Mountain Memories.

Coming for a few days to the Lake District and fancy doing something different? I can highly recommend checking out ‘Mountain Memories’ and see what they can organise for you.

My first guests this year decided to book an afternoon paddle-boarding. A mixed group of abilities from novices to accomplished, but under the watchful eye of Justin, these guys had a marvellous time. It was a cracking day to go out on Derwentwater, the weather was mild, not too hot, not windy – great conditions for everyone to enjoy themselves. Especially as they had had to cancel the Sunset Canoe trip earlier in the week due to too much wind.

The afternoon session started in Great Wood Car Park, with everyone being kitted out in wetsuits and jackets, with the added bonus of footwear, and the mandatory buoyancy aids. A short walk down to the shoreline carrying their boards and paddle and then the afternoon really kicked off. In total they were on the water for about two and half hours, paddling back down to Keswick and around the little islands, playing Swallows and Amazons. It was such a success that two boards have since been bought so the fun can continue at home.

The group couldn’t speak highly enough of Justin – who set up Mountain Memories – and we didn’t tell him beforehand that he had a former Clipper participant and a Yachtmaster Instructor in his group. They all thought he was an excellent instructor and great company.

Once back on shore, some of the crew went for a dip and enjoyed some wild swimming to end off the day. They had also taken some cake with them and we sent them off with some thermos of coffee, hot chocolate and hot ribena. Just perfect after a day on the water.

But you’re not restricted to just paddle boarding with ‘Mountain Memories’. Justin is qualified to instruct in many outdoor pursuits so you could go ghyll-scrambling, canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, rock climbing, learn some bushcraft, book him for a guided walk or hike out for the day, head up to Via Ferrata to go exploring on a Mine Climb at Honister Slate Mine or simply enjoy an evening Sunset Canoe trip out on Derwentwater. Plenty to choose from. Why not check out Mountain Memories or give Justin a call.

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

Breakfasts at Maple Bank

As we start to finalise our post-pandemic preparations around the House, in readiness for when we can reopen, my thoughts have turned naturally to breakfast.

ne thing I love about breakfast when I go away is that it is leisurely, washed down with several cups of coffee, and it sets me up for the day. And the bonus is all those little extras which you might not necessarily have every day at home. So how do we continue to offer this post-lockdown, so that you can still enjoy your breakfast?

We will only be booking up to three rooms at any one time (or four if one is a group booking) and so our tables will be laid out in the dining room as tables of four, at least 2m apart from each other. This will mean that each table will have its own set of condiments – including sauces and mustards – as well as homemade marmalade and jams, rather than you choosing from one set on the dresser. If you order fresh fruit salad , there will be a selection waiting for you on your own table. Our yogurts are individually served in pots already.

When you come into the dining room, there will be a sanitiser available for you on the dresser for each time you use the toaster or help yourself to the range of Teapigs teas.

We have a charming hatchway between the kitchen and dining room, where we’ll serve your tea and coffee for you to collect after you’ve arrived in the dining room, along with your choice of fruit juices. And the same for your chosen hot breakfasts when they are ready. This way we can reduce the amount of people moving around in the dining room.

We will continue to ask you to choose your breakfast time, preferably at half hour intervals, so once you’re down, you can just relax. Your table is spaced well apart from the others, your meals will be served hot at separate times, and I’ll clear away the dirty dishes etc once you’ve all finished.

Finally, we’ll continue to ask you to pre-order your breakfast the night before, as this will continue to help us manage our waste levels. This also means that you get to choose something different everyday, from homemade luxury porridge with a choice of milks, to scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, to the full Cumberland breakfast. And if you would prefer avocado smash with poached eggs one day and cereals the next, then that’s all perfect. Your breakfast, your choice.

If you want to find out where we source our products from locally, then have a look on our website for our suppliers. And we will continue to buy from them to support other local businesses.

We are really looking forward to welcoming you back to Maple Bank and the Lake District. And my mum’s chilli jam – gawjus on a hot breakfast – will be just what you’ve been waiting for.

For further information about our preparations please see our Covid-19 page and our ‘During your stay’ page.

See you soon.

Kate, Ann and wee Tara