Northern Lake District and Borrowdale

Warning: This holiday has passed. Please return to the holidays section to view all current and future holidays.

The Lake District is an area of immense beauty, great diversity and striking contrast from its high fells to deep valleys, by its cascading rivers, tarns and great lakes, by woods, fields and its lovely quaint villages and hamlets. Cumbria’s mountainous landscape, deepest valleys and longest lakes have provided inspiration for generations of artists, poets and writers from Wordsworth, Ruskin, Wainwright and Beatrix Potter

England's largest National Park is now a World Heritage Site, home to Scafell Pike - its highest mountain, Wastwater - its deepest lake and thriving communities like Keswick and Bowness-on-Windermere.

Walking in the Lakes is a lifelong ever changing experience. It offers a vast range of very good, well maintained paths which give you full access to the hills, fells and lakes. No matter where you walk, whether it be along the valley, or to the crest of a low level hill you are rewarded with a 360 degree panorama of fells and beauty.

Whatever the weather, throughout the seasons the Lake District offers an ever changing kaleidoscope of mood and colour. It really is one of the most special places on earth and really needs to be visited and its paths walked.

It is hard to believe that Borrowdale, now part of the National Park, was once a hive of industrial activity with iron smelting, charcoal burning, and mining for copper and graphite.  Scattered hamlets reflect the Nordic influence in their names, while stone walls and vernacular buildings chronicle centuries of farming.  Today farming struggles to make a living Leading south from Derwent water, Borrowdale is surrounded by rugged crags, inviting fells, old mine workings and wooded valleys with clean rivers.  The fine sessile oak woodlands are of particular ecological interest, and the damp, western climate supports internationally important lichens, mosses and insects.  An alder woodland and marsh along the shores of Derwentwater provide an ideal nesting site for wildfowl and waders aisitors play an important role in sustaining the local community.

 

Accommodation and Food

We stay at the Glaramara Hotel in Borrowdale - see  www.glaramarahouse.co.uk

Glaramara is a privately owned hotel which is run by an experienced and professional team whose aim is to make your visit a memorable and rewarding one.

The serene setting of Glaramara offers you the most perfect Lakeland retreat.The location of the hotel is particularly striking with commanding views of the Borrowdale Fells and the hotel is nestled into the hillside.The hotel is set in over 5 acres of private ground with stunning views from all aspects and nearly all of the hotels elegant rooms provide magnificent views of the surrounding Cumbrian Fells

The hotel facilities include a spacious lounge and bar each with log fires, a wrap around sun terrace to soak up the views, a drying room and free wi fi throughout.

It really is a very tranquil retreat.

The hotel bedrooms are equipped to a very high standard and have been very recently all been renovated. The bedrooms we have been allocted are single rooms - should you wish to guarantee a twin, or double room for sole occupation then please request this when you book as the hotel has many single rooms for us.However there is a charge of £10 per night for these rooms.

Dinner is a feature of our holiday with a three course evening meal with a changing daily menu complimenting our walking and is part of our social atmosphere.

Lunch is either a hearty packed lunch or we aim to call at local pubs where appropriate or we take a heart packed lunch from the hotels kitchen

Your guided walking programme

 

Our North Lakes holiday is based from the most stunning Lakeland retreat Hotel in Borrowdale which is situated 8 miles south of Keswick in the picturesque hamlet of Seatoller in the very beautiful Borrowdale Valley. Our hotel location offers us a great variety of great walks straight from the hotel door and offers us either low level valley walks or the opportunity to ascend fantastic mid level fells and peaks. Our location opens up the options of visiting the following valleys of  Honister, Buttermere, Crummuck Water, Langstrath and walking through the pretty hamlets of Rosthwaite, Seathwaite, Grange and Watendlath. We will also be able to visit some very well known landmarks such as Ashness Bridge, castle crag, Honister slate mine and Borrowdale Bowder Stone and walk some parts of the Coast to Coast and Cumbria Way path networks.

