'Free from' kitchen 'Free from' kitchen

A Foodie Guide: Self Catering Luxury in the Lake District

Where to stay

My base for the visit was Gate House in Coniston, which is part of the Coppermines Cottages portfolio of properties.

Gate House is a traditional Lakeland house at the foot of the Coppermine quarries in Coniston. It was purchased by current owners Jane and Simon in 2015 and extensively renovated to create a wonderfully luxurious base within walking distance of the centre of Coniston, yet feeling pleasantly away from the hustle and bustle.

Gate House sleeps eight guests across three double and one twin bedroom, and all have their own luxurious bathroom, each fitted with top quality fittings, fluffy Egyptian cotton towels and lovely local toiletries made by the Soap Co in Keswick who make a really lovely range of products and run the business employing local staff and providing meaningful employment for individuals with learning difficulties. Supporting local business in the Lakes runs through the fabric of this cottage.

The refurbishment of Gate House was extensive, and the majority of the work was undertaken by local craftspeople using locally sourced materials, including slate and wood.

Gate House

Gate House is equipped with a huge, newly fitted kitchen and high quality appliances, including a Rangemaster electric range cooker, Emma Bridgewater china, Le Creuset pans and plenty of useful pieces of kit, meaning guests can cook and dine well during their stay. There is a large table in the kitchen, and even if you don’t want to cook, there is plenty of space to relax and enjoy the house. Indeed, guests are able to use the Coppermines tablet in one of the sitting rooms to order a takeaway to the door.

There are three sitting rooms at Gate House, all of which have a wood burner and a television, and plenty of books, maps, games and DVDs for a wet day. All are very nicely furnished, with lovely quality furniture and fittings, and plenty of seating and space to relax. You’ll be warm and comfortable whatever the weather with underfloor heating throughout, and a wonderful boot room with boot warmer to set you up for a day in the great outdoors.

There is a paved garden out the back, looking over the beck which runs down from Coniston Old Man, with outside seating to enjoy in the summer, whilst listening to the water tumbling past and the church bells ringing.

What I particularly enjoyed about staying at Gate House was the attention to detail in every area. This is a truly immaculately refurbished cottage, whose owners have put so much thought and care into every detail. From prosecco and local Hawkshead preserves on arrival, to the wonderfully well equipped kitchen, this is a very special place to stay indeed.

Where to eat

There is always somewhere new to visit on each trip to the Lake District, and there really is something for everyone, from fine dining to delicious pub food after a long day in the outdoors.

For something really interesting and special, Lake Kitchen in Ambleside is really memorable, offering a menu of small plates made from ‘hyper local’ ingredients, many of which have been foraged locally.

For a more relaxed evening, the Drunken Duck Inn is extremely pleasant, and I really recommend the bar for a cosy drink by the fire after a day walking. It’s one of my favourite spots in the Lakes.

In Coniston, there is a new artisan bakery and a couple of pubs, cafes, restaurants and a small shop.

For food shopping, most towns have a small convenience shop, but I always like to visit Booths in Windermere to do a larger shop, as they have a really lovely range of great quality produce, and lots of products from independent producers in the Lakes and across the North. It is also worth knowing that Tesco and Asda do home delivery, which can be a very useful time saving exercise when self-catering, especially after a long drive.

Old Man of Coniston

Things to do

There are endless adventures to be had in the Lake District and you’ll find countless walks, bike rides and many other things to do each day.

Based in Coniston on this trip, the town offers a small but pleasant collection of independent shops, cafes and restaurants, plus the interesting Ruskin Museum, which was just a few steps from our cottage. Coniston Water is also within walking distance, offering boat trips and boat hire, which is very pleasant.

Old Man of Coniston is one of the most famous walks in the Lakes, and that can be done from Coniston. It is one of the high fells in the Lakes, but a comparatively easy climb, with a really interesting ascent and decent through disused copper mines and working quarries. The ridge walk at the summit is worth the climb, revealing views across Morcombe Bay, and out to sea past Sellafield on Cumbria’s west coast.

Nearby is Langdale, which also offers some of the great vistas and walks in the Lakes. Harrison Stickle and Stickle Tarn is a favourite, starting off from the National Trust car park at Dungeon Ghyll.

Grizedale Forest is on the other side of Coniston Water from the town, and is an interesting place to explore with its sculpture park and outdoor activities including green laning and mountain biking, plus more gentle walks along the shore for those keen for a more gentle activity.

Ambleside is the nearest larger town, which offers plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants.

How to book

My stay at Gate House was as a guest of Coppermines. Coppermines run an office in Coniston town centre, and offer a range of lovely properties in which to stay and are very much on hand should you need them. I was very happy with the booking process. Gate House has recently been awarded a Highly Commended Award in the 2017 Cumbria Tourist Awards, in the Self-Catering Category.

Gate House can be booked online, and costs from around £1150 for a week in the winter, to around £2500 for a week in the summer holidays. Christmas week is around £2300.

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