We all know that there are some wonderful things to do in the Lake District National Park.  It is after all, an exceptional example of nature’s playground, with the fells to hike, valleys to explore and the shores of the lakes inviting you to take to the water for a swim or boating trip.

At Low Wood Bay, you’ll find that we’ve gone that extra mile in terms of outdoor activities.  As well as the outdoor spa facilities for those who want a bit of R&R whilst taking in the spectacular views of the Langdales, there’s also the Watersports Centre which offers pretty much all you can think of in terms of boating, paddleboarding or even wake surfing.

Many of our guests yearn for something more to bring them closer to the natural world, and that’s why we’ve teamed up with Lake District Falconry to offer intimate hawk walks in the Lake District, allowing participants to get up close to birds of prey and even have them fly to their outstretched gloved hand.

How to get into Hawk Walks in the Lake District

We first started working with the falconers and their birds at The Wild Boar Inn, where our 72 acres of woodlands make the perfect tree canopy cover to see the raptors fly, swoop and dive in a natural environment.

A Hawk Walk with the Lake District fells in the background.

And so we decided to help create a falconry centre here on the shores of Windermere, using Low Wood Bay’s extensive grounds and the backdrop of spectacular Lake District scenery to offer ‘hawk walks’ for guests and visitors.

What is a Hawk Walk?

Sessions start with the experienced falconers introducing one of the raptors, allowing participants to wear a falconry glove and have the bird of prey perch on their fist.  This is followed by the opportunity to fly the hawk to and from the glove with expert guidance from an experienced falconer.

A bird’s eye view of Windermere and the fells

General manager at the spa Mark Needham says: “We’re very lucky to be able to offer our guests some of the best views across Windermere here at Low Wood Bay.  So what better place to allow them an even closer step to nature by trying their hand at falconry.

“During the hawk walks, there’s a chance to take on the role of the falconer, donning the gauntlet and calling the birds to you.  It’s a great way to experience the unique bond between these birds and humans. We have a number of hawk walk packages to choose from, including options to make a day of it with spa usage and a two-course lunch or afternoon tea.”

As an integral part of the sessions, participants also learn about the behavioural habits of the birds and watch one of the hawks perform a simulated hunt using artificial prey.

Bird of prey on it's handlers gloved hand during a Hawk Walk

Stephen Lea from Lake District Falconry says: “It’s great to add such a spectacular venue for our exclusive hawk walk experiences.  Low Wood Bay guests can get to know our beautiful hawks and immerse themselves in their world against the spectacular backdrop of Windermere and the Lakeland Fells.” Find out more book your falconry experience.

When you take a hotel break in the Lake District, have you ever considered who might have visited or even stayed at the venue before you?  Would you know if any historic figures or famous faces from the past have been in the very same room as you?

Lake District Stays With Celebrities Past & Present

From royal visitors to filmstars, our venues have hosted a number of illustrious names over the years, including Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, the late King Hussein of JordanThe Earl of Wessex and the current King Charles III when he was Prince of Wales.

And Hollywood royalty amongst our guests include household names such as Tom CruiseNicole KidmanJoan Collins and Henry Cavill.

Further back, renowned poets, writers and artists including William WordsworthJMW TurnerJohn Ruskin and John Constable were regulars at Low Wood Bay.

Celebrating Low Wood Bay’s Movie Connections

So, the recent stay of Lucy Fleming was an opportunity to celebrate the venue’s historic movie connections, notably with that truly iconic film from the 1940s, Brief Encounter.

Lucy is the daughter of Dame Celia Johnson, who was resident at Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa during the filming of Brief Encounter in 1945.  We were thrilled to host Lucy and her husband Simon Williams, with the hotel as a staging post for their play, ‘Posting Letters to the Moon’, which was shown at The Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.

Lucy and Peter Fleming on stage with an image of Lucy's mother Celia Johnson

The play is a touching portrayal of life during the Second World War through the correspondence between the Oscar-nominated actress and her explorer and writer husband Peter Fleming, the brother of James Bond creator Ian.

It includes Celia’s experiences of working with Noël Coward which led to her starring role in the film.  Peter Fleming was away for most of the war, and in his letters, he writes about his adventures working on deception in India and the Far East.

To mark Lucy’s stay over 75 years later, a framed and inscribed copy of a Brief Encounter movie poster was presented to her, and the picture has been mounted in the hotel as a permanent reminder of her mother’s residence here.

Brief Encounter Filming At Carnforth & The Langdale Valley

Celia Johnson was rumoured to have stayed in room 19 but to this day, no-one can quite be sure.  She described the hotel and recalls a warming fire being made up in her room and the provision of a late breakfast after filming throughout the night.

