To escape town is something of a rare treat. From platform to train, as soon as the engine starts there’s no turning back. Both literally and figuratively speaking – and it’s quite comforting.
By the time you’ve left the smog of the big city, your view is new and ever-changing. Brushstrokes of dark greens, light greens and browny-green greens paint the window. Nature knows not one shade of colour; its palate is as wide as the valleys and as deep as the seas. Or in our case, the lakes. These wide bodies of water so prominently featuring in our destination, they inspired its name.
The Lake District. The Lakes. The Cumbrian Lakeland. While lakes in England are usually man-made, the Lake District is the exception. It is a spectacle of never-ending blues set against a backdrop of rolling hills and the purple/greens of the English countryside.
You won’t likely view it all in one visit. To reach the north west of England, more specifically Embleton village, we travel quite the distance. A train swap and a forty-minute cab ride later, our turn-off sign arrives.
Originally an 18th Century farmhouse, Embleton Spa is a vision. Set amongst the Cumbrian Mountains, the skyline of London has nothing on the verdant hills that stand before, beside and around us.
Our hideaway is located between Cockermouth and Keswick, and neither town is in walking distance. We’re isolated without being too remote and thus begins our three-day break. This is a trip for the soul. Everything moves slower out here. You’ll notice it in your foot fall. You’re not so hasty when you’re on a leisurely stroll to anywhere that takes your fancy.
On the terrace of our home away from home, we look out to a mountainous spread punctuated by lush green valleys and peppered with forests and fells. It’s a natural beauty that has inspired an honourable list of 18th and 19th century literaries, including Daniel Dafoe and William Wordsworth.
Out towards the Derwent Valley, we voraciously consume a magnificent panorama of hamlets and isolated farmsteads. It’s little wonder English Literature was – and is – so heavily influenced by the landscape that sits before us. Beatrix Potter is another famous author who has left her mark, albeit a little later than Wordsworth and Dafoe.
Inside the homestead, the illustrious history of our surroundings weaves throughout. Our apartment, Grasmere, is quaint and cottage-like. Exposed brick, muted tones and slanted roofs all add to the rural feel of the stay.
Embleton Spa has seven charming rooms, each with names inspired by local lakes, including Buttermere, Ennerdale and – our own – Grasmere. The mountains of Skiddaw and Whinlatter also claim prominence.
Out here, the land that surrounds you is an important character in the narrative of Embleton, and as we climb stairs and open doors, we arrive at our apartment. Safe to say, we very quickly fell under the spell of this Cumbrian hideaway.
Looking out from Grasmere, Sale Fell stands tall and proud. Exactly opposite the family-run hotel, and a short walk later, we’re at its base. While the accent is a gentle one, the climb’s end is both breath-taking and humbling. Soaring views over Bassenthwaite, Skiddaw and Keswick abound.
Since mornings are all about getting up close and personal with our picture perfect views. The next day we head to Ling Fell for its impressive panorama of the west coast and Scotland. A direct climb from the entry gate to the summit, an ambitious feat to say the least, and our efforts are rewarded. Expect an endless blue skyline of high and low points, taking you all the way to Scotland’s Galloway Hills.
Out here the rolling countryside offers no bounds but if you do feel the urge for some town time, the local bus takes you to and fro. A gentle warning: all timetables should be taken with a pinch of salt. Remember, everything moves a little bit slower out here.
Embleton Spa – Embleton Cockermouth Cumbria CA13 9YA
Words Jasmine Phull a writer by day, an imbiber by night, sipping sours at the bar is all in a day’s work for our resident bar reviewer and travel writer @f_reshprince