Newest Review: ... locals and holiday makers keeping them busy over the bank holiday weekend. The Kings Arms, my particular favourite, offers a great menu an... more
A stunning village in the Lake District
Hawkshead in General
Member Name: Wickedinrock
Hawkshead in General
Advantages: Perfect location for sight seeing and walking, beautiful village, great pubs
Disadvantages: Very busy in summer
= Hawkshead village =
Hawkshead is a beautiful village in the South West Lake District in the vale of Esthwaite. With all the stunning views associated with the Lake District, Hawkshead has its own little community and is full of stunning churches, arches, small whitewashed cottages and squares with connections to literary greats such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Hawkshead is a short drive (or a long walk!) from some of the more well known Lake District towns such as Coniston, Ambleside and close to Lake Windermere and Grizedale Forest. It is accessible by bus from all of these places.
Cars are banned in Hawkshead centre itself which adds to the feel of a tiny countryside village and visitors must leave their cars behind at the huge pay and display car park at the bottom of the village. The village is so tiny that the car park is less than five minutes walk from anywhere in Hawkshead.
As you enter the village you pass a café selling ice creams and high tea before you reach Hawkshead Old Grammar School and the lovely Park House; a Scout and Guide Pack Holiday House. Further into the village is the beautiful 17th Century Church of St Michael & All Angels which stands high above the village and has amazing views of the surrounding area. I didn't go inside (because I was too scared without something outside to tell me I could) but it's supposed to be lovely and the grounds are kept immaculately.
The village centre consists of four pubs, two bookshops, a few delicatessen/café/ sweet shops types, a Post Office, a Beatrix Potter shop, a teddy bear shop and a Coop! My time in Hawkshead was mainly spent sitting outside one of said pubs in the sunshine with books I had bought from the bookshops! One was more traditional village bookshop where the other was a discount bookshop where a wide selection of books were priced at two for £5 which I thought was a bargain! The local food shops sold a variety of local treats including Kendal Mint Cake, Fudge, biscuits and Hawkshead's own 'Relish' range.
The pubs were all quite similar: cosy and comfortable with a mix of locals and holiday makers keeping them busy over the bank holiday weekend. The Kings Arms, my particular favourite, offers a great menu and a wide selection of drinks including local ales such as Windermere Pale Ale and Hawkshead Bitter. Food is served from 12.00-2.30 p.m. and then 6.00-9.30 p.m. which is standard of all four pubs in the village. Steak and ale pie with vegetable mash, leg of duck, sirloin steak - just some of the delicious food we tried at the King's Arms. Meals were priced between £8 and £14 which was quite reasonable, especially for someone who lives in London. The Queen's Head was another pub we visited a few times during our stay in Hawkshead. Unlike the quiet, relaxed King's Arms, the Queen's Head has televisions showing sport, and showed the Royal Wedding while we were there so was always full. Both served a similar selection of food to The Sun and The Red Lion, the other pubs in the village, all at similar prices.
= What to do =
One of the prominent buildings in Hawkshead is the Old Grammar School, whose former students included William Wordsworth. The school still has many of the original desks with markings from former students including Wordsworth himself. It costs £2 entry which I think is worth it as it includes a brief tour where you can find out about how the school worked and its former students. There is also an exhibition relating to the school's history and Wordsworth. There is an information booklet which can be purchased for £2.50. The school can be hired out and would make a wonderful venue.
For fans of Beatrix Potter's works it is worth visiting the Beatrix Potter Gallery in the centre of Hawkshead village. This tiny 17th century building was the office of Potter's solicitor husband William Heelis and now contains many of her paintings and sketches with exhibitions which change regularly. Entry is £4.30 per adult and £2.30 for children. It's a small amount of money but probably not worth paying unless you're a real fan of her work as there isn't a huge amount to see. It's one of the things that I knew I wanted to do before visiting Hawkshead but I wouldn't return. Many of the nearby shops in the village sell Beatrix Potter merchandise including the books and stuffed animals.
Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's house is close by in Near Sawrey, just one village on from Hawkshead. I didn't manage to visit, mainly because I didn't know it was so close and I would have had a real job on my hands trying to convince Alex to go to yet another house belonging to a historical figure. Apparently the house still looks like it is lived in and each rooms contains references to one of her famous tales.
Go Ape! I didn't fancy swinging from trees on my trip to the Lake District but for those who do, there's Go Ape! This is one of 27 in the country, each one providing zip lines and tricky crossings across forests including this one at Grizedale which is less than 10 minutes drive from Hawkshead. Prices are £30 for adults and £20 for under 18s which includes a half hour safety session and harnesses. The whole course is 601 metres long with the longest zip wire of 89 metres.
