A Trip to the Lake District to Neaum Crag – Searching for a Monster Cave and a Real-Life Money Tree!
As a busy family of four we jumped at the chance of disappearing to the mountains for a few days of nothing but walks, picnics and mountain adventures.
And where better to stay but in a log cabin deep in the woods. We chose the delightful Neaum Crag which is eighteen acres of enchanting woodland, that is nestled at the entrance to the Langdale Valley. This secluded and peaceful estate of rustic wooden lodges offers couples, families and groups the ideal base to explore the Lake District.
Neaum Crag site is made up of 86 high quality alpine-style log cabins, 16 apartments and 3 self-catering cottages. Also on site is an indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sauna room. We booked our lodge with Heather Aughpin from Neaum Crag Services who manages eight of these wonderful lodges. We stayed in Flat Tarn which sleeps four. It feels like home as soon as you step through the door with its cosy, but comfortable lounge, dining area and kitchen. There are also two good sized bedrooms one double and one twin, which are separated by a shower room. Outside the lodge is a newly laid decking and table and chairs. We ate every meal outside during our stay with the accompaniment of just the birds singing and the trees rustling in the breeze. Apart from the odd dog bark from somewhere on the site it was deafeningly quiet.
The other lodge we considered booking was Blackbeck Tarn, a modern and stylishly decorated two-bed, with a shower room and large enclosed decking area that is perfect for keeping toddlers and dogs safe. The owner has given great thought to the outside area, supplying comfy furniture that will see you wanting to spend all your time out there. Parking is just two steps away from the door – unlike some of the other lodges. On our next visit, we’ll definitely be sleeping at this lodge.
The pool on site is perfect for a quick dip or as a place to play for the kids. There’s also a table tennis room and laundry facilities, and WiFi is available in the pool area.
Heather Aughpin lives on the site and grew up in Ambleside so has unrivalled knowledge of the local area, which she is more than happy to share. So, it’s definitely worth making the most of this.
Walks to go on
You’ll be spoiit for choice. There is a walk for every level of hiker. Flat Tarn had some great maps, as I suspect all the other lodges will provide for guests to peruse. We really tested the metal of our nine and six-year-old with three walks of varying lengths during our three-day adventure. In total, we pound out well over 10k.
Our favourite hike was Grasmere to Rydal Water: a rather pleasant, nicely varied, circular walk of both Grasmere and Rydal Water. This trip soon became the road to find the ‘Monster Cave’, as it was so called by a passing walker to our 6-year-old, who peered up from under her fringe with a half-delight-half-terrified expression. We stumbled across the ‘Monster Cave’ after we left the main footpath and wandered up the mountain side where we came across the beautiful and slightly eerie cave with a clear water lake sitting at its base. The lake was both freezing and delightful at the same time and too hard to resist not to paddle in.
After the delights of the ‘Monster Cave’ we didn’t think the walk back to the car could get any better, that was until we read the map and it said we needed to take the old Coffin road. So, called because part of the route is along the road, that was used to take the dead of Rydal to the church in Grasmere for burial. For literature lovers, this walk passes Dove Cottage once the home of the poet William Wordsworth and the Wordsworth Trust Shop.
Just passed Wordworth’s old home look out for a funny looking tree that walkers have slid their loose change into. It’s the nearest thing there is to a real money tree!
Places to eat
Just a stroll down the hill from Neaum Crag is the very delightful Chesters. A large café and interior shop that is both extremely child and dog friendly. Grab something to take away or sit in the airy café and enjoy one of the delicious homemade treats of the day. For us, the large rock face just opposite the take away seating area proved to be a natural playground for our two-little tourist who climbed and slid for a whole 60 minutes while we just sat and sipped. Chesters is the kind of place that most people would love to own and the other half don’t ever want to leave.
For a pint, there is a fantastic pub called the Britannia Inn in Elterwater, a lovely short walk away, along a public footpath from the site, which serves great food and the all-important local ale. Luckily residences of Neaum Crag get 10% off meals. Which is enough of a reason to give it a go.
If you find yourself in Ambleside then give Apple Pie Bakery and Café a try. The menu is extensive and the meals are great value. We would recommend the Apple Pie Milkshakes and hot chocolates. Make sure you leave room for one of their big cakes.
NB: This is a guest post submitted by Helen of www.scribbleaway.com