Beautiful isolation in the heart of the Lake District...
The hauntingly beautiful surroundings of the Haweswater Reserve, a protected area of dramatic fells, rivers and woodland, is the perfect tonic for city slickers looking to escape the rat race to indulge in the peace and tranquility of nature in all its glory.
As there is nothing more frustrating than getting stuck in London traffic in the pursuit of a countryside escape, my friend and I caught the train from London to Penrith, the gateway to the Northern Lakes, and home to the Penrith Castle ruins (where my husband proposed to me during my last trip to the Lake District nearly four years ago).
Along the way, we came across the Llama Karma Kafe, and its takeaway arm, the Deli-Llama. This cute Peruvian themed cafe, sells a variety of interesting gifts and even has a llama in the back garden (as you do). It's a great place for families to stop off at to stretch the legs on a long journey as it has a nice garden with unique seating (see pics below). Llama lovers can also enjoy on and off-site llama treks via their sister company, Lakeland Llama Treks.
When we pulled up in front of the beautiful stone clad building covered in striking bright red ivy, I was blown away by the hotel's location perched on the edge of the Haweswater reservoir. The construction of the Haweswater reservoir started in 1929, amid great controversy from locals who were up in arms about the decision as the valley at the time was populated by farming villages, which would be flooded to make way for its construction. Today, the reservoir provides water for one in four homes in the Northwest.
As a gift to the local community, the hotel was built in 1935. Many of the furnishings in the hotel are a nod to the era, with 1930s touches to be found in the dining room, lounge and bedrooms.
Enjoy an invigorating walk in spectacular surroundings...
After we checked in with the friendly and laid-back staff and dropped our bags off in our room, we decided to explore the local area and take in the stunning landscapes. The area is extremely popular with outdoorsy types who love to go on long hill walks, so we thought we'd give it our best go.
There is something quite grounding about walking in the vastness of nature with nothing other than your thoughts to keep you company as you reflect on how stunning nature can be.
After stopping to take about 100 photos, we made our way to the base of the hills, but being I wasn't very fit and didn't fancy walking back to the hotel in the blackness of night, we decided to skip the more challenging hill walk in favour of a lazy evening at the hotel.
Unwind in the lounge...
After we enjoyed a glass of wine in the lounge, we headed into the dining room for our dinner. As the hotel was only at about a third of its capacity during our stay, there was only one other couple sharing the dining room with us, making it unusually peaceful.
The front lounge with its roaring fire and large French doors looking onto the reservoir, is the perfect place to relax. Oversized leather sofas and plump arm chairs make for a very cosy environment and are perfect for sinking into while you enjoy a well earned tipple after a long walk in the fresh air.
At first glance, the disjointed menu didn't look very promising - many of the items seemed more akin to pub lunch offerings (e.g. Cajun chicken sandwich, fish and chips, burgers, Ploughman's etc.).
However, after perusing the menu for some time, there appeared to be some standout dishes on offer including the ribeye steak, the Cumbrian pork served with black pudding and dauphinoise potatoes and the risotto of the day.
The wine list is quite limited and the food pairings recommendations list that they give you with the wine is a bit naff, but that being said, the presentation of the food was superb and the the quality was also fantastic, which quickly dispelled any doubts we'd initially had.
During our visit we also had the pleasure of meeting Head Chef Phil Clarke, who was genuinely lovely and takes great pride in his food. He informed us that many of the dinner menu options were dictated by the hill walkers who make up the majority of the hotel's business, so it will be interesting to see how the menu evolves over the next year.
After our lush breakfast, we took a few moments to relax in the private garden before our departure. If we had more time at the hotel, we definitely would have spent a couple of hours in the garden simply reading a book or enjoying a coffee, as it was so magical.
All in all, it was a truly wonderful stay and I would heartily recommend The Haweswater Hotel to anyone in desperate need of a bit of peace and relaxation.
- Book Lakeview Loft Room 1 or Lakeview Loft Room 2 - They have been recently refurbished and have views of the Haweswater reservoir and garden
- Ask the staff for a walking map, which has details on local walks (from basic to more challenging, depending on your fitness levels)
- Bring your hiking shoes - the terrain can be challenging
- Pack a windbreaker - the weather can be quite changeable
- Bring a satnav if you're hiring a car; the property can be difficult to find if you aren't familiar with the local area
How to book:
Phone: 01931 713232
From £155 (for a loft room).
Penrith, CA10 2RP
*During this trip I was hosted by the lovely team at The Haweswater Hotel. All words and opinions are my own.