Photographic portrait of Celia Johnson

In an excerpt of a letter written by Celia to her husband during filming, she writes:

We are living out at Windermere in a frightfully comfortable hotel where we have fires in our bedroom, breakfast in bed, in fact every mod con.

Celia Johnson

She was chauffeur driven each day by Rolls Royce to Carnforth station and also for a day’s filming up in the Langdale Valley for one of the most famous scenes in the movie at Middle Fell Bridge, Dungeon Ghyll.

In her letter, Celia explains: 

Today being Sunday we went out to look for little bridges for the little scene on the bridge and went all round the lakes and up and down the hills and it was simply lovely.  I didn’t know this part of the country was so beautiful.

Celia Johnson

Hosting Film Crews at Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa

Our former chairman Michael Berry mentions the film crew’s stay in his book on Lakeland history thus:

Brief Encounter is one of Britain’s best loved films.  Film crews bring an added buzz to all directly involved and indeed bring additional business to the hotel from the locals who are curious to know what is going on.

Michael Berry

Other films with which our venues have been involved include The French Lieutenant’s Woman from 1981 starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, Killing Me Softly, the 2002 thriller starring Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes, and Snow White and the Huntsman which starred Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron.

Hotel manager Mark Needham with Lucy and Peter Fleming

Lucy Fleming said:

It’s been lovely for Low Wood Bay to be involved in our plans to bring our production, ‘Posting Letters to the Moon’, to Cumbria, and to explore the venue’s connections with Brief Encounter.

My mother, Celia Johnson, very much enjoyed staying at the hotel during the filming of the movie and travelling to Carnforth each day in a Rolls Royce, so it’s a joy to follow in her footsteps.

Lucy Fleming

In his book, Michael Berry adds:

These brief encounters are all great fun and add an extra dimension to the life and work of the hotel team.

Michael Berry
Room 19 at Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa
Room 19

So, if you’re settling in for your stay here at Low Wood Bay, especially if it happens that you’re booked into room 19, take a moment to seek out the picture on the wall in the reception lounge and think about life as a film star in residence back in an altogether different time.

“We are living out at Windermere in a frightfully comfortable hotel where we have fires in our bedroom, breakfast in bed, in fact every mod con”

Celia Johnson

While you’re enjoying your hotel stay in the Lake District or North Lancashire, have you ever thought of helping out with some tree planting?

Celebrate National Tree Week with English Lakes Hotels

National Tree Week, an initiative spearheaded by The Tree Council, is celebrated in the UK every year at the end of November.

It’s a key time for trees as this time of year marks the beginning of the planting season.

Supporting The Local Environment

At English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues, we’re always looking for new ways to do our bit for conservation, the environment and to reduce our carbon footprint.

Whether it’s using natural, renewable resources through our hydro-electric turbine at Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa, or making the most of the sun’s energy with solar panels at Lancaster House Hotel, we want to help make a difference.

Tree planting in the Lake District and North Lancashire represents one of our core environmental commitments – our aim is to help breathe new life into those areas which have much less tree cover than they have in the past.

Planting new trees to create more future woodland cover is vital in terms of mitigating the effects of climate change, maintaining habitats and protecting land from flooding, as well as helping to preserve the beautiful scenes of the rural countryside for everyone to enjoy for generations to come. 

It’s why we recently donated £5,000 from the English Lakes Hotels Sustainability Fund to The Lune Rivers Trust to create new areas of woodland.

As part of an overall initiative to plant over 1,800 new trees, the funding will cover 0.33 hectares of the project along a section of Ellergill Beck, to the North of the Forest of Bowland.

Why Are Trees So Important In Your Hotel Stay?

Too often we take trees and woodlands for granted, despite the huge popularity in the tranquillity of rural, nature-based hotel stays.

It is often said that the UK has one of the highest concentrations of ancient trees in Europe.

Our guests always marvel at the peace and beauty of the 72 acres of ancient woodland we look after around The Wild Boar Inn.  These so called ‘Cathedrals of the countryside’ have been around much longer than anything we have built and are a life-giving feature of the landscapes across the Lake District and North Lancashire.

According to The Woodland Trust, the UK’s native tree species and woodlands are not in great ecological shape and are showing declines in wildlife.  But there is good news in that tree planting projects across the country are starting to bear fruit and to address these challenges.

Get Involved In Tree Planting During Your Lake District Hotel Break

At English Lakes Hotels, we’re determined to contribute to the national target quoted by the Committee on Climate Change for the UK to plant 1.5 billion trees – at least 30,000 hectares per year – and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

You can get more involved and help make this happen with a simple decision.  When you check out after your stay with us, you automatically make a £1 optional donation to our local tree planting and sustainability projects administered through Cumbria Community Foundation.

Since establishing our sustainability fund in the late 1990s, we have raised over £250,000 for local conservation projects.

