ago. Trip Advisor also provides a wealth of information however it’s always worth bearing in mind that the opinions expressed are down to individuals and what constitutes authentic can vary widely. I tend to look for the reviews from more experienced travellers or people who have submitted a high number of reviews.

 

Facilities driven? All hotel booking engines allow you to specify certain facilities and amenities usually as part of their advanced search function (which should be around the main search facility on the site). This is fantastic for a range of people. The competitive athlete can find an adequate gym facility and not miss a day’s training getting ready for his/her big race, the couple who can’t be away from Bingo or the dog for too long can also find somewhere where they will be more than welcome. The advanced search function is always my first port of call due to my young family however I always recommend picking up the phone and calling the actual establishment as the definition of things such as ‘spa’ can vary massively based on the owners perceptions.

 

I hope that this blog post has provided a good starting block for how to help you pick your perfect hotel break based on my experience. Without sounding like a shameless plug if you’re looking for a quality guest house in Windermere then our contact details are on this page and we always guarantee the best rates possible if you contact us directly.

 

Local sourcing and how taste matters

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Since taking over the Hawksmoor in 2007 Philippa and I knew we wanted to make it the best B&B in Windermere. As always all great works start with a plan, so besides the obvious work that needed doing on the rooms and facilities that we offered, Philippa and I wanted to create a brand that stood for something. Though a place like ours referring to itself as a brand has the potential to make me cringe at times I still haven’t found a more adept word to define the values and attention to detail that make the Hawksmoor the Hawksmoor. We’ve tried to build a culture here so, for example, when we hire staff they know they’re not just working for another Windermere B&B with a focus on occupancy rates and turning rooms around, they’re coming to work for a Windermere B&B where our focus is standing out from the crowd, nationally not just regionally, and providing a brilliant quality of hospitality and service. I also feel that’s why so many people go out of their way and take the time to write about us on Trip Advisor or similar review sites, which we always appreciate someone taking the time to do. I think in the past we’ve all been to hotels, guest houses or B&Bs that have left us underwhelmed and a bit let down. As the saying goes, ‘receive good service and you’ll tell three people, receive bad service and you’ll tell ten’. The good places are ones you never quite forget and are the basis of all travel stories that people tell at family occasions, the occasional dinner party and down the pub. What we are aiming for here at the Hawksmoor is to create a stay and experience that stands out, not only as a benchmark of quality, but also as a fond memory as well. So much so that when someone asks, ‘How was the hotel?’ our guests smile before they even answer.

So what helps us stand out from most other Windermere B&B s? We give people the best that the Lake District has to offer. We’ve got fantastic natural resources right on our doorstep full of farmers and producers who not only have a pedigree that comes through generations of experience but are also moving with the times and producing some ingredients and foods that are attracting the attention of some of the UKs best restaurants. For the local Windermere hotel or B&B this is an unbelievable opportunity to create something special. Ever wondered why Italian food tastes so much better in Italy or Greek food tastes so much better in Greece? It usually comes down to making the most of what the region locally produces, knowledge on how to work these ingredients together and, most importantly, letting their natural quality and taste shine through. Whilst a cooked English breakfast is a simple pleasure we wanted to make it another key wow moment at the guest house so we really focused on utilising the best that our area has to offer. Although we have won an award for our breakfast it isn’t a fine dining experience you’d expect to find in a Michelin Stared restaurant. We feel it’s exactly what you want; a relaxing and easy start to the day whether you are hiking, cycling or just taking a stroll around the lake. We want our guests walking out the door with a smile and eager for the day ahead. For me that makes the time that Philippa and I spend on tasting, hunting and testing all the more worthwhile because when you start making the key things stand out you can then create an experience that as a whole is something special.

My top tips for sourcing locally;
1. Accept seasonality as it will make you a better cook: There’s no way around it there will be times of the year when producers have an abundance of certain produce. This is fantastic as it means you can pick up some ingredients for a fraction of what you’d usually pay plus ‘what grows together goes together’. So not only can you save money compared to the supermarket but you get ingredients that are at their peak.

