A few years ago, my husband and I went on holiday with my parents, sister, brother in law and nephew. We stayed in a big manor house in Stanhope called Unthank Hall. that was the perfect size for 6 adults and 1 child.
A few years on, and we decided we wanted to do it again. Only this time, we would have the addition of two extra children – a toddler and a baby, as a well as a 3 and a half year old, so we needed something bigger.
A few google searches later, we found Graythwaite Estate. Unusually, I haven’t taken many photos for the blog, so bear with me me. There are lots of pictures online though if you want o have a good look before booking!
Graythwaite is a 5000 acre estate overlooking Windermere, featuring a beautiful manor house, several cottages, some of which have been converted from old farm buildings and gorgeous gardens.
The guest cottages are found at the end of a beautiful long drive way, showered at this time of year, with cherry blossoms.
We stayed in Holmwell, a ground floor barn conversion located in the courtyard. The front door opens into the kitchen and dining area, which is joined on to the hall way leading to the two bathrooms and the four bedrooms. From the dining area, a door leads to the spacious living room. Outside, we had our own picnic table, and beyond that a shared comfy seating area and further picnic tables.
One of the draws of the cottage was actually the living room size – there was a couch of each couple, plus room for the kids to play! There are lots of windows letting in plenty of natural light, a wood burner (which we didn’t get to use, but I would rather the warm weather!), and a small TV with a DVD player. Very cosy, without feeling like we were on top of each other.
From the photos I saw online, I did think the dining room was jointed on to the living room, however its actually got a kitchen-diner. This does make more sense, however the open plan layout leads to the hall way, and all of the bedrooms meaning you had be extra aware of your volume once the kids were asleep.
The kitchen is quite small for the amount of people staying, meaning that it got over crowded quickly. As we all brought our own food supplies, it also meant that there was very little storage for all of us. The benches were overcrowded with brioche, tea and coffee and biscuits, amongst other things! Two big fridge freezers at least meant that we had lots of room for our perishables! The kitchen is well equipped with an easy to use washing machine, fan oven, toaster, kettle, lots of plates, bowls, glasses, cups, cutlery etc. The knives were quite blunt, there was no mixing bowl and the utensils weren’t great so if these are things you think you will be using lots of – I made a stew, bread and some corned beef pie whilst there and really struggled with the potato masher, tin opener and knives – then think ahead and bring your own.
The dining area of the room on the other hand is the perfect size with a table big enough for 9 or 10 people plus a high chair. It is decorated with nice photographs, but it would have been nice if it was near a window as well.
I can’t speak for the room with just the shower, as other than using the loo a couple of times, I didn’t use it.
The main the bathroom was right next to our bedroom, so this was the one I used most of the time. It was very big with a toilet, sink, good mirror and shelving, storage cupboard with a boiler, and bath with shower. The shower was really easy to use, in fact I’ve never stayed in a hotel/cabin/etc that has had such an easy to use shower. The water was lovely and hot every day. The bath didn’t heat up as easily but this wasn’t used much, just a couple of times for the kids so it wasn’t a problem.
There are four bedrooms in this cottage. Two twin rooms and two double rooms. All of the rooms are lovely and light, and decorated in a very similar way. We somehow ended up in one of the double rooms, even though there were three of us in one room. Whilst one of us is only a baby, he does come with A LOT of stuff. However, there was plenty of storage so, other than the bulky items such as his car seat, bouncer chair and nappy bin, his clothes were easily packed away. He did have to sleep in his carry cot between the twin beds, which made things a little harder, and as it was a smaller room, there was less room for us to walk around with him when settling him. These issues aren’t as much of a problem of the cottage though, its more just something to keep in mind if you are going in a similar situation to us – maybe get there first and call dibs on the bigger room!
The beds were incredibly comfortable, with crisp white sheets and soft, squshy pillows. My husband struggled a little though as he likes firmer pillows, so I would suggest taking your own if you feel this way too.
Not only was it important for us to go somewhere spacious, but we also needed somewhere with something for the kids to do.
The website states that there is a children’s park, although I never visited it, my Mam did take my eldest nephew there one day and said it wasn’t really very suitable for him. There is a fitness suite that you must pay for to use, and free swimming pool. We didn’t use the fitness suite, but we used the pool nearly every day. It’s a great size, not too deep – at 5ft2, I could actually stand in it, and the water came up to my ears! – with a small shallow area which was great for us to sit in with our baby. It did feel cold when you first got in but warmed up quite quickly. It is unmanned, so don’t go in alone. There are toilets inside, and I assume changing facilities but we always just walked round ready to swim!
In the courtyard there is a small brick building which houses a table tennis table, and a tumble dryer, as well as access to BBQs. This was all very close to our cottage, so it was ideal. It’s a bit unreasonable to go for a full a week without doing any washing when you have a baby and young children with you. We use cloth nappies as well, so the easy to use washing machine and dryer were brilliant for us.
We didn’t realize before hand but there are actually a plethora of activities that can be done on Graythwaite Estate such as a clay pigeon shooting and sailing and they can also provide picnics, afternoon teas, and BBQs and you can have food delivered to the estate from local businesses or the super market.
The estate is lovely to walk around. It’s really beautiful, it’s push chair and dog friendly. We had glorious weather and spent a couple of hours on a walk one day.
Out and About
The Lake District is such a big place, so you won’t be stuck for fun things to do!
Hawkshead is 4 miles away, and is a very lovely, picturesque town filled with quaint shops selling craft beer, chutneys and other delights. It has a great park too which the kids loved running around in.
We went to Ulverston town center one day for the historical market held on a Thursday – I must say this was disappointing. I think there were 4 stalls, and a very basic indoor market. There are some nice shops though, including an old fashioned sweet shop.
Boweness is great for a day out. It’s really beautiful, located on lake Windemere. It’s a very busy tourist spot, and a great place to grab lunch and boat watch!
We were able to go on a short cruise one afternoon. It departed from Lakeside, and lasted about half an hour. It was really interesting, and very picturesque. We did think the baby would sleep through it but in actual fact he cried for most of it. We still really enjoyed it though! It cost £6.90pp and you can find out the details here.
There isn’t much to do near by, we drove everywhere for the whole week, except for one night when my husband and I left the baby with his Nana and Auntie, and we walked to the nearest pub. The Eagles Head is 3.8 miles inland, and has a sign outside of it stating it is the last pub for 5 miles. It was a gorgeous walk, mostly along the road. We passed a few farm houses on the way, and a couple of people said hello to us, and we saw some deer. It took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there, and just a little more to get back, as the hills were tougher and I could slowly feel blisters forming on my ankles.
The pub itself is lovely. Very friendly staff, refreshing ale, and delicious pie!
All in all, we had a lovely holiday. The cottage was really cosy and spacious, the estate is beautiful, and the Lake District is just a wonderful place to visit!