Our options are endless and we will match our walks to the weather and to the needs of the group. 

We start walking on the first day - the start date of the holiday- at 2.30pm, with a lovely introductory walk of about 2.5 hours- get to kow us, and each other on the holiday.

Getting to Borrowdale

By car - follow your SatNavs instructions.

M6 - junction 38 for Keswick then follow signs for Borrowdale and Seatoller once you reach Keswick

By Train - Penrith is the nearest station. See www.railenquiries.co.uk

There is a bus service to Keswick from Penrith and from Keswick to Seatoller. Taxis are also available.

Great reasons to join us

- meet new friends in a relaxed walking and social  atmosphere

- beautiful countryside to walk through and enjoy

- super value for money- no single supplement

- professional, friendly walk leaders who are passionate and knowledeable about this area

- lovely country hotel with super food

 

 

Holiday Highlights

Fabulous Lake District scenery-  Borrowdale, Skiddaw, Derwentwater

- Fabulous Autumn scenery- the russets, browns and oranges that make our Lake District autumn so vibrant

- Simply superb vista's every day.

- Some of the best walking in this country

- Lovely country house hotel and fabulous food.

- No single supplement 

- Our relaxed social approach

-Meet new friends that turn into old friends

 

Whats Included

What you get on a Secret Hills break

  • Hotel bed and breakfast– en suite
  • Sole occupancy- no single supplement
  • Three course dinner
  • Lunch
  • Personal service
  • Expert guiding
  • Transport to walks start if necessary
  • Flexibility
  • A social, relaxed approach
  • No single supplement
  • Joining details prior to the holiday
  • Administration support from reservation to the date of your holiday

Great reasons to join us

Great reasons to join us

There are other walking holiday companies that cover the Lake District but we believe we offer the best value for many reasons….

  • We are a small friendly company
  • We have a loyal customer base who return again and again (so we must be doing something right) – read our testimonials page on the website
  • We offer a lot of flexibility – you can stay extra nights which we are happy to organise for you. We are also very flexible on the walks we provide, adapting to suit walkers and weather conditions
  • Our walk leading is second to none. Unlike some other large Walking Companies, we use LOCAL leaders who live in the area and who love their surroundings. They have expert knowledge of everything you need to know to make an area come alive.
  • You are safe in our hands – our guides are experts, fully qualified in first aid. Also, because of their local knowledge of the hills, they can respond to any situation that might for example demand cutting short a route. They don’t need to consult maps – they know the hills intimately.
  • Our leaders are all easy-going, genuinely sociable people who want to ensure that you have the best time you can with the rest of the group. They make the weekend fun by engaging with all members of a group, and ensuring that everyone feels part of the group experience.
  • We give great value for money. Because we recognise that lots of walkers holiday on their own, we have negotiated no single supplement deals with all our hotels to ensure the best possible deal.
  • We always use good hotels. Our hotel in beautiful Borrowdale is set in lovely surroundings and the standard is really good.
  • We have smaller groups than some of the larger walking companies, because we believe the social experience is much better in a smaller group. People can talk to everyone, especially at dinner where you can all sit on one table in a small group. Our numbers vary from holiday to holiday but an average group size would be 8-12.

Customer Reviews

Margaret Leach - Northern Lakes September 2019.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Hotel was excellent. Very comfortable and welcoming. Staff very friendly. Food choices excellent. Great quality. The guides were very informative. Took us on very scenic routes. Well organised. The briefing each evening was useful. Yes, would definitely consider Secret Hills holiday again. The perfect holiday for me as a solo traveller. I was well looked after in a safe and friendly environment.

 

Sharan Macdonald - Northern Lakes September 2019.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The walks were fantastic and Jill was an excellent guide, supported by Joe. Organization of holiday was perfect. I felt it was neither under or over organised, as Jill regularly checked out how we are doing whilst providing the structure. Very much enjoyed the Northern Lakes, not having known what to expect. The small group was great, and I hope to repeat the experience at some point in the future. Big thanks to Jill in particular! "


Arthur Hasler - Northern Lakes September 2019.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A very pleasant break. Thanks to Jill for making it all work so well. The hotel was very good. Helpful and friendly staff, and a good standard of catering. Organizing of holiday? It all worked well for me, so I can’t find fault with any of it.