2. Farmers markets and local food halls: Both of these have become huge at the moment and allow you to get very close to the production source. Even with most niche brands in supermarkets the production scales are still huge and I think producers can sometimes loose what makes them special for the sake of volume. There is a growing demand for regional produce in all sectors of the market place so much so that since 2001 Waitrose has increased its local produce range from 1,500 lines to 2,150 ranging from more than 465 small producers. Going to markets and food halls also allows you to meet the producers so you can find out how everything has been produced and it will give you an opportunity to see the passion that these people put into something as simple as a sausage. This is a really exciting time for the British food industry as a whole at the moment and something you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not making the most of.

3. Ear to the ground and tasting a bit of everything (in moderation of course): Keep an eye out for regional awards that certain producers have. I know how competitive these awards are and how serious a lot of producers take them. The upshot for you, the consumer, is that competition breeds brilliance. You only have to imagine the hours of work that goes into creating an award winning regional food product built on years and years of expertise. In my experience these awards and recognition are your indicators of quality and taste so it’d be wise to use them. Plus, taste, taste, taste! Often producers are quite happy to provide samples and I know I have found two or three hidden gems on the end of a cocktail stick over the years that have turned out to be fantastic additions to our menu. Always be mindful of what you would place these products or ingredients with so they are either the star of the dish or play a great supporting role.

How Clean is your Hotel Room?

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Have you ever wondered just how clean your hotel room is? Hotel rooms are public places, and you are sharing them with other people (albeit not at the same time). Trevor from the Hawksmoor Guest House Windermere, who has over 10 years experience in the industry, gives you some tips on how to check how clean your room really is.

 

Bedroom

Run your hands over the lamp shades. If there is dust on them, then it is possible the room hasn’t been cleaned properly. While you are by the lamps, run your hands over the lamp’s base as well. Do the same to the tops of any picture frames or mirrors – dust equals not a proper clean.
The next place to look is inside the dresser and bedside drawers. If you find the drawers have not been properly cleaned, the housekeeper is only lightly cleaning between guests as opposed to making sure all surfaces and furniture are properly clean.

Under the bed or sofa you can find a whole host of interesting items, including socks, food, nail clippings,underwear and many more unpleasant items, particularly if the room hasn’t been properly inspected or cleaned.
Look at the table and chairs – check the underside of both the table and chairs for dirt and chewing gum. Also check the table top and seats to make sure that they have been cleaned too.

Next, inspect the curtains and window sills for dust. The cleanliness of a window sill tells you a lot about how well the room is maintained. If you find a lot of dust, dirt, debris or other things, you will more than likely find that the rest of the room is in similar shape.

Open and close the curtains and run your hands along the edges and pleats. You’ll also want to inspect the air conditioning unit’s or heater’s filter (if your room has one). It is something that is often overlooked when cleaning.
In the rest of the bedroom, you’ll find many other surfaces to inspect, including anywhere high dust could gather as well as in the corner and edges of the carpet (but we’ll come back to the carpet later).

Check every surface the previous guests may have touched to ascertain whether the maid has cleaned between hotel room guests or not. Doorknobs and cabinet handles especially, are often neglected areas in hotel rooms – many hands have touched these items but a housekeeper’s cleaning routine rarely even mentions them!
The item you will want to be most wary of is the remote control. Due to the electronic nature of remote controls, they are often as dirty as or dirtier than a public toilet.

Inside the kettle – All kinds of strange stuff can show up inside a kettle. People use them as ashtrays, hiding spots for valuables…etc and housekeepers often don’t remember to check inside, especially if it appears that it has not been used by previous guests.

