In the middle of November, I was treated to a long weekend in the Lake District and a bit of time away from my laptop.
Three nights in a cozy cottage located in Kendall (just on the outskirts of the National Park) with good hearty food and some hiking in the mountains was just what I needed.
…and best of all, I got to take my dog, Winston.
If this sounds like something that you could do with, here are my 4 steps to have an equally awesome time away.
So fasten your imaginary seat-belts because here we go!
Step 1 – Rent a cottage
Pretty obvious, right?
Get yourself over to Airbnb and reserve yourself a few nights in the cutest cottage you can find.
Some things to look out for are beams, low ceilings, country kitchens, sash windows, nice lighting, and of course, log fires. All of these features add charm and character.
Cottages in and around National Parks usually offer the best hiking routes and options for outdoor activities, so try to pick your location carefully.
We stayed at Toby Cottage. Ideally, we would have preferred to be closer to the main hiking routes, but we did book at the last moment. Overall though, the cottage was more than suitable and we had a comfortable stay.
Step 2 – Organize the food
Most cottages are self-catering. You can eat out, but in my opinion, if you’re going away to stay in a cottage, then I’d want to be doing exactly just that – staying in the cottage!
…and nothing is nicer than some home-cooked hearty food after a day of mini outdoor adventures.
I knew that food was going to be a big part of our trip, so I planned our meals ahead of time and went to my local Tesco to stock up on everything that we needed.
Some of the meals we had during our stay included a homemade (and very indulgent) pasta carbonara, beef stew with warm crusty bread, apple and blackberry crumble with custard, and a full English breakfast with all the bells and whistles.
…and I can’t forget about our mint hot chocolates with marshmallows and squirty cream.
As an extra treat (just in case we didn’t have enough) I bought some cookie dough that you chop up and place in the oven for about 12 minutes. It would have been a faff to bring all the individual ingredients needed to make cookies, so this is the cheater’s way to still being able to enjoy them freshly baked and warm from the oven.
If you are cooking, I would definitely recommend planning your meals and buying the ingredients ahead of time. It will make your visit much more enjoyable knowing that you have tasty meals all planned and everything that you need to cook them with.
Step 3 – Plan an adventure
If possible, try to go home with a story – something that will help make your trip more rememberable.
In other words, go hiking, cycling, swimming, running, venture into the nearest town, etc.
Originally, I thought that our adventure story would come from our day-long hike out in the mountains with the beautiful views and crisp November air.
And yes, it did ….but our adventure story turned out a little different than what we had planned.
In the space of about 20 minutes, the weather changed dramatically from clear and slightly windy, to horizontal hailstones and snow!! Fog appeared and we couldn’t see more than 10 meters in front of ourselves.
The poor visibility, combined with snow covering the trails, meant that we quickly got lost!
Well, we knew roughly where we were, but we just couldn’t find a trail to follow to get off the mountain.
We ended up running into another lost soul, Harry, who was also wandering around trying to find his way down. The adverse weather really became apparent when we noticed that this guy’s beard had frozen!
At one point, I thought I was going to die up there and I was ready to call Mountain Rescue. Looking back, I was probably being a tad melodramatic, but in my defense, I had just watched ‘Extreme Everest’ with Ant Middleton a few nights prior.
To cut a long story short, the three of us wandered around in a snowstorm, scrambling up and down the side of a steep mountain, before running into another 3 walkers who knew the way down. Altogether we were able to descend back to the car park.
It’s a funny story and memory when we look back on it now, but at the time, it was anything but!
Step 4 – Enjoy some downtime
The last thing you want is to come home more exhausted than what you were before you left. So, in the evening try to enjoy some more relaxing activities – and don’t forget, you’ve all got all that lovely food to enjoy!
We played Scrabble (which I won – but only by a few points), I learned how to play chess (and I’m still practicing via an app on my phone) and we watched a movie snuggled on the sofa under a blanket with another couple of hot chocolates.
Check the cottage that you’re staying in to see if they have any movies, board games or playing cards, and if not, remember to take some.
Finally, have a great time!
And that’s all there is to it.
Simply choose and book a cozy cottage, plan your meals and treats, go on a mini-adventure, and enjoy some relaxing downtime.
If you have any more tips or recommendations to have an awesome time when staying in a holiday cottage, let me know below.
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