Your Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Wedding - December 2022/January 2023 (Issue 36)

STEEPED IN HISTORY Built in the 19th century for the Baroness Von Sternberg, the building’s most well-known former owner was Henry Schneider, director of the steel works at Barrow, the Barrow Flax and Jute Works and the Barrow Shipbuilding Company, who established his country residence at the Belsfield in 1869. His departure from the house early each morning was preceded by his butlers and staff descending the lawns to the lakeside carrying the entree dishes for his English Breakfast. The house became a hotel in 1892 and between 1910 and 1911 drastic alterations were made, when an entire storey was added between the existing first and second floors. During the Second World War the Hotel was requisitioned as a training centre for WRAF officers. idyllic surroundings, where Mother Nature does all the talking. As the sun set behind the hills and mist rolled in over the Lake we opened our menus and sipped our wine, the stresses of the motorway now a distant memory. I opted to start my meal with the crispy pork belly with black pudding and cider cream sauce – so good I ordered it again the following night! This was followed by the main course of Cumberland sausage with whole grain mustard mash, pickled red cabbage and red wine jus. Being a cheese fanatic, I finished with a selection of local and British cheeses, which were paired with artisan biscuits, chutney, celery and grapes. But sweet treats on the menu included glazed lemon tart, date pudding and strawberry and mascarpone cheesecake. Every mouthful was a joy and the service was impeccable. Located at the heart of the hotel is the glamorous Lounge Bar. With a warm and inviting ambience it also boasts a suite of further immaculately decorated lounges, where you can take your drink and relax overlooking Lake Windermere. That’s just what we did as we made the most of the last rays of sunshine dancing on the Lake and enjoying our extremely delicious chocolatinis (vanilla vodka, Baileys and crème de cacao – highly recommended). The smallest of the lounges we found boasted décor that reminded me of a stately home’s study. I could imagine Austen’s Mr Bennett sitting there reading a book while taking refuge from Mrs Bennett’s ‘nerves.’ Breakfast too is served in the restaurant. A welcome combination of continental self service and hot food table service, the first meal of the day is just the sort of hearty fare you’d hope to fill up on before heading out for a day exploring. Again it bears repeating how great the staff are. We were looked after by the lovely Dominika, who put a smile on our faces with her friendly manner. THE SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE After a restful night’s sleep we headed out of the Hotel via it’s rear terrace, which brings you straight out to Bowness’ waterfront, where we boarded a steamer for a half-lake cruise. Windermere Lake Cruises offers an extensive programme of options when it comes to cruising the lake, whether you want the scenic option, the full tour or island exploration. There are also combined tickets where you can incorporate another attraction. We opted for the cruise and steam train, which allowed us to see and experience much of the local area in the short amount of time we had. The steamer let us off at the Lakeside Pier and we took The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Heritage Railway to its terminus in Haverthwaite. Here, there’s a station tea room and gift shop, which we enjoyed before heading back to make our connection back at the pier. We returned to Bowness and jumped in the car to Hill Top in Sawrey near Hawkshead, the 17th-century farmhouse once home to Beatrix Potter. It was the house she bought with the royalties from the first of her books, The Tale of Peter Rabbit and is well worth a visit. Not only is the house a time capsule containing many of the author’s belongings, the village itself offers a picture-perfect spot for a romantic stroll. Keen for more of Miss Potter we wended our way back around the Lake to the opposite side and Bowness. A mere five-minute walk from The Belsfield you’ll find The World of Beatrix Potter. Primarily a family attraction it’s nevertheless well worth a visit for bigger kids for whom the tales of Peter and friends occupy a special place in the heart. These enchanting stories are brought to life in a magical recreation of the characters and their antics as you get to meet many of the famous furry faces we all know and love from our childhoods. Welcomed back to the hotel by charming manager Mark, who was surprised to hear about all that we’d packed into one day, I realised just how much I appreciated the location. Another string to The Belsfield’s bow is its location – right in the centre of Windermere’s eastern shore it’s at the heart of the action and with so much to see and do within easy reach. So, it’s definitely possible to get the most out of your honeymoon here whatever you decide to make of it. With hearts heavy at the thought of leaving the hotel we’d fallen head over heels in love with, we bundled our luggage into the car the following morning and made for home, having resolved to be back at the first possible opportunity. BOOK IT The Belsfield Hotel Kendal Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3EL 01539 442 448 Scan to view video HONEYMOON REVIEW 87