Driving trips to the Lake District

Driving holidays are coming back into vogue, as people are rediscovering their love of taking their car to some of the finest countryside in the UK to enjoy the views and get closer to nature.

The Lake District and Cumbria are famous for having some of the finest roads in the country and there are a number of routes that are simply perfect for a spirited drive, a family trip or a day out. They’re between 30 and 50 miles long, they take you round the lakes and they give you a stunning view of the countryside.

One of the finest drives through the Lake District is the road from Keswick to Ambleside, which then goes back to Keswick via Ullswater and the Kirkstone Pass. It takes in several of the world famous lakes and has a Wordsworth theme, as the famous poet left his mark all across this region. It’s 47 miles long and can start and finish at the Borrowdale Gates hotel, where you can finish with a perfect lamb dinner in the AA rosette restaurant.

There is also a shorter trip that takes in Keswick and Derwent Water, the Honister Pass and Buttermere before returning through the valley. It’s a 35-mile trip that will give you a beautiful view and several stunning spots to stop off at and take pictures.

For a driving holiday with a difference that will prove truly memorable, try the Lake District.

Are you game for some quality local food?

The beautiful valleys of the Lake District aren’t just home to the best scenery in the area; they’re the home of some of the best local game produce that England has to offer. To the south of the Lake District, you’ll find Cartmel Valley Game Supplies, run by husband and wife team Jonathan and Susan Stott.

Established in 1994, Cartmel Valley has a great reputation throughout the Lake District for their locally sourced game, which can be cured and smoked in their very own on-site smokehouse, where they produce smoked salmon, trout and pigeon. They can even smoke butter, if you’re looking for something a bit different.

Traditional game, such as grouse, pheasant, venison, partridge, hare and rabbit, is also on the menu at Borrowdale Gates, thanks to the skilled Cartmel Valley team. A customer favourite, loin of Cartmel Valley’s venison with red cabbage purée, sweet potato, kale and smoked bacon, features on this year’s Borrowdale Gates dinner menu, and you’ll spot a delicious Cartmel Valley starter on our lunch menu – Cartmel Valley crab and spring onion cake with avocado salsa and tomato salad. With Cartmel Valley’s fish caught fresh from Morecambe Bay.

Cartmel Valley also offer old favourites with a bit of a twist. Pheasant burgers, venison grill sticks, and boar and damson sausages are big hits for Cartmel Valley which you definitely won’t find in the supermarkets.

If you’re looking for a real taste of Lake District nature, come and enjoy a warm welcome at Borrowdale Gates, where we’re delighted to serve Cartmel Valley produce in our AA Rosette restaurant.

Fantastic fishing in the Lake District

Cumbria has the highest number of lakes in the UK, so why not bring your fishing road with you to Borrowdale Gates for a spot of fishing in one of the most picturesque parts of the world? Not only do we have an absolute wealth of places for you to practise your techniques, fishing in the north of England is much cheaper, and considerably quieter, than in the south.

The Lakes are well known for their stocks of high quality salmon, brown trout and sea trout, with our larger lakes popular for coarse and pike fishing opportunities. The River Eden, which is the biggest river in Cumbria, is known to be the best source of trout in the country.

If you’re looking for specialist angling settings, you’ll find that angling associations are in charge of a lot of the fishing inside the National Park. You’ll find a warm welcome, and a choice of daily or weekly permits.

Looking for something more informal? Fishing is free at Ullswater, Coniston Water and Windermere. You can pick up perch, trout and pike. Peak season here is March to June, and if you’ve got a silver tongue, you might be able to charm one of the local anglers into taking you out on their boats. It’s not easy, but the rewards of having a local guide will make it well worth it.

Disabled anglers will also find something for them. Pop down to Coniston Boating Centre, with its adapted boat, accessible for wheelchairs.

As with all fishing activities, it’s important to make sure that you have a valid Environment Agency Rod Licence before casting your line in the Lake District, and that you don’t use live bait, which might introduce diseases into our beautiful lakes.

Cumbrian fishing may not be the most well known activity, but once you’ve sampled this hidden gem, you’re sure to be back, and Borrowdale Gates will have a room waiting for your return.

Have you heard of Herdwick?

Merino, Charollais, Cheviot, Hebridean, Manchega – all these are breeds of sheep which you may have heard of, but have you heard of the Herdwick? They’re our native sheep here in the Lake District. They’re a really hardy variety, capable of surviving on the highest hills and mountains of England, eating heather and grass, which is why you’ll see them when you visit the Lake District.

Farmed in traditional ways by generations of local farmers, you can trace Herdwick sheep back to the 12th Century, when they get a mention in the documents of the time, grazing 3000 feet up in the dales.

These days, farmers looking after Herdwicks tend to keep their flocks on the lower levels for easier access, rather than climbing thousands of feet into the hills. They can also keep a better eye on their livestock and what they’re eating if they’re closer to home. The farmers don’t worry too much if they can’t see their flock, as Herdwicks appear to have a keen instinct, knowing exactly which land is theirs to graze upon. Especially important since much of the Lake District isn’t accessible by conventional farm vehicles, and a farmer could end up making quite a journey to collect his lost sheep.

Herdwicks produce delicious lamb, hogget (Sheep 1 – 2 years old) and mutton (2 or more years old), and TV chef Hugh Fernley Whittingstall said that it was among the finest he’d ever tasted. If you’d like to see what impressed Hugh so much, visit us at Borrowdale Gates. We’re delighted to be able to serve this local delicacy to our guests.

Have a true taste of Cumbria at The Lakes Distillery

A leisurely 25 minute drive away from Borrowdale Gates lies The Lakes Distillery, one of Cumbria’s newest attractions. It’s a must-see for those who enjoy the finer things in life, whether that’s vodka or Victorian architecture.

Nestled in the picturesque heart of the Lake District National Park, The Lakes Distillery is next to Bassenthwaite Lake and surrounded by breathtaking nature – though you may not be up to any hiking after a visit here.

The distillery is located in a refurbished model farm, originally built in the 1850s, but lovingly renovated to contain the business. The main barn is home to the mash and still houses, while one cattle shed houses the main warehouse. Other cattle sheds now contain the on-site bar, bistro and gift shop, all filled with sophisticated Cumbrian fare.

The recently opened distillery offers hourly tours from 11am to 5pm, which includes a tour of the distillery premises, a journey through two centuries of distilling heritage, and a tasting session of three of the business’s best artisan tipples.

Try The ONE (finely blended malt whisky), The Lakes Gin and The Lakes Vodka alongside expert advice on how best to enjoy each one. The price of a tour ticket also includes a £5 discount voucher for any 700ml bottle purchased in the retail store.

The Borrowdale Gates Hotel obviously does not condone drinking and driving: instead, buy a bottle of your favourite spirit to savour as a nightcap while you relax in style in our luxurious four star hotel.