Festive fodder: our absolute favourites!

Jo Spencer - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

With just four weeks to go until christmas day, preparations and festivities are well underway across the Lake District. There’s nothing better than being here during the holiday season, enjoying the wonderful wintry views and of course, all the tremendous hospitality that the area has to offer! One of the best things about christmas of course, is the opportunity to indulge and ditch the diet! So, with heavy calories in mind, we share with you our five favourite treats for foodies:

Cumbrian lamb – with all the trimmings!

Lamb is one of the foods associated with Cumbria and of course, you’re in prime sheep farming territory here! You’ll find roast lamb available on most restaurant menus in the Lake District, locally sourced of course and served with crisp roast potatoes and mint sauce, there’s just nothing better! Yew Tree Farm is a 600-acre farm, specialising in prime cuts of its free-roaming Herdwick lamb, so if you’re not in the area and want a taste of Cumbria this christmas, don’t worry. They deliver! You can also stay at the farm which is even better! Book through ‘Heart of the Lakes’:

Grasmere gingerbread:

The now world famous Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread is an absolute must for anyone visiting the small Lakeland village of Grasmere. Victorian cook, Sarah Nelson, invented Grasmere Gingerbread in 1854 in the English Lake District village from where it gets its name. It’s no ordinary gingerbread either! A unique, spicy-sweet cross between a biscuit and cake, its reputation quickly spread and it is now enjoyed by food lovers all over the world. For an extra special christmas dessert, warm it in the oven with a drop of brandy, adding clotted cream before serving!

Sticky toffee pudding:

Christmas in the Lake District wouldn’t be the same without at least one helping of the famous Cartmel sticky toffee pudding. You can find it in the small village shop, which was where the delicious pudding was first created more than 20 years ago, with the bakers making it in the shop’s back kitchen and selling it in the front! You can also buy the toffee sauce separately, which is delicious poured over ice cream!

Damson gin christmas pudding:

Damson gin is a fantastically festive drink, but added to christmas pudding, it’s heaven itself! Found in the Winster and Lyth valleys, the delicate damsons are small and delicious fruits which are ready to eat come September. Damson is used to make everything from jam to gin and one of the new specialities is the damson gin christmas puddings, produced by Cowmire Hall in Crosthwaite. The gin is even good enough to be sold in the food hall at Fortnum and Mason!


Cheese please!

If savoury is more your ‘thing’, the Lake District Cheese Company cheddars are now available nationally in both Morrisons and ASDA, along with northern listings in Tesco, Somerfield, Waitrose and Booths, as well as strong availability in independent stores and farm shops throughout Cumbria. So, you can have a taste of the Lake District wherever you live! Made right here in the Lake District and perfect on cheese n’ crackers along with a glass of port!

An award nomination for design, for the ‘Boutique Church Suites’

Jo Spencer - Monday, November 23, 2015
It’s been an incredible first year for the ‘Boutique Church Suites’ and since they opened in January, they seem to have been constantly in the press and nominated for a number of prestigious national and international awards! And, we’re up for another one!

The final of the Society of British and International Design Awards (SBID) will take place on Friday 27th November at the Dorchester Hotel in London and we’ve been nominated in the ‘Hotel Design’ category. With more entries this year than any other year, competition is extremely tough, with the judges having had a hard task concluding which projects would make it through to the final round, so we’re delighted to have gotten through and we know we’ll be battling it out with some very special hotels!

The Society of British and International Design (SBID) is the UK's leading accrediting body for the interior design profession. They protect the reputation of design practitioners, promote education, sustainability and professional conduct throughout the interior design profession and construction industry around the world. And the SBID International Design Awards are one of the most prestigious and enjoyable events in the design industry calendar. They serve to recognise, reward and celebrate excellence across a broad range of categories. It’s a great achievement to win!

The judges themselves are international industry leaders from the likes of the BBC, Google, the Natural History Museum and YouTube.

We know that the Boutique Church Suites are pretty special, design wise. After-all, we poured our heart into their creation. The feedback from our customers has also confirmed to us that we’ve got things just right! Let’s hope the judges agree!

Christmas events in the Lake District

Jo Spencer - Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Christmas in the Lake District is a magical time, topped off with stunning scenery and – from time to time – snow! Here’s our round up of the best events in our area, leading up to the festive season.

Make your own Christmas wreath!