Keith Barker - Northern Lakes September 2019.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Glaramara hotel was excellent – I couldn’t fault it. Everything about it exceeded my expectations.  As a first-timer on walking holidays, the guides were the most important part for me. Both Jill and Joe were very friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating, and great hosts. Organisation very good – everything was very well run. I was a slightly apprehensive first-timer walker. Jill was very welcoming and made us all feel at ease from the start. It was really good to know you were in safe hands, and there is no way I could have found all the places we visited on my own. Everyone in the group was really friendly, the hotel was amazing and I had a great time.

 
Carol Kenny - Northern Lakes  August 2019. 
Another very enjoyable holiday. The hotel accommodation and food was excellent. The location was ideal and made for easy access to the walks. Both Jill and Paul were excellent leaders and very knowledgeable of the area. The choice of walks were varied and enjoyable. The holiday was organised very well.  I will book another holiday and recommend to others.
 
 
Andrew Cook - Northern Lakes July 2019.
I was very happy with the hotel. The staff were very attentive, and you felt wanted. The food was of a very high standard and the choices were different every night which you don’t always get with other hotels, so that was satisfying.  Both Jill and Paul were really good guides and despite a couple of iffy days we still managed to make the most of it. Because the hotel was so close to the fells, we always had a good choice of what we could do depending on the weather. So, we could go into a different valley and avoid some of the rain.  I would be very happy to book another holiday.
 
 
Fikerte Gizaw - Northern Lakes - April 2019.
 
It was my first time to go on a walking holiday.  Thanks to Jill and Paul who is very attentive and paid a lot of attention to detail to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves while setting a pace to accommodate the beginners as well as the advanced. Gill made the walk fun and memorable while Paul knew when to say the right words to reassure us.  The group I was with was very pleasant and easy to get on with.  Gill stayed with us in the evening to brief us and constantly checked we were happy with the service provided. You have exceeded my expectation. Most definitely I will book another SH holiday and will also recommend to friends
 
 
Lynda Kilkenny - Northern Lake - April 2019.
 
The guided walking holiday was excellent, beautiful scenery and really great walks.
People had varying degrees of walking experience and levels of fitness that the two guides dealt with superbly.  I felt that I got support and motivation to do more than I expected I could do, to enjoy myself and the beautiful area we were in fully.  I had a lovely time with a great group of people.  Jill our guide was welcoming and warm and really cared about whether we were enjoying ourselves as well as ensuring we had achieved something new in terms of walking challenges. 
Organisation of holiday? I couldn’t have asked for better.

 
 
 
Holly Turner -Northern Lakes - April 2019.
 
The questions that were asked at the booking stage reassured me that the walking ability and experience of everyone in the group would be accounted for. The hotel was very comfortable and the staff were excellent. The food was amazing. Both guides were knowledgeable and friendly and we were presented with various options throughout each day. The group was able to split on one day, with some of us opting for a higher walk whilst the rest remained on a lakeside path. I’ve already started thinking about what my next holiday will be. I’ve been talking about the company to other people and I would certainly recommend it to friends. I had a fabulous time on this holiday. The two guides, Jill and Paul, were fantastic and made sure that we were all getting the best out of the experience.
 
 
Lorraine Bassett - Northern Lakes - April 2019.
 
The Pre-Holiday information gave me everything I needed to know. Superb organisation. The hotel was brilliant. Excellent food and service. The staff in the hotel were very attentive and genuinely keen to make sure that I was happy with everything.
Jill and Paul were excellent guides. They provided good walks each day and gave the option of different grades of walks on two occasions, which I very much appreciated. They are passionate about the lake district and gave us lots of information along the way, which I like.  It's about enjoying the scenery, learning something about the area and socialising with others in the group. I did however, surprise myself by completing walks which I would not have attempted on my own. The group of people on the walk were lovely.  We had a great time, both walking and in the evening. Everyone got on really well together and I hope to meet them again on other walks. 
 

