Commission from www.telegraph.co.uk to write and maintain an online guide to the Lake District, one of the UK’s most prestigious national parks and popular tourist destinations.
Work included researching and writing all sections of the online guide, including background material, hotel and restaurant reviews, events calendars and general information on sights and activities.
The guide is currently featured as part of the Travel section of the Telegraph’s website, and has resulted in a series of subsequent commissions both in print and online.
Visit site: Telegraph guide – The Lake District
Sample writing for The Telegraph: Lake District travel guide
And while the weather is notoriously unpredictable (locals will tell you that it’s not unusual to experience all four seasons in a single day), showers and racing clouds only emphasise the grandeur of the magnificent scenery.
The Lake District also has numerous artistic and literary connections, most famously William Wordsworth, who was born in Cockermouth in 1770 and drew much of his poetic inspiration from the surrounding landscape. Other poets, writers and painters followed, including John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome and Alfred Wainwright, author of the classic Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.
This whitewashed cottage near Grasmere was William Wordsworth’s first home in the Lake District. He arrived in 1799, and remained here for the next nine years with his wife Dora, sister Dorothy and three small children. Now owned by the Wordsworth Trust, the cottage is full of memorabilia, including the poet’s ice-skates, his passport, a pair of his reading glasses and a portrait of one of his favourite dogs, Pepper, given to him as a present by Sir Walter Scott. At the back of the cottage is Wordsworth’s ‘domestic slip of mountain’, the half-wild garden where he liked to sit and compose poetry. wordsworth.org.uk
Entry to the cottage is by guided tour (adult/child £7.50/4.50). Tickets are timed to avoid overcrowding, but expect queues in high season. If you know the date you want to visit, you can book online to avoid the queues. The admission price also includes the Wordsworth Museum & Art Gallery next door, which has extensive background on the Romantic movement, including portraits of the major poets and many first editions and manuscripts. Another of Wordsworth’s homes, Rydal Mount (www.rydalmount.co.uk), is nearby and can also be visited.
Open: 9.30am-5.30pm March to October, closes at 4.30pm in winter
John Ruskin was one of the great polymaths of the Victorian age, dabbling in everything from philosophy and art criticism to the aesthetics of lace-making. He bought this house near Coniston in 1871 and remained here until his death in 1900. A fierce advocate of the importance of traditional arts and crafts, Ruskin filled Brantwood with furniture, antiques, paintings and objets d’art collected on his travels (look out for his extensive shell collection in the drawing room, alongside his original library and writing desk). He was also a pioneering environmentalist and passionate horticulturalist, and the house is surrounded by gardens laid down according to his own exacting designs.
Open:10.30am-5pm March-November, shorter hours at other times; admission to house and garden adult/children under 15 £7.20/free; brantwood.org.uk
A hallowed name amongst fellwalkers, Great Langdale is home to some of the Lake District’s most iconic hikes. Most people choose to tackle the Langdale Pikes, a spiky chain of hills on the valley’s northern side, but more experienced hikers might feel up to the challenging circuit along the Crinkle Crags and Bowfell. Whichever you choose, the views are guaranteed to be stirring, and there are few better places for a pint than the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel (www.odg.co.uk). The official car-parks fill up early, although extra spaces are often available in nearby fields. visitcumbria.com/amb/great-langdale.htm
Borrowdale, Buttermere and Honister Slate Mine
With its green fields, cob cottages, drystone walls and rolling fells, Borrowdale seems to sum up the spirit of the Lake District landscape. Neighbouring Buttermere feels altogether wilder and emptier; its twin lakes, Buttermere and Crummock Water, are overlooked by a string of dramatic fells, including Alfred Wainwright’s favourite mountain, Haystacks, where his ashes were scattered following his death in 1991. honister.com
Separating the two valleys, the windswept Honister Pass (7) is home to one of the Lake District’s last working slate mines, where you can take a guided tour of the underground shafts (adult/child £9.95/£4.95) before testing your nerve on the UK’s only Via Ferrata rock climb (adult/child £35/£25). Braver souls might like to tackle the new (and nerve-wracking) Via Ferrata Xtreme route. Minimum age for Via Ferrata is 10 years and in high season it’s worth booking ahead for this and the mine tours.
The mine’s long held (and highly controversial) plans to install the UK’s longest zip-wire from the top of nearby Fleetwith Pike were refused planning in early 2013, but the company is determined to appeal the decision, so watch this space. Honister is open daily 9am-5pm.
Eltermere Inn, Elterwater
The inn’s halfway between Ambleside and Langdale, a couple of hundred metres from Elterwater’s village green. It’s surrounded by rolling green lawns with direct access to the lakeshore. There’s even a rowing boat to borrow if you feel like getting out on the water.
Built in the 18th century as an aristocratic residence, the house is quintessentially Georgian, with high ceilings, sash windows, plasterwork and original cornicing.
Relaxed – it feels more like a private house than a hotel. Guests are given the run of the place: there’s a cosy slate-floored bar with a huge inglenook fireplace, a smart dining room for supper, and a drawing room stocked with coffee-table books and glossy magazines.
Twelve in total. Each has its own character: we particularly like Robin Goodfellow, with its A-frame beams and oak bed, and Willy Goodwaller, with its freestanding tub and rococo furniture. Unsurprisingly, the priciest rooms have the best views: Lingmoor and Loughrigg have romantic window seats looking out across the lake.
Country nosh with a sophisticated twist. Young Ed Jones (the owner’s son) oversees the kitchen, turning out Cumbrian classics such as slow-roasted belly pork and rack of lamb. If the weather’s fine, cream teas are served on the lawn, accompanied by fresh strawberries and a glass of fizz.
Value for money 7/10
Not particularly cheap, but the peaceful location and stylish décor justify the price-tag. Includes breakfast.