Ruskin, Ransome & The Romantics in the Southern Lake District

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Duration: 5 nights
Interests: Heritage Tours

The Lake District has been the inspiration for writers, poets and artists for generations. Celebrate the bicentenary of patron and critic John Ruskin; the inspiration of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons; and the legacy of the romantic poet William Wordsworth.

Holiday Highlights

  • Dove Cottage (closed for refurbishment in March, alternative visit to the Wordsworth Trust's library with talk and film about Dove Cottage)
  • Ruskin Museum
  • Brantwood

What’s included

  • High quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our country house
  • Full programme of excursions and visits
  • The guidance and services of our knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, ensuring you get the most from your holiday
  • All transport on touring days on a comfortable, good-quality mini-coach
  • All admissions to places of interest that form part of your holiday itinerary, except for entrance costs to English Heritage & National Trust properties

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDFs for each holiday.

Download Trip Notes

You can check in to your room from 2.30pm onwards (1pm for better rooms). Please join us for afternoon tea.


Admire Lakeland’s autumnal splendour at the popular beauty spot of Tarn Hows before making the short journey to Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin in his later years. Here we will learn more about this eminent Victorian – artist, writer, critic, patron of the pre-Raphaelites and thinker – in this bicentenary year of his birth. We’ll then tour Coniston Water on the famous Victorian Steam Gondola, weather-permitting. You'll be able to touch base with your inner swallow or amazon as we learn about Arthur Ransome’s associations with the area and see the landscape that Ruskin so greatly admired.


Our morning starts with a visit to Hawkshead before continuing to Blackwell, a stunning Arts & Crafts house on the shores of Windermere. In the afternoon, we shall continue northbound to Rydal and Grasmere, two Lakeland villages tightly bound to William Wordsworth. His gravestone can be found in St Oswald's churchyard in Grasmere, right beside the famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop!


Today begins with a visit to Crosthwaite Church in Keswick, the final resting place of Romantic poet Robert Southey, and a previous appointment of Canon Rawnsley, co-founder of the National Trust. We shall then make our way into the town of Keswick, walking first to Friar's Crag, a classic Derwentwater viewpoint. There will be free time for you to explore the town further before we continue to the mysterious Castlerigg Stone Circle and finally Aira Force.


Departure after a leisurely breakfast.


Monk Coniston

Wrapped in manicured gardens with stunning views over Coniston Water, Monk Coniston combines country house grandeur and romantic, gothic-style charm with contemporary touches to great effect among the rugged landscapes of the Lake District. Rocky mountains and grassy fells loom all around this handsome home, once owned by Beatrix Potter, and more latterly turned hikers’ hotel and owned by the National Trust. Fell-flecked scenery unfurls from the windows of the bedrooms in the main house, adjoining cottage and counting house. While the setting remains traditional and the grand entrance recalls a traditional era, the interiors have been swept into the present with bold patterns and comfy fabrics. Beyond the house, trails from the doorstep set off to explore the Lake District. Climb famous summits including Bow Fell, the Langdale Pikes and the Old Man of Coniston. Bag a series of Wainwright summits. Alternatively, slip into the beautiful valleys and stroll picturesque lakeside paths in search of secret corners such as Cathedral Cove in Little Langdale.

 

Need to know

Important Covid-19 steps we have taken for guest safety: Please Read

As we slowly reopen in the wake of the Coronavirus lockdown, our country house stays are set to be organised a little differently; extra steps have been taken to keep our guests, house teams and leaders safe while we return to action. We ask all our guests to respect the measures put in place.

Initially the overall capacity of the houses has been reduced. Guests must wear face coverings in public spaces. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, we have taken the necessary steps to space out furniture and seating in public areas. In addition, a one-way system will be in place around the house. Adequate signage will be displayed to support the direction of travel to be followed by guests and house teams.

As a temporary measure, we will not be servicing rooms during a stay. Extra tea, coffee, milk, and toiletries will be made available on request for all guests. It is recommended that guests bring their own toiletries for the duration of their stay. We have removed all non-essential and reusable items from our rooms for the meantime including cushions, hairdryers, bathrobes, bed throws, and printed materials to reduce the number of items that need to be disinfected. Hairdryers will be available on request. Clean towels will be available on request. We will though be increasing the frequency of cleaning in our public areas providing particular attention to frequently touched items including door handles and handrails.

