Welcome to ‘Traveller Stories’, where we’ll be sharing a whole host of unique experiences from amazing locations you can visit through holidaylettings.co.uk. To begin the series, Jen Harvey writes about a trip to the teeny tiny village of Bampton in the Lakes she made with some close friends for a spot of winter walking.
It’s always difficult to find time to see friends who live far away. So last December, we decided (after months of not getting round to it) to organise a winter getaway with some much-missed mates from university. We picked the weekend and booked the annual leave… but what should we do? Where should we go? And after much emailing back and forth, we decided on a quiet rural getaway in the Lake District and found a holiday home in the sleepy village of Bampton.
We took the slip road off the motorway and then our SatNav-assisted adventure began… It was dark (like up a chimney dark) and the roads were unfamiliar. They got narrower and narrower to the point where if a vehicle was coming in the other direction, someone would have to reverse… I was hoping it wouldn’t have to be me, the designated driver.
The stone-built cottage was an old mews house, nestled in-between two others. There were twinkling lights coming from little windows making it look just like a Christmas card scene. It was perfect: I couldn’t wait to see it in daylight.
The owner, Anne, was there to meet us and had lit a fire so the place was warm and really cosy. She gave us a tour and pointed out all the cottage’s quirks (the knack for the toilet flush was especially useful throughout our four-night stay). She’d even left a bottle of wine on the table in the kitchen “to get us started” before giving us detailed directions to the local round the corner.
After such a welcome, we settled in straight away. And we knew it was going to be one of those amazing holidays of food, drink and late night conversations in front of the fire. Just what we all needed.
The next day, after one of the best sleeps and bacon sandwiches I can remember, we set off to explore the village and surrounding area. The fact that my mum’s family is originally from the Lake District seemed to qualify me as the leader of our expedition (worrying when you consider my sense of direction… or lack of it). It really was idyllic. Bampton sits in the Eden Valley, just on the edge of the Lake District National Park, and we set our sights on climbing the hill behind the cottage for the best view. It was breathtaking: we could see across the valley to the higher mountains dusted with snow and the tiny villages dotted around looked like models.
We carried on walking, spellbound by our surroundings, until after a good hour and a half we realised we had no idea where we were. Fortunately, one of us (not me) is a brownie leader with plenty of experience in teaching the clueless (definitely me) basic skills like reading (and remembering to pack) a map. So she skilfully steered us back in the right direction.
That evening, we headed to a charming pub called the Crown & Mitre for dinner. It was all local, seasonal produce and seriously tasty. After a few drinks and an invigorating walk back under incredibly starry skies, slipping back into our cosy cottage was bliss.
I’ll definitely keep going back to the Lakes whether with friends or family. It’s perfect for escaping from the rat race and getting back to nature. Just what you need every once in a while.
Would you like to follow in Jen’s footsteps by taking a trip to the Lake District? Argyle Cottage in Ambleside or Orchards Coach House in Eskdale would make for an idyllic base for a group excursion or even a relaxing getaway.