In 2019, we partnered up with Cumbria Community Foundation to target more of our fund raising towards tree planting projects.  Thus far we have committed over £30,000 for a range of initiatives.

Make A Difference For A Greener Planet

You can also get involved through The Tree Council itself, especially during the winter planting season.  Why not plant a few trees or a hedge yourself in the garden, or get involved with a community project or tree planting event by connecting with your local Tree Warden Network.

And if you cannot do some hands-on planting yourself, you can make a donation to The Tree Council for them to plant a tree or a line of hedgerow on your behalf.  In this way we can all make a contribution towards a more sustainable future.

Throughout winter the Lake District hotel guests are always treated marvellous picture post card views of snow-capped peaks, some guests even come to the area just for the snow sports! If it snows on your Lake District Holiday, sledging can be great fun for the whole family…

Hotel Guests First Created Recreational Sledging

The practical use of sledges, or sleds, is ancient and widespread, enabling easier transport of people and goods across snow-covered ground. There are records indicating that Sled Racing has been around since the 15th Century in Norway and Sweden. Interestingly, it was a bunch of hotel guests in St Moritz in the mid 1800’s that brought us recreational sledging. Adapting delivery sledges for a spot of cavorting in the snow, they unwittingly developed a family pastime that, right up to the present time, has young and not-so-young alike eagerly anticipating the first flurries of snowflakes.

Lake District Family Sledging Locations

So that our hotel guests do not feel the need to hijack our deliveries in search of suitable sliding accoutrement, our Lake District hotels keep a sledge in readiness – just in case you forget to pack your own! We’re even prepared to share our top three favourite family sledging places with you – as long as you don’t tell anyone!

1. Tarn Hows

Not only beautiful scenery with a lovely pushchair-friendly short walk around the tarn, the slope down to the lake is moderately steep – great for thrill seekers!

Tarn Howes in Snow

Tarn Howes in Snow

2. Fell Foot Park

The National Trust Fell Foot Park sits at the southern tip of Windermere. Smooth green lawns slope down to the lake shore for some great uninterrupted sledging and suitable for younger children.

Two kids sledging in the snow

Two kids sledging in the snow

But really, you don’t need to go any further than …

3. Low Wood Bay

The sloping fields behind Low Wood Bay is a magnificent sledging spot for our guests. With breathtaking views of Windermere and the snow-covered peaks beyond, even those standing around and not partaking of the sport will not be bored! There are varying gradients offering something for all the family.

Once you have finished having fun in the snow, warm up in Low Wood Bay’s Langdale Lounge & Bar and enjoy a Hot Chocolate by the roaring log fire.

Hot Chocolate by the fire

Hot Chocolate by the fire

Sledging Safety Tips

Here are our top tips to ensure you stay safe whilst sledging:

  1. Choose your slopes carefully for the age and ability of your party
  2. Be aware of obstructions
  3. Make sure there is an adequate ‘slow down’ area

Whether your ideal day out in the Lake District is a gentle stroll by a meandering stream, a more strenuous hike up a mountain or a heritage rail journey, it would appear that there is something for everyone.  Here’s one for the more adventurous.

Safely attached to the side of a cliff!

Safely attached to the side of a cliff!

The Iron Road

I hate ironing, but this is a something altogether different! Via Ferrata or ‘Iron Road’ is a protected climbing route across mountainous areas, making often exposed and inaccessible areas available to non-climbers like me. And we have one of only two Via Ferratas in Britain right here on our doorstep.

Via Ferrata: Iron Road

Honister Slate Mine is the only working mine in England and supplies highly sought after green slate around the world. Set amidst some of the most breath-taking scenery in the Lake District, Honister has a Visitor Centre, organised and informative mine tours and a ‘fill your boot for £20’ facility.

On this occasion, that’s not what brought Kris and myself past Derwentwater and along the beautiful Borrowdale Valley. We were booked on Honister Via Ferrata Xtreme, an adrenaline pumping experience which would take us to the summit of Fleetwith Pike, a commanding presence above Honister Pass at a height of 2,066 ft.

Honister Pass snaking below the Via Ferrata

Honister Pass snaking below the Via Ferrata

In recent history Via Ferratas have grown massively in popularity, particularly in the Alipine regions of Italy, France and Austria, but they have been around as early as the 19th century and the early years of mountaineering. They also served a more serious diversion during WW1, providing vital military routes across hazardous mountain ranges for troops and supplies.

A Privileged Perspective

We joined another seven adventure seekers and after a quick introduction to Tom, our guide, we were issued with harness, helmet and a pair of life-preserving carabiners.  I’d done my research, so I knew that if everything were to go wrong, I would be the first to perish en route. Cold comfort.

A bus ride a short distance up the side of the mountain deposited us at the start of the route. Tom gave clear instructions about how to remain safely clipped in to the steel rope, but all too quickly we had to lower ourselves over the side of the mountain and descend steeply on a series of iron ladders.