For now, there is no cream tea on arrival day. We have also adapted our food offering to remove all buffets and open food items. Different sittings may be required for breakfast and dinner due to the occupancy and size of the house. Picnic lunches will now be pre-ordered the night before from an order form in the room. The bar in each country house will be open, and we will be offering a table service for drinks. At this time there is no, or only a very limited, evening social programme available. Outdoor swimming pools at those houses that have them will re-open throughout August, except at Freshwater Bay House, where the pool will remain closed for 2020. Indoor swimming pools will remain closed.

For more information and to see all the steps taken, visit our page on how house stays will be adapted.

Rooms

Tea & coffee-making facilities, TV, Hairdryer, Toiletries, Wi-Fi

Stay in the smartly presented rooms in the main house. With 32 rooms, Monk Coniston has plenty of space and there’s a range of Good, Better and Best Rooms to choose from. Rooms with a view are well worth the extra spend as you’ll be overlooking the gardens or the lake.  Our favourite is Room 9 on the first floor, which contains some of the original features from when it was first built in 1885, a striking sailboat-patterned wallpaper and opens on to beautiful views of the gardens and fields that slope down to the shore of Coniston Water.

All ‘Good’ rooms are ensuite and furnished to a high standard. There are also several ‘Better’ Rooms that are either larger or have a desirable view, a more luxurious mattress and larger television – upgrade your stay for just an extra £15-25 per person per night. You can choose a specific room for an extra £30 per room, subject to availability. Upgrade supplements still apply.

Facilities

Free Wi-Fi, boot room and drying room, extensive garden, lounge, bar, Lakeland barn for activities, library and board games to borrow

After a day exploring the Lake District, return to the house. Stroll through the extensive grounds with their putting green and croquet lawn and uncover the hidden walled garden on the hill behind the house. Take a turn around the National Trust nature trail and look out for the fabulous, rare mature trees. Stumble on the small secret folly stood quietly among the bluebells when they’re out and the lush green grass when they’re not. Catch up with fellow guests in the bright and spacious lounge or grab a drink from the airy bar and wander down the garden to the bench overlooking Coniston Water for the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner – you might even spot the restored steam yacht Gondola cruising the five-mile length of the lake. After hours, duck into the converted Lakeland barn with its exposed beams and rustic chandelier for evening activities and skittles.

Food & Drink

As at all our country houses, holidays are full board, from afternoon tea served as a welcome treat through that evening’s meal to a hearty breakfast on the day of departure. Lunch is a chance to stock up on our famous picnic snacks. Food at Monk Coniston is varied and tasty and has a strong emphasis on ingredients from the area and seasonal produce. Once a week the bright dining room with its giant fireplace and oversized mirror hosts a Local Food Night, when, over a sociable evening, you might try a five-course feast of regional flavours. From a cup of Monk Coniston walled garden vegetable soup to a Wabberthwaies Cumberland sausage – the only Cumberland sausage to have a royal warrant and to be served on Concorde – to twelve-hour slow cooked Cumbrian lamb and Ravenglass crab and Morecambe Bay shrimp cakes, the kitchen puts out the best of the Cumbrian countryside. Look out too for the Kendal Mint cheesecake among the assiette of deserts.

Accessibility

For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865

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Getting to Monk Coniston

Find out more about this location including travel details and room types.

More Information

Alban O’Brien

Alban has spent a lifetime sharing his enthusiasm for literature with people of all ages: pupils in secondary schools, trainee teachers in a Faculty of Education and since 2012, a great many HF guests as well. He describes the three pillars of his life as his family, his football team and Shakespeare.

He also has a passion for travel and history, for mountains and moorland, for lakes and lochs, for landscapes and seascapes – as well as for HF leadership in Britain and Europe. After many years holidaying with HF as a walking guest, he is keen to ensure that those who travel with him enjoy their time together, explore new and interesting places and discover the fascinating stories always to be found there.

“Excellent. An impressive range of knowledge and a real love of the area and its history.”

 

Guest Reviews

Duration:
5 nights
Interests:
Heritage Tours

5 nights from 0pp

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