“You’ll be fine, so long as you avoid that ledge”.
It’s quarter past three on a Tuesday afternoon, and somehow a six-foot plus man in a green and black wetsuit is insisting I do a running jump into the second largest lake in England, from a grassy precipice where there appears not enough space to stand, let alone run.
I also can’t see the ledge.
Colin (the man in the green and black wetsuit) leapt off through the raindrops and into the dark waters of Ullswater a few moments beforehand. His form was perfect, a limb-stretching star press catapulting him towards the invisible X beneath the inky water.
My attempt is not starting so well.
After a false start on a stuttering 3-2-1 countdown, I pull at my my tight orange swimcap, swear under my breath, and swear some more. I hate edges, I’m not particularly fond of heights, and after twenty minutes of proper wild swimming for the first time ever, my natural inclination is not necessarily to reenter.
Eventually I leap, trying to propel my body forward, outward, and upward all at the same time in an unpoetic whirlwind of arms and legs.
I miss the ledge, wherever the hell it is, as the bracing waters wash over me.
“Can you just do that again?”, squawks Emily from the bankside. “I need to get a better photo”.
I swear under my breath, and swear some more, before obediently squelching my way upwards back towards the grassy precipice.
I haven't felt this alive in weeks.
The day before, via a talkative taxi ride with a previously unknown British accent (proper Cumbrian as it turns out), a quick check-in and change inside our room number nine at Another Place, The Lake, and a sprint to take a punctual paddle steamer, we were half-way up a blustery hillside talking to sheep. All this a mere five hours after leaving the madding crowd of Euston station.
The mountains, waters, and forests of the the Lake District, England’s largest national park, have moved poets and painters. Wordsworth’s wanderings, lonely as a cloud, were inspired by its lonesome landscapes.
Emily however is trying to speak to sheep.
It’s the first time our hiking boots have been put to use after a starring role on our recent South America trip. Their countryside cameo brings a timely reminder of the small pleasures of how, once we leave the city, the slowed down rhythms of a simple walk on a simple trail reawakens necessary elements within. It gives a chance to breathe, and breathe again, and release the concrete and sirens which sometimes become a numbing backdrop to daily life back there.
The opportunity to bury the phone in a backpack and look up and beyond, not down.
The modus operandi of Another Place, The Lake seems to be to give its guests balance in their guests’ search for, well, balance. Unsurprisingly, many come here from London, Glasgow, or Manchester, looking to escape it all for a weekend or a week.
In its some parts old, some parts new stack on the shores of Ullswater (which we’re told is sort of like the hipster Berlin lake to the busier, more mainstream Paris city break of Windermere across the hills), their daily chalkboard tells us about activities we can do on and by the water - from SUP, to wild swimming lessons, boat rides, and walking trail for families to the more intrepid.
Or, we can choose to do none of these things and simply slip into the more welcoming early June waters of its indoor pool and pamper ourselves in the Swim Club (essentially a spa with a cooler name).
Relax. Be adventurous. Relax, then be adventurous. Be adventurous, and then relax.
We opt to split our time between these two states, as one clearly complements the other here.
The hike to the top of Hallin Fell and dinner in Rampsbeck restaurant. A luxurious long lie - our first after a whirlwind few weeks of travel, packing, deadlines, and moving - and a late morning swimming lengths in a pool made for Instagram with views of the hills, and massages before that more bracing bout of wild swimming as the afternoon rain cast hypnotic shapes on the surface of Ullswater.
Making the body work, so that it deserves and appreciates those soothing moments of half-awake slumber in another place, far from the city.
Or forcing it, in a squelching wetsuit, to jump in for the second time.
Another Place, The Lake | The Essentials
We truly enjoyed our two-night, three-day hosted stay at this relaxed hotel on the shores of Ullswater.
Another Place, The Lake is a 15-minute drive from Penrith Rail Station, or a 30-minute bus ride and short walk. Personal highlights included the excellent vegetarian options at breakfast and in the Rampsbeck restaurant, an endless supply of Tunnocks Teacakes, its wonderful indoor pool, free thermoses for guests to take on hikes, a muddy boots rack in the doorway, excellent information on local activities and day-trips, and its peaceful isolated setting and grounds ripe for sunset walks by the lake.
It’s also incredibly doggy-friendly, as evidenced by the beautiful pooches sitting calmly beneath tables throughout the day, and for those of you with little people, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s free child care (there’s a reason this place is quite popular with families) and all sorts of entertainment and facilities to make yours - and their - stay more enjoyable.
Oh, and Emily still dreams of that bathtub in room number nine. She’s never felt so decadent!
To find out more or make a booking, you can visit their website here.
We were invited to experience Another Place, The Lake - all opinions and photos are however our own.