Layers of magic and mystery are revealed on a winter walk through this spectcular garden - once the playground of the Lowther family who lived in the now ruined castle. Stunning vistas, hidden dens and red squirrels abound as you explore 130 acres - there's no off limit signs here! Warm your hands and feet afterwards in the Stable Courtyard Cafe - great coffee and scones.
The most delicious cake and welcome cup of tea on a cool and wet day at Annie's kitchen table will bring a smile to anyone's face. Set-up as cycle cafe (you can park in the village if you really need too), there is also a wonderful tea garden for those non-rainy Cumbrian days and Annie hosts a great range of 'Quirky Workshops' - we loved the spoon carving course, but it's the lunch that sticks in my mind. Whether you're doing the Coast-to-Coast cycle route or travelling up the M6 - you must drop in.
Long Meg and Her Daughters is one of the largest and most atmospheric of all the Stone Circles in the UK.
Set above the beautiful Eden Valley in Cumbria it has a spiritual quality and calming atmosphere.
More often than not you will be the only person there.
Visit at dusk and watch the sun set in the distance behind Blencathra bathing the Pennine Hills behind you in a warm glow. You can align a setting sun in the groove atop the stone that is Long Meg herself. The circle itself is her 'Daughters'.
Then walk around the circle counting the stones. Legend has it that they hide and no matter how many times you count them you will reach a different number.
It is un-toursity, no stalls selling you trinkets, no ticket to pay, no car parking charges.
Long Meg is close to Langwathby Station on the famous Settle-Carlisle railway line and just off the A686, Penrith to Alston road, described by the AA as one of the ten best drives in the world.
A lovely place to visit and quietly calm a busy and stressed mind.
Little Slakeld in the Eden Valley, near Penrith.
Close to Langwathby Station on the famous Settle-Carlisle railway line and just off the A686, Penrith to Alston road.
Grid Ref NY570372.
Key in Long Meg Walk for a Discover Eden walk from Little Salkeld taking in River Eden, De Lacey’s cave and Long Meg.
Google map: bit.ly/smBwX9
Cumbrian folklore says that Long Meg and her daughters were witches turned to stone as a punishment for dancing here on the Sabbath. Take care. If you count the same number of stones twice, they will come back to life.
But Long Meg and her daughters are not related. Long Meg, at twelve feet high, is made of local red sandstone. She stands back from the main circle to catch the dying winter solstice sun. The other 50 stones are granite.
Together, they make one of the largest stone circles in Britain, dating back to 1500 BC. Yet so few people have heard of them. The mysterious cup and ring marks, like carved tattoos on Long Meg’s shoulders, face all four corners of the compass.
Wordsworth wrote a poem about the “sisterhood” of the stones urging their “giant mother” to speak.
We found them after an autumn walk along the river Eden, near Little Salkeld. Just before we emerged from a wood to the stone circle, our children spotted a red squirrel, which brought a different kind of magic to our day.
Penrith leisure centre is only five minutes off the M6, and a great break point if you're driving from Bristol to Scotland. After you've passed the wonders of Manchester, get out, throw the children and yourself in the pool, and return refreshed to the road.
Southend Road, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 8JH
Google map: bit.ly/nq29DU
Probably the most surreal motorway stop off in the UK. The Llama Karma Cafe is a bistro cafe with a varied selection of food which you can enjoy amongst real live llamas! You can enjoy a coffee while being watched by llamas through large glass windows. There are walking tours with the llamas should you wish to stretch your legs a little further. A deli, the 'deli llama' and gift shop for that essential llama cuddly toy. Definitely a memorable stop off.
Just off the M6 at junction 40.
An oasis of karm (sorry!) just a mile from junction 40 of the M6. The Llama Karma Kafe offer tasty home cooked food and great coffee in their light, airy bistro (caters for vegans and gluten free). They also run excellent llama treks through the beautiful surrounding countryside. We stopped for a mid-trek picnic near a pretty church with our new found friends. Don't forget your panpipes from the gift shop on your way out!
Located in the Lake District, northbound and southbound on the M6 between J38 and J39, this motorway services is a new concept for roadside services. The local, family run company hold outside BBQ's on hot sunny days and supply the farm shop and butchers counters, selling a whole variety of products, from their adjoining farm on the southbound side and also from other local producers. Views across the Cumbria landscape are amazing and great as a break on a long journey.
There is also a delicious cafe/coffee shop, petrol station, dog walk, children's play area, duck pond and toilets.
This popular motorway services with a strong reputation, stands out from the rest, being locally owned and built from eco-friendly materials and has won many awards. It has a community type feel, and is always clean, tidy and friendly. A must stop-off point if you're heading past.
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