Spring walks in the Lakes are high up on our to-do list. Finally waking up from winter slumbers, the...
“Many of us have fallen in love with this magical place and return again and again to renew that passion or seek out its beauty. No surprise for those of lucky enough to live here, that this stunning area is often cited as being one of the most romantic places in the world.”
The Lake District has inspired the love of poets, painters, and writers for over two centuries. It’s been the home of Romantic poets Wordsworth, Southey and Coleridge, the writer and critic John Ruskin, the writings and paintings of Beatrix Potter, and its landscapes the muse to JMW Turner. They continue to be the inspiration to writers and artists living and working here today.
Not only does a Stagecoach Coach DayRider ticket release you from the car, it allows you to sit back relax and divert your eyes to the landscapes, enjoy ALL that Cumbria’s award winning restaurants and pubs offer, perhaps indulge in a tipple or two along the way, and show you ‘love the Lakes’ by being that little bit ‘greener’.
There are routes that take you on buses as well as boats, from the south to the north and everywhere in between, but I am going to suggest the ‘Classic’ routes – Service 555 between Kendal and Keswick and the 599 open top bus, taking in Windermere/Bowness and Grasmere.
Kendal has had a café culture dating back to 1819. Farrer’s have been blending their own tea and roasting coffee in Kendal for over 200 years – and it’s served in a coffee house that looks very much like it hasn’t changed much since then! You’ll also find fabulous brunch options at Brew Brothers, Farmhouse Kitchen, Comida, and Babaganoush.
Kendal bus station is but a short hop away so off you go on the 555 or 599. Now depending how long you have you can alight at Windermere bus station and take a stroll through the village, Booths and Lakeland café literally a short stroll from the bus station and many lovely cafes and pubs in Windermere itself. (The 555 runs every hour so there are plenty of opportunities to hop on and off).
Heading north again to Grasmere and Rydal these are both great places to jump off and explore. The hamlet of Rydal sits on the beautiful Rydal Water, and you can get your Wordsworth-fix at Rydal Mount and Gardens. Dating from the 16th century, it contains a selection of the Wordsworth family’s prized possessions and portraits. The five-acre garden remains very much as Wordsworth designed it with fell-side terraces, rock pools and an ancient mound – with great views!
Just a couple of stops down the road – or even a leg-stretcher along the old coffin route, is the old village of Grasmere, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, and full of cafes and shops. Why not have a look at Wordsworth Grasmere – “The loveliest spot that man hath ever found” – so said Wordsworth himself.
This Wordsworth experience has the option of a long or shorter visit – with Dove Cottage, the new Museum, Woodland and Garden-Orchard all to discover.
From here it’s a very short walk into the heart of Grasmere Village and the home of the Heaton Cooper Gallery. Built as a gallery and home by the artist William Heaton Cooper in 1938 his gallery became a popular destination for visitors after the publication of several successful books. Today, the gallery exhibits the work of the Heaton Cooper family of artists, including the contemporary artists, Julian Heaton Cooper and Rebecca Heaton-Cooper. It’s beautiful shop has everything you need (or never knew you needed!) for painting, drawing, and printing and has a superb café next door: Mathilde’s Café – itself named after a local love story…
Grasmere Gingerbread is just down the lane, as is the beautiful St. Oswald’s Church with the ancient gravestone of William Wordsworth. The bus stop is immediately opposite the gallery so you can enjoy the village green and shops too whilst you wait for your next ride.
You then head over the awesome Dunmail Raise past Thirlmere and through some magnificent mountain and lake views before heading down into Keswick.
I recommend a stop off at Keswick Museum. The museum is housed in an original Arts & Crafts house on the edge of Fitz Park. Its collections reflect life in Keswick and brings us back to those old Romantics – as you’ll find out more about the story of the lesser-known Poet laureate: Robert Southey (also the author of Goldilocks and the Three Bears!).
All my suggested stops also have cafes – yes, all of them! But I’d save some space for a real treat on the return leg.
The Gaddum at Brockhole on Windermere has an enviable reputation for its five-star afternoon teas and lunches with its magnificent views across the Thomas Mawson heritage gardens to the Langdale and Coniston Fells. The Gaddum is only open in the evening for very special occasions and what could be more special than celebrating Valentine’s Day with the one you love? The Gaddum Restaurant could have been designed with Valentine dinners in mind. The beautifully designed Arts & Crafts rooms truly come alive in the evening – warm, relaxed and, might I say, romantic.
They are taking booking for dinner only on Valentine’s Day, but you could hop off earlier and enjoy one of their spectacular afternoon teas. (Booking required).
And if you have any room left – head out on the bus for last orders! to Hawkshead brewery or perhaps Wilfs Café, in Staveley Mill Yard.