In January 2011 Beth & Steve Pipe upped sticks and did what most people dream of – they left behind their “normal” lives in Hampshire and gambled it all on a new life in the place of Steve’s youth – beautiful South Cumbria. They started a blog – ‘Cumbrian Rambler’ so their families could follow their adventures and before long a writing career was born. Their first book Historic Cumbria Off the Beaten Track was published in October 2015 – it received excellent reviews and was shortlisted for the Lakeland Book of the Year Award. Other books have followed.
The Cumbrian Ramblers delight in exploring hidden corners of the UK, finding fun things to do – usually on a budget – and sharing them with the world. They’ve explored from Lands End to John O’Groats and are happiest when armed with a flask of tea and some sarnies and heading off on another adventure.
As Beth says “I’ve nothing against the rest of the world, I’m sure it’s really nice, but there are so many incredible things we can see and do right on our doorstep. People travel from the other side of the world to see things we either miss or take for granted. The UK has so much to offer and you don’t need to hang around airports, apply for visas or get any painful inoculations.”
Here are their ideas for things to do in winter around here!
‘Most folks come and visit us during the summer months but there is so much to see and do during the winter that it would be a crying shame to miss out on it all.
Here are 5 fab ideas for things to do during your winter holidays in the Lake District.
1. See an inversion – these don’t happen every day but when they do they will blow your mind. You need to be up high, but that doesn’t mean you need to head off on a long winter hike. To see one keep your eye on social media and the weather forecast – you’re looking for a very still, clear, night – any wind and the inversion will disappear. Inversions are basically fog in the valleys and clear fell tops and your best bet for seeing one is at the top of Kirkstone Pass where there’s a very handy car park – you’ll need to be up and about early though as most inversions are long gone by lunchtime.
2. Visit a Christmas market – if you’re here during November and December look on the local news sites for a Christmas market where you can stock up on pressies for all the family and support a whole range of local producers. I’m a particular fan of the one at Yew Tree Barn in near Grange-over-Sands, but there are others scattered right across the county. Last year I got pretty much all my pressies at Christmas markets – including food, beer, liqueurs, books, a hand carved wooden bowl and a beautiful pair of alpaca gloves.
3. Take a lake cruise – there are boats running throughout the year on Windermere and Ullswater and there is nothing quite like a cruise along the lake on a crisp winter’s day. Many of the boats have cosy indoor seating, often with a bar, where you can cosy up and enjoy the view in comfort. Of course if you’re a little more hardy then grab your big coat and go and sit out on deck with a mug of hot chocolate – the views are spectacular, especially if there’s a dusting of snow on the tops of the fells.
4. Visit a museum – if your winter weather turns out to be rather more soggy than crisp then go and visit one of the many museums in the county. Amongst many others there’s Beatrix Potter World in Bowness, Dove Cottage for all things Wordsworth in Grasmere, the quirkily fabulous Pencil Museum in Keswick and the rather wonderful Kendal Museum where Alfred Wainwright was once honorary curator and where many of the old exhibits still have labels written in his distinctive handwriting.
5. Do something daring! Adventure doesn’t stop in the Lake District just because it’s winter – oh no – there are a whole host of activities you can sign up for to hurl yourself into the outdoors. (Note – please contact guides and providers ahead of your visit – in most cases all relevant equipment is provided but worth checking just in case). Guided walks of the fells will offer an unforgettable experience and you can relax, safe in the knowledge that your guide will get you back down safely. Swim the Lakes offer a range of courses throughout the year to introduce you to wild swimming, and Distant Horizons offer everything from Kayaking to ice climbing if you really want to stretch yourself.
Of course, if all of that sounds a bit too energetic then there are a dozens of pubs throughout the Lake District where you can be sure of a warm welcome, great food, good local beer and a roaring log fire.
Honestly, why are you waiting? get out there and enjoy our fabulous winter!!
Beth & Steve Pipe, Cumbrian Rambler Facebook: @CumbrianRambler