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!

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%

hawkshead-bitter-1533-p

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.