Gone are the days when a picnic was a soggy sandwich, squashed crisps and some lukewarm tea. Picnics are now luxury, lavish, full of gourmet ingredients and dishes packaged up with not a plastic tub in sight.
Whether it’s during a walk, a family day out or simply just a drive out to a scenic location, the backdrop of the Lake District with its fells and lakes is the perfect setting to picnic perfection.
Where to choose? The Langdale Valley and surrounding area has both dramatic vistas as well secluded locations and pretty tarns. Take Loughrigg and Blea Tarn, often seen in pictures but tucked away and pure picnic heaven. Sit on the edge of either tarn and be treated to an uninterrupted view of the famous Langdale Pikes. Cosy up together if it’s cool or take the boots off and dip your feet into the tarn in the summer.
The Brimstone Hotel at Langdale have picnic perfection hampered up. Guests at this innovative boutique hotel in the Lake District can choose to order a gourmet picnic handmade by the Brimstone chefs. This picnic can then be transported along with the guests to a super scenic spot in Brimstone’s own Land Rover Defender after all, what gourmet picnic is complete without some Champagne?!). Choose a time and Brimstone will return to collect the guests and their empty hamper after this no doubt very special afternoon. Our top tip is for anyone thinking of popping the big question in the Lakes, the combination of the stay at Brimstone and a perfect picnic has to be ultimate and most memorable of ideas and locations. For more information visit http://www.brimstonehotel.co.uk
In the Chinese Zodiac this year is the year of the Monkey but for the Lake District it is the year of Beatrix Potter.
150 years ago this year, one of England’s most famous writers, illustrators and naturalists was born. Her love of the Lake District eventually brought her to live in the region and so the famous tales an stories were began with the delightful and enticing characters she created in connection with the landscape and her beloved gardens at Hill Top, her home.
The National Trust now own and manage Hill Top and it is now open for the 2016 season welcoming visitors from all over the world. With news of this 150 year mile stone being published across Europe to Japan, Australia and the USA, the tiny villages of Near and Far Sawrey where Hill Top is located will be firmly on the international map.
There will be one particularly special and exciting event taking place to honour this very talented lady on two dates during July 2016 at Castle Cottage at Near Sawrey, her marital home for 30 years. This is now lived in by private tenants which have agreed to open the cottage up on two dates for this special year, July 8th and July 28th, Beatrix Potter’s Birthday.
7th July also marks 70 years since Hill Top opened to the public so July is even more pertinent for celebrations and is set to be extremely busy.
Booking is essential for all of these tours as well as the general visiting of Hill Top and gardens. Booking accommodation in the area during July is advisable right away too. Cuckoo Brow Inn at Far Sawrey, just a 5 minute walk from Hill Top and Castle Cottage has 14 rooms and being an inn, serves local food and drinks daily. Family rooms are available and the inn is also dog friendly which Beatrix Potter would have very much approved of being such a dog lover herself. Visit http://www.cuckoobrow.co.uk to book and for more information.
Although the burger revolution is taking over the high street, street food, pub and restaurant menus up and down the country, the humble pie is still a firm favourite and luckily, doesn’t look to be falling out of favour at all.
The UK is a nation of pastry lovers. A pie is a handy snack and warming and comforting main and often a real treat. A pie is satisfying and tasty filled with meat, fish or vegetables but the most important thing is not to over complicate this dish, simple and tradition are both fantastic flavours.
A pint and pie, pure post walk perfection!
So it’s no wonder that amongst all of the food appreciation and celebration days and weeks, British Pie Week is one of the most popular. Taking place from March 7 to the 13, British Pie Week
It could almost be said, a pub is only as good as its pies. Well and its pints as well of course but the both go hand in hand and a spot of the good pint is often found in the good pie.
Take the Lake District, full of great country pubs and inns and post walk what better than a home made pie to revitalise after a long walk on the fells? Set in the Langdale Valley is Wainwright’s Inn, a traditional pub on the Langdale Estate and post walk heaven. Famous for the range of local ales, it is also famous for its pies and throughout its seasonal menu changes the steak & ale and chicken, ham & leek pies are 365 day a year fixtures.
Open daily from 12 noon until 11pm for drinks and until 9.30pm for food. Come straight off the fells into Wainwright’s Inn, walker friendly, woodburning range to warm up against in the winter, scenic outdoor seating for the summer, regular changes, local real ales. Visit http://www.langdale.co.uk/wainwrights-inn.html for more information.