Keeping my eyes level and my hands busy with the constant carabiner clipping meant that the reality of the cars-as-dots deep in the valley below did not totally freak me out.  Surprisingly quickly, I started to trust the equipment and Tom’s words about its near impossible breaking strength.

The beauty of the valley below and the mountains around started to permeate my consciousness and I felt privileged to be allowed to view it all from such a vantage point.

Smile for the Camera!

Kris smiling for the canera, just before he looked down to the valley bottom!

Kris smiling for the camera, just before he looked down to the valley bottom![

The most challenging part of the course was a drop down to ladders overhanging a steep gully and then a traverse along the rock face. The views to the mountains above and beyond Honister Pass compensated for any anxiety about the fear of holding on.

Navigating ladders overhanging a steep gully

Navigating ladders overhanging a steep gully

We discovered that Tom was also a photographer. That, and his dry sense of humour collided when, on the 60 m ‘tightrope’ Burma Bridge, he encouraged me to turn around and smile for the camera! As the bridge began to sway and I heard Kris’ strained voice behind me quietly assert, “I don’t like this,” I willed myself to the other side. A scramble up a steeply stretched cargo net and, all too soon, our two hours of climbing were over.

Tina's tightrope photo shoot on the 60 m Burma Bridge

Tina’s tightrope photo shoot on the 60 m Burma Bridge

The steep cargo net climb

The steep cargo net climb

A short assent through a disused mine shaft took us close to the summit of Fleetwith Pike with spectacular views across Buttermere Valley to Crummock Water and Loweswater  to the north. Views of Haystacks, Great Gable and Green Gable bathed in late afternoon sunshine accompanied us on the gentle descent back to the Visitor Centre.

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Group shot at the summit of Fleetwith Pike

I believe anybody with reasonable fitness, thirst for adventure, a head for heights (or a need to overcome a fear of heights), and a desire for some high level sightseeing will finish their session at Honister Via Ferrata exhilarated and with a huge smile on their face.

Views back towards the Honister Visitors Centre

Views back towards the Honister Visitors Centre

Via Ferrata Xtreme

The Xtreme takes approx. 3 – 3.5 hours to complete. Prices from £37.50 Child (10 yrs up to 16), £45.00 Adult (16 yrs +), Family discounts available.

Book online or by Telephone:  017687 77230

Address: Honister Pass, Borrowdale, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5XN

Adventure Holiday in the Lake District

After a morning on the Iron Road, scrambling to the top of Fleetwith Pike via cable, ladders and cargo nets, you will have plenty of time to explore the rest of the Lake District.

Take a scenic drive past the beautiful Derwent Water, and visit the town of Keswick for a spot of lunch. Then head down the A591 past Thirlmere to Grasmere where you can sample the world famous Sarah Nelson Grasmere Gingerbread. Then head towards Ambleside where you can check in the 4 Star Waterhead Boutique Hotel or Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel on the shores of Windermere. If you are still thirsty for adventure after a great night sleep, head down to Low Wood Bay Watersports Centre where there is plenty of activities to keep you entertained within our Lake District Hotels!

We are delighted to introduce you to Dr and Mrs Eagle, regular guests to Waterhead. They share with us their top 5 car-free days out from the hotels in Ambleside, which adds to a relaxing stay in the Lake District. 

Waterhead Hotel

Waterhead Hotel

Having tried lots of places over the years Waterhead remains our favourite. It’s a luxurious break without the guess work of whether the bed will be comfy or the quality of food and wine or if the staff are friendly.  I’m quite fussy and like a quiet room, thick curtains and a powerful shower. Add to this a stunning view, fluffy towels and bathrobes, a library of DVDs, gingerbread and freshly roasted coffee! All of this adds up to a really relaxing break and that is why we keep coming back.

We love just parking the car when we arrive and then ignoring it for the duration of our stay. Here are out top five picks for car-free outings from Waterhead:

Winter views from Waterhead Hotel

Winter views from Waterhead Hotel

1. Stagshaw Gardens

[Stagshaw Gardens (Credit: Wikimedia)

Stagshaw Gardens 

Just off the main road into Ambleside and a few minutes walk from Waterhead, Stagshaw Gardens is a quiet gem. This rambling and informal woodland garden is a blaze of colour and beautiful scents in spring and summer.

We love the ‘secret garden’ feel with winding paths and unusual trees and plants. You can also sit and enjoy views out over the lake and mountains.

Created by Cubby Acland, a former National Trust agent, the garden has an outstanding collection of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas and a stunning carpet of bluebells in the spring.

