Derwentwater

Derwentwater. Just spectacular

What a treat. The sun came out, the wind dropped and I didn’t need much of an excuse to escape the planned computer updates and head out on some ‘essential guest research’ and walk around Derwentwater. Why haven’t I done this before??

I have walked parts of Derwentwater and even cycled around it as part of the triathlon in the Keswick Mountain Festival, but I’ve not walked the whole way around. Ten miles of flat walking, with plenty of places to stop and admire the spectacular beauty, as well enjoy my lunch in the peace and quiet. Who wouldn’t want to do this?!

From Maple Bank, you can walk to Portinscale, about 2 miles away, to start your walk or you can catch the bus into Keswick, as the bus stop is about 1 minute from our front door. You can also park at the car park beside the Theatre by the Lake, or at the Rugby Club or Football Club for the day, or head to the Great Wood National Trust car park, just outside Keswick. Plenty of options. Walking to Portinscale and going clockwise means you could grab a coffee and brownie first at Harry’s Bean Machine beside the footbridge in Portinscale. Or you can have that as your reward at the end of your walk. Another option is to plan to finish at the Swinside Inn for some fabulous beer and food, either in the beer garden or in the restaurant. And then you have a nice leisurely 40 mins amble back to the House afterwards.

I decided to grab a take-away coffee and croissant in Keswick and then headed off through the town, down to the Theatre and onto the lakeside, going clockwise. We have had quite a bit of rain over the last two weeks, so the lake was quite full, so we headed up into the grounds of the Derwentwater Independent Hostel, along a ‘permissive footpath’, rather than walk along the pavement of the road. We then dropped back down onto the lakeshore just before Lodore Falls Hotel, and from there headed along the path to the Chinese Bridge and the boarded walkway. Once past the estuary the path takes you naturally around the lake beneath Catbells, past Lingholme Kitchen and their gawjus alpacas, down to Nicole End Marina and back into Portinscale.

It was a really magical walk, and we were completely blessed by the weather. At some points, I felt like I was in the middle of a Swallows and Amazons film set. I’ve recommended this walk to many of our guests as a good walk to do to stretch off the legs after a full day climbing upwards, as well as for those days when you just want to stay below the clouds and keep low. I’m so glad that I finally did it. It’s straight forward to follow, and we have laminated pdfs in the House for folks to take with them. And best of all, you don’t need to drive to get there. Just leave your car in our private car park, set yourself up with a good breakfast, and grab a sandwich from the Village Shop in Braithwaite as you head off.

A new year at Maple Bank

Well… what a 2020! We are now a month into 2021 and already things are looking up. Vaccines a plenty! So what’s our game plan here at Maple Bank?

The Head Gardener has a plan and She’s kicked it off already ….. starting with a fire pit and some extra garden furniture. So if you fancy eating your cake or brownie after your day out – with a nice cup of tea – you’re very welcome to rest your ‘pins’ in the Paradise Garden.

Lockdown 1.0 resulted in some outdoor painting whilst the weather was kind to us. I never realised how fiddly and time consuming painting garden furniture could be…. The Head Gardener created two new flower beds and a pond feature, and our guests can now head up to the top of the garden, onto the top road, enjoying two new sets of steps to help them on their way. We also enjoyed some amazing home-grown vegetables thanks to the Head Gardener’s new vegetable troughs. Am soooo looking forward to some more this summer, hopefully including some homegrown strawberries from our multi-levelled strawberry pots. And indoors? The painting continued with some rooms getting a refresh, in addition to their new Smart TVs and boosted WiFi.

House painting continued in Lockdown 2.0, with the dining room having its own retouch in November, along with a fabulous new front door. I never thought I would see the day I would caress a front door, but hey ho. I love it!

My locally-based outdoor explorations began in earnest in Lockdown 1.0, and continued into Lockdown 2.0. This meant that late November found me at the computer, typing up directions and laminating route-maps for guests to take with them on their days out. Also on our website.

And so we come to 2021. Lockdown 3.0 started with some rather unpleasant weather in January, so I had no excuse but to buckle down and get on with my accounts. However, several frosty and snowy days clearly demanded that Tara and I wrapped up and headed out. It’s been simply magical and now I can’t wait for Winter 2021/2022 so I can head out for some winter camping.

Post accounts completion, tax return submitted and a year’s worth of filing sorted, Lockdown 3.0’s house maintenance has started with some upholstery for me, whilst the Head Baker has been busy making Seville Orange Marmalade, and Apple, Rhubarb and Ginger Jam, in readiness for reopening. In addition, the Head Baker and I have had a marvellous time taste-testing some locally-made brownies and tray bakes. The wonderful @Ellscakesandbakes brownies and tray bakes have now been added to the Chief Baker’s own cakes here at Maple Bank, so our guests can continue to enjoy a cheeky wee treat at the end of the day. You can also order brownies and tray bake to be posted home to remind you of your stay in the Lakes, or take some home with you, depending on how long you’re staying.

