Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Going to extremes in Cumbria

One of my favourite things about Cumbria is the sheer variety of things to see and do all within such a relatively small place.  You can easily drive around the county in a day and most journey times (apart from on sunny bank holidays) are under an hour.  To prove my point, here's what we did yesterday...

Scout Scar - barren limestone landscape

On the "hottest bank holiday ever" (until next year probably) it can be hard to find peace and quiet (if that's what you're after) but Scout Scar, just outside Kendal, is perfect.  There's a large free (honesty box) car park right next to an easy path up onto a spectacular ridge - in fact I'd say it probably has the best legwork to view ratio in the whole of the county (that really needs to be a thing - could we do it mathematically?  The number of steps to the view : the awesomeness of the view?)

As well as the spectacular views there are also loads of gorgeous benches from which to enjoy them.

It really was baking hot and, as you can see, there wasn't a lot of shade so our next stop was...

Brockhole Visitor Centre - Family fun!

Lots of folks can be pretty rude about the bank holiday crowds but what could be better than seeing lots of families, all out and enjoying the sunshine together?  Brockhole has tons of things to offer from peaceful gardens to high adrenaline activities to gentle pony treks around the grounds.

It also has this tucked away bench with jaw dropping views - definitely one I'll be heading to next time.

The Gaddum - dining delight!

We were booked in for afternoon tea in the new restaurant at Brockhole - named after the original owners The Gaddum is a glorious oasis of elegant calm.  I'll be honest, I generally feel out of my depth in "posh places" but Michael and his team are so utterly lovely that we were completely at ease.

The Gaddum is set in Mr Gaddum's original dining room and legend has it that after he'd finished entertaining he'd step next door into his orangery to pick fresh fruit for his guests. In these days of year round produce that doesn't sound very awe-inspiring, but it must have been pretty impressive back in the day.

As well as afternoon tea (also available as vegetarian and/ or gluten free - just book ahead), they also offer rather lovely looking lunches and will be adding evening meals to their repertoire very soon - and the best part is that every penny they earn helps to protect the National Park; as Micheal put it "Spending here supports here".

I only ate it to support the National Park, honest I did...

The range of teas from Quinteassential are superb and it would have been a sin not to be a little adventurous (White Elixer for him and Mint & Caramel for me).  The attention to detail is lovely and pretty much everything has been done by local crafts people.  Michael was keen to point out all the hidden details and also passed on a few of his tips for cooking the perfect scone.  Ask me nicely and I might tell you what they were...

Harnknott Roman Fort - adrenaline fuelled history lesson

Hardknott Pass is surely one of the most spectacular drives in England - and definitely not one to do in either bad weather or when it's busy.  After our afternoon tea the weather was perfect, it was getting late and, as most folks had already headed home, we headed up.  We passed a few cars but when we were at the fort we had the whole place to ourselves.

Of all the many historical/ Roman places I've visited this is, for me, the most evocative - I can really imagine what it must have been like to be stationed at what is now an isolated outpost but was then a stopping point on an important communications route.  Glorious on a warm summer evening but wild and scary during the winter months.

It's also the one with most impressive views and the most spectacular backdrop.

Much as I would have loved to whip a tent out of the back of the car - or simply curl up in the back seat for the night to make the most of this incredible location, sadly work the next morning called so we had to head home.

From barren limestone landscapes to raucous family fun and from afternoon tea elegance to white knuckle driving routes and jaw dropping views all in the space of a few hours - I'm pretty sure that no other county can match Cumbria for breathtaking variety,  (And if you want to disagree I'm going to require photos to prove it! 😀 )

If history and variety is your thing then you'll find plenty of both in our books - soon to be joined by two more so watch this space! Click the pic to find out more & order yours.  😀

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