2. Walk to Grasmere via Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones over River Rothay ( Credit: Wikimedia)

Stepping Stones over River Rothay 

There are lots of lovely walks from the hotel and this is my very favourite.  Ilse and Alina at Waterhead Reception are happy to provide information on walks but there are also lots of walks to be found online.

As well as the famous stepping stones across the River Rothay this walk provides stunning views over Rydal Water and Grasmere, caves to explore under Loughrigg, a myriad of tearooms and art galleries in Grasmere village itself, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount (both former dwelling places of William Wordsworth) and St Oswald Parish Church where you can view the grave stones of Wordsworth’s family.

 3. Boat Trip to Bowness-on-Windermere

Windermere Lake Cruises

Windermere Lake Cruises

Take a Windermere Lake Cruise from the pier across the road from the hotel. It takes just over half an hour to reach Bowness, a bustling touristy centre with a distinct holiday feel. There’s a lovely 10 minute walk from Bowness Pier along the lake shore to Cockshott Point to Windermere Ferry. Bowness is home to the famous The World of Beatrix Potter attraction which is hugely popular with families.

There is nothing better on a summer’s afternoon to break the journey on the way back at Brockhole and walk around the lovely gardens, drop into the Visitor Centre or, for the more adventurous, have a go at Treetop Trek Aerial Adventure!

4. Zeffirellis in Ambleside

Zeffirelli's Cinema and Restaurant ( Credit: Rose and Trev Clough)

Zeffirelli’s Cinema and Restaurant ( Credit: Rose and Trev Clough)

It’s always good to have a wet weather plan in the Lake District. Zeffirellis is not only a cinema featuring the latest movies and selected Art House films, but most Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays there is also live music in the form of  contemporary jazz and world music.

Keep an eye on their Special Events page as they regularly feature live recordings from the New York Metropolitan Opera. Coming up in January 2015 is The Merry Widow and on Valentine’s Day they are showing a Tchaikovsky double bill Iolanthe/Bluebeard’s Castle.

5. Bike Boat to Wray Castle

Wray Castle (Credit: Wikipedia)

Wray Castle (Credit: Wikipedia)

Another fantastic car-free day out is to take the new Bike Boat from Brockhole over to Wray Castle on the western shore of the lake. If you haven’t brought your bike you can hire one from Brockhole Visitor Centre. Wray Castle is a mock-gothic castle with turrets and towers. Kids will love the big empty rooms they can dress up and let imaginations run wild.

There’s a choice of cycle routes from Wray – the traffic-free shore path to Harrowslack is suitable for all ages and abilities and there are also quiet roads and bridleways for the more experienced cyclist. From Harrowslack, it’s a short car ferry ride back across the lake to Bowness where you can get the 800 Bike Bus back to Brockhole.

We’ve had some really fantastic celebrations at Waterhead over the years and we return for birthdays and anniversaries. Little gifts of cards, chocolates, flowers and my favourite tea are such thoughtful touches that have added to great holidays. However, it’s the staff that really make it – each one is professional but friendly and will go out of their way to make your stay memorable.

I think Waterhead should get the Mary Poppins Hotel Award – It’s “Practically perfect in every way”!

The reviews on early showings of the eagerly anticipated Swallows & Amazons re-make are starting to trickle out. It has got to be said that not all are convinced that the vision of ‘capturing the imagination of the Harry Potter generation’ will be realised with this spiced up, ‘white-knuckle-ride adventure’ version of the treasured Arthur Ransome novel.

I guess we will have to wait for the official release on 19th August to gauge public reaction. Musing on this from Low Wood Bay with unspoilt views of the scenery that inspired a series of twelve books from Ransome’s pen, one thing we are convinced of – there is enough here to create your own Swallows and Amazon’s adventure.

Sailing boat at Low Wood Bay

Sailing from Low Wood Bay, Lake District Hotels

A Beloved Home

A note written by Arthur in 1958 about his beloved Lake District, and included in all subsequent editions of Swallows and Amazons, read:

… We adored the place… While away from it we dreamt about it. No matter where I was, wandering about the world, I used at night to look for the North Star and in my mind’s eye could see the beloved skyline of great hills beneath it. Swallows and Amazons grew out of those memories. I could not help writing it. It almost wrote itself.

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Ten Things you May not Know about the Book and the Author

  1. Arthur’s father, Cyril, carried his young son to the summit of Coniston Old Man when he was only a few weeks old. In Swallows and Amazons, Coniston Old Man becomes ‘Kanchenjunga’.
Coniston Old Man, or 'Ka Photo Credit: CC David Dixon

View Towards Coniston Old Man/CC 2.0 David Dixon 

2. In his autobiography, Ransome recalls making friends with the animals, the postman, gamekeepers, charcoal-burners, fishermen and the odd poacher or two.He joined the young men practicing Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling for the local Sports.

Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestlers

Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestlers

3. The steamer Tern – still carries visitors on Windermere just as she has done since 1891. She leaves from ‘Rio’ (Bowness) and passengers get a great view of ‘Cormorant Island’ (Silver Holme).

MV Teal on Windermere passing Cormorant Island

MV Teal on Windermere passing Cormorant Island

4. In 1896, Arthur’s chance meeting with author and artist,W G Collingwood and his family led to a very close friendship, enjoying long summers together, sailing and creating adventures in the Collingwood’s boat ‘Swallow’.

W G Collingwood Self Portrait. Photo Credit Wikipedia

Self-portrait of W G Collingwood as Sea Captain/Public Domain W G Collingwood

5. Ransome fell in love with two of the Collingwood daughters – Dora and Barbara – and proposed to both of them, on different occasions, but without success. Dora Collingwood went on to marry Ernest Altounyan and after spending a summer with the children teaching them to sail, Ransome wrote Swallows and Amazons as a gift for them.

6. Just after the decision to give up his steady job on the Manchester Guardian in order to write books, he took ‘Swallow’ from the boatshed in Bowness Bay and went for a sail. Ransome wrote that it was during that outing that he had the idea of writing a book in which the heroine would be the little boat itself.

7. The first draft of Swallows and Amazons was written within eight weeks. The author was paid 10% on the first five thousand copies, and 15% thereafter, with an advance of £100 payable on the day of publication. Swallows and Amazons was published on 21st July 1930 at a price of 7/6 (37.5p).

8. Eager readers of the Swallows and Amazon series included the future Queen ElizabethJ.R.R. Tolkien and A. A. Milne.

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Early Ransome Fan   Elizabeth II 2015/CC 4.0 PolizeiBerlin

9. Officially released documents confirm that Ransome was a British agent during the war, and it has been suggested that he may also have been a spy for the Russian secret police. Whilst gathering bulletins from the Bolsheviks in Russia he met and fell in love with Trotky’s secretary, Evgenia Petrovna Shelepina, who became his second wife.

10. Ransome wrote of the main character in the book, and that now- controversial name…

Titty is short for Tittymouse and Tittymouse is long for – it may be Ann or it may be Jane. I do not know; but as she is never known by any other name, it does not seem to matter. She was a very good Able Seaman.

A New Perspective on ‘Holidays’

In ‘Approaching Arthur Ransome’, literary scholar Peter Hunt said of the Swallows and Amazon series  that it “… changed British literature, affected a whole generation’s view of holidays, helped to create the national image of the English Lake District and added Arthur Ransome’s name to the select list of classic British children’s authors “

Despite there being a few more motor vehicles on the road these days, and ‘monstrous’ motor boats on the lake, Arthur Ransome’s Lake District is still very much ripe for exploration.

Start your Swallows and Amazons Adventure at Low Wood Bay

There are few better vantage points than Low Wood Bay with its Marina and Watersports Centre from which to launch your own holiday adventure! Check out our School Holiday Swallows and Amazons holiday offer and start packing.

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Low Wood Marina, Windermere.

Low Wood Marina, Windermere.

On Mother’s Day, Mums are presented with flowers, choccies, perfume or sometimes a thoughtful personalised gift. Don’t get me wrong, any and every gift is cherished, especially the glitter-laden home-made card. However, research has shown, and I can testify to most of these in various seasons of life, that the most-wanted list is really quite simple …

Children, fathers, take note!

Sleep

How many young Mum’s just crave a night of undisturbed slumber, where the 3 am closed-eye zombie shuffle to settle an infant is, for one night of bliss, another life away? Sleep deprivation, a well known instrument of torture… no wonder Mums’ dream of dreaming the night away.

Gift inspiration: Book the in-laws and book a room to sleep in!

Here are a few rooms that we can offer within our family of hotels

Adult Conversation

We choose to spend lots of time with our toddlers endlessly repeating the same word, phrases, nursery rhymes because we know it is good for their vocabulary, but what about ours? Something happens when you have pretended to like plastic peas for the thirtieth time to the tune of “Num, num, num” There is a real danger of our brains turning to mushy (peas).

Gift inspiration : A girly afternoon tea with a view

Who wouldn’t love Afternoon Tea at The Midland!

Me Time!

Taxi driver, picky eater personal chef, potty trainer, housekeeper, ABC and 123 teacher, tooth-brushing inspector, dramatic story teller, road crossing patrol, lullaby singer, hugs and kisses expert, speech specialist, super hero costumes-at-short-notice maker – just a few of the jobs on Mums jobs list!

Gift inspiration: Pamper time at the local beauty salon

Me Time!

A Meal with My Family… that I Don’t Have to Cook

Planning nutritious week-day meals, shopping, food prep, picky eaters, clearing up and starting again… all reasons that Mums will very often fall at your feet weeping in gratitude when offered the seat of honour and a tasty meal cooked by someone else, surrounded by those she loves.

