Do you ever get to the point where your own life makes you feel claustrophobic?
That’s been me, lately. Between family and school, work and house issues it’s just been … a lot.
So last week I made a spur of the moment decision to book a night away. My priority was somewhere that wasn’t too far from home, and would give us peace and quiet, space, and big skies to help put life back into perspective.
Ullswater View Guest House
And that’s how we found ourself in Ullswater, in the Lake District.
We left home on Saturday morning, and just over an hour later arrived at the Ullswater View guest house. It’s a really pretty little guest house with views of the lake, and spotlessly clean rooms. The hotel is cheaper if you book direct, and apparently if you book for two nights, you get a complimentary bottle of wine!
The guest house is perfectly located about halfway up the Western side of Ullswater. This makes it a short drive to the charming village of Glenridding to the South, and Pooley Bridge in the North.
We dumped our bags at the hotel, and set out with no particular plan.
Flea needed to do some coursework for her photography, so we just thought we’d find pretty things, and take photos. The good thing about a lake is that even WE can’t get lost. Also – there are pretty things everywhere.
Aira Falls, Ullswater
Our guest house was just a mile down the road from the Aira Force waterfalls. We spotted a sign for the car park, and pulled in.
There’s a visitor centre on-site and we checked out the map before setting off on a path. There are a range of walks up and around the falls, suitable for all abilities. For those who aren’t so mobile, there is a second car park at the top of the hill, in case you don’t fancy the climb.
We opted for one-hour circular walk from the base up to the top of the falls and back down the other side. It’s an easy walk, and mostly on broad paths. As you get closer to the falls, there are some steep steps, and they can be slippery. But there are plenty of hand rails and even with my injured foot, I managed fine.
Clambering up hills and laughing at our lack of proper walking kit was absolutely what I needed to take my mind off work and home. By the time I’d almost fallen into the waterfall twice, and watched Flea trip over her own feet about ten times, I was feeling completely myself.
After walking back down the hills, we spotted the tea room. I don’t know about you, but I consider National Trust tea rooms to be one of the finest places in the world. There was a lovely tea room and an outdoor terrace with lake views. We got hot chocolates and scones, and had a pit stop here, before heading back to the guest house for a shower.
On Saturday evening, we had dinner at 1863, a gorgeous little restaurant at the top corner of Ullswater, in the village of Pooley Bridge. It’s such a cosy little restaurant serving amazingly creative, modern food in an unfussy setting. The food here must be good – it’s the first time I’ve EVER found a restaurant that has only 4 and 5 star reviews on TripAdvisor!
We spent a few happy hours eating amazing food, and discussing such vital topics as, “What are your Top 3 feel good movies?” and, “Would you rather be naked in Bulgaria or wear a bright red coat at home?”
The restaurant has a small bar and lounge, with a fireplace, where you can have a drink before dinner. We were then ushered to our table, and served an amuse-bouche and some home-made rye and treacle bread rolls with handmade butter. It set the tone perfectly for a fabulous dinner.
Flea had the chowder followed by loin of lamb, while I devoured ham hock followed by corn-fed chicken. The portions were small, but delicious. And it meant we weren’t too full for dessert – my chocolate mousse was divine, and Flea raved about the sticky toffee pudding. At £35 a head plus another £10 for soft drinks, we thought it was great value.
We headed back to the guest house around 11pm, and agreed to get some sleep and wake up early to see the sun rise. I woke up around 7.15am, at which point one of us decided to stay in bed, and miss out on this gorgeous view:
The solitude was actually a bonus. I mean, it’s impossible not to feel serene when you’re sitting on a felled tree trunk, listening to the birds and watching the sun slowly come up over the water, creating amazing reflections and shadows.
I stopped at a few spots round the lake as the sun gradually came up, but this one (below) was my favourite. There were five or six other people there with BIG serious cameras and proper walking boots, and we had a lovely chat while waiting for the sun to pop out over the top of the hills and hit the boat house. They were really very nice about my Nikes and lack of tripod.
Next, I headed back to join Flea for breakfast. After stupendous bacon sandwiches, we chose to just go out for a walk. No plan, or destination in mind, just – let’s see what we see. After an hour of walking along one of the lakeside paths, and watching people kayaking, we decided to get on the water ourselves.
We jumped on board one of the Ullswater Steamer boats. For around £10, you get a ticket that lets you go to five different destinations on the lake, hopping on and off as you need. We took the boat until our toes were frozen, then stopped for a pub lunch in Glenridding, before heading back to the car.
We were back home before 5pm on Sunday, and I cannot TELL you how much more relaxed we both feel.
Parenting teens can sometimes feel like a bit of a battle. You’re constantly reminding them to do this, don’t forget that, did you do this job? Getting away – even just for 24 hours – was a chance to just enjoy each other’s company with nothing to remember, nothing in particular to do. It was such a treat, and I recommend it for all parents feeling a bit frazzled by life.
We didn’t spend a fortune. The room at Ullswater View cost just over £100 for the night, and we spent £35 a head on dinner. It seems like a small price to pay when I felt like I came home so much happier, and relaxed. I can’t wait to do it again!