June is a wonderful time to visit the Cumbrian Lake District, Kendal was my perfect place for a week long birthday celebration.
About 10 miles (16km) north east of Kendal, around Tebay and the Lune Gorge, is where the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks meet. West of the town, and slightly closer, lies Windermere (lake) and the central Lake District.
To the south west is Cumbria’s peninsula coast and Morecambe Bay, the latter rich in wildlife and home to the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Looking across the bay is Grange-over-Sands and next door the pretty village of Cartmel, a foodie destination with a racecourse and a wonderful priory church.
Heading west is the festival town of Ulverston and then Barrow-in-Furness, once a great centre for iron and steel making before becoming a naval and merchant shipbuilder to the world.
Where We Stayed
A couple of adjoining luxury cottages and a barn just outside Kendal made a perfect gathering place for my family and friends.
The barn was an amazing bonus for a private party.
We had an afternoon tea party in the barn as well as a curry night and BBQ evening. And there was cake, lots of cake!!
We were surrounded by lush green fields, experienced long evenings with amazing sunsets and all just a few minutes’ drive from junction 36 of the M6.
Take a virtual walk through view here
What We Did
Here’s a few nice things to do in this quiet area of the south lakes region. These places are small and special, and all the world wants to visit the Lakes. There’s a reason Rome has finally cracked and begun asking tourists to curb their enthusiasm.
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway
This delightful and popular railway takes you from Haverthwaite to the shores of Windermere at Lakeside, with steam engines often pulling the trains on the 18-minute journey.
The railway uses part of an extension to the Furness Railway branch line that reached Lakeside in 1869. It was closed about a hundred years later because of a decline in passenger numbers but the three and a half mile (5.6km) stretch between Lakeside and Haverthwaite was re-opened in 1973.
At Lakeside you can board a ‘steamer’ (Windermere Lake Cruises) and head north up the lake to Bowness or Ambleside.
My grandson loved this short train trip!
Holker Hall is one of Cumbria’s best known historic properties, home to the Cavendish family since 1756, its 25 acres (10ha) of gardens here a major attraction in themselves. There’s plenty to see in the house as well where the west wing was rebuilt after fire destroyed its rooms, paintings, books, statues and furniture in 1871.
The then owner, William Cavendish, the 7th Duke of Devonshire, remained undaunted and had the wing replaced by something even grander. That’s the part open to visitors today.
You can wander around at will, the first room being the library with its 3,000 leather bound books, two fireplaces of Derbyshire alabaster (inlaid with Italian marble), elegant plasterwork, linen fold wall panelling, family portraits, fine French furniture and a microscope once owned by physicist Henry Cavendish (1731-1810). He was the man who gave his name to the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University.
The gardens themselves are stunning and are set in 200 acres (81ha) of parkland, the Sunken Garden, Summer Garden, Elliptical Garden, Holker Labyrinth and Pagan Grove being some of the attractions.
My Dad was a farmer on the Holker estate which is where I grew up, so some sentiments here.
Continuing the farming theme…
Old Hall Farm
At Old Hall Farm at Bouth, the aim is to provide unique experiences in a traditional working environment set in the idyllic Lake District.
Old Hall Farm is worked using 19th century methods to grow its crops and harvest the land. Horse power alongside steam and early vintage tractors and their implements are the way the farm is operated.
The historic buildings housing the stock and the steam driven dairy is a unique sight to behold. The farm is mostly self-sufficient growing its own feed and produce and rearing its replacement stock. Manual labour, old techniques and hard work is the key to the historic working farm.
And there is the delicious rich and creamy ice cream made with milk from their own Jersey herd. You may well be lucky enough to watch it being made in the ice cream parlour and then take home a tub of their Jersey milk ice cream!
There is a Milkbot vending machine for fresh Jersey and pasteurised milk.
Another great day experience for a toddler!
Low Sizergh Barn
Farming and food again!
Upstairs from one of Cumbria’s best known farm shops, Low Sizergh Barn, is the café where homemade, tasty food is a given and the daily milking of cows at 3.30pm an added bonus for visitors.
Food ranges from bacon and sausage rolls, granola, toasted teacakes, soups, sandwiches and salads (with Low Sizergh’s Growing Well organic leaves) to more substantial dishes such as Higginson’s Cumberland sausage (Higginson’sa well-known butcher at Grange-over-Sands).
Again it’s great to be able to refill your milk bottles with raw milk from the family’s 170 cross-bred Holstein, Swedish Red and Montbéliarde cows sold via an on-site vending machine. This hard to find product is unprocessed – not skimmed, homogenised or filtered. You can see the cows in the farm’s milking parlour and then buy the fresh milk just a few yards away.
There is a huge selection of everyday staples and Cumbrian foodie finds to load up the car before reluctantly driving over the Pennines back to home in Yorkshire.
The Lake District is impossibly beautiful, as well as delicious. I spend half my life there, well… I get back to my home county several times a year! I’m always in search of reasonable prices and above all, welcoming places for normal folk to visit, so keep reading for my next visit in the autumn.