Tag Archives: lake

Down with the kids at YHA Ambleside

15 Nov

Todd Crag Loughrigg Fell

If you’re not hardy enough to brave a tent in the Lake District in the winter, there can’t be much better value for money than the view from our room in the YHA Ambleside.

OK, so I admit when we woke up and first eagerly drew back the curtains, we were slightly deflated by the sight of a thick grey mist. But as we sat having our breakfast from the window seat in the dining area below, the cloud gradually lifted, revealing the lake and the surrounding fells.

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The light can constantly seem to change in the Lake District and the evening was even more impressive as we watched the sunset over the lake, with many of the hostel residents gathering outside to watch the natural light show.

YHA Ambleside

Another added bonus of the hostel is that the ground floor has its own pub. And as well as this pub having a corner of children’s books to keep little ones happy, you can also take your pint along the corridor into the large communal dining area, where there is plenty of space for them to wander about or do colouring and happy parents can almost, dare I say it ‘relax’?

 

The hostel is also within easy walking distance of Ambleside itself, which makes a nice change not to have to get in the car to be able to head off for a walk.

I’ve been lucky to spend family holidays in the Lake District since I was a child and was looking forward to taking the girls up Todd Crag on Loghrigg Fell  –  one of the first climbs I did as a child with my parents and grandparents.

 

For the children, the highlight was definitely the bunk beds – they packed themselves off to bed as soon as we arrived and had to be lured out again. They also loved the help yourself/all-you-can-eat breakfasts and could possibly have spent all day gazing at the treasure inside the Waterhead Shell Shop.

Tips: We have stayed before without children and not all rooms come with a view (as would be expected) so it might be worth checking when you book. Breakfast is extra, but we enjoyed it and the views from the dining room are fantastic. Self-catering facilities are also available in a separate area if you would like to bring your own food.

Find out more:

YHA Ambleside

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A Walk to The Drakestone

1 Sep

On the hunt for a picnic in the heather, we headed to Harbottle in search of The Drakestone.

A good old yarn always helps sell one of mum’s “walks” to the kids, in addition to the promise of a picnic – so they were intrigued by the tales of druids and healing powers that this ancient rock is said to possess.

 

A great guide to the walk can be found here:

Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion David Wilson guides you on a two-hour walk

Cragside and the Labyrinth

30 Sep

Cragside is so vast, we are always finding new areas of the estate to explore. Spotted this good place for a breather before we got lost in the Labyrinth… enjoy the surprise if you find the middle!

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Cragside House & Gardens

Bolam Lake

18 Jul

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A natural playground, this easy walk round Bolam Lake has trees to climb, swans to feed and lots of places for hide & seek.
Free parking & a cafe.

http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=1894

Swan Lake

6 Oct

wpid-img_20141006_114255.jpgOne of my favourite spots for an Autumn walk is Bolam Lake. Despite having being dragged out in all weathers since they were tiny bundles in a Baby Bjorn, the usual response to my enthusiastic – “wow isn’t it a beautiful autumn day, let’s go for a walk,” is something like “eeuuuurrgghghhh…”

But Bolam Lake and Country Park is great : not too far to drive, a nice flat circular walk, swans to feed, trees to climb,places to hide and picnic spots a plenty.

As well as fungi spotting, leaf collecting and picking a few last remaining brambles, the girls had a great time feeding the swans and have now renamed Bolam ‘Swan Lake’ as once we reached for the bread, we soon found ourselves fending off 17 in total.

wpid-img_20141006_114240.jpgThe paths are suitable for buggies, although they can be very muddy and there are toilets and a small cafe at the visitor centre.

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For more information and special events visit  http://www.northumberlandlife.org/bolamlakecountrypark/Events.asp#4510

Water poking on the lakes walk at Cragside

7 Apr

 

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I always feel like I am entering a world slightly apart from the rest of Northumberland when I cross through the gates of Cragside that the great North East engineer Lord Armstrong carved out of the rocky moorland.

We’ve visited several times before but barely ever seem to skim the surface of  this vast estate, especially walking at 3-year-old pace…

This time we followed the driveway through the archway leading to the house and carried on until we reached the Crozier car park, which is very conveniently right next to the good-sized adventure play area. After a picnic, clamber about and a zipwire or ten we headed off towards one of the artificial lakes Lord Armstrong created  to harness the power of water for the turbine at the Power House.

