Authoress Beatrix Potter loved Herdwick sheep and who can blame her? Cute as a button and as hardy as the hills they live in the Lake District, the baa bundles are still going decades after Potter died at her adopted home in the North of England. They don’t even bat an eyelid as cars zoom passed them as they idly wander across their territory and take an early evening nap in the oh so comfortable vehicle passing places.
And, the best place to spot them is in Langdale, just a short drive from Ambleside and also home to the four star Langdale Hotel and Spa, which pays homage to the Herdwick.
This luxury family-friendly hideaway is sheep mad. Your towel rails tell you the “baas can be hot’’ and you are encouraged to hang out your “shh, I am a sheep’’ sign before you go to bed. Right in the centre of the Lakes and in the national district park, this gem is hidden away from the main road in the Langdale Valley.
Part of the Langdale Estate and set in 35 acres of woodland, the retreat has 52 bedrooms in the Langdale Hotel, a 16 bedroom boutique hotel and spa at Brimstone and 100 timeshare units. Amenities include a fabulous leisure area for the Langdale and an exclusive spa at Brimstone, with The Stove Restaurant and Wainwright’s Inn all geared up for hospitality.
The Langdale Estate was formerly a gunpowder factory for the local mining industry and nestles inside a lovely forest, giving it that homely country resort feel. From the outside, it is all local slate stone which blends in beautifully with the natural environment of trees, hillocks and streams. The sheep get you as soon as you enter the room. A lovely black and white shot of a friendly Herdwick greets you as you head into a small area where you can hang your coats, abandon boots and put away your valuables and then shut the door as you head into the bedroom.
Tastefully decorated retro-style, the family rooms have a fabulous bed for mum and dad (if the kids don’t get there first!) with a nice comfortable mattress and linen and a flat screen television ideally perched across on the chest of drawers. Low energy lighting and a handy switch behind the bed means you can be as lazy as you want and the sofa is converted into two beds for the children. A fridge is also provided along with coffee and tea making facilities and there is parking on the doorstep.
The bathroom had the added bonus of a Jacuzzi style bath, great for the children who can lie in the bubbles for hours. Complimentary toiletries not only smell nice, but have been carefully chosen to protect the environment and are palm oil free, except for the hard soap which is made from a substitute.
It is part of the hotel’s impressive determination to protect the Lake District’s world heritage site status which also includes an aerated water supply to each room to cut down on wastage, zero waste to landfill and a recycling area in each room.
The Stove Restaurant serves up a hearty breakfast, with all the healthy options on offer from museli to porridge or for those wanting to fill up, there is a buffet style hot breakfast with good quality local products and to die for Cumberland sausage. If you fancy something a little special in the morning, you can order (for no extra cost) dishes such as smoked salmon and scrambled egg, waffles and pancakes or haddock and eggs. A bonus is you can have breakfast served to your room in eco friendly packaging or if you sleep in, you can order a breakfast plate throughout the day free of charge. The restaurant has a semi open kitchen and is decked out in a similar style to the bedrooms with well thought out spacing between tables.
The dinner menu caters for all tastes and expenditure and the menu is full of crowd pleasing starters from ham hock and corn fed chicken terrines (£9) to baked garlic and rosemary camembert with apple chutney and bread croutes (£14). Main dishes range from stone baked pizzas (£11) to high end rib eye steak (£32) with burgers (£17) and spatchcock poussin (£17) in the middle. Puddings include the to-die-for dark chocolate cremeux (£8) and lemon curd tart (£8) and there is a great selection of local beers and wines.
GOOD TO KNOW: A short walk from the main hotel heading into the nearby village of Chapel Stile is Wainwright’s Inn, with a hearty menu and list of local ales to match and very popular with ramblers.
The Pool and Spa
Proudly this is the longest private swimming pool in the area and it is ideally roped off to allow families and serious swimmers. The changing rooms offer key less lockers and warm showers and leisure facilities include a physio sauna where you basically sit in a wooden box and listen to music as your body is heated up and the aches and pains ooze away. There is a larger sauna and a steam room and Jacuzzi too, plus a deluge and tropical rainforest showers. There is also a fitness gym on the side. When the weather is good, there is outdoor chess, tennis and a lovely area to sit and chill and for those cosy days in, children can enjoy a soft play area.
GOOD TO KNOW: Watch out for the red squirrels which live on the Langdale Estate or wonder at the on site water wheel which doubles as an aid to low carbon energy production.
What to see and do
This area of the Lakes is a haven for walking and outdoor pursuits, but if it is traditional fun you are after, then a trip down Windermere on one of the lovely regular Windermere Lake Cruises is a must.
GOOD TO KNOW: Ranging from 45 minutes to three hours, the cruises take you gently along some of the most spectacular scenery in England. Special tickets for those wanting to enjoy the lake for longer are available with 48 and 24 hour passes available and the company also allow you to tie in your trip with a visit to a museum or attraction.
One such one is the Lakeland Car Museum at Backbarrow which houses a collection of classic cars, motorbikes, cycles and other motoring memorabilia. You can easily wile away a few hours in this joy of a museum, which even has the old fashioned arcade games to keep the children entertained. A special exhibition dedicated to the land and water record activities of Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son Donald is also on site.