Langdale Chase Hotel enjoys the most spectacular setting along Lake Windermere.
Langdale Chase Hotel enjoys the most spectacular setting along Lake Windermere.

Review: Summer time in the Lakes

It’s bucket list material.

After all, if it inspired Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, it’s surely good enough for this travel writing hack.

The tourist honeypot that is the Lake District stands as one of the UK’s most popular summer destinations, guaranteeing beautiful views, superb boutique shopping, and outdoor activities galore.

So, as we wound our way towards Lake Windermere and our home for the weekend, Langdale Chase Hotel, we wondered what our storied retreat might look like. Would it have a grand entrance? A sweeping driveway? A waterside view? A cursory glance at their website suggested that it would tick all of those boxes, but it wasn’t until the silhouette of a glorious Victorian mansion met our gaze that we quite appreciated the venue’s grandeur.

The Great Hall is an impressive place to enjoy a cocktail or five minutes’ peace with a book.

It was, quite simply, breath-taking. Built in 1890 for Edna Howarth – the widow of a successful Mancunian businessman – this impressive pile along Lake Windermere harks back to the 19th-century Gothic Revival era. And following an extensive 12-month restoration, Langdale Chase reopened its doors to visitors in November last year, so it was the perfect time to explore its revamped interiors, as well as the region that Wordsworth described as ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’.

Langdale Chase sits between Windermere and Ambleside, and there is plenty to see and do within the four-and-a-half-acre grounds. The wrap-around Summer Terrace offers an al fresco perch for watching kayakers, swimmers and wildlife go by, or you can ask for a tour of the gardens with head gardener Claire Farrington who will guide you through the grounds (which were originally designed by Thomas Hayton Mawson, the man responsible for the ‘Palace of Peace’ gardens in the Hague).

Beautiful views from the Panoramic Windermere Room.

The Rooms

In the main house there are 21 rooms, with an additional eight in a modern Lakehouse and one private suite in the historic Boat House. We were in the old part of the building, and were led up a sweeping oak staircase in the main hall, complete with minstrel gallery, to the beautiful Low Wray Suite. Thoughtful touches had been added to every corner of the room, including a set of Peter Rabbit books and binoculars which proved an excellent way of watching the brave souls taking part in the Great North Swim.

The Suite itself boasted a modern palette of burnt oranges and greens, mimicking the colours of the woodland outside. The marble ensuite bathroom came complete with large bathtub and rainfall shower, but it was the private veranda that won over our hearts – it featured a copper bathtub that overlooked Lake Windermere. By the end of our stay we were set to move in permanently. The ‘Fellside’ rooms are lovely, but it’s the lakeside rooms you really want. Dogs are welcome for an additional fee in a pet-friendly room.

The two AA Rosette restaurant, by Executive Chef Michael Cole.

Food & Drink 

When it comes to food, there is no shortage of options. Whether you’re seeking a fine dining experience in the modern restaurant (which boasts floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lake), or a more casual experience in the lounge or bar (which has beautiful wainscot panelling), Executive Chef Michael Cole has you covered.

Innovative British cuisine has earned Chef Cole two AA Rosettes, and it’s easy to see why. The evening fine dining menu is ambitious and complex, and challenges the palate by taking much-loved classics to a new realm. The sticky toffee pudding, for instance, has been made into a soufflé. It was perfectly presented, smooth and seriously sweet, yet tasted like the rich, unctuous sponge we all know and love.

On our second night, we gravitated towards the more relaxed dining option. This was, in truth, our preferred menu. Of course, this maybe says more about us than it does Langdale, but who can blame us when you hear what’s on offer? We’re talking tempura king prawns, cauliflower bhajis, and their signature 1807 Yorkshire Wagyu burger with applewood cheese, smoked crispy bacon, onion marmalade and sea salted fries. In an outdoorsy place like the Lakes (where we’d racked up 20,000-plus steps in a day) it was these hearty meals that well and truly won us over.

Loughrigg Fell, on the outskirts of Ambleside, offers an excellent vantage point of Grasmere.

What To Do 

Quite how you could have enough of the views from the Low Wray Suite, I’m not sure. But if you do decide a foray into town there’s all manner of activities to keep you entertained. If you’re taking life in the slow lane, stop past Beatrix Potter’s farmhouse, Hill Top, which is just a 20-minute drive from the hotel. Alternatively, why not visit Dove Cottage, once home to Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, a mere 15 minutes away?

For us, the priority was to stretch the legs. So, we popped in past Langdale Chase’s ‘Boot Room’, AKA the luxurious reception area, to ask for some local knowledge. They supplied us with two walking maps – one for Loughrigg Fell (a 2.5-mile walk to a spectacular view of Grasmere), and another for Orrest Head (a shorter walk of 1.5 miles to views across Lake Windermere and the fells). We chose to do both walks over the weekend, but the outright winner was the former, which is of similar difficulty to Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat (though slightly longer). It’s a slow, steady climb that burns the thighs but is easily doable in a couple of hours.

As a rowing nut, it would have been remiss of me not to explore the watersports on offer in the Lakes. For the water babies amongst you, the hotel has teamed up with Graythwaite Adventure which provides private outdoor experiences that can be tailored to suit you and your party. From April to October, they offer everything from paddleboarding, canoeing, RIB boat tours and kayak adventures, to 4×4 driving, archery and clay pigeon shooting, all of which take place from Grubbins Point (just over half an hour from the hotel). Alternatively, if swimming is high on the agenda, you can stay put at the hotel and use the jetty as your private launch pad.

Once you’re back on dry land, Langdale Chase has a dinky cinema with two screenings every day and help-yourself ice creams, as well as a gorgeous cellar for wine tastings.

Langdale Chase dates back to 1890, so has seen plenty of history.

Following in the footsteps of such legendary wordsmiths as Potter and Wordsworth has been a voyage of discovery for countless aspiring writers and lovers of the outdoors – and, now, for me too.

Rooms rates at Langdale Chase start from £290 per night, on a B&B basis.

For more details, please visit their website