I must admit, I do love a holiday abroad. There is something freeing to get on a plane and head away for a proper break from everything, but it simply wasn’t something that was in our budget for this summer, so instead we have booked a couple of small staycations in the UK instead over August. The first was a few days in The Lake District with family – there were 19 of us in total, so it was lovely to catch up and make some memories as a group.
As it is a long drive from Bournemouth, we decided to go a day earlier and stop off in Derby, which is roughly half way for us. The hotel we stayed in – Breadsall Priory Marriott, was brilliant.
It was a luxurious and elegant country manor style property but totally family-friendly, with activity packs provided for the kids on arrival, a children’s pool and even a special area at the breakfast buffet offering pancakes and waffles with a selection of toppings plus colouring and lollies – the children absolutely loved it and I was very impressed. Would definitely recommend if you are looking to stay in the area.
We headed to an English Heritage property whilst we were there – Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle, which was also fantastic and had activities for children including a dressing up area.
We arrived in The Lake District on the Friday lunchtime and headed straight to the Parkdean resort we were staying in. Although we weren’t able to check-in, we could use the facilities if we wanted, and we had a drink whilst waiting for the others to arrive before deciding to walk to Bowness on Windermere, which was a couple of miles away. We did slightly regret this decision, after long drives and in unexpected heat, it was a bit much and I would probably advise taking a car!
We have previously holidayed in The Lake District and have been to Bowness before, but it was nice to have a look around and to take some photos of the beautiful scenery before we went back to the pool at the holiday park for a swim.
I won’t go into detail about the resort we stayed in, as there were quite a few issues, and I don’t want this to be a negative post, but you had to book slots for the pool due to a severe lack of staff at a busy resort in peak season, and it did feel a little like we were constantly rushing back for a swim session because of this.
On our first full day, we decided to head out and explore. We went to Aira Force, which is a National Trust venue, and Ed and I ended up joining, as it had been something we had previously discussed anyway and will provide lots of fun days out over the remainder of the summer. The waterfall is really pretty, and there are some nice walks around the area, as well as picnic benches, which we made use of. We were actually really lucky with the weather, and had bright sunshine throughout most of our stay, with only one heavy downpour on the Sunday afternoon.
After lunch, we headed to nearby Ullswater and hired boats in small groups to go out on the lakes. One group went on a rowing boat, whilst the rest had powerboats. It was lovely to get out on the water, and I would recommend it if you are looking to do something whilst in the area. At £34 for an hour for six of us, it was quite reasonably priced too.
That evening we had a barbecue at my aunt’s lodge. Ed and I kept costs down during the break by opting to cook at our caravan over eating out during the day, and also stocked up on bottles of beer and wine to reduce our spending at the bar in the evening. It is definitely possible to enjoy a break away without breaking the bank if you budget and cater for yourselves.
On our second day, almost everybody was now a member of the National Trust, so we decided to head to three of the properties in the local area to make the most of this, and to enjoy these attractions without needing to spend money. Wray Castle is definitely one to visit. It is a magnificent venue and has so much to see and do for the children, and those who are young at heart *ahem*.
You can walk around the grounds and go down to the lake even if you aren’t members of the National Trust and don’t wish to pay entrance to the castle itself. It would make a brilliant day out, and we could have easily stayed longer if we hadn’t of already planned to go on to other places afterwards.
The Lake District and Beatrix Potter go hand in hand, and we headed across to Hawkshead, where the Beatrix Potter gallery is located.
This is when the rain hit, and we got very wet whilst walking back towards the car, but we didn’t let this dampen our spirits and carried on up the road to Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s cottage, which has been preserved as a museum and can be viewed at allocated time slots due to space constraints. I found it fascinating, and really enjoyed looking around and the Peter Rabbit road sign opposite was totally adorable.
After a last evening of karaoke at the entertainment (I sang a Shania Twain song badly, if you were interested), and goodbyes in the morning, we set off on the long journey back home, this time stopping off in Chester to visit Ed’s sister, before going back to Bournemouth.
The journey is long, especially for a short break like this one was, but it was worth it for the picture perfect scenery and time spent with family, who are located across the country. We are already planning our next break away for 2020!