The Lakes in winter prove dramatic and captivating, with first class accommodation at the Cranleigh

Published on: 02 Feb 12 by Nottingham Evening Post

We have water to thank for the beauty of the Lakes.

It formed the land, determined the landscape, shaped its history and governs how and where people live.

Water, as you probably know, is also very wet. And The Lake District is officially the wettest place in England.

So if you're heading up the M6 in January, bathed in the spray of a thousand articulated trucks, you're going to rely on that cosy and inviting accommodation you saw on t'interweb matching up to its own publicity.

The Cranleigh in Bowness-on-Windermere has a very enticing website which promises a luxurious Lakeland retreat that will exceed expectations. Welcomed by the open fire in the lounge, on a day when you can't see further than the No Vacancies sign, you quickly realise that their site is also very accurate.

Somewhere between a large guest house and a small hotel, the beautifully restored Cranleigh is just a few strides from both the marina area of Lake Windermere and the attendant cluster of shops, pubs and restaurants.

In other words, it's an ideal package for the time of year. You have first class accommodation, with free parking, and enough places open off-season to get a good choice of food and possibly a pint of local beer.

But the main part of the hotel is not our destination. Set on its own is The Cranleigh's hidden gem, The Sanctuary - a private retreat, furnished and fitted in a high quality contemporary style and bristling with high technology.

It could possibly be the hottest place in the Lakes with a real-flame remote-control fire and under floor heating warming the stones of the luxury bathroom.

There's a super kingsize bed, comfy sofa and breakfast area below the high beamed ceiling.

You can partake of surround sound, a 46-inch LCD TV, internet hookups, a bewildering choice of mood lighting or watch telly in the bath.

Or you can ignore it all and just enjoy the peace and comfort of your own quiet personal space.

Then climb into the private hot-tub just outside the bathroom doors.

Away from it all in the Lakes? You’re even away from your hotel – except when room service delivers the breakfast of your choice.

The Cranleigh’s other not-so-hidden gem is it’s staff. Everyone you deal with is exceptionally friendly, professional and well-informed and a great credit to the hotel.

So back to the question – why take a break in the Lakes in Winter?

I think you can be lucky with the weather here, but I don’t think you can be unlucky.

It would be a different matter with children to entertain, but even shrouded in drizzle and cloud The Lake District is a dramatic and evocative place to explore. The winter landscape is wild and captivating if you brave the elements and get out amongst it.

Of course you have to be sensible. You need to be experienced and well-equipped to charge off up “the big stuff”, but amble-ramblers like me can still wander the valleys, villages and lakesides and enjoy the colours and atmosphere of the water’s edge.

Our second day brought clear blue skies, mild weather and the spectacular scenery that was hidden before.

A quick discussion with the experts in the information centre in Bowness and our course is set. An all-day introductory drive round the glories of the Lakes, complete with multiple stop-offs you’d otherwise miss.

We sit in warm sunshine on remote beaches, explore dramatic waterfalls in full winter torrent, stand in awe of the surrounding peaks in the 5,000 year old stone circle at Castlerigg and take in the spectacular view from high above Ashness Bridge.

All served to us on a plate with stunning weather and deserted roads.

Click here to learn more about the Sanctuary - the epitome of luxury Lake District accommodation.

Published on 02 Feb 12 by Nottingham Evening Post

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