The Lake District
The Swan Hotel and Spa, Newby Bridge
While our kingdom might feel especially united right about now (oh hai Brexit), it’s good to know that the landscapes of our “green and pleasant land” are at least flying the international flag of enviable wonderment.
The entirety of the Lake District was named a World Heritage Site by Unesco back in July – a not-too-shabby accolade when you consider its peers include the Great
Wall of China, Grand Canyon and Taj Mahal.
As a Lake District virgin, it was a status we were dubious of. Fast-forward past a long weekend spent hiking, water sporting, cake gorging and overloading our camera roll with 72,385 photos of stunning scenery, and I can confidently say it’s a staycation better than a whole host of intercontinental getaways.
Step one is working out where to stay. The magnitude of the area is as impressive as it is overwhelming (especially for those of us whose mapreading skills extend to bus routes and tube lines), and with (thankfully) no obvious tourist-central mecca, it can be confuddling where to begin.
We headed to the The Swan Hotel and Spa in Newby Bridge – a gorgeously aged getaway that’s not only a short taxi ride from Oxenholme train station, but quite literally perched on the edge of Lake Windermere and the heart of the Lake District.
While it’s a near-on local institution when it comes to the swanky stakes (more than a few locals gave us the ol’ raised eyebrow and high pitched coo when we said where we were staying), its newly launched Loft Suites – a collection of adult-only luxury boudoirs – are the epitome of next-level comfort.
Not only do you get a bold but impressively detailed decor throughout, a TV popping up out of your bed, log fire, and a frankly arousing standalone bath situated in the middle of your open-plan livingbedroom, but the loft-ness of it all brings with it high vaulted ceilings and gorgeous wooden beams throughout.
As far as luxury in the country goes, the balance doesn’t get much finer.
While there are more than enough amenities throughout the hotel for those looking for a truly veg-out break, it’d be a waste to pass up on all the incredible scenery right outside.
Nearby Gummer’s How is a short drive (or calf-bolstering walk) away, and offers some of the greatest views our country has to offer. The walk to the summit is a good 15 minute hike from the car park, past dozily meandering cows and with vistas as good for the soul as they are your lungs (a good inhale of Lake District air is as good for you as 37 disco-spinHIT-aerial yoga-whateverthe-chuff-is-IN-rn classes).
Even better, at the bottom of said mega-hill is a National Trust treasure, Fell Foot
Park, a seemingly ancient stone structure with a boathouse cafe that backs onto the southern tip of Lake Windermere, and offers cake and waters ports in equal measure.
The whole region is a hub for both adventure activities and an array of ancient, quaint and adorable National Trust hideaways. Whether you’re hiring a bike and cycling the length of the lakes, or sailing/ waterskiing/rowing your way down the waterways, there’s more than enough to keep you entertained.
Speaking of which, there’s much more than just Lake Windermere to explore. Technically, if you want to get nautically nerdy about it, there is only one lake in the area (Bassenthwaite Lake), but there are around 16 ‘bodies of water’ that pass for lakes for you to venture around.
‘Must dos’ around the lakes include venturing to Derwentwater and strolling along the Catbells Lakeland walk in Keswick, while the heartier among you can give it a shot striding up
And then there are the people you’ll meet along the way. Not to get all Last of the Summer Wine about it, but it’s easy to forget quite how friendly, convivial and generally lovely everyone is in the countryside.
Even those with the most cynical of ‘you’re not local’ expectations will be pleasantly surprised, as literally everybody we came across either offered us a ‘hello,’helpful advice, or some form of pastry or pint. Whether you’re a flangobbler or a hill-climber, a day out on the Lakes can be an enjoyably exhausting experience. Which is where The Swan’s spa and gastropub-tastic restaurant come into play – comforting and zen-refreshing in equal measure, they offer topof-the-range facilities and amenities; grab a massage or spa treatment from their ESPA-only range of smelly delights, or settle in for a three course meal of hearty, tasty, superior pub grub.
At a time when the country’s economic, sociological and political systems seem determined to hara-kari, a trip to the
Lake District is the perfect, zen-inducing antidote, and a timely reminder that when it comes to spectacular scenery, superlative hospitality and world-class cake, we really do have something pretty darn impressive on our very own doorstep.
The Swan Hotel and Spa,
Newby Bridge, swanhotel.com. email@example.com. Prices for the Loft Suites start from £259 per night for the
Cosy Loft, £284 per night for the Lovely Loft and £299 per night for the Fabulous Loft, based on two sharing.