As for breakfast? Here too, we’ve also been trying out some additions to the breakfast menu. You can now enjoy Hollandaise Sauce with your poached eggs on avocado toast, with or without smoked salmon or bacon or sausages. And scrambled eggs with wilted spinach and pine nuts can also be ordered now, alongside the existing scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. Of course, the full breakfast is still available with a choice of black pudding or haggis, with fried bread or French Toast. Not forgetting you can still enjoy a simple toasted sandwich, with mouth-watering sausages or bacon, bought locally from Thomasons in Keswick, with the amazing bread from The Coffee Kitchen in Cockermouth. Our vegetarian guests are not forgotten either with their own extended menu choices, as well as vegan and gluten-free options.

2020 also brought some more fun times researching local restaurants and pubs, along with those who offer take-ways, should you prefer to have your meal in the dining room. All listed on our website and dog-friendly establishments highlighted as well.

So, if you would like to book your break away at Maple Bank Bed and Breakfast this year just call us on 017687 789 229 or 07494 219 592 or email us at enquiries@maplebank.co.uk Please don’t miss out.

Take care. Stay well. And we look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes

The Head Gardener, The Sausage Lady and wee Tara x

Local walks, easy parking

As the end of August comes into sight, it has dawned on The Head Gardener and I that we have now been open for nearly two months, since lock down was eased in England. And what have those two months looked like?

Well the Lakes have had a mix of weather during July and August, showing us both sides of the meteorological coin: blazing, hot sunshine and plenty of rain as well. And getting out to enjoy the Lake District’s beauty during both extremes has been an interesting challenge for all, especially for first-time visitors to the Lake District.

But one advantage we have here at Maple Bank is the wide range of walks you can enjoy straight from the House. No need to drive. No need to park, or try to find somewhere to park. And if you want to go further afield, then the bus stop is only 2 mins from the front door.

Right behind the house you can walk up through the garden, onto ‘the Shelf’ road and head off behind the How. A short circular loop will bring you back into the village after about 20 mins, and then you can either head back, stop off for a quick libation at one of the pubs in the village, or go for a further loop around the village via Little Braithwaite and the bottom of Barrow, adding about another 35 mins to your stroll.

Fancy something with a little more stretch, then head up Barrow. The start is about 15 mins from the house, and you can either pop up Barrow and then head back down the back, or continue up and around Stile End and Outerside, completing the Coledale Trio in about 3-4 hours. If you fancy a short and lowish walk, then head up to the Coledale Inn, walk past it to end of the road, through the gate and continue up to and around Stile End. And you can choose to pop up to the top of Stile End if you wish.

For something more testing, then you can stroll round the How and then head up Grisedale Pike. That will get your heart pumping and give you some great views – including the Isle of Man on a good day, the Solway Firth, Scotland, the Southern Uplands and the Pennines – not to mention looking down on Bassenthwaite Lake and over to Keswick and Derwentwater.

If you’re up for a whole day’s outing, then why not tick off the full Coledale Round – or the Coledale Horseshoe – as some folks like to call it. You can conquer up to twelve Wainwrights or just go for a few and come back via the mine road back from Force Crag Mine.

Howabout, heading off across the valley and up Skiddaw and walking from the house means you get to avoid the hassle of trying to park somewhere. And you will feel that cold drink in the pub at the end has been well earned.

Need some shade for your pooch, or want to avoid some rain drops, then head up into Whinlatter from the House. Several routes will take you up into the forest and you’ll also see some great views from up there as well. Why not stop off at The Gallery afterwards on your way back and enjoy a cuppa and toastie as well.

Got Catbells in your sights? Then don’t fret about the parking. Walk through Braithwaite Village, past the Swinside Inn and up Catbells. It’s just under an hour to walk to the base of Catbells, and then you can either come back via Stair and the Swindside Inn, or head down to Derwentwater and refuel at the Lingholme Kitchen cafe before heading back.

The list is endless. Catch the bus to Buttermere and Lorton or head down to the Eastern Fells, in between Thirlmere and Patterdale. And the Seatoller bus will take you into the Borrowdale Valley. Either direction means you don’t need to move the car once you’ve arrived and unpacked. And if you email Daphne at the Village Shop, and order your sandwiches for your day out, then you’re basically all sorted. Plenty of Wainwrights to tick off your list. Plenty of flat or high routes to choose from.

Come and see us soon.

Kate, Ann and wee Tara

The Lakes in May

I write this blog in such strange times. The Lake District has been amazingly beautiful during the last few months as the weather has been so fabulous, but obviously very quiet. Left alone to reflect on its own beauty in the lakes themselves, as we all live in lock down. So what have we been up to at Maple Bank?

Well, the Head Gardener has been extremely busy in the garden. We haven’t really had any rain for about seven weeks, so She has been in Her complete element. Out for several hours every day. Pottering, potting and re-potting. We have loads of bulbs in the garden and in our many pots, so we’ve really enjoyed having the flowers in the House throughout March and April. Once finished, all the spring bulbs in pots have been replanted into the back garden for next year.