There are some stunning walks in the Hawkshead, the most popular being the stunning circular walk to Tarn Hows. The woodland, tarns, trees and views make it one of the busiest sites in the Lake District, especially in the summer. The area around the tarn is one of the most accessible to wheelchair users of any of the walks we took during our holiday. Another walk we took, pretty much by accident, was to the Old Man of Coniston which is the twelfth most prominent mountain in England. Just a word of warning, if you decide to take on this walk wear hiking boots and shorts or trousers. Wearing a summer dress and flipflops is not just suitable hiking gear and can cause accidents and attracts lots of annoying attention from other walkers. The ascent is very steep in parts and with rocks everywhere it would have been much easier and more fun in proper attire! There are some beautiful tarns towards the top of the mountain and the views of some of the lakes at the summit are breathtaking. The way down was virtually impossible in flipflops but I won't bore you with that! I believe that it's 3.5 miles up and down which took just under 3 hours. It would probably have been closer to 2 with hiking gear!
= Where to stay =
We stayed at The Croft campsite which we thought was excellent. We paid £18.75 for a pitch for our tent and car during the peak season, with the price dropping to £15.75 in the off season. Over a bank holiday weekend, tent pitches must be booked for at least three consecutive night which was the case for us. It was my first camping trip and I was relieved to find that the toilets and showers were of a decent standard and that there were plenty of them! Electric points had to be paid for at 20p but I didn't notice them until the last day so never bothered drying my hair. Tents are supposed to be pitched 6 metres apart which was fine until the bank holiday when more people arrived and started pitching so close that we could hear them snoring all night! The people who worked in the office are really friendly and had lots of information about the area. The campsite has a laundry, utility room for washing up and a disabled access toilet and shower room. The maximum tent size they can accommodate is 6x4 metres but I noticed that some tents were certainly bigger than this - they made our 'three man' tent look absolutely tiny. Some people who got there early pitched their huge tent, set up their own area with wind breaks, awnings and chairs and took up around four times the amount of space we had! Other campsite rules include dogs being kept on leashes at all times - thank goodness, I'm scared of dogs, and no excessive noise between 11.00 p.m. and 7.00 a.m. I wish I could say that everyone respected this, but they didn't!
The site is less than 5 minutes walk from Hawkshead village so everything was in easy reach. The Croft also rent out static caravans from £296 to £539 a week depending on the time of year. They also have 9 beautiful holiday flats which can be rented from £218 to £594.
The four pubs in the village all offer accommodation and there are numerous bed and breakfasts in the village. This site is excellent for finding out all kinds of information about Hawkshead itself and the accommodation offered. http://www.hawkshead-village.co.uk/accommodation.h tml
= Hawkshead is famous for... =
The Hawkshead Relish Company. includes jams, sauces, preserves and relishes which are favourites of top celebrity chefs such as Ainsley Harriot! The Relish range is produced using fresh local ingredients wherever possible and they do not use any artificial flavourings, colourings or additives. They have won many 'speciality producer' awards on a local, national and international scale. The products are sold in numerous shops in the village and nearby Ambleside, Coniston and Windermere. They also have an online shop! http://www.hawksheadrelish.com/
Hawkshead Clothing originated in the village and has its flagship store there. It has since opened many shops and concessions in department stores throughout the country. Hawkshead Clothing produces outdoor wear including coats, fleeces, hiking boots and wellies.
= Overall =
Hawkshead is a beautiful village which relies on tourism to keep it thriving. Unlike some of the busier, more popular areas of the Lake District there is nothing spoiled or commercial about it. We went camping under the impression that we would be walking and barbequing the whole time, however we ended up spending a considerable amount of time in Hawkshead itself, wandering round, buying books and eating or drinking in one of the village's fine pubs or cafes. When looking on Hawkshead's Wikipedia page I laughed out loud when I read that it had 'a high pub to population ratio'!
Hawkshead is a great little village in the Lakes which is well worth visiting but I'd also recommend it for somewhere to stay. It is quieter than Coniston, Windermere and Ambleside which means it is cheaper and easier to find somewhere to stay, yet it is close enough for visiting these more well known places. Its unspoiled community, friendly staff in shops and pubs who will talk to everyone, the views and the beautiful village itself made Hawkshead an absolute pleasure to visit and I would go back time and time again.
And in the frosty season, when the sun
Was set, and visible for many a mile
The cottage windows blazed through twilight gloom,
I heeded not their summons: happy time
William Wordsworth - Hawkshead, The Prelude, part 3
Summary: A lovely little village in the Lakes!
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