Last month, I spent a long weekend at Croft House in the Lake District with a fab group of bloggers. We’d been invited by Sally’s Cottages, an award-winning family run company with over 480 self-catering cottages throughout Cumbria and the Lake District. I’d had a tough few weeks and the break from real life was much needed. One of the things I was most looking forward to was a long train journey on my own with a couple of magazines and a takeaway coffee.
I was intrigued about the origins of Sally’s Cottages, and the more I read about it, the more I was excited about the retreat. Sally started her holiday home venture with one cottage in 2003. The company has since grown, with strong core values such as outstanding customer care, a friendly approach and dedication to the local community. Fifteen years on and Sally’s Cottage manage close to 500 self-catering rental cottages. What a success story!
I particularly like the way the search function on Sally’s Cottages’ website is set up. There are filters by size, date, duration, number of dogs as well as tick boxes for the following: pub within a mile, internet access, garden, wood burner / open fire. The website includes area guides and even has a section where you can pick cottages according to special features like pet-friendly cottages, groups of cottages, accessible cottages and even cottages with hot tubs.
Once you’ve decided to look more closely at a cottage, you get the usual information like its location, availability, price and how many it sleeps. You also get handy details like changeover days, how many pets are allowed, whether the garden is enclosed, WiFi, type of fire and distance to the nearest pub. I love that! As you scroll down, you can then add your favourites to a wish list by clicking a heart symbol, just like you would on social media.
After a blissful train journey one Friday afternoon, my friend Donna collected me from Penrith station. She’d driven from London with Rosie and Grace. The hour-long drive was perfect for a catch-up and Croft House was a welcome sight after a drive on windy roads.
Croft House is in Lamplugh, a hamlet in the heart of the picturesque Lake District. We had neighbours that weekend as both cottages near ours were let to other visitors, but it didn’t feel like we were in each other’s way and we still had privacy.
There was plenty of space for everyone to park and our garden was so pretty it could come out of a 19th century novel, with its bridge over a stream, woodland and wild flowers.
Croft House itself was perfect for our gathering. The house had six bedrooms and could sleep up to twelve people. The way the house was set up was quite quirky, with four bedrooms and a bathroom downstairs and the rest of the house upstairs. It had an open-plan dining and living space with squishy sofas, exposed beams and lots of natural light coming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The dining room table was enormous and easily accommodated the nine of us for meals.
The kitchen was really small for such a big house, but it was functional and contained everything we needed. There were also three bathrooms, a separate toilet and a good size entrance hall.
We didn’t actually turn on the television all weekend, but had we wanted to watch TV, we would have had access to SKY. The house had WiFi, and reception was the best near the router in the living room. We also had a washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher.
The furniture, furnishings and ornaments at Croft House were traditional and the house felt comfortable and homely. All bedrooms had a sink in apart from one, which had an ensuite bathroom. There were also wardrobes, chairs and lots of storage space in all the rooms. Bedsheets were supplied but we had to bring our own towels.
We spent most of our time at the house in the lounge area, drinking countless cups of tea and playing games on the floor or sofas, chatting a lot. It was so refreshing to have nothing to worry about or organise.
Check the little video I put together about our weekend:
On Friday night, Laura and Grace treated us to a Mexican feast and it was lovely to have such a good meal after our travels.
On Saturday morning, we drove to Loweswater and parked at the Kirkstile Inn before going for a lovely walk.
Our walk at Loweswater was just lovely: we walked and walked and walked, enjoying the scenery and talking about nothing and everything.
After our hike, some of us had lunch at the Kirkstile Inn, a traditional pub with an open-fire and an incredible selection of food.
On Saturday night, we headed towards the market town of Cockermouth, the birthplace of William Wordsworth, which was only 7 miles away from Croft House. We came home for some more silly games. I had not laughed that much in a long time. Rosie and Sarah are to blame most for the snorting that came out of me almost continuously.
On Sunday morning, after an impressive full English breakfast orchestrated by Laura, most of our little crew headed home.
Laura, Lauren and I stayed for an extra night and I didn’t get out of my pyjamas all day. We talked and worked side-by-side all day. I also treated myself to a long candle-lit bath and slept like a baby that night.
After taking the sheets off all the beds and leaving the key in the key safe outside the house (love this system!), Lauren drove me back to Penrith. I had a lovely train journey home and came back to a happy bunch of children, all excited to see their mama.