A poetic stay at Storrs Hall Hotel on Bowness-on-Windermere

“The Lake country is a glorious region, of which I had only seen the similitude in dreams, waking or sleeping…I longed to slip out unseen, and to run away by myself in amongst the hills and dales”

— Charlotte Bronte, in letter to Elizabeth Gaskill, September 27, 1850

Charlotte Bronte pretty much summed up my feelings toward the Lake District in those two expressive paragraphs.

This is a place inexorably mixed up into my being.

Experiences there as a young and grown adult have played a part in who I am today.

In times of sadness and of happiness too, I too would like to escape and run wild in the Lake District.

My emotional education was formed here, framed by Arthur Ransom’s Swallows and Amazons, wild and cold walks and scrambles, uncomfortable camping, drunken evenings in walkers’ pubs and happy but claustrophobic family caravanning holidays. Kendal’s Mint Cake.

I have also developed a wary respect for the towering mountains that have stolen lives of people I have known and for the fascinating and freezing lakes, so stunning and secretive.

Privileged as I am to live just an hour or so away from the southern Lake District, I still do not return as often as I should.

Life, as it is wont, has intervened in my relationship with the Lakes but I am now trying to return more often.

And this weekend it welcomed me back with open arms, with a glorious weekend of sunshine – golden days so rarely seen in England let alone the Lake District which boasts its own micro-climate with a preference toward precipitation.

 Storrs Hall (side view) Pic @jabberingjourno Storrs Hall (side view) Pic @jabberingjourno

To arrive at such a  beautiful place on such a beautiful day was a dream.

After hopping of the M6 motorway, we followed the sat-nav through winding green-lined roads until we arrived at our destination of Storrs Hall, which lies peacefully off Lake Windermere and just a hop and a skip from busy Bowness with its boat tours, tea shops and other Cumbrian tourist temptations.

Rolling up the gravel drive toward this cream wedding cake of a stately home, you are afforded just a glimpse of the natural riches that lie beyond. The Hall enjoys a privileged position with  two sided access to Windermere itself.

At the back rolling lawns, framed by trees and featuring small clusters of deck chairs, dip down into the lake itself with its backdrop of towering fells while at the side, another green expanse leads to the shore where the hotel boasts its own jetty.

The property has its own lakeside walk which you can traverse in 10 minutes along stunning lakeside, with tiny beaches and a stone folly that just out into the crystal waters.

You can also get married here. A garden pavilion sits out on the lawn in the sun, evidence of the previous days nuptials evident in the trail of rose petals leading from the entrance. Though for rainy days there are several locations indoors too. This place would still be beautiful in the rain.

Built in the 1790s, the house itself is a restored Georgian mansion with 31 individually designed bedrooms.

But it has has earned a place in Lake District history through its astonishing history and connections.

William Wordsworth recited his famous ‘Daffodils here in the hall’s drawing room – and children’s author Beatrix Potter was a regular visitor at parties.

As I knew nothing about the place before I arrived, beyond a quick Google, I was astonished to find myself an absolutely huge room of astonishing grandeur ( i just booked a standard room)  with the most enormous bed and all the mod cons.

Obviously recently refurbished, the bathroom was one of the biggest I have ever seen in a hotel room, boasting a wet room shower with three ways jets, double sinks, and a bath with a TV built into the wall.

The only thing missing with this particular room was a lake view, but frankly, you could see that by walking outside in every direction. Or watch it on TV. In the bath. In case you are wondering it was room 16.

For toiletry buffs, everything was White Company, a particular favourite of mine.

 You can watch TV in the bath, if that floats your boat. Pic @jabberingjourno (yes that is me in the reflection) You can watch TV in the bath, if that floats your boat. Pic @jabberingjourno (yes that is me in the reflection)

The room itself was suite-sized with a sofa for lounging and a grander chair for sitting in state, plus sideboards and chintz in-keeping with the modern Georgian grandeur of the building itself and another telly, obviously.

With windows on two sides and a coffee-maker – I could quite happily live there for months.

There was definitely more wardrobe space than in my own house and room to swing a few cats (though no harm came to any animals during this review.)

I liked it, in case you can’t tell.

But it was impossible to stay indoors on a day like that when there was chilled gin to be drunk on the lawn.

Or Pimms, or bubbles.. ( or, insert your own tipple)

They serve drinks, food and afternoon tea at Storrs all day for non-residents too, you don’t even need to stay  over to evoke that feeling of Elizabeth Bennett after she married Mr Darcy ( see Pride and Prejudice for explanation.)

Though staying here is preferable, this place is fantastic.

We headed out for a few sunny hours for ice cream (with a flake) and a pub lunch in a Bowness-on-Windermere crawling with tourists, mainly of the non-hillwalking variety.

Though hill walks are easily accessible from here – we took a short hike to view across Lake Windermere.

It was too hot for anything more but took just 10 minutes to be away from the busy town and into the idyllic fellside, home of hardy sheep and hardier humans.

 Our hot little hike rewarded us with views like this.Pic @jabberingjourno Our hot little hike rewarded us with views like this.Pic @jabberingjourno

After trudging back down in the heat, gawping at the views we had missed while huffing up the hill, we located the nearest quaint cafe and headed in for a chilled lemonade and some tortilla chips (our efforts needed to be rewarded) before back to the hotel.

We enjoyed dinner in the bar one evening although a much posher restaurant with views across the lawns was available.

The dark wood bar itself is stunning and atmospheric and actually transplanted into the hotel direct from Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in the 1940s.

If I’m honest the bar service ( in a very quiet bar) was haphazard and nothing to write home about, though we came away full enough and tipsy enough not to care much.

I’m sure things were very different in the restaurant, which looked lovely and was the scene of our delicious breakfast with a stunning view the next day.

If Carlsberg did breakfast settings this would pretty much be it..

 If Carlsberg did breakfast table views... Pic @jabberingjourno If Carlsberg did breakfast table views… Pic @jabberingjourno  The Tower bar at Storrs Hall, which came from Blackpool's Winter Gardens The Tower bar at Storrs Hall, which came from Blackpool’s Winter Gardens

If it has been raining Storrs is a lovely place to relax, with a study and drawing room full of elegant furniture and relaxing sofas.

Its pedigree really shows.

But in the sun we decided to walk off the tasty full English by heading down the lawn toward the lake and following the path which skirts the property along the waters edge, taking in stunning views and tiny coves along the way until we reached the private jetty, and returned to the hotel via the alternative aspect.

This really is a tranquil place, magical through its astonishing beauty and location, through its history and through the magnificent accommodation and style.

You leave with your body relaxed and your soul full.

You can enjoy peace and solitude without ever being lonely, as Wordsworth found out.

And perhaps, after a few beverages and the gift of imagination, you can imagine him reciting his famous poem in the drawing room.

“I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: —
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils”

— William Wordsworth, composed 1804