The one and only time I’ve been to the Lake District was when I was 16. I went on a camping holiday to Ambleside with a group of friends. My lasting memories were of constant rain, so much so that I was forced to befriend a neighbouring group of people around our age, who let me seek refuge in their tent when ours, with comedy timing, sprang a leak. It’s not so much the weather that has put me off returning to Cumbria, it’s more the fact that I can’t drive (and neither can Sharps) as I’d imagined it would be a bit tricky to get round the Lake District without a car. So I was delighted when the Cumbrian tourist board and Visit England invited me on an escorted trip to The Lakes to see the Olympic torch and celebrate the start of the London 2012 festival and Lakes Alive taking place in the tourist hub of Bowness.
Our base in the Lake District for the next two nights was the Briery Wood Hotel, conveniently situated near to Lake Windermere (England’s longest lake). With so many hotels and B&Bs on offer in The Lake District it can be hard to know how to choose where to stay. The Briery Wood Hotel is one of Lake District’s hidden gems as location wise it’s a great spot, close to some of the South Lakes hotspots of Ambleside, Windermere and Bowness.
If you don’t drive it’s a short walk from Briery Wood to the local bus stop. Or, courtesy of a new scheme, you may also be able to hire an electric bike from one of the Electric Bicycle Hire Network points (they’re a bit like London’s Boris bikes in that you can pick them up, or drop them off, at various points along the route) to explore the Lake District. The electric bikes cost around £15 for half a day and best of all you don’t need to worry about any hilly terrain as they don’t require much effort.
Similarly getting round the Lake District wasn’t a problem for us as we were ferried round the area by Mountain Goat Tours, again a hidden gem, great for non-drivers. Mountain Goat offer a variety of guided tours throughout The Lakes and at around £38 for the day it won’t break the bank. Or if you’ve got a bit more cash to splash you can book a coach for exclusive hire – our drivers Bob and Gerry were both incredibly friendly and knowledgeable in equal measures. Either way you can sit back and drink in the stunning scenery of The Lakes (the A591 that runs between Keswick and Windermere was even named Britain’s best road). I was pleasantly surprised to learn it’s not as difficult as I’d envisaged getting round The Lakes without a car – brilliant news for me as I doubt I’ll be passing my test any time soon…