BEING woken by birdsong is an idyllic way to start the day. Even if those birds are ducks begging to be let into your bedroom.
Staying on the shores of Lake Windermere, I found myself opening our sliding doors to six glossy mallards — sadly my husband stopped me inviting them in for breakfast. And what a breakfast they missed out on!
We tucked into sausages and bacon from local farms, perfectly poached eggs and endless rounds of buttery toast, all blissfully uninterrupted by the children, who we had dumped at their grandparents for the weekend.
We were staying in Storrs Hall, a hotel in a gorgeous location just a few yards from Windermere, the largest lake in England.
But despite the hotel’s proximity to it, our visit to the lake would have to wait.
Because while many people head to the Lakes to look at the, um, lakes, we spend most of our holidays there up on the fells.
For the past ten years we have been trying to climb all of the “Wainwrights” — the 214 hills in the Lake District that Alfred Wainwright described in his seven-volume guide to the Lake District.
We’ve got 180 in the bag, most of which we galloped up in our 20s. But the rate has slowed to a snail’s pace since having our two children.
So we reluctantly prised ourselves from our gorgeous suite and drove for half an hour north to Patterdale, where we laced up our boots and set off up Hartsop Dodd, a fell just south of Ullswater.
It turns out that walking up the occasional escalator on my way to work hasn’t been enough to keep me fit. It wasn’t long before I was gasping for breath and wishing I’d made it to the gym once in the past few years.
Fortunately the incredible views over Ullswater — and a constant supply of biscuits — kept me going to the top, and the forecast rain held off while we followed the mighty ridge around.
By the end of the day we’d ticked Stony Cove Pike, Thornthwaite Crag and Gray Crag off our list.
And after all that exertion there was only one thing we needed — sugar, and buckets of it.
We hopped in the car and drove back down along the lake shore to Grasmere, home of the poet Wordsworth — and the best gingerbread in the world.
Crunchy, spicy and half cake, half-gingerbread, Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread was first baked in 1854 — though God knows what it did to people’s teeth back then.
It’s so delicious we had it instead of canapes at our wedding (well I am northern), and it wholly deserves the long queues that snake outside the tiny shop.
If you’re after something savoury, the hotel restaurant has a brilliant restaurant that focuses on ingredients grown and produced locally. We enjoyed beef fillet, trout and a delicious banana souffle, while soaking up incredible views over the lake.
The next morning we squeezed (and there was more squeezing than usual after those feasts) into our wetsuits for a dip in England’s biggest lake.
The suites at Storrs Hall hotel are just a few yards from the shore, so no one had to witness us waddling back.
Each Georgian-style suite is set away from the main hotel, with floor to ceiling windows that look out on to lush woodland.
The clean decor inside matches the natural surroundings, from the rustic wooden furniture to stony bathrooms.
After a paddle in the lake, it wasn’t far to retreat home to our Japanese-style hot tub to warm up.
If swimming seems a bit bracing for you, the hotel has a beautiful motor launch vessel guests can take out, and there is windsurfing, kayaking and more sedate cruises all to be found locally.
We were sad to leave without sampling all the delights of Windermere, but with 30 more Wainwrights to tackle, we’ll definitely be back.
GO: LAKE DISTRICT
STAYING THERE: Rooms at Storrs Hall cost from £200 per night on a bed and breakfast basis. A stay in a Lakeside Suite costs from £595 per night including breakfast and in-room treats. See storrshall.com.