If ‘creative’ is your thing, Hayes Garden Centre in the heart of Ambleside is holding a ‘make your own christmas wreath’ workshop on Wednesday 2nd December. You can learn how to create your very own christmas wreath from the experts, as they offer advice and guidance on not just making, but maintaining your wreath! Whilst at Hayes, visit santa’s grotto and enjoy the wonderfully festive atmosphere. It really is a christmas lover’s paradise!
For further information, visit:

The Santa Express, Ravenglass!

This extremely popular event gets booked up quickly, so you’ll have to be speedy if you wish to join the santa express throughout December! It’s a magical experience for both young and old, as the steam train from Ravenglass races to meet father christmas at Dalegarth in his gingerbread grotto. A christmas lunch option is also available at Ravenglass Station before or after the experience, with complimentary mince pies and mulled wine for the grown-ups!
For further information, visit:

Keswick Victorian Fayre:

On Sunday 6th December, the 29th Keswick Victorian Fayre takes place in Keswick town centre. It’s a great family day out, with live music, street and stage entertainment and more than thirty charities and local not-for profit organisations selling a fantastic range of goods and running competitions to raise funds. There will also be the opportunity to purchase a range of christmas crafts, gifts, local produce, fashion accessories, food and drinks. Wearing Victorian costume is optional but encouraged! Santa and his reindeer might also make a special appearance…

Christmas parties at the World of Beatrix Potter, Bowness-on-Windermere:

The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness is a must visit at any time of year, but this christmas, they will be holding festive parties throughout the month. The award-winning attraction will show a 25-minute classic animation film The Tailor of Gloucester, put on a delicious party lunch, and provide presents for the children. There will also be a chance to meet a special VIP guest! Booking is essential, as they’re expecting the crowds!
For further information, visit:

Christmas Carol Concert, Ambleside:

Christmas isn’t christmas without the singing of carols! The Ambleside and district choral society present their annual christmas concert at St. Mary's Parish Church, Ambleside on Saturday December 12th, singing The Messiah by Handel. The Ambleside choral society are based in the heart of the Lake District and are a mixed-voice choir of around 50 individuals who sing under musical director, Jolyon Dodgson. All are welcome and children are admitted for free. This is an event that is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit!

We’re in Trivago’s ‘top 20 hotels’ in the North West

Jo Spencer - Friday, November 13, 2015

It’s safe to say, we know a thing or two about keeping our customers happy! And, it’s always great to receive recognition to that end. When all is said and done, our customers are the most important part of what we do, so when we get a tick in the box from them, it’s especially significant.
Last week, the world’s largest online hotel search site, Trivago, revealed the results of its inaugural ‘Top Hotel Awards’ and we’re delighted to say that the Cranleigh Boutique features within their top 20 North West Hotels. Trivago uses aggregated online user ratings in order to recognise the best-rated hotels, both regionally and nationally. That means, it’s all based on customer feedback! We scored a pretty impressive rating of 94.82 and are placed 11th, so it’s good to know we’re doing alot of things right!

“The North West has an unusually high number of hotels in the UK top 50, setting the benchmark high in this region.” said Trivago spokeswoman, Denise Bartlett and we can’t agree with her more! The Lake District scored particularly highly in these awards, clearly demonstrating the popularity of this beautiful corner of the UK.

As we head towards the end of 2015, it’s a good time to reflect on – both this award – and the many others for which we have been nominated. It’s been another tremendous year for all of us at the Cranleigh Boutique and this further acknowledgement from Trivago clearly demonstrates that the hard work and commitment we put into our brand is working for our customers!

For further information on the top 20 hotels in the North West, as rated by Trivago, please visit:

Winter Gifts: stocking suggestions from the Cranleigh Boutique

Jo Spencer - Tuesday, November 10, 2015
It’s now less than seven weeks until the ‘big day’ and we’re already scouring the shops for the perfect gift. If you’d like to give your significant other, relative or friend a Lake District inspired Christmas gift, take a look at our suggestions. We’ve done all the hard work for you. You’re welcome!

The Cranleigh Boutique Gift Vouchers:

These are surely at the top of every stylish shopper’s gift list? Treat the one you love (and yourself!) to gift vouchers from us, redeemable in any of our accommodation offerings across the Cranleigh Boutique brand. The problem is, once you’ve purchased them, can you really give them away?
For further information on purchasing gift vouchers, please contact us on 015394 43293.

Give back to our stunning environment:

Alot of hard work, care and attention goes into keeping the Lake District National Park in tip-top condition, so that you – and future generations – can enjoy its beauty for years to come. If you feel inspired to help in any way and know of others who feel the same, then this gift is right up your street. Local charity, ‘Friends of the Lake District’, has some cracking ideas for gifts that will also help to sustain our natural environment.

