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Mark Holdcroft has just retired as the Managing Director of Lake District Lodge Holidays. Married to Paula, Mark first owned a lodge and then developed the business. Before he headed off into the sunset, we asked him to share some with us around and about his hometown of Windermere. 

“We’re lucky enough to live in Windermere, so can head straight out of my front door to explore the many pubs, bars and shops of the village, or further afield head down Lake Road to Bowness and the lakeshore. 

Homeground, Windermere

One of my favourite places to go for a coffee, a cake or homemade everything is Homeground in the centre of Windermere village. It serves fantastic coffee, and light bites, cakes, soups and salads. Everything is top quality and there’s a great atmosphere too.

When I’m going out with my wife Paula, for a special celebration, we’ll treat ourselves to dinner at the nearby Lindeth How hotel, and it’s a lovely spot for a special meal or afternoon tea. It’s a historic hotel, in the Arts and Crafts design and was owned by a certain Beatrix Potter. They do fine dining, have 2 AA rosettes, and the bars and snugs are really cosy, with fantastic views over the lake below. We can walk home from here too! 

On a day off, you’ll often find me with a few pals doing a round at Windermere Golf Club. I love this place…  it was voted the best golf club in the South Lake District, with fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, a really friendly atmosphere, a nice bar offering breakfasts, lunches and snacks, and a relaxed approach to dress code. A great place to unwind and have a couple of beers after a round of golf. 

Another more unusual venue in the centre of Bowness, is a place more enjoyed by my wife and her girlfriends, but good fun for a special, informal occasion: BahaBowness. They have live music, great cocktails, and really different menu choices – they call it ‘Pacific Rim’ food, so kind of a fusion between Thai, and pan-Asian street food. They also do a very different Sunday Roast. I’ve not tried out the karaoke booth yet, I must admit!  

Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley

More my kind of place is a ten-minute drive from Windermere is the village of Staveley. Here I love visiting the Hawkshead Brewery {not in the village of Hawkshead as you might imagine – although that is where it started from.} The beer, all brewed in Cumbria, is an eclectic mix of beers inspired by the flavoursome hops of the new world, and classic European styles and flavours. They occasionally serve a type of ‘Cumbrian tapas’ which is all sorts of tasty nibbles, from Cumberland sausage to black pudding, local breads and olive oils. The atmosphere is great, really buzzing and friendly.  The whole of the Millyard at Staveley is packed with brilliant local businesses: Wilf’s Café, More Bakery, Wheelbase and other small businesses. The Eagle and Child further up town by the river is a great traditional pub with home-cooked food too. 

An easy local walk right by the lakeshore is Cockshott Point, which you can reach from the Glebe on the water’s edge, and walk through some woodland, and down through to Windermere Marina, always good for a bit of boat-spotting.  Another good one to get a bit of height is up to School Knott – at the back of Windermere village, and you’ll see the full lake below you. Further up from Windermere Station is the classic Orrest Head walk – a 30-minute amble up hill, with breathtaking views the full length of Windermere. This was the first walk that inspired AW Wainwright, and remains one of my favourites today.”

School Knott Tarn, Windermere