Journalist Linda Harrison ventured to a cottage in Bowness On Windermere Lake District for her first holiday as a mum.
There were several things we wanted to avoid on our first holiday as new parents – and flying was one of them.
The Lake District seemed the ideal place; not too far from our home in North Yorkshire but with stunning countryside. We decided self-catering would be the best bet, with plenty to do in the area with our son, Harry, if the weather wasn’t kind.
We had no idea what to expect from a holiday with a toddler, so we packed our waterproofs and set off to High Moor Cottage in Bowness-On-Windermere with fingers firmly crossed. It was raining when we arrived but luckily the cottage was pretty well-stocked. A shelf of DVDs, books and board games meant we’d be able to weather any storm. There were even toys, which Harry loved.
The cosy cottage, arranged through Sykes Cottages, was a great choice for our first family holiday. Downstairs had a homely living room and dining area with original beams, a massive comfy sofa and woodburning stove, and a small but functional kitchen. Upstairs, the master bedroom had a Juliet balcony boasting views of the fells and there was a second twin bedroom, bathroom and modern shower room. There was also off-road parking and a terrace.
The whole place was spotlessly clean and owner Vicki helpfully provided a travel cot, high chair, child-friendly crockery and stairgate (at the bottom of the stairs), meaning we could pack relatively lightly.
The location of High Moor was great for a young family. A few minutes’ walk from bustling Windermere, but far enough up the hill from the village to feel relaxed. You can easily walk to the lake quayside for one of the many boat trips, but it’s also in a great position for setting off to see the South Lakes area.
We spent our first day exploring the pretty (and nearby) villages of Ambleside and Grasmere and dodging the raindrops – but for the rest of our four-day holiday we enjoyed glorious sunshine.
We had a fantastic trip to Grizedale Forest (you can take the car ferry there across Lake Windermere). Situated between Consiton and Windermere, Grizedale has gorgeous woodland walking and cycling trails to explore. A couple of the trails are suitable for pushchairs so we got to take in the fabulous views of the lakes and mountains. There are also lots of outdoor sculptures and interactive art scattered between the trees.
Another happy day was spent on Lake Windermere taking Harry on his first ever boat ride: there are lots of lake cruises from the quayside. We also visited Old Hall Farm, an historic working farm where kids can help feed the lambs and stroke the towering shire horses. We spent most of our time chasing the chickens and eating the gorgeous homemade ice cream.
Our evenings were spent sprawled on the sofa at the cottage, working our way through the DVDs and the bottle of wine kindly left by Vicki. We loved our summer break, but High Moor Cottage would make a great bolthole in winter with the woodburner roaring away.
And after all the fun of our first family holiday, we all slept really well – even Harry had a lie in. Must have been all that wonderful Lake District fresh air!
How to get to High Moor Cottage in the Lake District without flying:
Driving: Leave the M6 at junction 36 and take the 1st exit at the roundabout onto the A590 Barrow. At Brettargh Holt Junction continue on the A591 towards Windermere. At the roundabout take the 2nd exit and upon entering Windermere, turn left onto the A5074 to Windermere town centre. Continue through Windermere towards Bowness-on-Windermere. At the mini roundabout in the centre of Bowness, turn left onto the A592 towards Newby Bridge. Continue on the A592, passing the lake shore on your right, passing the Burnside Hotel. The entrance to High Moor Cottage is second on the left, immediately after the blue sign for tearooms.
Train: First TransPennine Express runs a regular train service to Windermere station, which is two miles from High Moor Cottage. Taxis are available outside Windermere station.
Words: Linda Harrison for Feet on the Ground
Images: Linda Harrison / Sykes Cottages