• Having a fun-filled holiday in the Lakes is easy as there is so much to do both indoors and outdoors, we could fill a whole book with ideas of places to visit and explore. If you want to keep the kids (and yourselves) entertained over February half-term then book an adventure in the Lake District.

    Here are three suggestions to get your holiday started.

    Lakes Aquarium

    Wildlife from around the Lake District and the world are all under one roof for you to discover at the exciting Lakes Aquarium.   Arctic Charr, Diving Ducks, Pirhana’s, Pygmy Marmosets and a Leopard Tortoise are among some of the weird and wonderful creatures. You can even meet and learn about otters Ollie and Lucy at their feeding time and throughout half-term week you can join in the Tracker Quiz Trail and get up close to some of the animals during handling sessions.

    Wray Castle

    The adventure can start before you even get to Wray Castle by travelling there on a lake cruise from Ambleside. The Gothic castle sits right on the shores of Windermere with its turrets and towers and loads of outdoor space to run around and explore. Smaller children will love the Peter Rabbit Adventure while older children (or possibly the adults too) can keep themselves entertained with guided tours, dressing up or building a castle. There is a also a cafe and shop for that well-earned cake break.


    If you and your family have bags of energy to spare then take a short trip up the road from Ambleside to Brockhole. Explore indoor caving tunnels in Brave the Cave, hire a boat, swing through the trees on Treetop Trek, take a more relaxed look around the grounds on a pony ride or just go for a wander around the 30 acres of gardens. After all that excitement you will be ready for a break and some Cumbrian cooking in their cafe!

    We have got some great rates for February half-term weeks so get in touch now to book and get ready for a week of adventure. 

  • Ambleside is probably best known as one of the main tourist destinations within the Lake District, ideally situated for outdoor activities, museums and historical country houses. However, it is also home to a great selection of boutique, independent shops that are perfect for finding that extra special Christmas gift. It’s not all just outdoor shops, gaiters and rucksacks!

    Here are a few of our favourites;

    Beautiful bath products

    The Bath House is a lovely shop to browse around and is difficult to leave without buying something. They create natural, luxury bathing and bodycare products the majority of which are made in a refurbished stone grain store in Sedbergh not too far away from us. Plenty of gifts for the home, haircare, bodycare and perfumes all delightfully packaged for the perfect present (for you too, go on treat yourself!)

    Cycling mad

    No idea what to buy the cyclist in your life then head to Bike-Treks and their friendly team will help you choose the right accessory, clothing or even a bike! Established over 25 years ago they know everything there is to know about mountain biking bling and it’s one of the few remaining proper bike shops stocked with only the best brands and gear and a team that loves nothing better than talking bikes all day! Prepare to be in there a while, they will probably put the kettle on.

    Stylish Christmas

    Wonderfully unconventional quintessential style - that’s how Rush describes itself. If you want classic, contemporary clothing and accessories with a unique twist then this is the place to go. Men’s and womenswear with the cutest shoes and accessories you will definitely find a gift here for the on-trend fashion conscious.

    Chocolate indulgence

    Who doesn’t love chocolates for Christmas? Friars is a family run business and has been creating luxury, unique chocolatty goodness since 1927. All their products are designed in-house and you really will be spoilt for choice trying to decide between boxes of chocolates, novelty chocolate gifts, chocolate hampers, stocking fillers and even chocolate Christmas decorations. The hardest bit will be trying not to eat all your chocolate gifts on the way home, might be wise to treat yourself too.

    There are so many more shops in Ambleside all within walking distance of our hotel, why not stay for a short break and get your Christmas shopping sorted in the lovely Lake District. We have lots of special room deals throughout December.

    Have a great Christmas and New Year and happy shopping!

  • 16 November 2017

    Lake District Festive Fun

    Santa's reindeer

    We love Christmas time in the Lakes when all the towns and villages look even prettier with their Christmas lights and decorations, we are often lucky enough to get a backdrop of snow covered fells too. There are some wonderful Christmassy events over the next few weeks so we have shared a few of our favourites.

    Kendal Christmas Lights Switch On – Sunday 19th November

    Santa has already set off with his reindeer from the North Pole to make it to Kendal for this Sunday. The streets are transformed into a sparkling, twinkling winter wonderland after Santa is pulled through the town by his trusty reindeer to turn on the Christmas lights. Plenty of festive fun throughout the afternoon with mince pies, mulled wine and live entertainment.

    Coniston Lights Switch On – Friday 24th November

    Coniston make a real party of their event with the whole village joining in. Entertainment from 3.30pm including a lantern procession through the picturesque streets after which Father Christmas will do the honours and turn on the lights. If you have never visited Coniston this is a great excuse to explore a lovely Lakeland village.

    Keswick Traditional Victorian Christmas Fayre – Sunday 3rd December

    Keswick is always a popular town to visit and their Christmas Fayre has a fabulously festive atmosphere that is guaranteed to get even the most Scrooge like people in the Christmas mood. Over 30 market stalls, live music, entertainment from quirky local characters and of course Santa will be hiding out in his Grotto where you can visit him and his six Cairngorm reindeer.

    Windermere Christmas Market – Saturday 9th / Sunday 10th December

    Just up the road from us Windermere host a fantastic, family friendly celebration of Christmas, it’s so good it runs right across the weekend so you get two days to enjoy the festivities. Record numbers of market stalls are expected this year so great if you want to get that Christmas shopping sorted with plenty of food, drink and craft stalls to look around, many of them local producers. Don’t forget to take a break from the Christmas shopping to enjoy the entertainment, live musical performances and of course Father Christmas. They have even ordered some snow so you have the perfect Christmassy day out.

