Inspirational break near host of daffodils
KAREN BRITTON heads to a hotel close to the former home of celebrated poet William Wordsworth
DAFFODILS danced by the side of the road, lambs leapt in the fields, hikers tramped the pavements and hills hugged the road, spilling over themselves like magma.
I was instantly sold that spring was a good time to be visiting the Lakes.
We were on our way to Grasmere. Our destination was the Daffodil Hotel and Spa, in a grand location right next to the lake, with more than its fair share of beautiful grounds around it. The castle-like building against the dramatic mountainous backdrop is really special. It’s named because of its location opposite Dove Cottage, which was home to Romantic poet William Wordsworth. You’ll know his most famous Daffodils poem which begins ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’. Wordsworth was inspired by his love for Grasmere – which I soon understood.
As we walked into the hotel lobby, actor Warwick Davis was checking in next to us. He apparently loves the Lakes. I found it hard to concentrate on checking in with one surprised eye on the star. I was in between wanting to speak to him because he’s famous, and not wanting to, because, well, he was just another bloke checking in. I contemplated this, then got on with settling in to the gorgeous hotel.
Well, if it’s good enough for Warwick Davis.
The lakeside view from our suite literally took my breath away. The landscape almost looked like a painting, with ambling geese and grazing sheep adding to the idyllic scene.
It was hard to believe I’d travelled not even two hours from Manchester to such spectacular scenery. With dreamy views like this, it’s easy to see why so many couples find romance in the Lakes, and go there to get married. There was a wedding in the hotel while we were there, and what a setting for it. It’s like a fairytale.
A good place to get you in the mood for romance is the hotel spa – with hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room and treatments using luxurious Germaine De Capuccini products. We tried out the Rasul mud treatment, originating from the Middle East. It’s a couple’s treatment in which you apply natural cleansing mineral mud and laze on heated loungers in a steam-filled room before mists of water shower down – and leave you feeling incredibly smooth.
This, topped off with an aromatic massage, left me totally relaxed with the stresses of life a million miles away.
The spa has been an award-winning addition to the hotel which was built in 1855 to cater for the 19th century tourism industry that Wordsworth inspired. Much of the original building remains but it reopened in 2012 after a major refurbishment, owned and run by the Harwood and Brady families. It was the late Tom Harwood, a hotelier in the area for more than 40 years, who was the driving force behind the rebuild but sadly died before the foundations were laid. His family pressed ahead to complete his dream.
The hotel’s restaurant overlooks the lake and the menu makes the most of local produce. Our three courses exceeded expectations. My Asian Spiced Monkfish, braised lamb with girolles and sweet potato and red pepper croquette andd salted caramel and Valrhona chocolate tart might give a flavour of what’s on offer.
The hotel is just down the road from the centre of Grasmere, a beautiful and quirky village with great independent businesses, and nearby is pretty Ambleside and tourist favourite Bownesson-Windermere.
But the must-do visit on the doorstep is Wordworth’s Dove Cottage, where he lived fromf 1799 to 1808, and dh the museum. Wordsworth was said to help start Romanticism, along with fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It was on a walking tour of the Lakes with Coleridge that he fell in love with Grasmere and Dove Cottage, where he wrote some of his best poetry. I found visiting the cottage with its stone floors, panelled walls and coal fires made Wordsworth’s story more fascinating, to imagine the family there, walking through the same low doors and creaking up the same stairs.
We finished our tour in the garden where Wordsworth was most inspired. And gazing across the lake to the hills I could see what inspired him. It was one of those views which make you stop and stare contendedly, best shared with someone special. This place was made for romance, and I’d definitely fallen in love with the Lakes.
●● The Daffodil Hotel; Below, the lakeside suite; Inset below, the view across Lake Grasmere