Ramblers heaven with lakes full of hospitality

Ramblers heaven - The Lake District Rambling is something I’ve often been accused of, especially by my daughters back in the day when trying to impart some gem of knowledge while on country walks.

Now things have come full circle, in the nicest way imaginable, with a guided rambling break in the Lake District, walking in the footsteps of  the late, great Alfred Wainwright and packed with interest, exercise, good company and great food and drink which included a pint or so of Wainwright, too.

I’d been somewhat sniffy on occasions about anything ‘organised’, but a few days with Ramblers Walking Holidays has changed all that.

Our break in the Western Fells was based at Ramblers’ flagship Hassness Country House, a tastefully-refurbished Victorian residence standing in its own grounds just over a mile out of Buttermere village. Well away from the tourist hotspots of Windermere, Bowness and Keswick, the tranquil setting of the house on the eastern shore of beautiful Buttermere makes you relax with every step you take towards it, a feeling shared with all 15 fellow guests, especially when we realised all our rooms overlooked the water.

Making us feel even more relaxed as we checked in mid-afternoon were hosts Brian and Carole, smiling and ever helpful, and soon setting the standard for a tremendously-enjoyable stay with a hearty dinner which blasted my weight-loss plan out of the water. Not to mention the cakes for afternoon tea on the days which followed, lovingly baked by daughter of the house Ruby.

She honed her cake-making skills as a chalet girl in the Austrian Tirol, so as a long-time skiier, I had an inkling of what might be in store and we weren’t disappointed.

Ruby the Lady of the Cakes Beatrix Potter is unquestionably the Lady of the Lakes, with a nod to Wordsworth’s inspirational sister Dorothy, but Ruby just has to be Lady of the Cakes, with daily offerings which never failed to lift the spirits even higher than our walks on the fells.

And the walks were inspiring, helped immeasurably by Ramblers guide Alison, a long-time lover of the Lakes since her studies at Lancaster Uni, who gave a briefing every evening on the following day’s planned walk, in time for people to suggest any variations or an alternative meeting-up point, depending on abilities, weather and conditions.

All Ramblers Walking Holidays are graded and all have an experienced and knowledgeable guide at the helm, whether the walks are easy or challenging.

Our break featured Ramblers E Grade walks, with the accent on ‘leisure and lifestyle’, like the Buttermere circuit and Rannerdale we did on Sunday, on a route of just over 9 miles, 850ft of ascent and 4 to 5 hours walking. It was good fun in glorious sunshine, with great views and plenty of photo-stops, especially with the bluebells under Rannerdale Knotts, before heading back via Whiteless Breast and Low Bank.

Some of the group decided to head off  home early, splitting at Rannerdale and taking an ice cream stop at Buttermere en route, as a reminder that the ‘E’ walks are easy by Lake District standards, but not quite as easy as a walk across Richmond Park.

Thanks to Alison, an alternative detour was also included with Monday’s walk, starting from the top of  Honister Pass and taking in Castle Crag en route to Grange and Derwent Water. After a fortifying packed lunch (thanks Brian, Carole and Ruby!) the hardier headed off  towards Rossthwaite, while us softies took a sail around Derwent Water on a lovely old launch which dropped us off  at Ashness, just a short walk from a welcome beer at the Ladore Hotel and then a picturesque bus ride along Borrowdale to meet up with the hikers again at Seatoller before heading home to Hassness for cake. Satisfaction all round!

Ramblers in the Lake District Tuesday’s walk, a bit wetter this time, started at Lanthwaite Green Farm and took us by the fish ladders at the head of Crummock Water, before striding out over Maggie’s Bridge for a wooded walk around Loweswater via Holme Wood, a reminder, if one were needed, that we were being made welcome on National Trust land – as we were most of the time in the Lakes.

Again, some of the party decided to detach, funny that, as we had just reached a splendid old  pub called the Kirkstile Inn at Loweswater, where the four ladies involved decided to spend the rest of the afternoon. I completed the day’s trek as the rain started in earnest, and delayed my cake in order to go back and collect them by car, to find them happily tucked in a corner with assorted teas and beers, and what had earlier been a quiet refuge was now heaving.

We did get back to Hassness eventually, to be told is no such thing as too much cake, with orders to clear every crumb as health and safety rules forbade keeping any of it until the day after. No problem!

Then it was dinner and how’s this for a three-day menu run-down: cream of mushroom and tarragon soup, lasagne al forno with salad and garlic bread, followed by pears poached in spicy perry; smoked salmon and pickled cucumber to start, followed by roast supreme of chicken with all the trimmings, then bitter chocolate tart with almond pesto; and on our final day, tomato and basil bruschetta, braised steak with crushed potatoes, or a south Indian green curry and home-made naan bread, all rounded off with apple strudel and chantilly cream. 

Ramblers Walking Holidays advises from the start that dietary requests are catered for and Hassness guests are welcome to take along their own beer and wine, with the use of a kitchen and facilities for making a brew at any time to relax with in the lounge, where the laid-back atmosphere is helped by views of the garden, with red squirrels often providing a lively cabaret down by the bird feeders.

Red Squirrel in the Lake District And oh bliss, there might be broadband, but mobile phone signals are patchy at best so you really can escape.

Fellow walkers – some of them veterans of Ramblers Walking Holidays, both in the UK and abroad – had travelled from far and wide, even from Los Angeles, and it was heartwarming to see how well everyone got on and didn’t want the trip to end.

The wrench at parting was tempered for us by a welcome stop-over on my homeward journey at another cracking  former coaching inn called The Plough – a must-try haven of comfort and excellent food only minutes from the M6 at Lupton, north of Kirkby Lonsdale. The Plough  has stood at the foot of Farleton Knott for nearly 200 years and has been restored with a sensitive touch, with open yet cosy public rooms and five luxury bedrooms and suites living up to their five-star rating.

After three days in the fells, what could beat a top-class meal, then crashing out in a suite big enough for an office party where you can unwind with a vast waterfall shower, huge slipper bath  and oversized sleigh bed.

Now that’s Rambling.

David Graham travelled to the Lake District with Ramblers Walking Holidays (phone 01707 331133; email info@ramblersholidays.co.uk)

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Ramblers Walking Holidays.

You may also find interesting:

206 people found this helpful
16975

Share Article:

David Graham

Professional journalist

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Penny Worthy sets sail with AE Expeditions to explore the Arctic, a trip filled with unforgettable moments and ever-changing landscapes….
From a restored mansion in the Scottish Highlands to a stylish villa in Southern Spain, becoming an HPB Bondholder allows…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.