Many visitors will have visited the Lake District without ever passing through, or stopping in, the lovely Lyth Valley. They're missing out on a treat, especially in spring when the many damson trees are in blossom. It's close to Kendal and yet off the usual routes, but the quality of the food at the Punch Bowl at Crosthwaite is, on its own, reason enough to visit. A traditional Lakes building with stylish and welcoming interiors, and an interesting menu with excellent food, it's one of my favourite places to eat - and was as good as ever on my visit last week.
Mirehouse Estate Gardens is filled with fantastic rhododendrons which at this time of year, pack an enormous floral tower above you as you enter the garden. The sheer size of the pine trees and other mature plants, shows how long the house and estate have been here. There is also a more formally laid out bee garden, within a walled area. Big and small kids will love the steeplechase course, assualt course and defending the wooden towers! (We like to use pine cones to attack and defend with). Very small children will enjoy the play area, surrounded by very shallow bubbling streams. Continue walking through the garden into the larger estate land, and you are able to walk along Bassenthwaite's shoreline - we have used plentiful driftwood to build our own raft before! We love it, because it is a well kept secret! Even though Keswick is only 15 minutes away, we have often spent days here and seen only a handful of people. Buy your ticket at The Old Sawmill tearoom - you will get a discount with your car park ticket.
The location has to come first, only 30 minutes from the Lakes but nowhere near as over run. This part of the North Lancashire coast is relatively undiscovered - an spectacular area of natural beauty - and you can have the beach all to yourself.
The Holgates park is wooded, with lots of wildlife, including rare birds that nest at the nearby RSPB site. We stayed in a very luxurious caravan that we hired, but you can take your own and there is also some space for tents. On the day that it rained, we used the truly luxurious swimming pool and spa - incredibly clean changing rooms and decent lattes in the cafe.
The village of Silverdale is a short walk away and had a great butcher and greengrocer as well as a couple of good pubs. There is also an art and pottery gallery with a good cafe attached.
The kids were happy running wild - the park is about 24 acres I think, but feels rural and safe with a great play area. We were happy outside the van with a glass of wine watching the most amazing sunset I have ever seen in my life. It takes quite something to get me to relax so quickly but this place certainly has it.
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