The children loved climbing over the bare rock faces and the lakeside walk is much flatter than many of the other walks and much easier on little legs, with lots of places to make hideaways and dens along the way. We did the loop following the signs for Nelly’s Moss North and South and the path that separates the two lakes is a beautiful spot for a picnic, with plenty of opportunities to play that amazing game of poke a stick in the water and get ourselves soaking wet since mummy hasn’t brought a chance of clothes – one of my two’s favourites…

On a practical note, there are toilets and picnic benches at the carpark/playarea and even a little van selling coffee and snacks.

More details of the walk can be found here…

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1356403083843/

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Cycling, squirrels and fairies at Kielder Water

4 Mar

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You don’t head up to the far north of Northumberland in February expecting to be basking in Mediterranean sunshine. Yet when I saw a week of heavy rain forecast for our trip to Kielder Water in the half term holiday I did start to panic about the potential for “cabin fever” and being trapped in a confined space with a five and three-year-old for the duration of our four day trip, being badgered for cbeebies.
But as soon as we arrived I realised I had forgotten one basic thing about kids, they love to get mucky. And within seconds they had piled out of the car and were knee deep in a muddy squelching puddle, laughing their heads off, oblivious to the misty drizzle. (Of course a few minutes later, one of them was face down in said puddle her wails echoing around the otherwise peaceful valley. But with holidays with young children you have to think of the bigger picture and enjoy those brief blissful moments don’t you before the idyllic swiftly descends into chaos..?)
We had visited Kielder Water a number of times on day trips but had long been planning to stay over so as to have more time to explore the area and many cycle routes around the lake.
Our log cabin at Kielder Forest Park was a perfect little hideaway, like a mini alpine chalet on a hill above the lake, and from the front you could just see the water, especially beautiful in the early morning sunrise.

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It was equipped to a really high standard, with a really attractive and practical layout with very comfy beds, dishwasher and even washer/dryer (very handy for muddy clothes.)

Trip 1: Walk along the Lakeside Way to the wildlife hide

From the cabin you can set off straight onto the Lakeside Way, a circular route around the water. My children tend to walk around in circles rather than in a forward motion, so we weren’t expecting to get far, and the little bird/squirrel hide in the forest was a perfect distance (about five minutes for an adult, or twenty minutes for us).
And we were lucky enough to spot a red squirrel, (it is red honest!) as well as dozens of birds at the feeding station.

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The walk back through the forest takes you back past little huts and art installations which the children loved hiding in.

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Trip 2: Cycling on the Lakeside Way

With my five year old on her new birthday bike and the three year old on the back of dad’s bike we set off for our first cycle, once again on the Lakeside Way, but this time on two wheels we were able to speed past the hide and continue on around the lake.
Emerging out of the forest and looking across the expanse of water, with not another soul around gives you such an amazing sense of freedom and space and my daughter loved it, tearing off into the distance.

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Trip 3: Walk, cycle and the maze at Kielder village

We took the bikes to Kielder Village to try out another route earmarked as easy that starts in the car park of the Anglers Ams pub and passes through the campsite taking you onto the path of an old railway line. Unfortunately, the very rough surface made it much to hard work for my daughter and we had to come back, although for adults it would have been an easy and pleasant route.

Instead we went for a walk around the castle, where there is a maze and a playpark. From here there is also a flat walk along the river, which we were tempted to try but ended up opting for a pub lunch instead at the Angler’s Arms.

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Trip 4: Walk along the Lakeside Way to The Mirage

We cheated and took the car to one of the many car parks around the lake and then set off in search of The Mirage, a wooden structure deep in the forest, which my children now tell me is in fact a fairy kingdom…

The path winds around the lake and up into the trees where from a wooden platform you get a stunning view of the lake.

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Despite our four day stay there was still plenty more we didn’t get to do.
There is a Bird of Prey Centre on site
Stargazing at Kielder Observatory – which was unfortunately fully book, so plan well in advance
And numerous other car parks around the lake where you can head off on more walks

If I had spent the week at home, I would never have dreamed of heading out for a walk let alone a bike ride in the rain and the cold, but with so much literally on your doorstep, we just got out waterproofs on and headed out to stomp in the puddles.

One bit of advice though is to bring plenty of food, as apart from a very small and pricey shop on site selling absolute essentials (and luxury biscuits) there is no supermarket for miles around.

If you want to eat out, then the child-friendly lakeside Boat Inn restaurant serves high quality food and we had a really enjoyable meal.

If you want a shorter stay, the grandparents joined us for a one night trip stopping at the nearby Pheasant Inn, and highly recommend it.

useful links:

http://www.visitkielder.com/
http://www.hoseasons.co.uk/lodges/kielder-water-lodges-KIEL
http://kielderobservatory.org/
http://www.kwbopc.com/
http://www.thepheasantinn.com/

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