Discovering the magic of Potter - Beatrix not Harry - during a luxury weekend break in the Lake District
A long weekend in the Lake District I imagined would consist of bracing walks, elongated pub lunches and jaw-dropping scenery.
What I didn’t expect was walking around a mini theme park attraction, rubbing shoulders with Japanese and American tourists, as we ventured into The World of Beatrix Potter.
But that’s where we found ourselves, our extended family group of eight - including four very excitable Potter fans, even if the eldest at 11 was more in tune with Harry than Beatrix - on a Saturday morning.
The attraction, tucked away in Bowness-on-Windermere - on the banks of Lake Windermere - is a self-guided indoors tour providing a wonderful insight to the life and creations of Beatrix Potter, whose characters like Peter Rabbit have thrilled children since her first book was published in 1902.
Whether it’s a walk through Mr McGregor’s garden, venturing into Mrs Tiggy-winkle’s kitchen, or browsing Jemima Puddle-duck’s woodland glade, there’s plenty to to keep young eyes - prone to wandering - enthralled.
Potter is synonymous with the Lakes, having made her home in the north west as a young woman.
It’s over 20 years since I last ventured into Cumbria, but it doesn’t take long to quickly realise the appeal.
Lakes like Windermere and Ullswater, set against stunning backdrops, mean you are never far from a picturesque setting which grace the postcards in the plethora of gift shops in every town.
Our beautiful home for the weekend was Ridge View House, tucked away in the countryside on the periphery of Appleby-in-Westmorland.
Not quite Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, but boasting five double bedrooms, including three en-suite, this traditional red sandstone longhouse dates back to 1755.
It’s been renovated over the years, a well-cared and loving family property - supplied via Mulberry Cottages, a boutique self-catering lettings agency offering over 650 properties around the country - that as soon as you walk into the large contemporary kitchen, and spy an inviting welcome pack of groceries perched on the table, you feel right at home.
As for its location, I feel like Cameron Diaz as she arrives at her cottage in the movie The Holiday. But instead of the Cotswolds, I am in a small hamlet in the Lake District, where the local pub is a short walk away and there’s fields of sheep just over the fence in the back garden.
To be fair, you could easily spend all weekend snuggled inside Ridge View House and never set foot in the Lakes. Ullswater is just 25 minutes drive away, Penrith - a metropolis in comparison - and large supermarkets is only 15 minutes.
Ridge View House was perfect for our extended family group, but would be perfect for a weekend retreat - maybe a celebration - for five couples, such is the vast size of the property, which offers off-road parking.
The house boasts a large lounge, a snug which doubles up as a library, and an amazing orangery - where bi-folding doors open up to a pretty courtyard of a garden.
The two boys in our group, Henry and Thomas, were keen to go bug hunting outside, although I had a sneaking suspicion they hoped to encounter Peter Rabbit along the way.
In the summer, it would be perfect for BBQs, with several outdoor seating and entertaining areas.
The house has wifi, but it almost felt rude to go online, when in such beautiful surroundings. So I settled down in the snug - log burners and open fires bring that cosy touch to every room - with my 11-year-old son, as we whiled away an hour playing chess.
For those with a little bit more energy, you have a walk to suit all abilities, from an amble around the lake, to treks along the high ridges.
Or maybe hire a bike, or a boat, while you can always jump on a cruise boat - like the Ullswater Steamers - for some time on the water to admire the views.
It’s not difficult to see why London girl Beatrix Potter holidayed in these parts for many years, before moving north and eventually becoming a Cumbrian sheep farmer.
And while my artistic flair doesn’t stretch to characters like Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, my weekend away has given me a taste of the Lakes which I want to explore further.
Mulberry Cottages, a boutique holiday lettings agency, comprises over 600 unique, handpicked, self-catering properties across the South of England. Mulberry Cottages specialises in luxury breaks away, helping guests not only to secure their perfect holiday house, but also helping to arrange an array of other elements for the holiday, including catering, babysitting, group activities and full celebration solutions.
Mulberry Cottages’ 40 staff are based across 3 offices in Canterbury, Winchester and Cheltenham, closely managing a portfolio of properties which span stately homes to converted railway carriages, coastal grand designs to ultra-modern city pads. More than half the portfolio are pet-friendly and over 250 are in Kent. Mulberry Cottages is part of the Vacation Rentals (UK) Group.
To book please visit mulberrycottages.com or call 01227 464 958