A little weekend break was planned as a surprise by Chris, but he knows how I like planning things, so he did actually tell me about it in advance and I helped find somewhere to stay. Sally’s Cottages seems to be the go-to agency if you’d like to book a holiday cottage in the Lake District and I was impressed with their easy-to-use website with plenty of options to tick included whether there’s wifi and if dogs are allowed – our major requirements. I liked the look of Comb Beck, along with its location, so we went ahead and booked it….
First of all the location is brilliant – a village called Thornthwaite close to Keswick; on a very quiet teeny tiny road and a beautiful riverside woodland walk just up the hill. Keswick was our destination due to the Pencil museum, which I have very fond childhood memories of, and was the main reason Chris was surprising me with this trip. Unfortunately we discovered it was closed and has been closed for some time for renovation. I can’t pretend I wasn’t gutted, but I’m sure we’ll go back again. Anyway, Keswick is still a very nice market town with lots of independent shops to explore, so it was still a good place to be based, not to mention the beautiful walks and drives around Derwent Water and other nearby lakes.
The cottage itself is small and quaint – not exactly beautiful from the outside, but a very friendly atmosphere on the inside. So let’s keep going with the
positives first: The bunch of daffodils left for us in the kitchen was really appreciated. It had solid thick walls (I would guess built about two hundred years ago, so although it was semi-detached there was no chance of hearing the neighbours through the thick stone! The kitchen was well equipped and modern, but nicely done with a butler’s sink and a small table by the window. Everything was spotlessly clean by the way.
There were a couple of steps up to the large living room, where there was another table which could have been extended to fit four or more people comfortably around it. In this room there was a large fireplace with a wood-burner; a cupboard full of games to play and a bookshelf full of really useful books such as walking guides, local history books and even a full set of ordnance survey maps of the whole area. From here, patio doors opened onto the balcony, which I have to say would have been absolutely stunning in the summer. It looked over a fast-flowing stream with forest up the bank opposite. Unfortunately it was too cold and wet for us to take advantage of the beautiful scenery right outside.
Up the stairs there were two pretty bedrooms – a twin, which looked over the stream side, and a double, which was fairly dark as it faced the very steep and tall bank the other side of the road. The bed was very comfortable. From our room, there were steps up to an attic room, which we all thought was very cool indeed. There was some seating and an impressive bookshelf made from an old beam and a selection of books to read (including one bizarrely called ‘Golfing for cats’ with a swastika on the spine!). The view from the window up there is the best in the house as it looks down a pretty lane towards the hills beyond. I took the mirror up to that window sill and did my make-up there in the mornings as the light was perfect there.
Although we didn’t have much luck with the wood-burner, which went out quite quickly after lighting it, and I’m not sure if the underfloor heating was working; the cottage heated up very quickly when we adjusted the thermostat for the central heating and we were very comfortable. The insulation must be bloody good! (We live in an old house and are used to it being cold and drafty!)
There were a couple of negative points that are worth mentioning if you’re considering renting this holiday cottage in the Lake District. I don’t think it’s suitable for families with babies and toddlers due to the layout. There wouldn’t be room in the kitchen for a high chair and those steps between there and the living room would worry me. The pushchair would have to stay in the car because it wouldn’t fit inside, and again there are too many steps. The bathroom was downstairs and beyond the kitchen so young children might be too scared to do that trip alone at night. For the same reasons, it wouldn’t be suitable for anyone with some disabilities.
Also, how quiet do you need it to be to sleep at night? You won’t get a speck of traffic noise, but the stream is very loud – I mean roaring loud! It may dwindle in late summer, but when we went in March, it was really loud. If you’re thinking, well how loud can a stream be? It’s really flipping loud! Do you get what I mean yet?! The double bedroom is on the quiet side, but the kids had to put up with the noise from their room. This was through double glazing, so if you need the window open in warm weather, I really don’t know how easy it would be to get to sleep.
Speaking of sleep; I didn’t get much of it because I can’t stand feather pillows. This isn’t at all a complaint because most people count them as luxurious, but I find them awful. The next day I tried to buy a pillow, but couldn’t find anywhere in Keswick that sold them. So if you’re the same as me; bring a pillow!
There’s no full-length mirror, which I found difficult because I’m vain, and because it would’ve been helpful to know what my outfit looked like before going off to take photos for my Weekly Wardrobe posts.
I was cold in the mornings as an overriding timer turned off the heating at night.
The wifi couldn’t cope with all four of us using it and kept crashing.
At 9:57am on the Monday, just as I’m looking in the folder to find out where we leave the key, I find a list of cottage rules I hadn’t seen before. We were expected to clean the oven, empty the bins and strip the beds before leaving. Now I’d really like your feedback on this – is this normal? We’ve only stayed in a holiday cottage once before and we weren’t asked to do those things. The dog wasn’t allowed upstairs or on the settees – obviously fine; but I also read something about no crumbs or yoghurt between the settee cushions. I wish I’d taken a photo of the page to
quote it more accurately, but I couldn’t help but think that I’d come on holiday to get away from cleaning; and isn’t that why we pay more than three hundred pounds to stay there for three nights? Perhaps they’d come in once to find a load of yoghurt on the settee, which I agree, if that had been me, I would’ve cleaned it up, but if you rent out your house to the public, don’t you expect things like that occasionally? So, yes, if you rent out a holiday cottage, how much cleaning you expect your guests to do? And if you’ve stayed in some, how much were you asked to do? Please let me know in the comments below.
So I’m afraid, although I’d taken the kitchen rubbish out, I didn’t have time to do the other bins in the house or do the beds. We hadn’t used the oven. (Like I said – I was on holiday – I didn’t want to cook either!)
To sum up; we had a lovely weekend away and were very happy with the holiday cottage. I’d definitely stay there again because of the location and cosiness of the place and would recommend it. I particularly liked the welcoming touches such as the flowers, the wood burning stove was all laid out ready to light; the leaflets, maps and books available and the games to play together. If you’re interested, here’s the link on Sally’s Cottages. Please click the Follow on Bloglovin button over there on the right to be notified of future posts – there’ll be one coming soon about our three days in the Lake District. Here’s our video diary of our time away, and includes a little tour of Comb Beck: