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A Higher Love

I have two words for you - Valentine’s Day. Maybe you’ll gush irrepressibly and reach for a heart adorned greeting card, feel offended that I dare mention that overrated celebration, or jump into a giant vat of ice-cream. Or perhaps you’ll become plagued by fear because there are only so many times you can buy a bunch of flowers, bottle of aftershave, or reprint that ‘I owe you’ voucher.

For many of course, love is something to be celebrated all year round and not restricted to one day. For me, having dodged the majority of Cupid’s arrows over the years, the day comes and goes without the merest of thoughts. But not this year. This year I set myself the challenge of embracing Valentine’s Day in all its sentimentality and sweet-tongued language. I was on a one woman mission in search of freedom, fun, and the L-word.

And so, I decided to go on a date with the Lake District. This beautiful national park, tucked away in the north west of England, has long inspired poets, writers, and artists all looking to capture the beauty and charm the area possesses. On first impression, there was no denying that the scenery is stunning; think emotive sweeping landscapes, a utopia of woodlands, vast alluring lakes, and pretty pocket-size Lakeland villages. Then, as we became acquainted, I revealed a sense of adventure under that dashing exterior, a likeable confidence, and the promise of fun and laughter. But what made my date truly memorable, was the Lake District’s ability to draw me in and warm even the frostiest of hearts.

Whether you’ve been having a life-long affair with the Lake District or seeking a new romance, be prepared to let your imagination and heart run wild and free in this very special place.

Waterbird Boathouse

On a beautifully bright and breezy Friday afternoon, I arrived at Hill of Oaks, a picturesque holiday park on the south-eastern shores of Windermere. Gazing in wonder, I stood outside the Waterbird Boathouse feeling like a child in a sweetshop, brimming with giddy excitement. This will do, I thought, the ideal setting for my unashamedly romantic weekend with me, myself and the Lakes. Stepping inside, I found the lakefront apartment to be contemporary, a welcoming space that offered warmth and comfort, openly suggesting I should relax and unwind.

The Waterbird Boathouse

To step up the romance, there’s mood lighting to set the scene, a large shower, a wine fridge and wood burning stove. But the icing on that possible wedding cake, and what makes this place worth every penny, is the floor to ceiling windows that flood the room with light and open out onto the serene waters of Windermere. It was as if I were looking at an exquisite painting, the scene captivating and evoking a sense of serenity as I felt myself being drawn from the lounge and into the landscape. I snuggled into the corner sofa, glass of something and book to hand, and listened to sound of water lapping around me.

The next morning, I was up and raring to go. Today was all about moving, an invigorating hike to get those adorable love handles moving. After a short drive, I found myself in the tranquil Troutbeck valley. Map in hand, walking boots laced, I set off into the fells, climbing higher and higher, allured by the beauty of the expanding landscape, the everchanging view as the path twist and turned towards the fleecy clouds, and the promise of feeling a sense of accomplishment. As the summit drew closer, the clouds descended and began swirling around me as if dancing to the whistling wind, and I found myself in an ethereal wonderland. At one point my eyes deceived me for I was sure Heathcliff emerged from the mist, dark and brooding, storming towards me as if I were Cathy. OK, scrap that. Let’s go for underpants folding Mr Darcy instead. His behaviour was less questionable. My determination driving me forward, I finally emerged on the summit. The weather released its grip and everything suddenly went quiet with only the faintest murmur of a breeze. I was above the clouds now, the Lake District sweeping away at my feet, just a flicker of human existence below. The fresh air filled my lungs, and with the rise and fall of my chest came a sense of calm. Perched high in the sky, the sun sparkled as if giving me a flirty wink. It was there that I fell in love, completely and hopelessly, my heart reawakening from a deep sleep. Some time later, the clouds parted as if guiding the way and I dreamily ambled back down into the folds of the valley.

The Waterbird Boathouse

If tackling the heights of those ruggedly handsome Lakeland fells feels somewhat illicit and fills your heart with lead as opposed to love, then hiking may not be your Mr Right. Instead, there are plenty of other activities that are perfect for two - or one for that matter!

You don’t have to go far to take to the water. Nestled on the slopes of ancient woodland, Hill of Oaks boasts exclusive lake Windermere frontage for almost one mile. Perfect for couples that want to make a splash! Guests of the Waterbird Boathouse benefit from a private boat awning right outside the front door. A great opportunity to launch your own boat or canoe for two and recite Keats, “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…” should you feel so inclined.

Not far from Hill of Oaks are the hugely popular Lake District towns Bowness-on-Windermere and Windermere. Here, you’ll find an abundance of pubs where you can sit and gaze into your loved one’s eyes over a pint and ‘accidently’ brush fingers as you both reach for the same crisp. There’s also a variety of tempting restaurants for that romantic candlelight supper.

Valentine's in the Lake District, Cumbria

Why not take to two wheels and impress your sweetheart with your cycling skills, or enjoy the simple pleasure of walking and talking as you take a leisurely lakeside stroll. Maybe you’ll feed each other strawberries as you picnic beside a cascading river, or perhaps you envisage a mountain top proposal… However you decide to spend your time, if you weren't before, you'll be head over heels in love by the time you leave. It’s the Lake District after all and even a walk in the rain can be romantic!

Lovestruck, I returned to the Waterbird Boathouse keen to indulge myself that little bit more. The day faded into night and darkness blanketed the lake. I decided to end my weekend with a good old romantic movie, but there are so many to choose from. But then I remembered I spent a 'brief' moment at Carnforth Station on my way here. Remember that iconic 1945 film? I settled down with a decadent box of chocolates and watched as bored housewife Laura Jesson falls madly in love with Dr Alec Harvey in a film described as one of the greatest romantic films of all time. But unlike their love affair, my romance was not doomed for the Lake District and I lived happily ever after.

The Waterbird Boathouse on Windermere will accommodate up to four guests, featuring a double and twin bedroom (or two doubles), plus a shower room and separate toilet. For further information including a virtual tour, please visit the Hill of Oaks website.

Hill of Oaks Lodge & Caravan Park is operated by Lake District Estates, a family-owned business based in Kendal.




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