There's a choice of six gifts available: restoring a haymeadow, planting a native tree sapling, rebuilding a metre of dry stone wall, repairing an eroded footpath, or planting an established tree. A unique gift is a bed for bees for 9 months in their bee hotel, helping to save solitary bees which are vanishing from Britain.
The charity will also send a greetings card and certificate to your gift recipient, together with information about your gift, including the area in which it will be sited. Prices start from £12 but make sure to order quickly to ensure your gift arrives before 25th December!
For further information, visit

Gifts for the culture vulture:

Threatre tickets are sure to earn you some brownie points this christmas! The Viennese Strauss christmas gala at the ‘Theatre by the Lake’ offers an unforgettable evening of Strauss at christmas featuring some of his most glorious waltzes including The Blue Danube, The Emperor Waltz, The Champagne Polka, Roses from the South and The Radetsky March. During the course of the evening, audiences will also be invited to join members of Opera North and get into the christmas spirit with renditions of much loved Christmas carols and songs including Silent Night, O Holy Night, White Christmas and many more.
For further information, visit

Go back in time this christmas!

Shop till you drop at one of the UK’s finest christmas festivals! The ‘Dickensian christmas market’ is a free family event marking the start of the christmas shopping season in Ulverston, so if you’re still seeking the perfect gift, we think you’ll find it here! As well as Ulverston's boutiquey shops, great pubs, cafes and cobbled streets, visitors will be able to enjoy free entertainment including top hat and tiara making, costume competitions, balloon modelling, horse drawn carriages, dancing, a wonderful traditional fairground complete with helter skelter and lots of music with everything from folk to brass bands. The christmas market comes complete with a vast array of stalls offering lots of unusual and locally made gifts and festive food!
For further information, visit

Join us for less: winter offers at the Cranleigh Boutique

Jo Spencer - Friday, November 06, 2015
We have some cheering news as we head towards dark, winter days. If you’d like to join us this side of Christmas at the Cranleigh Boutique, you may well have the opportunity to do so, for less! Check out our crazy winter offers. We defy you not to book….

Winter Infusion:

The winter infusion offer enables you to indulge in a 2, 3 or 4 night length of stay and the longer you stay the less you pay! Don’t you just love offers like this? Enjoy autumn and winter evenings in your room or suite at the Cranleigh Boutique*, with sumptuous furnishings. Kick back and enjoy a glass (or two) of complimentary bubbly. You can also enjoy a cruise on beautiful Lake Windermere, with two lakes cruise tickets, to take in the stunning autumn and winter landscape.
* Available on any of our rooms and suites at the Cranleigh Boutique Hotel, when you stay Sunday to Thursday from October till the end of March. For further information, visit:

Pure Imagination:

Make dreams a reality by experiencing a stay in our world famous ‘Boutique Church Suites.*’ Named the ‘best suites in the UK and second in the world’ this year by design-et-al, they are the ultimate in luxury accommodation. Spend 2 nights in one of our 4 individually designed suites which offer the very latest in technology and guest experience. With mood lighting, iPad controls, luxurious bathrooms with huge baths, hidden TVs, complimentary bubbly and more comforts than you could possibly wish to indulge in, they’re at the top of everyone’s Christmas list this year!
* Stay Sunday to Thursday in one of our four Boutique Church suites from October to March and experience the unimaginable. For further information, visit:

Hideout Hibernation:

The Hideout House* is the ultimate ‘secret escape’! Hidden in the very centre of Bowness-on-Windermere, it offers 3 floors of fabulous features and luxury. It’s a Boutique Hideout House that you won’t want to leave! Sample the air jet spa bath, unwind and relax in front of the 65" cinema and enjoy your favourite tipple from the complementary mini bar. With its very own kitchen, it’s a 5 star home from home.

Fancy something special in your stocking?

If you’re looking for a gift for someone special, why not purchase our gift vouchers, available for use in any of our accommodation offerings across the Cranleigh Boutique brand. You could also try dropping HUGE hints for gift vouchers of your own….it’s got to be worth a try?
For further information on purchasing gift vouchers, please contact us on 015394 43293.
Our advent extravaganza – coming soon!

We have a little secret and it’s hard to keep….in the lead up to christmas, we’ll be showcasing our very own advent calendar of goodies, with a special offer being released every day in the lead up to 25th. Watch this space….

