WHEN I first visited the Lake District as a teenager to complete my Duke of Edinburgh Award, my group was forced to sleep in soggy tents and freezing youth hostels.
But nowadays, I just don’t do cold or discomfort, which was why Rothay Manor in Ambleside ticked all the boxes.
Rooms are huge, beds could accommodate a small army and roaring open fires entice you to fall into the strategically placed comfy armchairs dotted around the lounges.
Built in the Regency style, the hotel has been owned and run by the Nixon family for 43 years and has been listed in the Good Food Guide for the last 40 years.
Rothay Manor is set in lovely gardens and guests can walk into Ambleside, just minutes away.
When you can bear to leave the comfort of the hotel to explore the surrounding area, it becomes clear that the hotel offers a gateway to some of the best attractions and sightseeing that the Lake District has to offer.
There’s so much to see, so much history, you’re truly spoilt for choice.
The beauty of the Lakes is that it offers something for everyone from weekend ramblers like us to pure adrenaline junkies plunging through the forests or scrambling up the mountains.
Our first stop was Coniston Water, the third largest of the lakes.
It soon becomes apparent to us just why people fall in love with this part of the world.
Coniston is just breathtaking and is the place where Donald Campbell attempted to break the water-speed record which claimed his life.
You can take a trip aboard either the Victorian steam yacht, the Gondola, one of the Coniston Launches, or you can hire your very own boat.
We then walked into the village and tried a Lakeland ale or two in the beer gardens of the pretty pubs.
And the view above and beyond the village is magnificent.
Coniston is nestled at the foot of the Old Man, one of the most popular Lakeland peaks and a big draw for walkers.
Looking round, you knew why it was great to be in the Lakes in February.
A bit colder, admittedly, but no crowds so it makes the visit even more special.
Then it was back to the hotel and a stroll into Ambleside.
We were blessed with superb weather when pottering around the town and the hills and mountains were bathed in sunshine.
Walking up Ambleside’s steep narrow lanes we discovered the town’s craft shops, art galleries, cafes and clothes shops. Foodies would love it too, with countless shops selling local produce.
The next day it was a short drive to nearby Bowness.
It’s great for shopping and café culture and we decided to explore Lake Windermere by taking the boat. It’s great fun.
That night we went out into Ambleside for a lovely Italian meal.
As we left, we had no doubt in our mind that our weekend break was more than just recharging our batteries.
While the views took our breath away, and the hotel was superb, it was also the friendly people and the relaxed atmosphere of the Lakes which made it such an enjoyable visit.
Things to do –
lVisit the Aquarium of the Lakes and come face to face with an array of life found in and around the Lakes. www.aquariumofthelakes.co.uk.
lTake a hop, skip and a jump to the World of Beatrix Potter, where all 23 tales by Beatrix Potter are brought to life. www.hop-skip-jump.com.
lGet shipshape and make a trip across Windermere with Windermere Lake Cruises, who make regular trips to and from Lakeside, Bowness and Ambleside. www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk.
lIf you don’t fancy the water, book yourself on to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway www.lakesiderailway.co.uk.
l Or, if boats and trains aren’t your thing, how about the Lakeland Motor Museum? It houses over 30,000 motoring-related exhibits. www.lakelandmotor museum.co.uk.
lFor information, visit www.golakes.co.uk.