We've had a busy year - so far we've zoomed around Wales, Scotland, Wales again and even Gozo - what we haven't done is zoom around Cumbria quite as much as we usually do so we leapt at the chance when the lovely folks at Whitbarrow Village offered us a couple of nights to stay and explore the north of the county.
We've never stayed in a holiday village before and, to be honest, have done pretty much no self catering, but little things they said persuaded us it might be a good idea - you know things like "hot tub", "luxury accommodation" and "crazy golf". (We have an absolute crazy golf addiction - the best course we've ever played was in Mablethorpe and included a scale replica of the Humber Bridge but it has sadly now been "improved" - in much the same way that I'm sure Channel 4 are planning to "improve" GBBO - but I digress...)
The village is incredibly easy to find - it's about halfway along the A66 between Penrith and Keswick - up behind The Sportsman for those that know the area - and is very clearly signposted. We arrived on a busy Saturday afternoon but were greeted with broad friendly smiles and swiftly checked in and installed in our apartment. My bag may have chinked suspiciously as I carried it into the room but we knew there was a hot tub and it would have been rude to get in there without a glass of something nice... (I did pack a bit of food too, you know, just in case.)
The apartment was huge and beautifully decorated - with a pair of fabulous friendly Herdies to welcome us on the counter.
As it's just a short hop, skip and a jump into Keswick we headed off into town to meet up with friends and enjoy an evening out. Keswick is probably where we'd move to if we didn't have to worry about being on the train network - it's such a fantastic little town with loads to see and do.
It's also the start/ finish point for the Bob Graham round and while we were there Lee Newton arrived back in town having completed the 66 mile course (including 42 of the Lake District's highest peaks) in a staggering 18 hours and 57 minutes. Among those welcoming him home was the legendary Billy Bland - BG record holder with an unbelievable time of 13 hours and 53 minutes.
I'm not a great runner but I'm superb at carbo loading and there are many excellent places to eat and drink in Keswick. We opted for tapas at ESBar followed by a nightcap at The Wainwright - is there anything better than a great night out with friends? Lot's of food and laughter and perhaps the occasional beer.
On Sunday we had a swim before breakfast - which sounds impressive until I confess that the swim was at 10am and breakfast was at 11am. Still, the pool was very lovely
We followed all that exertion with a stroll around Glenridding - another very short drive away. It was a gloriously sunny day and loads of people were out exploring the new Ullswater Way - a brilliant low level footpath that stretches all the way around the lake.
Glenridding is also the perfect starting point for a hike up Helvellyn, or St Sunday Crag, or Place Fell or several dozen others and we would have gone up them, honest we would, but there was a hot tub and crazy golf course waiting for us back at the village so, pausing only to devour a rather lovely lunch, we armed ourselves with putters and headed out to do battle!
Frankly, losing really takes it out of a person so there was only one thing for it - HOT TUB! I'm not saying we stayed in there a long time but a) I was all pruney by the end of it and b) it was dark. But it meant we got to gaze romantically at the stars as we sipped our bottle of cheap fizz.
Altogether we had a fantastic weekend at Whitbarrow Village - a great place to escape to to relax, refresh and unwind. We were lucky enough to be allowed to stay in the luxury apartments but they have loads of different options available with something to suit everyone - even the ducks love it!