I'd never really explored the Lakes properly so this year for August Bank Holiday weekend, my husband Steve and I decided to do just that and set off on the train from London Euston for 4 nights in the Lake District.
Sykes Cottages, who offer the finest handpicked cottages throughout the country and won The Best Large UK Holiday Cottage Company at the British Travel Awards for the second year running last year, were very kindly hosting us for the weekend. After looking through their Lakes accommodation rentals, rather than staying in the obvious choice of Windermere, we chose to stay in an apartment in the small village of Arnside, just on the edge of the South Lakes. After researching Arnside, we discovered it was an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there were lots of local walks you could do, it had great transport links to the rest of the Lakes and importantly, it had a very popular chippy! It sounded perfect for our Lake District break.
Arriving in Arnside on a a Friday afternoon, our apartment 'Mountain View' was only a 5-minute walk from the station and we couldn't believe the gorgeous view it had, situated right on the promenade with the estuary right in front. Even though we'd seen this on the Sykes Cottages website, it was far more outstanding in real life. Inside the apartment, the view was even more amazing with a lovely bay window and window seat in the lounge looking out - I knew that was going to be a favourite spot of the weekend.
The apartment was far bigger than we needed for just the two of us (sleeping 8) so we chose the front bedroom, which had an ensuite shower room and the same breathtaking views as from the lounge to wake up to each morning. Situated over two levels, the apartment had three bedrooms (our bedroom had a day bed and extra pull-out bed underneath), a kitchen-diner, a dining room, lounge, bathroom, shower room and separate toilet. Whilst not all of the apartment was to our taste, it was a great size and we could see how it must be popular with it's amazing views and close proximity to great walks and the shops, cafes and pubs of Arnside. It didn't have any outdoor space but with the small beach and grass area across the road looking out onto the estuary, it didn't really need it.
We also discovered that the famous Arnside Chip Shop was literally around the corner and even though we'd done a Tesco shopping delivery online, there was a Londis shop just outside which was stocked with pretty much everything you could need for a weekend away and was far more equipt than a lot of small local shops.
After unpacking and putting our Tesco delivery away, we decided to explore the village and visited the two local pubs 'The Albion' and 'Ye Olde Fighting Cocks'. Both were busy with locals and visitors but The Albion quickly became our favourite, with it's big round wooden tables, relaxed atmosphere and clear views across the estuary. You could easily have sat there staring out with a glass of wine for hours! We also tried out the local bakery 'The Old Bakehouse' and shared a meat and potato pie, which was a proper pie with thick, buttery pastry and tasted delicious!
Making ourselves get up early the following morning, we caught the train from Arnside to Lancaster before catching another train direct to Windermere. The journey only took around 50minutes in total and was a pleasant journey stopping at places such as Kendal on the way. Arriving into Windermere, you could catch a bus to Bowness and the Lake District National Park or walk and we decided to do that, which took about 30minutes.
Since it was a bank holiday Saturday, it was pretty busy around the lake but we got straight in the queue for a ferry across to Ambleside (£10 each return) and it was a lovely boat trip which made you realise just how big the lake actually is! Arriving into Ambleside, we walked the short distance into the village, looking around the shops before stopping for lunch in a cute cafe, Daisy's Cafe. With a quick drink in a pub looking out on the lake, The Wateredge Inn, we caught the ferry back and then hopped on a bus back to the station (it was an uphill walk on the way back!) before heading back to Arnside.
Since Arnside was an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we knew we had to partake in a big walk during our visit and so one morning, with our walking boots on and rucksack packed with a flask (provided by the apartment) of coffee and sandwiches, we headed off to walk up to Arnside Knott. We'd read there were two routes you could do, with one quicker than the other, but we decided to take the longer route and after 3.5 hours (including walking across rocks, through forests and up steep hills) we arrived at the top of Arnside Knott. It was a pretty impressive view at the top and we sat on the grass and enjoyed a cup of coffee from our flask and took in the beautiful scenery.
In was an easy downhill walk back to Arnside and arriving back onto the promenade, we bought ourselves a local English Lakes ice cream before heading back to the apartment to shower and lie on the comfy sofas in front of the fire!
With the chippy on our doorstep, we decided to treat ourselves to fish and chips and sat on the small pier to eat them with a mini bottle of Veuve Clicquot and two plastic champagne flutes! The fish and chips were delicious, just the right amount and not too greasy, and we understood why it was such a popular chippy. Sat drinking our fizz watching the sun go down over the estuary was the perfect last night in The Lakes and we were so pleased to have visited the beautiful area of Arnside.