In need of a little rest and relaxation, Lee Sobot discovers a perfect Lake District hideaway.
Some go to the Lake District for the views, others to pit themselves against Scafell Pike. Not many go to feed the giraffes. However, while the region may forever be a walker’s paradise there’s is also a wealth of other activities for those inevitable days when either the weather turns or you can’t face pulling on the walking boots.
Take the South Lakes Safari Zoo at Dalton-in-Furness, a short, picturesque hop from Coniston Water, which is home to an array of wildlife from kangaroos and big cats to penguins and giraffes, the latter of which you can feed. Getting up close and personal with free-roaming lemurs is slightly hair-raising, but the experience offers the kind of interaction you don’t get in many zoos.
Having experienced the nearby Go Ape’s zip-lining course as well as Kankku’s Land Rover off-road driving adventure on a previous visit to the Lakes, we knew that this part of Cumbria is perfect for those who want to indulge their daredevil side, but a few days here should also be about relaxation.
We stayed at Fisherbeck Nest, which is one of the newest additions to the Coppermines & Lakes Cottages group and is blessed with panoramic views of Coniston Water. While sun can never be guaranteed in this part of the world, there is even a certain satisfaction in watching the rain lash down over the vast body of water outside. Situated half a mile up a meandering narrow road that bends away from Coniston village, the cottage is about as private as it gets, so much so that your biggest worry once you get settled in is having enough supplies without having to venture out again.
However, despite being hidden away from the world, the property’s impressive free wi-fi means it’s easy to work out the logistics of what to do and where to go. On Coniston Water you can hire everything from electric motor boats to rowing boats that seat up to six, canoes, kayaks and sailing boats. Whichever you choose it’s worth exploring the lake, which is the third largest in the Lake District behind Windermere and Ullswater.
At 8.8km at its maximum length, a full sail up and down the lake by private electric motor boat takes just over an hour, taking in breath-taking views throughout, including of Grade II* listed Brantwood building, which was once home to influential 19th century artist and social thinker John Ruskin. A day trip here is also worth a visit with an introductory 10-minute movie in a small room converted into a cute little cinema, a rather novel idea to win visitors over upon arrival.
Brantwood Cafe also serves a lovely array of rustic hot and cold dishes and is in good company with Bluebird Cafe, next to Coniston Boating Centre, a particular treat. After circumnavigating Coniston Water, the Bluebird Cafe offers the chance to watch everyone else navigating the lake and the Lancashire Hot Pot, served, of course, with a Bluebird Bitter, is a pretty perfect combination.
A very well presented building with impressive conservatory, there’s a certain Made in Chelsea feel to watching the world go by at this establishment, after which it’s time for the short drive back to Fisherbeck Nest, possibly stopping at a pub or two en route. The Sun, the Ship Inn or Black Bull are all cosy, warm and welcoming.
Just one word of warning if you do stay at Fisherbeck. Be careful when putting the destination in your sat nav as you could find your route takes you over the lake and not around it via a ferry at an extra charge.
There’s no need. It’s easier to drive around the lake and while the roads may be a little winding, once you arrive the only thing you need to do is sit back and relax.
n Fisherbeck Nest sleeps two to four, but the property can be adjoined to Fisherbeck Fold to sleep up to eight combined. For full rental details go to coppermines.co.uk