American author Bill Bryson once stated in his book ‘Notes from a Small Island’ that the countryside of the British Isles is “unutterably beautiful”. Never was a truer word spoken and I’m sure the DRWF (Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation) ramblers on the 2009 “Active with Diabetes” Walking Holiday would wholeheartedly agree.
Arriving at the Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel on Sunday 10th May (once owned by Beatrix Potter), I met early arrivals and regular walkers Colin Mills and Lynwood Newman. We enjoyed a great dinner and a chance to catch up on the last year’s news and gossip. After dinner I decided to explore this historic hotel and local area to familiarise myself with our surroundings before the rest of the party arrived the next day.
After a hearty breakfast and a couple gallons of tea on Monday morning, I waited patiently to meet and greet the rest of our group of avid walkers, our expert Diabetes Specialist Nurse, Angela Sealeaf, and our guide-to-be. Slowly but surely, bags and walking poles in hand, from all four corners of the UK they began to converge at this hidden gem of a hotel in a quiet corner of the Lake District.
The rest of the day was spent unpacking and settling in before gathering in the evening for a welcome dinner with this group of old friends and supporters of DRWF. After dinner we moved to the lounge for coffee and discussed the coming week’s walks with our trusted guide from Ramblers Countrywide, Michael Collins. After dinner Michael’s lovely wife Betty kept us amused with some hilarious anecdotes over a relaxing nightcap, before everyone retired to prepare their walking gear for the next morning.
Tuesday morning arrived brightly and the early morning sun burned away the last wisps of cloud revealing a deep blue sky. Our group waited patiently in the hotel lobby, chomping at the bit, chattering excitedly and ready for our first walk. That week would see our guide Michael lead us on three different walks which took in many regional areas such as Bowness, High Wray Church, Hawkshead, Skelwith Bridge, Elterwater, Ambleside and Windermere. The walks took us across water by ferry, through cool woodland clearings with beds of fragrant wild garlic, along magical bluebell lined trails, across farms amid the flocks of newly born lambs and up steep hillsides to witness some of the most stunning views in the country.
Mid-way through the week, we enjoyed a day off from walking to recharge our batteries and rest our weary legs. A band of us set off early to explore Bowness and visit the Beatrix Potter Experience, where we learned all about this amazing lady’s life as a writer and conservationist. The exhibits were great fun, especially seeing all of her well-known characters, such as the cheeky Peter Rabbit, in the settings we remember so much from childhood. After lunch and a welcome cup of tea in a local café, we walked the busy side streets and browsed the local shops looking for souvenirs to take back home for our friends and families. With a smile on our faces and our arms loaded and aching with heavy bags of Lake District fudge, mugs and fridge magnets, we headed back to the hotel for our evening meeting and to find out what was next on our exciting schedule.
The walks that week were long and challenging and fulfilled our aims of showing how important activity is as part of managing diabetes. One particularly memorable walk included a trip across the lake on the ferry, and the icing on the cake was the incredible view from Orrest Head after a long and windy ascent on our final day.
Luck was with us and we enjoyed some beautiful blue skies and sunny weather for the duration of our stay. The temperature was just perfect for walking, not too hot and not too cold. The gods must have been smiling on us because the torrential rain that blighted our walk the previous year stopped on our arrival and waited for the morning of our departure. What a great week and lovely location. I’m sure we will come back and visit time and time again.
Many thanks go to the excellent staff at the Lindeth Howe Country House for making our stay so memorable; and to our intrepid and dedicated Diabetes Specialist Nurse, Angela Sealeaf. Without her help the walks would not be possible. Thank you also to Andrew Gilkison at Ramblers Countrywide for all his help in making this particular holiday available to us at request and such great fun.