Our recommendation for the best autumn walks

Jo Spencer - Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Autumn in the Lake District is one of the most spectacular times of the year, with an ever changing landscape creating some truly inspiring scenes. Luckily, we’re also enjoying an unusually balmy autumn, so whilst the going’s good, here’s our recommendation for the best walks for all abilities. Walking boots at the ready…


This walk is pretty much on the flat, with little hill climbing, so it’s perfect for all! One of the most beautiful villages in the Lake District, Grasmere was home to William and Dorothy Wordsworth, both of whom are buried in the village churchyard. The walk around the lake is great for all weathers too and there are two options to take. 
You can either walk along the lake's western flank, found from a wrought iron gate off Red Bank Road. (To access the path, head to the centre of Grasmere, take a left at the Dale Lodge Hotel (stopping for an ale at Tweedies Bar!) opposite the church, and then carry on round Red Bank Road until you find the gate. The second way is to park at White Moss car park just off the A591 on the outskirts south of the village, and enjoy the walk through the woods to the lake.

Orrest Head, Windermere:

This extremely popular walk was made famous by Alfred Wainwright, who first embarked on it back in 1930. The start of the walk is very well positioned, just metres from Windermere Railway station, with the path easily accessible for those with buggies or in wheelchairs. The views down onto Lake Windermere are spectacular, and of course, it is mostly uphill! The distance is approximately 780 feet, but there are plenty of opportunities to rest and take photos on the way up!

Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge (and back again!):

This is a very gentle walk and all on the flat, so perfect for walkers with buggies, wheelchairs and those who simply don’t like hills! The walk starts from the National Trust car park in the centre of Elterwater and takes around 45 minutes at a gentle pace to Skelwith Bridge, passing the waterfalls on the way. Whilst at Skelwith Bridge, pop into ‘Chesters’ for lunch, before the walk back to Elterwater! You can also do this walk the other way around: park at ‘Chesters’, walk to Elterwater and enjoy lunch at the historical ‘Britannia Inn’.

Newlands Round, near Keswick:

Newlands is a very pretty Lakeland valley in the North Lakes, although this walk is a little more challenging. You will however be rewarded with stunning views over Derwentwater on a clear day. The 3 fells of Robinson, Hindscarth and Dale Head form a neat circuit above Little Town and are around 550 feet high, although the total height to climb in this walk is in excess of 3,000 feet. You can start just outside of Little Town. Park near the stream, cross the bridge and take the lane past Newlands church heading for Robinson.

Ruskin’s View, Kirkby Lonsdale:

This is a very famous walk and viewpoint. Turner depicted it on canvas and Victorian philosopher, Ruskin, described it as ‘one of the loveliest in England.’ Located in the historical and charming town of Kirkby Lonsdale on the border of Cumbria and Lancashire, the riverside route starts at Devil's Bridge over the River Lune, and signposts will guide you to the viewpoint, although this way culminates in a steep set of steps. Alternatively, you can start this walk from the charming town centre, where it's less than half-a-mile on the flat all the way. There is seating available so you can admire the spectacular views and there are plenty of excellent cafés and pubs in the town, for re-fuelling!

Boutique Church Suites up for 3 awards, this Friday!

Jo Spencer - Thursday, October 29, 2015

Awards season is in full swing and it’s been a busy time for us with a number of nominations for our newest project, the Boutique Church Suites! Did you know that in July, they were named the ‘best hotel suites in the UK and second in the world’ by ‘design-et-al’ at the ‘International Hotel & Property Awards 2015’? So, this Friday, we’ll be keeping everything crossed with no less than three nominations in two award ceremonies.


The ‘World Boutique Hotel Awards’ is an international contest and showcases the very finest luxury, boutique accommodation offerings from across the world. We’re absolutely delighted to have been nominated in two categories in this prestigious event, which takes place in London! Honeymoon Hideaway and Inspired Design are the awards that we’re up for and there’s absolutely no doubt that the Boutique Church Suites fit the criteria, but will the judges think so? Last year, winners in these categories spanned the globe, from Tasmania, to South Africa, Qatar and Fiji! We’re honoured to be representing the Lake District!

Our second award ceremony takes place in Liverpool, at the ‘Northern Design Awards’! Hotel Interior Design is the category in which we’ve been nominated – again for the Boutique Church Suites. The evening brings together the very best designers, retailers and property developers in a glittering celebration of Northern design and style and we’re delighted to be showcasing the style elements and efforts that went into creating the Boutique Church Suites.

As they say, it’s not the winning, but taking part that counts. To be recognised amongst so much talent, both at home and abroad, is a great honour, so even if we don’t come home with the trophy, we’re still winners! Once again, were keeping everything crossed and if we win, you’ll be the first to know!

