As a region for following outdoor pursuits, the Lake District National Park takes some beating, with a myriad of sports and activities on offer.
The surrounding countryside is a bonus which needs no further description from me.
It is internationally renowned due to the prose of Wordsworth and Ruskin, the vivid writing of Alfred Wainwright, as well as the delightful stories of Peter Rabbit and friends by Beatrix Potter.
With a plethora of accommodation to choose from, you are truly spoilt for choice and whether you opt for remote country cottages, hostels, modern or historic hotels, bed and breakfasts, luxury flats, villas, log cabins, glamping or camping, it will take much research to decide what you require.
Even then, there is the location to decide, as the ‘Lake District’ is a vast area, each village, town and valley having its own unique appeal.
For those with an adventurous streak and a hankering to head off into the hills straight from the accommodation without resorting to a car, the Mountain Centre at Glaramara could be just what you are looking for.
It is located in its own grounds just outside the hamlet of Seatoller, at the foot of the Honister Pass, in the Borrowdale Valley. From the hotel, in every direction, all you can see are the majestic surrounding mountainsides. It is hard to imagine a greener or more beautiful setting.
This wooden clad, privately owned and run hotel, is named after the nearby fell of Glaramara (783m). Right in front of the hotel is a large grassed area with a few picnic tables. There is ample free on-site parking for guests.
On offer is simply a room, or the more traditional bed and breakfast and/or evening meal at various rates.
The hotel stands on the route of the Coast to Coast walk from St. Bees on the Cumbrian coast, to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. This walk was created by the famous Alfred Wainwright and many people undertaking this strenuous walk spend a night here.
Individuals, families and groups are all catered for, whilst there are also comfortable conference facilities for businesses. This haven is well known to walking clubs around the country.
There are 21 en-suite twin/double rooms and 17 single rooms with shared shower facilities. Most of these rooms have recently been refurbished to a high standard.
I stayed in a twin room which was very spacious and decorated in a modern style with pale colours. Tea and coffee making equipment is supplied in the rooms. The beds were wonderfully comfortable, so welcome after a day on the hills.
To encourage the outdoor ethos, there are no televisions or background ‘muzak’
I found this refreshing and guess what? People sat and talked and made new friends.
All joined in when musical instruments or quiz sheets were produced. My party and I had some jolly evenings.
The en suite bathroom was also spacious and well equipped with a lovely hot shower, fluffy towels on heated rails and quality toiletries.
In the communal areas and corridors, stunning wall art in the form of superb photographs of the local mountain scenery are at every turn.
The large lounge is the focal point in the evenings and benefits from a huge log fire, as does the adjacent residents’ bar. As most walkers would expect, there are a choice of brews, from stout to lager to a real ale on draught which, on my visit, was the local and very palatable Coniston Bluebird.
The dining room, where breakfasts and evening meals are served, is light and airy and of course, has those brilliant mountain views.
Breakfasts are served at 8.15 am and there is a large choice of continental or the ‘full English’ option. Everything was great quality and buffet style, so no-one went even slightly hungry.
Packed lunches are available on request.
There is a daily choice of a three course evening meal at 7pm, with four choices from each course. Smart white table cloths and fresh rose stems on each table were easy on the eye.
Chef Gareth was trained at Michelin starred Warrener Restaurant in Maidenhead and has been Head Chef elsewhere, even preparing food for The Queen at one point in his illustrious career. Local seasonal food is a requirement, as are substantial portions, all perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. These meals are very high quality and I cannot speak too highly of them. Coffee and tea, with home made chocolate fudge, if you can face it, is taken in the lounge.
All of the smartly dressed staff we encountered were friendly, helpful and cheerful and helped to make our visit all the more memorable.
To work off those calories, residents can either head off on their own independent adventures or take advantage of the hotel’s full or half day courses which are run by qualified and experienced instructors. The sports on offer are comprehensive and come with all safety and specialist equipment included.
These activities range from abseiling, archery, caving, ghyll scrambling, hill-walking, canoeing, mine exploration, rock-climbing or a trip across the nerve-wracking Via Ferrata and rope bridge on Fleetwith Pike at Honister. (See my earlier review of this activity – ‘Honister Slate Mine – Via Ferrata’).
A hike up Scafell Pike (978m), which is the highest mountain in England, can be taken from the doorstep, as I did. The long slog up is so worth it, for the views are gorgeous, especially if you take the harder, less trodden route up the side of the waterfall at Taylor Gill Force.
Of course, you need not be an adventurer to stay here, there are all the nearby attractions of places like Honister Slate Mine, Grasmere Gingerbread Cottage, the delights of Keswick and the lakes themselves. The disastrous winter floods of 2015 have long gone and the effects have been cleared up so the Lake District is open for business.
Coincidentally, do you know how many lakes there are in the Lake District?
One – It is Lake Bassenthwaite. All the rest are Meres, Tarns or Waters.
One for the pub-quiz aficionados.
This valley often features as the wettest place in England and receives around 140 inches of rain annually – no wonder it’s so green. Now you have found your place to stay, pack your boots, your wet-weather gear and head for the hills. It doesn’t rain ALL the time!
Further details may be found at “www.glaramara.co.uk”:http://www.glaramara.co.uk.
There is free Wi-Fi for those who must stay connected.
Sat-Navvers should input CA12 5XQ.