The top ten walking and dining hotels in the Lake District
Your guide to walking and unwinding in England's natural playground. Compiled by Barbara Waite
The Furness Fells have a network of old trails well worth exploring. From Newby Bridge take the Finsthwaite road on the west side of Windermere and after passing Stott Park Bobbin Mill, open to the public between Easter and the end of September, walk from High Dam car park. Views across to Coniston Old Man – 7 miles.
Stay at: Lakeside Hotel, Newby Bridge. On the edge of Windermere, the hotel has a spa and leisure centre and dining in the restaurant, bar or brasserie. It has 75 bedroom – call for seasonal rates 015395 30001
A lovely circular walk from Staveley - just off the A591 between Windermere and Kendal - takes in a lovely stretch of the Dales Way. There’s some beautiful river scenery along the Kent and plenty of opportunity for spotting wildlife - 8miles
Stay at: Eagle and Child, Staveley Top quality accommodation and food from a varied menu with hand-pulled local ales and guest beers - 01539 821320; the Brown Horse, Winster, a refurbished 1850s coaching inn with contemporary cooking using their own meat and vegetables – 015394 43443; the Punchbowl, Crosthwaite An award-winning dining pub with a talented young chef, room rates include afternoon tea – 015395 68237.
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There are some good walks to be done from Bowness. Leave the car at the Lake Cruises car park on the corner of Rectory Road - allow four hours – and wave goodbye to the day trippers as you walk up Brant Fell and School Knott for majestic views - 5 miles.
Stay at: Linthwaite House Hotel, a luxury hotel awarded Most Excellent Country House Hotel by Johansens, which has fine, unstuffy dining. Set in 14 acres of private garden – 015394 88600; the Cranleigh, Bowness voted the most romantic hotel in the world is ultra luxurious. Attracts celebrity guests – 01539 443293
See Kendal in a new light with this 10 bridge tour. Starting at Abbot Hall Art Gallery - well worth a visit - follow the River Kent to the outskirts of town and then back walking up steps to the ruined castle, once the ancestral home of the Parr family, for lovely views - 5 miles
Stay at: the Castle Green Hotel in walking distance of the town centre. This award-winning hotel sits in 14 acres of wooded gardens and has two gyms, a spa and a swimming pool. Dine in the restaurant on modern British cuisine or enjoy food and real ales in the pub in the hotel grounds.
A walk from Buttermere that takes in Scale Force, a spectacular sight in spate and only accessible on foot. Do some red squirrel spotting in this beautiful valley which was painted by Turner and take in the little used Crummock Water. Some nice spots for a picnic - 9 miles.
Stay at: the Fish Inn just five minutes walk from Buttermere at the foot of Honister Pass. It is full of charm and character and has historic importance as the home of Mary Robinson known as the Maid of Buttermere. Cosy and comfortable rooms and hearty food – 017687 70253; Wood House b&b is owned by the National Trust and has spellbinding views over the lake and the food, down to the bread, is freshly prepared – 017687 70208.
A flat walk around Derwentwater from Keswick which follows the path round the lake in a clockwise direction which can be shortened for its 9 miles by returning by taking to the water. A good day out would be to do the walk including a boat-trip and see a play in the evening at the Theatre by the Lake.
Stay at: the Pheasant Inn, Bassenthwaite. Packed with charm from the real fires and quirky bar to the cosy comfort of the lounges, the hotel has modern fine dining restaurant and brasserie. Bedrooms have views over the gardens and woodland – 017687 76234
Grasmere is quintessential Lakes and although 7 miles the walk to Easedale Tarn is not intimidating; it’s quite low-level though there is some ascending, involves no great difficulty and can be shortened if needs be. The route loops round the tarn returning via Sourmilk Ghyll and Lancrigg.
Stay at: Dale Lodge, a Georgian building in mature gardens with secluded seating. Tweedies bar offers live music, hearty food and real ale. Dog friendly – 015394 35300; the Wordsworth Hotel, luxury 4 star with a spa, pool and gymnasium. Two Rosette restaurant, bistro and two acres of landscaped gardens – 015394 35592; the Daffodil. A new hotel with stunning spa, the 78 bedrooms and suites and restaurant make the most of its lakeside setting – 015394 63550.
A walk from the railway terminus of La’al Ratty at Ravenglass, though it is possible to combine a trip on the line with the walk. It follows the River Esk up the valley and returns via farmland and gentle countryside. Six miles, but if you’re energetic you can carry on to Hardnott Pass.
Stay at: the historic Woolpack Inn. Lovingly restored it has eight cosy rooms, serves hearty food and is dog friendly. There’s a beer garden and children’s play area plus a drying room, a bar and café and a shop selling local produce, crafts and gifts – 019467 23230.
Hutton Roof is a hidden away between the M6 and the River Lune. The walk follows the Limestone Link, a cross-country trail from Arnside to Kirkby Lonsdale which makes a fine day-long expedition with wonderful views. You may see the rare High Brown Fritillary, a butterfly only found here. 6 miles
Stay at: the Plough, Lupton in one of the five rooms and suites individually decorated with luxury bathrooms. Antique furniture mixes with the new and the menu served from 12-9pm is constantly evolving. Local ales on tap – 015395 67700. http://www.lancashirelife.co.uk/out-about/walks/lake_district_walks_hutton_roof_1_1571823
On one level Grizedale Forest is an enormous sculpture park, on the other it’s an enormous playground with marked trails for walking and mountain biking - hire locally - and even a series of aerial walkways and high-wire challenges in the tree tops for over 10s. One for all the family – our walk is 5 miles.
Stay at: Cuckoo Brow, Far Sawrey. This historic inn has been restored to its former glory but boasts modern facilities. Award-winning ales and a seasonal menu. Dog and muddy boot friendly – 015394 43425; Queen’s Head, Hawkshead, has been awarded an AA Four Star for culinary excellence. 21st century comforts in this historic inn – 015394 36271; Drunken Duck, comfort and fine dining mix at this inn with its own brewery. Rate includes afternoon tea, and free leisure facilities at a nearby country club – 015394 36347.