Gift Inspiration: Sunday lunch for the whole family

Damien, Head Chef at Lancaster House carving the roast.

Family Fun

A fun day out in the country for the whole family – fresh air, laughter, new sites and sounds, a bit of an adventure – just what’s needed to put everything back in perspective and remember why we had that family in the first place!

Gift Inspiration: A Day in the beautiful Lake District

Here are our top tips for family fun in the country

Family On Walk In Countryside

Still Time to Book Mum’s Top Treat!

At English Lakes we have comfy beds, beauty treats, afternoon teas, meals for all the family and lots of fun family activities. Have a look at our beautiful venues and choose the best fit to treat the Best Mum in the World at one of our Lake District Hotels.

English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues are delighted that UNESCO have agreed with the Lake District bid and have elevated our much-loved land and rich culture to World Heritage status.

When we consider the English Lake District, our immediate thoughts are the people that have created and maintained the heritage of this compelling and beautiful part of the world. English Lakes Hotels Resorts and Venues celebrates that inheritance every day as we extend a welcome to visitors from near and far to share in the rich culture and landscapes that we will never take for granted.

History of Lake District Tourism

It was the natural beauty of the Lake District that first brought visitors to the area. The advertising of the day was through the Romantic Movement, when poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge incorporated vivid description of this beauty in their writings.

William Wordsworth

Writing about his Lake District home, Wordsworth described it as

Majesty, and beauty and repose,
A blended holiness of earth and sky.

A termination and a last retreat,
A Centre, come from wheresoe’er you will,
A Whole, without dependence or defect,
Made for itself and happy in itself,
Perfect Contentment, Unity entire.

(‘Home at Grasmere’, 143-51)

Lake District Guide Books followed – Wordsworth wrote five volumes in all – and the trickle of pioneer travellers became a stream. Today we welcome around sixteen million visitors to the Lake District each year.

 Humble BeginningsBrochure of 'Logan's Low-wood Hotel, Windermere' c.1940 Brochure of ‘Logan’s Low-wood Hotel, Windermere’ c.1940

English Lakes history stretches back four generations and has its roots in the hard work and dedication of Robert Buckley, an orphan who was determined that his family would have opportunities in life that he did not have. Low Wood Bay, originally a Coaching Inn frequented by, amongst others, the Lake District poets and writers including William Wordsworth,  was purchased in 1952 as a fairly modest seasonal hotel.  With hard work, dedication and investment Low Wood Bay is today the Lake District’s first world class resort hotel, and is one of the five hotels that earned us the title Family Business of the Year 2016

Rich Pickings

As you would expect from a cultural heritage location, The Lake District has a wealth of fantastic suppliers, everything from Cumberland Sausage to Kendal Mint Cake.

We are committed to featuring locally-sourced products on our menus and in the hotels. Not only that, these suppliers are very often neighbours and friends and we have been doing business together for many years, and some, like Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread, for several generations.

Sarah was the creative, hardworking woman who invented Grasmere Gingerbread® in 1854. Sarah’s culinary skills were soon enjoyed by Lady Maria Farquhar’s household and guests and sometime

in the winter of 1854 Sarah perfected her gingerbread recipe – quite unique and very different from other cakes and biscuits of the day. The reputation for the spicy-sweet chewy biscuit/cake spread first around the village, and then further afield.

Today each Waterhead bedroom has their own packed slices of Grasmere Gingerbread® for guests to enjoy. Commenting on our Waterhead welcome cuppa, Grasmere Gingerbread’s owner, Joanne, commented,

It is the best hospitality tray I’ve seen, because as well as Grasmere Gingerbread®, you get a mug and proper coffee!

We Did Honour to the Puddings Indeed!

Even earlier than Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread recipe, Low Wood Bay were serving up some fine desserts. As early as 1825 an author named John Briggs wrote in glowing terms of Low Wood puddings. The hotel still serves a traditional Low Wood sweet toffee pudding and offers interested diners a copy of the recipe.

… you will remember, Tom, the glowing description, which Mr Benfield gave of the Low Wood puddings when he paid us a visit, on his return from a lake tour. And my uncle, though not an epicure, thought we might as well taste them, since opportunity was so favourable. You know, brother, that curiosity is inseparable from the tourist; we therefore all agreed to my Uncle’s proposal, and some Low Wood puddings were ordered in as a part of the supper.

We sat down to supper; and you will perhaps believe me, when I assure you that we did honour to the Puddings. Indeed, Mr Harrison paid them an extraordinary compliment, for he devoured two of them. They were certainly excellent …

Extract from ‘Letters form the Lakes’ By John Briggs.

