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Cumbrian Village Review: South Cumbria

Reston Scar overlooking Staveley, South Lakes

It’s the start of a new year and with it comes many more new adventures. That’s why we’ve travelled across two south Cumbrian villages and the market town of Keswick to see what they have on offer.

So let’s celebrate the new year by travelling and exploring places we may never have thought about visiting before.

Staveley, South Lakes

Kicking off the list we have Staveley (pictured above), a village tucked in between the popular tourist destinations of Kendal to the south and Windermere to the north.

The village is surrounded by three natural protruding hills that tower over Staveley which name translates to ‘field of staffs’ because historically the pikes forests were heavily felled by the woodworking industry.

Most people that come to the Lake District are usually outdoors types and if that’s your thing then Staveley has an abundance of wet woodland, walks and hikes up pikes for you to choose for such as, Beck Mickle, craggy plantation and Reston Scar.

Fear not if this isn’t your idea of relaxation because Staveley is home to the Lakes biggest brewery, Hawkshead.

Hawkshead Brewery has been a staple in the Lakes for over two decades after starting up in a barn outside the village of Hawkshead.

It has now become a national name and they produce 2.3 million pints of craft beer a year nationwide.

The front of Hawkshead Brewery and beer hall situated on back lane in Staveley

The Brewery offers beer tours, a bottle shop where you can buy their eclectic mix of beers, a bar with twenty beer pumps to choose from with flavours such as Hawkhead, red, bitter and pale as well as a merch shop.

(Left) the bottle shop offering beers, bitters and botanical spirits.

(Right) the Merch shop which offer beer decanters, bottle openers, hoodies and more

The upstairs of the brewery hosts a seating area, pool table, projector for football matches and karaoke in a stripped down cosy cabin inspired decor making you comfortable to kick back, relax and perhaps tuck into their Cumbrian inspired menu all with fresh local produce.

Hawkshead’s cosy seating area

If you’ve given up meat and alcohol for Veganuary/ Dry January, then chances are you won’t find yourself in Hawkshead brewery but you may find yourself next door at More?

An artisanal bakery that offers decadent desserts, handcrafted coffee, baked goods and well.. More?

The outside of More? situated just next door to Hawkshead brewery

We recommend their pain aux raisin pastry as it was like nothing we’d ever tasted before.

Unlike the ones you get from the supermarket that are often stodgy, these had a crunchy flakey outside and a soft buttery and creamy custard taste on the inside. They had a fair amount of options for vegans, CBD drinks for those of you trying to stay away from the hooch, locally made sauces and jams as well as authentic italian baked goods and artisanal freshly baked bread to buy.

Ordering station at More? With all the delicious treats and bakes on offer

Overall we are giving Staveley a 9/10 review, it’s a quaint village that has some quite remarkable local business.

The environment is more peaceful in comparison to its neighbouring busy tourist destinations of Kendal and Windermere and the walking routes are easily accessible from the centre of the village.

The countryside road with cottages either side leading to Reston Scar

We're only knocking off one point because, beyond the businesses mentioned, there aren't many other places to go visit that aren't walking trails, pubs or places to eat. Grasmere, Central Lakes

The loveliest spot that man hath ever found according to poet William Wordsworth is the next place for our village review. Nestled between Helm Crag and Silver How is the lovely little village of Grasmere, world famous for both Wordsworth and ginger bread.

Helm Crag overlooking the north side of Grasmere

Grasmere is home to one of the smaller Lakes in the county and takes only 3.7 miles to walk round the water, perfect for those that prefer a short stroll.

However, if you want to tackle higher ground then the walk round Helm Crag and Silver How will give you more of a challenging hike and offer some beautiful scenery overlooking Grasmere village.

If walks and hikes are of no interest to you but art is then fear not! Grasmere is home to over five art galleries and beautiful buildings like wordsworth house, dove cottage, St Oswald's church and the Grasmere Gingerbread church Cottage.

One of the five art galleries, beck steps situated in the centre of the village

These galleries predominantly feature landscape and nature artworks so you can soak up all the essence of the Lake District even if you're on a day trip.

Going to Grasmere without trying the gingerbread would be sacrilegious. So even if you're just there for the day exploring the outdoors or mooching about the charming art galleries, you have to get a piece of this baked good!

It tastes so good they have to keep the recipe in a bank vault in Ambleside.

Grasmere gingerbread shop that has been open since 1854

Grasmere has all the amenities you’d expect from a village and we rated it a 8/10 mainly because we visited on a Monday and a lot of the bars and even coffee shops were closed when visiting.

Wordsworth house and the popular Heaton Cooper Studio were closed but we can forgive them because they are both undergoing refurbishment.

The southside of Grasmere village

Keswick, North Lakes

Home to three of the most popular mountains in the Lakes, Blencathra, Helvellyn and Scafell Pike (England’s highest mountain) is the market town of Keswick which was the last place on our trek around South Cumbria.

Whether you're a strong and confident walker looking to tackle some of the highest wainwrights, or are just after breathtaking and stunning views of beautiful bodies of water after a mozy to friar crag, there is something for almost everyone in Keswick.

The pier leading to friars crag at Derwentwater in Keswick

Keswick, like Windermere to the south of the town, is home to various outdoor and indoor sporting activities such as rock climbing, ghyll scrambling, wild swimming and canoe/bike hire.

So, if you’re looking to become more sporty in the new year then why not head to Keswick to sample many of the adventures on offer instead of the boring gym?

If you want to take a more relaxed approach to the outdoors then why not try an alpaca walk where you literally get to take alpacas for walks around the surrounding natural beauty.

If you’d prefer a walk without an alpaca, you can always gander around Whinlatter forest which is home to handcrafted sculptures and trails that take you to fairytale forest locations.

The entrance to Whinlatter Forest

Keswick has a lot of culture on its doorstep, it has a theatre that in the summer holds performances looking out over Derwentwater, art galleries and museums.

The town makes the perfect place for people to learn new things and appreciate the old in the new year.

The theatre where you can watch performance by the lake in the summer

We rate Keswick a 8/10. The only downsides to this place is how busy it gets during peak tourist seasons and some of the more luxury activities are out of most people’s budgets.

However, that shouldn’t deter you from visiting when all the natural spectacular environment is free!

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