SOMETIMES, we who dwell in the lower portion of the North West region forget how lucky we are.

While the hustle and bustle of amazing cities such as Liverpool and Manchester are only an hour or so drive away, at the other end of the pace-of-life spectrum we also have the peerless Lake District at roughly the same distance.

No one recognised the beauty of a getaway in the Lakes better than one of Lancashire's most famous sons, fell walking guide guru Alfred Wainwright.

In 1930, at the age of 23, Wainwright saved up for a week's walking holiday in the Lake District with his cousin Eric Beardsall. They set off from Blackburn for Windermere and climbed the nearby Orrest Head, where Wainwright saw his first view of the Lakeland fells. This moment marked the start of what he later described as his love affair with the Lake District.

The joy that Wainwright and millions of others have instinctively felt at clapping eyes on the breathtaking scenery has now received official recognition of the highest order.

The Lake District this year became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, joining iconic locations such as the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef and Grand Canyon.

For those looking to follow in the footsteps of Wainwright, they couldn't go far wrong if they chose Ambleside as a base to explore the world-class landscapes.

Situated at the head of Windermere, ferries run to Bowness-on-Windermere and Lakeside offering fine views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

It has a great number of independent pubs and restaurants as well as shops, of course many specialising in outdoors activities.

A myriad of gift shops are perfect for tracking down those Christmas gifts with a little extra thought too.

But, of course, any good break should include a little 'me time' too.

And the perfect escape from the stresses of modern living can be found at Rothay Manor in Ambleside. With 19 individually decorated bedrooms, access to nearby leisure centre and a wide range of entertainment in the surrounding area its the perfect place to unwind. The centre is a short stroll away

The elegant country house retreat is steeped in history. Built in 1823 as a private house it was converted into a hotel in 1936 and retains delightful Regency features.

The inviting lounges are a great spot to kick back and sit next to a roaring fire.

Each room comes complete with large bathroom, flat screen televisions with Sky TV, Molton Brown toiletries and large fluffy bathrobes and towels.

Our beautifully appointed and recently upgraded room had wondrous underfloor heating in the bathroom, perfect for soothing those aching feet after a long walk.

But the area Rothay Manor has really developed its reputation is for food.

The Lakes is one of nature's great larder, and no one knows that better than head chef Brandon Shephard, a 2 AA rosettes awarded culinary expert.

He was inspired into the job by his mother and grandmother, and has developed his skills and passion at many awarded restaurants in the UK and France.

He prides himself on his devotion to local seasonal ingredients and develops his menu to showcase the best of the produce and make the most of his nature-to-plate philosophy.

The locally-sourced venison was the standout dish on the evening a la carte menu, but each course was thoughtfully created and the relaxed dining room just added to the feeling of relaxation.

Any visitors to the Lakes will also know that dogs of all shapes and sizes will be found in the towns and villages and up hills and down dales.

Any nowhere recognises this better than Rothay Manor. The hotel welcomes 'well-behaved' canines to share your holiday.

The hotel has four dog-friendly bedrooms, all with either external access or a small enclosed courtyard, for your dogs’ enjoyment.

Obviously, man and woman's best friend is not allowed in the restaurant, furniture or beds but there are two lounges you can welcome to relax in with your pooch. In the Brathay lounge, you can even dine with your dog for breakfast and dinner if you wish.

So a perfect getaway for two legs or four.


Roger Airey was a guest of Rothay Manor luxury Lake District hotel and fine dining.

A range of rooms is available to book from Classic rooms to Suites.

Dinner from the a la carte menu is served each evening with 2 courses £38 and 3 courses £45. A 9-course tasting menu costs £60 (optional cheese course supplement £9, matching wine £35). Sunday lunch is 2 courses – £17.95, 3 courses – £24.95

Call 01539 433605, or email for bookings and enquiries.