Pick up your rental car in Manchester for the little less than 2 hour drive to Windermere. Your first sight is Windermere Lake, the largest natural lake in the Cumbria and England. Bowness-on-Windermere is the Lake District's most popular visitor destination, as people come to enjoy the lake for sailing and water sports. After checking into your hotel, relax or do some exploring on your own. After lunch, make the short drive to Hill Top for an exclusive visit to Beatrix Potter's 17th-century farmhouse. Bought in 1905 with proceeds from her first book, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, she used Hill Top itself and the surrounding countryside as inspiration for many of her subsequent books. Full of her favorite things, this house appears as if Beatrix had just stepped out for a walk. Every room contains a reference to a picture in a 'tale'. The lovely cottage garden is a haphazard mix of flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables. Make your way up the garden path to the front door and see for yourself why Beatrix loved this place. This stop is a must for anyone who wishes to know more about the remarkable lady behind the much loved children's stories. Returning back to your hotel, the remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Today, you'll take an exciting trip on the Ravenglass & Eskale Railway; one of the oldest and longest narrow gauge railways in England. The heritage steam engines transport passengers from Ravenglass to Dalegarth for Boot. (that's the name of the station). The journey takes 40 minutes each way with 7 intermediate request stops, which are perfect for walking. There are both covered and open-top carriages based on the weather. Departures are every hour from 9:25am.
Later in the afternoon, and just a short drive from Ravenglass is Muncaster Castle. The castle has been home to Penningtons for over 800 years. In 1208 the land was granted to the Pennington family, and it is still their home. Probably only due to the magical "Luck of Muncaster"; a glass drinking bowl belonging to Henry VI. He gave it to the family in 1464, declaring that as long as it remained intact, Penningtons would live and thrive at Muncaster. The castle sits amid 77 acres of woodland gardens where the rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas are at their best. After touring, take your afternoon tea in the Billiard Room, overlooking the castle lawns. Enjoy a selection of sandwiches, homemade cakes, and scones, plus a choice of tea or coffee.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Windermere)
After a leisurely breakfast, make the short 15-20 minute drive to Grasmere and check into your hotel. Explore their quaint shops, cafes and pubs, or walk the footpaths along the west shore of the lake. Take time for a break with a stop at the famous Gingerbread Shop for a tasting and learn how a working class cook invented this culinary sensation. In the afternoon, you'll visit Rydal Mount, the historic home of William Wordsworth. This was William Wordsworth's best loved family home for the greater part of his life from 1813 to his death in 1850 at the age of 80. The 5 acre garden remains just as he had designed it.
(Breakfast, Windermere; Accommodations, Grasmere)
The morning is free for relaxing or exploring the village on your own. After lunch, drive to the Lakes Distillery for a tour in their beautifully restored Victorian cattle farm. After the tour, have a tutored tasting of their whisky, as well as their award-winning gin and vodka. And what better way to end your stay than with a private alpaca walk at the aptly named Alpacaly Ever After. There are now over 50 alpacas on the grounds with the most outgoing ones haltered trained who enjoy human contact. You walk them on the stunning grounds of the Lingholm Estate, and can even take them for a paddle or swim in the lake. For those who prefer not to be so up close and personal, you can see them on the grounds and visit their shop for some delightful handmade gifts, yarn and knitwear; all making great souvenirs to bring home. After a busy afternoon, return to your hotel. This evening, maybe a special dinner in one of Grasmere's fine restaurants as you fondly look back on your Cumbria stay.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Grasmere)
After breakfast, take a leisurely drive back to Manchester or on to your next Avanti Destination!