5 up and coming events in our area

Jo Spencer - Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The onset of autumn is one of our very favourite times of year here in the Lake District. With the changing of the trees, the environment is colourful and bright; it’s time to start a roaring fire and enjoy all that the season has to offer. It’s also a busy time with plenty for visitors to get their teeth into. With so much variety with regards to local events, we’ve chosen the five best activities, this week and beyond, certain to have the tourists flocking.

Halloween Week at Muncaster Castle
Considered one of the most haunted castles in the UK, Muncaster Castle is a mecca for those that like stories about things going ‘bump in the night’! This week, there are events taking place all week, with plenty to entertain those of all ages. There are crafts for the kids, ghostly group tours, fearsome fire juggling, a cannon blowout and their very own scary maze! With the assistance of the drama department at the University of Cumbria, visitors will be thrown into a live theatre experience!
Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria, CA18 1RQ -

Birdwatch at Brockhole
Taking place on Wednesday 28th October, birdwatching at Brockhole Visitor Centre in Windermere is a free event and perfect for all ages. Their volunteers will be in the bird hide to help you identify the birds and animals in the woodland surrounding Brockhole. No need to book; just turn up and enjoy!
Brockhole Visitor Centre, The Lake District Visitor Centre, Windermere, Cumbria, Windermere, LA23 1LJ -

Big Draw Competition at Blackwell Arts and Crafts House
Beautiful Arts & Crafts property, ‘Blackwell’, has been celebrating Big Draw - the world's largest drawing festival, which finishes on 31st October. This year's activity is inspired by the exhibition, The Baillie Scott Folio: House for an Art Lover, on display until 31 December, 2015. Visitors of all ages can draw their own House to compete in an online drawing competition. Blackwell will post all works of art on their Facebook page and the picture with the most likes will win a prize!
Blackwell House, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3JT -

Windermere Bonfire night and fireworks display
Did you know that Bonfire Night, otherwise known as Guy Fawkes Night, used to be a compulsory celebration in England up until 1859? No pressure to attend this event, but it does come highly recommended and we all love a bonfire and fireworks! Looking ahead to November, the Windermere Rugby Union family bonfire night and fireworks display features a BBQ, food and refreshments with the bonfire lit at 6:30pm and fireworks from 7pm. Admission is just £5 or £10 for a family ticket. Sparklers at the ready!
Windermere RUFC, Dawes Meadow, Longlands Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3AS

Holker Hall Winter Market
This lively two day event is a great day out for all the family, with more than 50 stalls selling quality crafts, foods and artisan gifts for the festive season. Enjoy the live music, street entertainment and children's activities, whilst sampling delicious food from the BBQ and sipping mulled wine. It’s a winter market not to be missed!
Holker Estate, Cark-in-Cartmel, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, LA11 7PL -

We’re up for a prestigious award tonight

Jo Spencer - Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Everyone likes a pat on the back from time to time and we’re no different here at the Cranleigh Boutique! Now, we’re not ones to blow our own trumpet, but ‘industry awards’ is something we do pretty well. Tonight, we will find out whether we have won a prestigious regional award, with Stephen nominated for ‘Leisure Entrepreneur of the Year’, at the North West Entrepreneur of the Year awards. We know it’s a tough category and competition is stiff, but we’ve dusted off our DJ’s and are ready to go!

These particular awards are the region’s top accolade for owner-managed businesses and are now in their 12th year. Providing an opportunity to recognise formally, the outstanding contribution that the North West’s business people make, the event is very much revered. The evening brings together more than 500 of the most successful business leaders, corporate advisors and investors in the region. We know we’re in good company.

In the past, guest speakers have included the likes of Sir Alan Sugar and Michael Portillo and the judging panel consists of highly successful entrepreneurs (including a dragon from TV’s Dragon’s Den!) and previous winners such as Simon Nixon (, Jennie Johnson (Kids Allowed), Antony Preston (Pets at Home) and Tom Bloxham (Urban Splash).

This year, the judges are looking for the region’s most exciting businesses and business leaders; the entrepreneurs that are really making a difference and standing out from the crowd. If we know one thing, it’s this; the Cranleigh Boutique brand is one of the most unique businesses in the country. We’ve been striving to offer our guests an inimitable experience since day one and aren’t afraid to be distinctive. Afterall, that’s what’s kept us at the pinnacle of the industry.

Tonight’s event is at the Mere Golf Resort and Spa, in Cheshire and we can’t wait to be standing up with the best of them. Fingers crossed!

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