The allure of the Lake District has proved too strong for Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne.
Duncan Bannatyne by Lake Windermere – photo courtesy of in-cumbria
The popular entrepreneur, best known for appearing in the hit BBC television series Dragons’ Den, has a well-documented love of the Lakes. And after putting his villa in the south of France on the market, he opted to invest his money in a luxury holiday lodge on the shores of Windermere.
His frequent trips to Fallbarrow Park, near Bowness-on-Windermere, have been well-publicised and now the entrepreneur has taken the advice of his 11-year-old son Tom and bought a three-bedroom lodge at the five-star park.
Bannatyne has been visiting the park for the last 24 years. He said: “I brought my youngest, Tom to Fallbarrow last year for the first time and we were hiring lodges.
“So this year I gave him the choice of buying a lodge at Fallbarrow or a villa in the south of France and he chose Fallbarrow.
“If you’ve got a holiday home in France, you can’t really leave school on a Friday night and come back on a Sunday so he loves the fact that he can come here every weekend.”
The 64-year-old is not alone in shunning popular overseas resorts for holidays a little closer to home, with a reported 7.8 million people opting for a traditional British escape this summer.
An invitation to get wild in a weekend of Bank Holiday action at a leading national park attraction has gone out.
The free event at Lake District Visitor Centre, Brockhole, on the shores of Windermere, is calling on pond dippers, all-age adventurers, live show buffs and even primitive tool throwers to get stuck in.
Two days of heady fun and entertainment are on offer on Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, in Get Wild at Brockhole.
Whether it is taster canoeing sessions, sharing walks and wisdom, bushcraft and survival skills, or street shows courtesy of the Fairly Famous Family, this is the place to be.
Lake District National Park’s events co-ordinator Andrea Hills urged visitors and locals to turn up and experience the expected – and unexpected.
She explained: “This really is a fantastic, free programme with widespread appeal. Irrespective of age or interests, the all-weather itinerary promises a lot of fun for everyone.
“It was hugely successful last year and we’re expecting bumper crowds again. We’re all set for a fantastic day, rain or shine. If people want to chill out and listen to stories, go on to the lake, or a whole lot in between, come and join us.”
The Duchess of Cambridge stayed true to the Scout motto of “Be Prepared” as she mucked in around the campfire at an activity centre for youngsters in the snow-bound Lake District.
Wrapped up against the biting cold, Kate arrived wearing a fleece, green parka-style jacket, dark blue jeans and wellies with a Scout’s red, white and blue neckerchief, tied in a friendship knot.
As snowflakes were blown around the fells above Lake Windermere at the Great Tower activity centre near Newby Bridge, the temperature was estimated to have plummeted to minus five with the wind chill factor.
Kate, five months pregnant, spent about an hour outside with adult scout volunteers and youngsters.
Sporting a jaunty, Chelsea-style, green woollen hat, the Duchess was undeterred by the conditions, plunging her hands into a doughy mixture of flour, water and sugar as she learned how to make “dampers” or “twists” – a campfire treat for children.
Kate, said to be “passionate” about volunteering, helps out occasionally at a Scout group close to her home in North Wales and she joined 24 other adults on a training day to learn scouting skills to pass on to children at their own groups.
The royal sat around an unlit campfire with the other volunteers listening to tips on how to create fire using a flint and cotton wool. There were cheers and claps as the instructor, despite the wind and snow, managed to create a flame.
Lesson over, the volunteers split into groups of five, with Kate learning how to make “twisters” or “dampers”. In the freezing temperatures the Duchess plunged her hands, still wearing her sparkling wedding and engagement rings, into a squidgy mixture of flour, water, oil and sugar.
She kneaded the dough in a bowl for several minutes before they made elongated twists out of the pastry by rubbing blobs of the mixture between their hands. After washing the dough mix off her hands Kate wrapped a twist of the messy mixture around a twig stripped of bark which was placed over the open fire ready to toast.
The volunteers’ efforts had mixed results, with the Duchess laughing and giggling with the others as some of the twisters dropped into the flames. “I’m not sure if these are going to look particularly edible,” Kate laughed.
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge will be near Windermere on the 22nd March
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, is to visit Great Tower Scout Camp in the Lake District on Friday 22nd March.
Kate is a volunteer in the Scout Association and will be joining other adult volunteers who will receive training in how to work …with Cubs and Scouts.
This training will then be used by Kate who will help to look after 24 Cub Scouts, who are participating in a pack holiday event at the 250-acre Scout activity centre which is close to Windermere.
As part of their programme, the Cub Scouts, from Cumbria and Manchester, will get a chance to try out tree-climbing, belaying, outdoor cooking and fire-lighting under the guidance of Kate and other volunteers.
With complimentary golf included for 4 people this luxury ground floor apartment overlooking the first tee at Carus Green Golf Course is sure to appeal to the discerning client who enjoys a round of golf. The 2 bedroom apartment provides modern, contemporary accommodation all on one level, within a short drive of Kendal and Windermere.