    Carols Around the Tree. Allan Bank. Grasmere – Saturday 16th December

    Don’t just keep your singing voice for the shower, come and join in an afternoon of carol singing at the beautifully picturesque Allan Bank. Enjoy a traditional afternoon singing carols around the Christmas tree at this stunning National Trust location. Spend the day and explore the many walks nearby or make yourself comfy next to the fire in the impressive Allan Bank property as you gaze out at the stunning views with your mug of something hot and a homemade mince pie.

    We are only a short drive away from all these places so why not treat yourself to a pre-Christmas break and have some festive fun in the Lake District.  

  • The weeks are flying by and Christmas is just around the corner but have you ever wondered where some of our favourite traditions came from? One more recent tradition we all look forward to is the Ambleside Christmas Lights event which this year takes place on Saturday 18th November. Santa will arrive not by his traditional sleigh but by steamer across Windermere Lake, although he will revert back to his usual mode of transport once he arrives in Ambleside. There then follows a lantern procession followed by a fantastic firework display to officially celebrate the start to the Christmas countdown.

    Here are a few of our favourite traditions and how they came about

    Christmas cards

    We all love receiving and sending cards, nothing says Christmas is on it’s way than sitting down with your glass of wine and Christmas songs to write your cards. There wasn’t much festive spirit on the minds of the then Public Records Office (now the Post Office) when they introduced them in 1843 as a way to encourage people to use their services and boost business. By 1900 the tradition had caught on throughout Europe and we were all busy sending Christmas cards.

    Mince pies

    You can never eat too many mince pies, although it’s probably a good thing we only scoff them at Christmas. There’s nothing better than a homemade one with a big dollop of cream! Early mince pies actually included meat in them along with other fruits and spices thanks to Middle Eastern cuisine influences brought back by the Crusaders. Commonly they had 13 ingredients and were an oval shape, thankfully by Victorian times the meat had disappeared and they more closely resembled the mince pies we munch through today.


    The excitement begins on Christmas morning when you jump out of bed to see what Santa has left in your stocking! This tradition goes back St Nicholas, or the Gift Giver as he was also named, when he once dropped bags of gold down the chimney of a poor man who had no dowry for his unmarried daughters. The gold fell into the stockings he had left hanging to dry and the tradition was born. Unfortunately the only gold you are likely to get now in your stocking is the foil wrapped chocolate coins.

    Christmas crackers

    Christmas dinner isn’t complete without a few bangs, dodgy jokes and the obligatory paper hat that never fits properly and ends up floating in your gravy. London sweet maker, Tom Smith, can be credited with the invention of the Christmas cracker back in the late 1840’s. Inspired by paper-wrapped French bonbons they didn’t actuallybecome popular until he added the ‘bang’ when you pulled them.

    Christmas pudding

    A Christmas tradition we definitely couldn’t live without and one we always find room for even after a monster sized portion of Christmas dinner. The pudding can be traced right back to the Middle Ages but it wasn’t until the mid 17th century when it evolved into the dessert more recognisable of today with dried fruit and alcohol. Plum pudding was favoured by the Victorians and was traditionally made a week before Advent, known as ‘Stir up Sunday’.

    Why not join us for the annual Ambleside lights event, it’s a great weekend full of festive fun and Christmassy magic.

  • Autumn wood walks

    There is nothing like a picnic in the great outdoors, sandwiches always taste better, your appetite is always bigger and you never feel quite so guilty about that extra slice of cake.

    Autumn is an amazing time of year in the Lake District, the changing colours, leaves falling from the trees and digging that cosy warm jacket out from the bottom of your wardrobe to snuggle into.

    So pop your hat and gloves on and venture out with your picnic to enjoy the view (and a few slices of your favourite cake!)

    Gummer’s How (near Windermere)

    This a great family walk, gives the feeling of being out in the fells but the terrain isn’t quite as tricky so perfect if you have young children whose legs might get a bit tired and want to break out the picnic within the first 5 minutes! Great views over Windermere, Coniston and the central fells.

    Catbells (near Keswick)

    Another classic Lake District walk, you can make it longer or shorter depending how the legs are feeling. In the height of summer you might struggle to find a peaceful picnic spot, but in this quieter time of year you definitely won’t have to share your sandwiches (unless a Herdwick sheep decides to join you!)

    Loughrigg Tarn (near Ambleside)

    A truly beautiful walk with a clear tarn just perfect for a picnic stop. You will get some amazing views of the Langdale Pikes on a clear day and it was also a favourite of William Wordsworth. Not sure if he ever took a picnic with him, but this is definitely one of the hidden treasures of the Lake District, take an extra large picnic so you have an excuse to stay longer.

    Penny Rock Beach (near Grasmere)

    If you could put all the best things about the Lake District together in one place it would be Penny Rock Beach. Fantastic views, a lake, accessible to all and lots of places for the kids to explore. Only a short walk from Grasmere village, the walk takes you along a level lakeshore path and you can always have a paddle along the way or go exploring in nearby Deebolts Wood.

    Tarn Hows (near Coniston)

    A beautiful, and historical place for a picnic. Right in the heart of the Lakes, Tarn Hows is part of the Monk Coniston estate which was preserved by Beatrix Potter and now the National Trust. Sometimes there will be Belted Galloway cattle grazing near the area, which often wander into the nearby carpark to say hello.

    Wrap up warm and enjoy one of the best seasons in the Lake District.

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