In­spi­ra­tional break near host of daf­fodils

KAREN BRIT­TON heads to a ho­tel close to the for­mer home of cel­e­brated poet Wil­liam Wordsworth

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

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

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