Finally for the bedroom, check the mugs or cups – A lid or cover on top of does not mean these items are clean or have been cleaned properly since the last user. Just because it is turned upside down or has a lid over it, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been touched or used, sat in a dusty room or worse. If glasses, cups or mugs don’t come in a pre-sealed/plastic wrap container, wash them thoroughly before you use them! Properly cleaned glassware should come from the hotel kitchen, having been washed in the dishwasher at a proper temperature.

 

Bathroom

The bathroom is very easy to inspect. Look behind the toilet seat and toilet (this is often missed as it is hard to reach), as well as the base of the toilet itself. It is also a good idea to check the bathtub for signs of mildew, soap scum or hair in the drains or plughole. The corners under the sink as well as behind the bathroom door are also often overlooked by staff, so I would suggest that you check those areas as well. It is also wise to check the attention to detail and how the housekeeper has replaced the toiletries – this is generally the difference between a hotel that takes prides in offering a great experience and one that is more interested in controlling costs, believe it or not!

Next, check inside the toilet – it is easy for a rushed housekeeper to squirt some toilet cleaner under the toilet seat and swill it round. An attentive housekeeper will actually leave it soaking in and clean other areas then come back and give the inner lip and under the seat, which can be a haven for mould, a good scrub.

 

Bedding and Carpet

When it comes to the bed, you will probably spend the majority of your time here.
Most hotels use white linen thus making them easier to inspect, so look for crinkled sheets, hair, stains and other dirt or tell tale signs of unwashed linen. Also check the frame and headboard for signs of dust.
Finally, run your hands on the carpet and see if dirt pops up easily. Carpets often have had allsorts of things spilled on them over time or they might be hiding sharp objects, so never walk round barefoot in a hotel room until inspected.
After all of this, if you have found even just one problem – speak up! Inform reception as soon as possible if there is a problem. Usually, the hotel will correct any issues you might have – in my guest house in Windermere, I’d expect you to do the same.

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Trevor Francis has many years experience in the hospitality industry and has run Hawksmoor guest house, Windermere with his wife Philippa since 2007.

Hawksmoor Guest House Getting Gold

Hawksmoor Guest House in Windermere is currently celebrating winning the Enjoy England Gold Award and Breakfast Award yet again!

Since buying the Hawksmoor in September 2007, Trevor and Philippa Francis have extensively refurbished and extended the Windermere Guest House, car park and gardens to include 12 fully en-suite, self appointed guest bedrooms, including luxury double rooms,  family rooms, ground floor rooms and one level 1 disabled friendly room.

windermere-guest-houseLuxurious and sumptuous are words that come to mind when you arrive at the Hawksmoor Guest House in Windermere in the Lake District. Breakfast is served in the modern dining room alongside their resident saltwater fish tank and the rooms are furnished stylishly with king size beds, flat screen LCD TVs, wine glasses & bottle openers and an iPod docking station in each room as standard, something that surely helped gain their crown.

The staff at The Hawksmoor guest house pride themselves on being one of Windermere’s premier guest houses and focus on providing a high quality level of service and accommodation as standard – an attitude that has aided their journey to the top.

Trevor Francis, co-owner at The Hawksmoor Windermere Guest House says, “We never expected to achieve such an accolade, so this really means something to us. We set out to provide a chic boutique guest house for visitors to the beautiful English Lake District, somewhere they could rest and feel relaxed at the end of a day fell walking or shopping, perhaps”.

Winning the Breakfast Award was also something the couple don’t take lightly, Trevor says,

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“Now we are at the top of our game, we have no plans to rest on our laurels. There is still more we can do to improve and that is where we are focusing on at the moment; how we can be even better”.

Set in its own grounds, the Hawksmoor Guest House is ideally situated within walking distance of the villages of
Windermere and Bowness where you can find many shops, restaurants, pubs and of course the lake itself.

All in all the Hawksmoor Guest House offers an unrivalled location in which to enjoy the fabulous English Lake District National Park with the warmth, comfort and personal service of a family run Guest House.

For more information about The Hawksmoor, please call Trevor or Philippa Francis on 015394 42110 or email enquiries@hawksmoor.com