A Weekend at Another Place, The Lake
It is widely acknowledged in the adventure world that many people returning from expeditions and adventures will experience “post-expedition blues”. The shock of leaving behind a world of exciting escapades, natural beauty, and clear purpose in day-to-day life can leave you feeling lost and down.
However, I seem to have found the antidote in Another Place, The Lake. Situated on the shores of Ullswater in the north Lake District, this hotel offers the perfect combination of comfort and luxury, paired with the captivating rugged scenery of this far-flung corner of the country - exactly what I was in need of after almost half a year in a tent. If that wasn’t enough to distract me from the return to “normal life”, there are adventures a-plenty awaiting on the doorstep, meaning it would not be hard for me to fill my time.
Turning onto the hotel’s sweeping driveway, we could just discern the moonlit lake to one side, a few grazing cows disinterestedly raising their heads on the other. Overhead, a canopy of glittering stars welcomed us to our rural retreat.
It’ll be no surprise to anyone who knows me that the first thing on our girls’ weekend agenda was dinner. As we were both quite tired from busy weeks, we opted to have dinner in the hotel’s more low-key restaurant, The Living Space. Though the atmosphere was casual and relaxed, the menu was full of bold and appetising options. Likewise, the wonderfully extensive gin menu kept Emma and I occupied for quite a while.
Armed with our drinks, we eventually settled on a feast of portobello mushroom chips, calamari and Asian crispy duck salad. Our appetites sated, we returned to our room and promptly snuggled into bed, a mug of hot chocolate our final treat before sleep beckoned.
The following morning I was out of bed as soon as I woke up. After arriving in the dark the night before, I couldn’t wait to feast my eyes upon the view from our window. I was not disappointed: the early morning sun was just peeping up above the hills, casting its warm light over the lake and into our room. Below me, the hotel grounds sloped towards the water, a mixture of beautifully tended gardens and enticing open land. Much to my delight, I could see a few hotel guests already outside with their dogs. Naturally I made a mental note to track down the pooches later for a cuddle.
Leaving the curtains open so I could take in the mountain view whenever I wished, I hopped back into bed for a cup of coffee with Emma before we made our way down to breakfast. This was something I was quite excited about as I’d heard there was a DIY waffle station. Sure enough, set up on the side were a couple of impressive cast iron waffle makers, portions of batter neatly lined up for guests to help themselves to.
A generous amount of food consumed between us, Emma and I turned our attention to the day’s activities. We had a few hours before our stand-up paddleboarding session on the lake so decided to go for a wander around the hotel’s grounds. We grabbed the flask in our room that the hotel provided, filled it up with fresh coffee from reception and made our way out into the hotel’s sprawling 18 acres of grounds, gradually meandering down to the waterfront and private beach.
Despite it being an autumn morning, the sunshine kept us warm enough to lounge in the lakeside hammock while we drank our coffee. Watching the way the leaves above us played in the wind and cast dancing shadows on the intertwined roots of the trees, it would have been easy to think it was still summer. I didn’t really mind that the seasons had moved on though; the Lake District is very well-suited to the rich colours of autumn and all around were vibrant bursts of red and orange as the trees donned their seasonal outfits.
Before long, it was time to make our way to the Sheep Shed for our paddleboarding lesson. As the second largest lake in this National Park, Ullswater was an exciting paddling prospect for me.
It was a gusty afternoon, but under our instructor’s patient guidance it didn’t take long for everyone to gain the confidence to go on a short adventure around the lake. Not quite ready to return to land, we found a sheltered bay and tested our balance with some yoga poses… Some more successfully than others! Eventually it was time to reassemble on the hotel’s private beach, satisfied at the progress made and a healthy dose of post-exercise endorphins coursing their way around our bodies.
Having spent a few hours on the water, we decided that now it was time to go in the water. Ditching our wetsuits, we settled on the slightly more relaxing option of the swimming pool and hot tub. We almost felt like we were still outside; two of the walls are floor-to-ceiling windows, providing sensational panoramic views across Ullswater and the surrounding fells. The outdoor Canadian hot tub is equally stunning, the relaxing experience heightened by the contrast of the cool autumn air with the warm water we soaked in.
By late afternoon it was time for me to abandon Emma while I ventured to The Swim Club for the ultimate - and definitely well-earned - indulgence: an hour long full-body massage. Having spent almost the entirety of the last year kayaking intensively, a luxurious hour of having my weary, exhausted muscles pampered was the pièce de résistance of the weekend.
An hour later, I floated back to Emma in a daze of essential oils and relaxed muscles. There was now only one thing left on my mind: dinner. Our busy day and all the time spent outside meant we had worked up an appetite, and there was no better place to go to remedy this than the hotel’s Rampsbeck Restaurant. Our plates arrived, adorned with silky burrata, tender pork belly and sumptuous lamb, followed by my all-time favourite combination of salted caramel and pistachio ice cream. A fitting end to a superb day.
The next morning we woke to grey skies and the threat of rain. Luckily this didn’t hinder our plans for the morning. After another delicious breakfast we returned to the Sheep Shed, this time for a morning of kayaking. You may think that after a five-month kayaking expedition I may never want to go near a kayak again, but it was the opposite. Being able to unite one of my favourite sports with one of my favourite places in the world, and getting to share it all with my best friend, was a truly wonderful thought.
As we paddled around the lake, the dark skies overhead would occasionally give way to reveal glimpses of blue. Simultaneously, a burst of sunlight would break through the clearing in the cloud, creating a patchwork of bright and dark over the muted tones of the autumn hillsides. Ullswater zig-zags its way for nine miles between the fells and as we followed the bends of the lake, the views ahead opened up and it was possible to recognise the broad plateau summit of Helvellyn.
Eventually, the weather prevailed. We retreated to the beach as the first drops of rain began to fall, grateful for our waterproof gear and spraydecks. The bleak weather mirrored our mood as we realised that our weekend had come to a close and it was time to return south; in just those few days, Another Place, The Lake had welcomed us with open arms and made us feel a sense of belonging. With its homely touches, attentive staff, incomparable location and adventure opportunities in abundance, it’s somewhere I can see myself returning to as often as possible.
Another Place, The Lake Watermillock | Ullswater | Lake District | CA11 0LP | Tel: 01768 486442
Pricing Doubles (B&B) are available from £160 and family suites (B&B) from £270.
Escape to the Lake offer includes a two-night stay with dinner at The Living Space and Rampsbeck Restaurant. From £169 in winter, £199 in summer. Sunday to Thursday only.