Conserving our Future  

The beauty of the local landscape and wonderful wildlife are enjoyed by millions of visitors each year, but the effect of this footfall does have an impact upon the environment. Our Chairman and Managing Director, Simon Berry, was instrumental in talks that led to the formation of  Nurture Lakeland, a charity set up to protect the landscape and environment of Cumbria and the Lake District.

One simple and effective way that English Lakes helps to conserve the land is through our Visitor Giving Scheme.  Each guest is invited to give a voluntary donation of £1 at the end of their stay. Most folks are happy to contribute in the knowledge that the money raised is working hard to protect and maintain the landscape for future generations. To date, through this scheme, we have contributed over £185,000.

The logo celebrating the World Heritage status of the Lake District

There is much of interest for visitors to The Lake District from outdoor pursuits, gastronomic delights, music and the arts and traditional Lakeland Sports. If you enjoy history, there are two exhibitions that explain how the local area was transformed to bolster the war effort and subsequently, to welcome survivors of the holocaust for much needed rest and recuperation.

The waters of Windermere formed an important part of English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues early history, with the founding member of the company, Norman Buckley, a contemporary and friend of Donald Campbell, securing a total of seven world speed records on the lake.

Just a few years prior to Norman’s first record attempt, the same waters and adjoining lake shore played a vital part in serving Britain through WWII.

The Flying Boats of Windermere’ and ‘From Auschwitz to Ambleside’ are two local exhibitions, at Windermere Library, which give poignant glimpses of life in the Lake District during the course of WWII and the immediate aftermath. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The Flying Boats of Windermere

Few people in Windermere recognise the name Calgarth these days, but the name is synonymous with a fascinating piece of war time Lakeland history and an important reminder of the role that many of our residents played in securing the safety of our nation. Although there is now very little physical trace of Calgarth Estate, in 1941 it was an extensive village that sprang up to house the workers and their families at Short Brother’s factory, manufacturing the Sunderland Flying Boat.

The Flying Boat factory workers

Eustace, Oswald and Horace Short headed up the UK’s leading aircraft manufacture from 1908. They developed the Sunderland Flying Boat which went on to be used by Coastal Command during the North Atlantic Campaign to protect convoys carrying vital supplies to Britain, and to hunt German U-Boats.

Flying Boat Factory

Clearly this didn’t go down well with the opposition at the time and German bombers began targeting the main manufacturing base. A more secure location was required with a large expanse of water from which the Sunderlands could take off. Windermere fitted the bill and within eighteen months, the newly formed workspace became the largest single span hangar in Europe, large enough to build three Sunderlands at any one time.

Calgarth Estate grew and flourished around the factory with two shops, a canteen, assembly hall, club house, laundry, sick bay, policeman and football team. At the peak of production, the factory employed 1,571 people, just under half being local workers. The workers called their simple, modern houses ‘Shorts Palaces’.

Celebrating May Queen, Calgarth

After the war many of the workers moved to find alternative employment, although many of their families stayed due to a national housing shortage.

In 1945 the people of Windermere opened their hearts to some very special visitors, and Calgarth became an important UK landmark directly connected to the Holocaust.

From Auschwitz to Ambleside

A deeply moving display, including black and white video, sound recordings and photographs that tell the story of 300 orphans, mainly boys, who travelled from Eastern Europe to the Lake District in the summer of 1945. This was not like any ‘holiday’ we would know however. Each of these young people, most in their early teens, had survived the trauma of the Holocaust, and Calgarth Estate was to be a place of respite and recovery, if that was ever to be possible.

The beauty and tranquillity of The Lake District in some small way seemed to reach the children at the start of their recuperation process. Bicycles were made available and the children rode through the countryside, played football, enjoyed trips to the cinema, and slept in the comfort of a bed for the first time in years.

Jack Aisenberg, one of the survivors, described it in the following terms,

“I came from Hell to Paradise”

Many of ‘The Windermere Boys’, as they came to be called, remained in the North West of England marrying local girls, some founding successful businesses and becoming fully involved in community life.

The exhibition was researched and compiled by Cumbria-based ­artist Trevor Avery who visited Auschwitz and other death camps to piece together the moving tale. He said,

“The story is ultimately an uplifting one of survival and ­compassion and shows the ­crucial role played by Cumbria and its people in the recuperation of the Jewish children. The Lake District should be very proud of this legacy”.

Exhibition Opening Times

You can find the exhibition on the First Floor of Windermere Library and it is accessible by a stairway or lift. Entrance to the exhibition is free.

The exhibition opening times are:

Monday – Friday 10 am – 4 pm

Saturday 10 am – 1 pm

The local exhibitions are just one of the many day-time attractions that visitors to the area can enjoy. Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa overlooks the lake that played such an integral part of Lakeland’s WWII endeavours.

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