Cartmel, now firmly on the foodie map (arguably the culinary capital of Cumbria) and also the horse racing calendar. Romantic, weekend away heaven in rural, rolling fell surrounding loveliness yet buzzing with understated life.
But after a recent visit to Cartmel, having not been there for a good 5 years or so, (also pre-dog ownership), we were completely and utterly shocked (in a good way of course) at the amount of visitors with dogs. Why being the location it is with plenty of open space and paths we were surprised we don’t know. Also that Cartmel is smack bang in long standing farming communities where dogs are not only companions but also workers. But the people walking throughout the village square and around we definitely visitors from out of the area.
A des Res for pooches and you in Cartmel
We had gone without dogs. To say we were gutted was an understatement. It was only during the marathon 22 course menu at L’enclume did the thought of Mac and Cam not being with us, leave our minds. The problem time was during the day when we spent it all saying “ooh, the boys would have loved this pub” and spying loads of great walks we could have done with them.
For not only is Cartmel great outside for dogs, all the pubs are dog friendly too. But as with the whole of the village, the pubs are stunning too, they are all places where really good food is served, great , local real ales and you can even get Prosecco by the glass.
So we thought we owe it to Mac and Cam to return to Cartmel and of course with them in tow. Luxury, dog friendly holiday cottages are available from The Lakeland Cottage Company. Some of them have a 5 star gold rating fitting perfectly with 5 star Cartmel you and your dogs will experience in and around the area. All their dog friendly properties can be viewed here.
Obviously, every dog is welcome in Cartmel but I really would advise giving Fido a little spruce up before visiting, you’d hate for him to feel uncomfortable! Visit https://www.lakeland-cottage-company.co.uk for more details.
Described as a place you should visit but not just once, Selous is still classed as a hidden gem for people looking at going on a safari tour in Tanzania.
Located just south of Dar es Salaam, Selous is easy to access, vast and is home to Africa’s and Earth’s largest population of large mammals including lions, elephants and hippos.
The importance of Selous has been confirmed by UNESCO who have given this game reserve World Heritage Status with work continuing as to how to keep this very special place on the planet alive. This has been most associated with the threat to the elephant population which due to the horrific poaching has meant these great creatures are in rapid decline.
There are only two months that safari companies advise to avoid, the rainy season in Tanzania. Tours still place but some may be cancelled depending in the weather. July to October is very popular as is the Christmas and New Year period but a really special time is between January and March. For visitors from the UK and other countries in the Northern Hemisphere, the chance to experience warmth and a safari is a most welcome break from cold and damp home.
Having been voted as one of the best small hotels or lodges in Tanzania is Sable Mountain Lodge in the Beho Beho hills within Selous. Owned, managed and with tours led by A Tent With A View Tanzania safari tour specialists, this lodge is delightfully decorated with many facilities including restaurant and bar and even a fresh water swimming pool. The tours include the chance to witness all the large mammals in their natural habitat as well as some of the most stunning birds in Tanzania.
Dog friendly Stowford campsite and Woolacombe beach
Beach holidays are mostly commonly associated with summer, the annual pilgramige to the coast to enjoy the sea, sand and fingers crossed, the sun.
But beaches are open 365 days a year, are accessible to all and are beautiful even in the winter months, Woolacombe on the North Devon coast is no exception. This beach, continually voted one of the UK’s best, is stunning whatever the weather or time of the year. Summer however this Blue Flag beach is packed but choose to visit this 3 mile stretch of golden sands in the off season and have the space to take in the views, walk and blow the cobwebs away and enjoy popular winter pastimes such as kite surfing.
Winter and the quieter months are also fantastic for dog friendly holidays. Dogs love beaches, sand to roll around in and the sea to leap through. Humans love it as apart from some grains of sand, a beach is mud free!
Woolacombe is a dog friendly beach, you’ll have it practically to yourselves and there’s places for refreshments in the village that allow dogs too. Where to stay, well nearby Stowford North Devon Caravan and Campsite is very dog friendly and even has private woodland and waymarked walks and paths in it’s 70 acre estate that are ideal for morning and evening walkies. The on-site dog kennels provide a handy service if there’s a particular none dog friendly activity to do on one of the days.
So remember, Woolacombe and North Devon aren’t just for summer, they are for all year round.
Visit the Stowford Farm Meadows dog friendly section of the website here for more information on facilities and services.