We then got the wonderful news that one of the Head Gardener’s favourite nurseries was happy to deliver, which produced a HUGE smile. As a result we have had several deliveries over the last few weeks, as have a few folk in the village as well. This has included some fabulous plants to fill up the garden for years to come: holly-hocks, delphiniums, and granny bonnets to name just a few (and I now know what they look like too!). I’ve also been able to squeeze in some Hebe’s, which I love.

But my truly favourite purchases have been the geraniums. And we now have lots and lots and LOTS of pots of these and I can’t wait to see them all come into bloom over the next week or so. A cheerful happy flower which I fell in love with straight from the pages of one of my favourite childhood books: The Little White Horse.

And what have I been up to? Well the early good weather meant that I painted the garden shed – am really pleased to have got to this – as well as lugging endless watering cans up the garden for the aforementioned newly planted flowers …. and then we bought a hose extension – whoop whoop!!!. Also relocated some paving stones, fiddled with a few pots, and seemed to have dug endless holes for relocating plants…. I’ve also decorated my own room, as well as acquainting myself with some really exciting woodwork around the house… One huge bonus has been that I’ve also been able to spend some time decorating the kitchen which we have both found very satisfying. Quite a bit of my time has also been spent volunteering at our local village shop, so it could remain open for those at -risk groups in the village, as the owner is in an at-risk group herself.

And finally, some new cake-baking recipes have been well and truly researched by both of us. I initially tried to stick to the healthy oats-based recipes, but this didn’t last long as my waistline can show. We have found some really scrummy recipes to share with you. But when will this be?

So as of today, it seems as if we might be able to reopen in early July. We will only be opening up half the rooms so that we can rotate room occupancy to manage our cleaning regimes and social distancing in the dining room.

For group bookings, we will shut the house for three rooms or more.

Best to phone direct to find out availability – and to get the best prices.

If you want to read more about what we are doing to ensure that you have a relaxing and safe holiday with us at Maple Bank, then please do read our COVID-19 page and also During Your Stay page for more details.

We are really looking forward to welcoming you back to Maple Bank and the Lake District. But for now, stay safe, and look after ‘you and yours’.

See you son

Kate, Ann and wee Tara

Pure Lakes – handmade, natural skincare products

I’m very excited to announce that we are now stocking Pure Lakes natural skincare products in our rooms for our guests to use – and our first few guests of 2020 have absolutely loved it!

Pure Lakes was founded by Sandra and Iain Blackburn and has been producing award-winning, natural skincare for 10 years.

In search of a product that worked for sensitive skin Sandra, a trained chemist, combined her knowledge of science with pure, plant-based ingredients to formulate her own skincare products.

Claire & Gareth McKeever were among Pure Lakes’s earliest customers. Gareth and Claire bought the business in 2016 and continue to work closely with Iain and Sandra in ensuring the founding principles of the company are fundamental in every decision. For more on their values please see here.

Claire says, “Gareth and I had both used Pure Lakes products for many years and effective plant-based skincare is something we are passionate about.” 

“We are excited to have the opportunity to build on the high quality, sustainable and eco-friendly foundations laid by Iain and Sandra over the past decade”.

My mum, Ann, and I are really excited about using Pure Lakes in our guest bedrooms as their products are excellent. In addition, the products are made in the Lakes and they have a very strong sustainable policy throughout their production and packaging processes. As someone who has always had quite sensitive skin, I have find their approach to sensitive skin very refreshing and effective.

We stock the Heritage Range here at Maple Bank for our guests to use in their bathrooms. I chose this range as the fragrances are lovely for all genders. The packaging artwork is also particularly charming as it uses landscape scenes of the Lakes painted by Claire’s Granny. Whilst my guests won’t be able to see the packaging in their rooms, they can see them – and other Pure Lakes products – at ‘Love the Lakes’ in Keswick and ‘The Linden Tree’ in Cockermouth.

We also have the insect repellent, after-sun lotion and foot gel available for our guests to use.

You can also buy online at https://www.purelakes.co.uk/

Some specific details about their production process.

Ingredients – Pure Lakes make all of their products using natural, bio-degradable raw ingredients.  

Packaging – the packaging is either from recycled material or is recyclable/reusable in itself.

Where possible, Pure Lakes try to use glass jars, but where these are not appropriate they use plastic made from a biopolymer, one that is also fully recyclable and which is a by-product of making sugar, used in place of ethylene or oil.

Waste Generation and Disposal – Pure Lakes recycle or reuse all cardboard, paper, glass and plastic. 

Pure Lakes offer a Bulk Refill Scheme to the Hospitality Industry to enable them to re-use bottles thereby cutting down on waste. This is why we at Maple Bank have the larger 250ml bottles in your bathroom for your complimentary use and we ask that you leave the bottles behind for the next guest.

All Pure Lakes’ finished products are bio-degradable.

Product Miles and Impact of Transport – where possible Pure Lakes use of UK suppliers for all of their raw materials and packaging.

Energy requirement – this is relatively low and they are continually investigate energy sources that have a positive effect on the environment.