Having been instructed that all family holidays were to be taken in the UK this year, we decided to descend on the Lake District in the Summer to see whether we would be able to sufficiently wear the kids out with fresh air to get a couple of hours of peace and quiet a day. We trawled websites looking for suitable accommodation for a family of five as I always think that is our biggest make or break, as I like the kids to have their own room which always seems an issue when you have more than two children. When I came across Crake Trees Manor near Penrith, I was convinced I had found a solution with two rooms, Michelbank and Howebank, in a lovely farm house with beautiful surroundings
http://www.craketreesmanor.co.uk/ Ruth Tuer was really helpful helping us make arrangements via email and phone and on the day of arrival sent us a text and met us at the door. We only got predictably a little lost!
The farm is beautifully renovated and decorated with great care and attention to detail, with fabulous hand made furniture throughout by Mike, Ruth’s husband http://erratics.co.uk/ with a shared living room and eating area. We had home madecake on arrival and made our way down to the local community owned pub, The Butchers Arms , a short walk down into the nearby village, Crosby Ravensworth for a lovely pub tea. https://www.thebutcherscrosby.co.uk/
The children were happily fed and watered and entertained by tractors and trampolines in the garden before bed and everyone slept well in the comfy bedrooms. Every morning we had a scrumptious breakfast prepared by Ruth, who I am guessing has filled many a thousand tourists tummies over the years with fresh local produce to fuel their walking adventures.
I had my usual holiday delusions of sitting reading a book while the children entertained themselves outside, but in reality Craig was on a walking holiday mission, and being in a B in B meant that we couldn’t really let the children kill each other loudly in fear of disturbing other people’s peace. Although I am sure there were some lovely walks just next to us we had to drive further afield to reach the better more thoroughly researched ones.
These were the adventures we took.
We went to Askham Fell and walked 5 miles in a circuit. Toby wandered off in a total strop after falling down a slope because nobody cared but eventually emerged out of some foliage after about 20 minutes of being out of sight while we deliberated about going after him or waiting in case he ended up falling in hole and we ended up on the front page of the Daily Mail as being the most neglectful parents ever. We also got a little lost and ended up in a marsh which was fine if you were wearing hiking boots but as that was only Craig, the rest of us were fairly cross and grumpy. We recovered at the Punchbowl Inn http://www.punchbowlinnaskham.com/ which although a little dark served adequate pub grub and had a lovely looking gin menu which I lusted at while grumbling at the children to finish their vats of lemonade.
We ventured to Aira Force to see the waterfalls and to walk along the Lakeside to Glenridding to get the boat back.https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/aira-force-and-ullswater. The car park was full as we had had to detour to Sainsbury’s car park where Craig’s parents had requested an urgent meet up from Newcastle to hand over Harry Potter sleepwear from Primark, so we were LATE. Thankfully the boys noted a sign for the overflow car park so we got our selves sorted. Craig was in charge of the phone map. We only walked around the waterfall twice before James took over. It was a busy little tourist trap but laid out really well with a lovely coffee shop and toilets( very important). The walk was thankfully relatively straightforward with no bogs or marshes and we arrived unscathed at our destination in time to get the boat back and view the waterfall for a third time before tea.
My favourite walk started from Little Salkeld and took us from the Old Mill coffee shop ( with toilets) past a stone circle of Long Meg and her daughters and to Lacy’s Caves. It was a lovely walk about 6 miles through woodland and fields with lots of wildlife and obstacles to get over which pleased the children greatly and meant we all got sufficiently covered in slime and mud for it to be declared a successful adventure.
A day trip to Lowther Castle and Gardens ,http://www.lowthercastle.org/ was well worth a visit with the largest adventure playground in the UK, the lost castle, which opened in August 2016. The castle and gardens were truly magical and we spent a whole day there exploring the grounds and doing the bear hunt. Plenty for all age groups and more walking done than on any other day of the week without any mentions of ‘How much further?’ I got so engrossed with the history of this amazing place I almost bought a book in the gift shop about the Yellow Earl! You can check out out other review of Lowther Castle here.
A walk at Wet Sleddale to see the famous bridge from ‘Withnail and I’ using Craig’s Trusty Walk, Jog, Run App guaranteed to take you off the lovely obvious path through a field of confused sheep into a marsh, led to our best adventure yet. We managed to get to the top of Sleddale Pike with Lara in tears demanding compensation for her experience in the form of a spa day and calmed only by finding 4G and getting on Instagram at the top. All of us except Craig who were in trainers were soaked thru due to the useless app and guide and covered in marsh and black slime and Craig was lecturing us on impermanence when he declared a small stream that he would carry the children over. Lara was grabbed first and imagine my glee as Craig took a step and sunk to mid chest into this huge black bog hole. Lara less than impressed jumped to the other side and became predictably dramatically hysterical whilst the boys debated whether the iPhone in Daddy’s pocket would survive. It made my day! If only I had got a photo. We even saw some otters playing in the reservoir on our way back to the car.
On our final day, while Craig stomped up another hill with no volunteers to join him after the bog incident and we messed about in the river in Morland Village building damns. Followed up with a lovely meal at the local cafe http://www.millyardcafe.co.uk/
Overall we had a fabulous week with great weather and I have learnt that excessive fresh air gives my kids endless energy and me sunburn and insomnia.
And I just about survived!