National park and ride: Low-carbon breaks in the Lakes
Nigel Thompson uses an electric train, car and bike on a green trip to the Lake District
Wordsworth may well have wandered lonely as a cloud. But if the Cumbrian poet had done his misty meanderings around the Lake District in the early 21st century rather than 200 years previously, it might have been a cloud of petrol fumes the daffodil-dabbler encountered.
England’s biggest National Park – some 885 square miles of utter joy – has a problem. Too many cars. In short, it’s a victim of its own success.
The creation of the National Park in 1951 has, of course, inspired millions of visitors over the years, drawn by the timeless beauty of the fells and lakes.
And around 87% of the 16 million tourists a year arrive by car, choking the narrow roads and bringing the risk of pollution from exhaust fumes.
So, in a £6.9million, four-year initiative, the GoLakes tourist board has started a scheme to get the visitors out of their cars, into a low-emission vehicle, or on to public transport and bikes.
Not ordinary bikes, mind… but electric bikes that give the part-time pedal pusher some much-needed help up the hills. So, to join in the eco enterprise, I headed to the Lake District last autumn with the firm intention of steering clear of a car powered by the internal combustion engine.
That journey from my home in Essex began with a walk to the station, an electric train into London, the Tube to Euston station, and an electric train out of London to the Lakes.
And that Virgin Trains Pendolino service to Oxenholme is especially green too, as it is equipped with regenerative braking, which means that every time the driver applies the brakes, electricity is returned to the national grid.
Consequently, Virgin Pendolino trains generate enough electricity each year to charge 4.5 million mobile phones.
On arriving in Oxenholme, there would of course be no using a taxi to get to my accommodation in Windermere. A short train ride – diesel, but still public transport – saw me to the Cumbrian town’s station then a 20-minute walk brought me to the delightful Rum Doodle B&B. The bed part was a lovely four-poster and the breakfast part was good too. It was named and styled after a 1950s spoof mountaineering book, The Ascent of Rum Doodle, which I bought on Amazon and it is indeed very amusing.
It was a glorious autumn day and the lake was mirror calm as we chugged past various sights including the unusual, circular house on Belle Isle. It was £7.20 very enjoyably spent.
But the purpose of my trip was to test the GoLakes options, so the next morning I made an early start to catch a bus to Ambleside – where there was time for a quick wander around a very pleasant town – and then another bus on to Grasmere. Here, I headed to the Wordsworth Hotel and Spa, having reserved an electric bike.
The Giant machine is a sturdy beast and comes with two battery packs so you would probably be good for at least 30 miles. There are three settings – economy, normal or sport – which offer 25%, 50% and 75% power assistance.
So basically on the lowest, most frugal setting you do 75% of the work and the motor chips in with 25%. On the steeper roads of the Lake District – and there are plenty of those! – you really do need the highest setting.
I had reserved an electric Renault Twizy car for £10 an hour at the Langdale Estate Hotel and Spa in Elterwater and the direct route there meant tackling the Red Bank road with its brutal 25% incline.
Even with the battery going with the full 75% assistance it was eventually more than I could manage and I had to get off and push. Still, coasting on the other side of the hill to Elterwater soothed my thighs, as the bikes are heavy and even pushing one up a 25% slope is hard work.
At the Langdale, I met Andy Dawson, the grounds manager who was getting my car ready, and Dan Visser, the marketing boss who is on the GoLakes committee and is one of the driving forces behind the electric car initiative.
The Twizy is a small two-seater – one behind the other – and there’s no glass in the side windows, so you need a coat on a cool day. The range between charges is about 60 miles and, as with the electric bikes, GoLakes has created a network of charging points around the National Park.
In an emergency you could simply stop at someone’s house and ask for a plug. Some people have been known to do that.
So what’s the £6,690 Twizy like to drive? In short, fantastic fun. It is light, manoeuvrable, surprisingly nippy and virtually silent, which is very strange at first. But that silence means that as you are whizzing around the lakes and fells you hear the sound of sheep, birds and sometimes just the sound of silence. It’s wonderful.
I pushed the Twizy hard, tackling a steep, hairpin pass with no problem at all.
On the instrument panel there is an indicator which shows how much you are draining the battery and, conversely, when you are coasting downhill it displays the charge which is then being returned to it. After zipping around for an hour and a half I still had plenty of charge and if time had permitted I’d have whizzed about for another 90 minutes.
But it would soon be getting dark and I did not want to tackle Red Bank at night – a wise decision as the damp hill was tricky to descend even in diminishing daylight as I gingerly inched down.
Back at Grasmere, as I neared the Wordsworth Hotel to return the bike, I notched up a GoLakes electric bike first – a puncture.
Luckily it was only 200 yards from the hotel, as wheeling the bike with a flat tyre was a real effort. Once the staff at the Wordsworth had worked out how to process the flat-tyre paperwork, I headed back to Ambleside on an open-top service bus, which really blew away the cobwebs. At Ambleside there was time for a couple of locally brewed beers before catching my bus back to Windermere, packing my kit ready for the morning train back home and having a pleasant pub meal at the Elleray.
In the spirit of an ecofriendly trip to the Lake District I had a salad… plenty of greens, you see.