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Lazing on a sunny afternoon with a stunning lakeside view
Afternoon tea on the terrace is a favourite English pastime
Traditional afternoon tea taken on a terrace is a quintessentially English pastime. And one which is all the more pleasing while enjoying an inspirational lakeside view from one of Windermere's most luxurious shore-side hotels.
As the main event of their two-person afternoon tea speciality, the Lakeside Hotel and Spa present a three-tiered stand with a
flourish. This displays a multi-hued array of 18 mini cakes, macaroons, gateaux, trifles and scones. Delicious though they were - and I could eat cake for breakfast - we lost the challenge and shared the cake fest with a nearby family, watching their wide-eyed, two year-old twins tucking in to their surprise sticky banquet.
Situated in a serene spot at Newby Bridge, yet located just 15 minutes from the M6, the privately-owned Lakeside Hotel is just two miles from bustling Bowness and Windermere, yet merely a stone's throw from the lake's cruisers and other craft. A regular ferry service from Lakeside connects with the lake's steamers which takes passengers on mini cruises or to other popular spots. The Haverthwaite railway station and Lakes Aquarium are also a few steps away from the hotel. A former 17th century coaching inn, the multi award-winning AA 4-star the Lakeside Hotel and Spa is the ultimate in character, comfort and style. Friendly staff are efficient, but not stuffy, and ready to help and oblige wherever they can. The lovely conservatory claims a prime position, overlooking landscaped gardens which lead down to the lake. In winter, crackling log fires in snug lounges and other areas add to the charm of the hotel.
Like many of the 75 beautifully-appointed bedrooms ours had a stunning view of the waterside and several pristine yachts resting in their moorings. Some bedrooms have private gardens or terraces. In the restaurants, guest satisfaction is paramount. The elegant Lakeview Restaurant focuses on fine dining with an emphasis on Cumbrian produce. The divine Sweet Devon Crab starter, tender, tasty Hardwick Lamb Shoulder and delectable Peanut and Chocolate Parfait are recommended. Breakfast is top drawer with a wide cold buffet selection. A range of speciality dishes includes warm grapefruit segments with blueberries, ginger and lemongrass - delicious - Cumberland sausage, black pudding, poached egg, hash brown plus relish and avocado and smoked bacon with poached egg on toasted rye bread.
John Ruskin's Brasserie presents a more contemporary experience, with intimate tables for two and white covered chair backs. Having their own kitchen garden, herd of sheep and rare breed cattle illustrates the Lakeside's commitment to the local eco system and to offering their guests expertly prepared food using the freshest, quality, local produce.
Guests can relax and revitalise in the luxury Lakeside Spa which includes a 17 metre swimming pool with a lakeside aspect, a poolside Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, gym and three Aveda treatment rooms. All in all, the Lakeside Hotel and Spa is a real get away from it all, hideaway treat.
There are plenty of nearby attractions. If you've ever considered buying a holiday home, Blackwell House, a couple of miles south of Bowness, might give you food for thought. When the architect Baillie Scott built a hillside holiday home overlooking Windermere for his client, wealthy Manchester brewery owner, Sir Edward Holt, his wife and five children, he created Blackwell, a masterpiece of 20th century design and a perfect example of the Arts & Crafts Movement. The layout of this grand 10-bedroom residence, which overlooks the Coniston fells and Lake Windermere, is huge and rooms are enormous. When you moved in, to begin with, you'd need a map to find your way around. To provide an idea of the size of the building, from 1941-1976 it was used as a girls' boarding school. Features include oak-panelled walls, spectacular plaster work, stunning stained glass, carved wooden panelling, inglenook fireplaces and an eclectic mix of furniture, pottery, paintings and other objects. Within beautiful Blackwell House, visitors can wander round freely - there are no roped off sections - see a rare hessian wall-hanging, leaf-shaped door handles, curious window catches,
If this was Sir Edward Holt's weekend retreat, I had to wonder what sort of house he called home! Original gardens are laid out in a series of terraces, with flower and herb beds, lawns and York stone paving. Blackwell's pleasant cafe offers thoughtfully-presented, interesting salads, soups and open sandwiches plus a selection of irresistible cakes - the Florentines are worth a special mention. On fine days diners can eat outside.
There's another opportunity to step back in time if you climb aboard the Haverthwaite Steam Train which chugs and creaks along the track. Clouds of steam streams past the rattling windows as it rumbled through the countryside, passing through tunnels carved from Lakeland slate. The train stop is adjacent to the hotel.
A few steps away from the Lakeside Hotel is the Lakes Aquarium, a great option for families, particularly, when the weather is not so good. Otters, Lucy and Olly, are firm favourites here and their indoor habitat gives them plenty of scope for swimming, diving and nosing around. But some recreational sports are restricted. Because there are more than enough otters in captivity, Lucy has regular birth control injections. And after boa constrictor, Cinder, presented aquarium staff with 23 young ones, their dad was granted extended paternity leave, which may still be under revue for a further extension. This was a small litter. These pythons can produce up to 65 young at once.
Much-visited Victorian Park, Fell Foot, owned by the National Trust, is directly across from the Lakeside Hotel, accessed by a seven-minute ferry ride On a sunny day, families picnicked in designated waterside spots, children paddled and splashed about, grandparents dozed in deckchairs, canoeists drifted past and dogs swam for sticks. At Fell Foot, there's also a tea room, children's playground, tea room and boat hire.
On one of those warm late summer days, where the sun blazed from an azure blue sky, lazing on the grass next to a glittering lake, we reflected on how fortunate we are to live in such a glorious country.
Lakeside Hotel and Spa B&B £179 per room, per night
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