 

Borrowdale and the Northern Lakes, Autumn 2018

 

I recently went on the first Secret Hills short break to Borrowdale and thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.  What a lovely setting the hotel was in, nestled away far from the crowds.  I was soon checked in and joined the group for the first meeting,   Jill the leader was welcoming and bubbling with enthusiasm, I’m sure we all felt relaxed straight away.

 

We had a good first walk from the hotel that first afternoon.  It was a cloudy & sunny afternoon and after a very short time we were all admiring the views. 

(IMG 0805).  A lot of us had been on walking holidays before but there were a couple that hadn’t.  They soon settled in however,  I have yet to experience a group that isn’t full of nice people who soon help any initial anxieties melt away.

 

The next day’s walk was a full day one.  It had obviously been carefully planned with a “Plan B” in case of bad weather.  The weather wasn’t brilliant and we weren’t able to go the higher route but with all these lovely new people to chat to it didn’t matter.  The scenery was still wonderful and varied. By the end of the day my shoulders were aching as the rain had penetrated my not totally waterproof coat but after the bus ride back I enjoyed the lovely hot shower even more. 

 

The second day’s walk I don’t think could have been any better.  With sunshine and no wind the light was amazing and we were treated to one glorious view after another, quite simply the best autumn walk I have ever had in my whole life – EVER!  I mean look at these pictures from the end of the day, and I have about 50 more!

(IMG 0845 IMG 0846).

 

Another stunning walk up to Castle Cragg on the final morning followed by lunch brought the holiday to a close.  It had been a complete tonic.

 

I could go on and on and write loads about the rooms, the evening meals, the breakfasts, the company, the organisation, but in summary - it was all fabulous.  I have no hesitation in recommending this short break.  I might well go again myself next year…..

 

A beautiful setting. It was lovely to feel secure in the knowledge that we were taking the best route and Jill had a superb knowledge of the area as well as an obvious love for it. The holiday was extremely well put together, accommodation, timing (autumn colours), knowledgeable guides. You even did a good job with the weather! I would have no hesitation in booking another holiday or advising others to do so. The group seemed to gel very well and I am sure that this was to a large part down to the people skills of Jill and Joe. "

 Bev McCarthy - November 2018

 

 Very much enjoyed my holiday in the lakes two weeks ago. Jill and Joe were excellent guides helping the less able of us without fuss. Can't stop showing friends the views and saying how good the hotel was. Warm rooms, hot water, good food and the luxury of a drying room. Met lots of interesting people and will be booking Scotland for next year. Thank Jill again for her leadership in all aspects of the holiday and yes the wow factor was there in abundance. Regards Sandy.

Sandy Baker - Northern Lakes 2018

 

Easy walks; beautiful scenery, autumn colours and dramatic lake reflections. 5- stars.

CT Yuen- Northern Lakes November 2018

 

Liz Mills -  Northern Lakes October 2018. Jill (walk leader) was a great host warm and welcoming. She was also caring, listened to what we said and thought on her feet when needed. Moreover,when one of our group had difficulty getting down a rather slippery slope she was there to hold their arm and give support. That to me says a lot.
 

Northern Lakes October 2018 Today was the best autumn walk I have ever had in my whole life! Thank you Jill, you have been an excellent guide and I would not hesitate to go on another of your holidays x"

- Lynne Dale - November 2018


 

"Northern Lakes October 2018 Had an amazing time! Thank you Jill for your warm welcome and expertise. Your knowledge and guidance was fantastic. I saw some amazing sights and took an abundance of photos of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. Would definitely recommend this area of the Lakes. In addition, your choice of hotel was brilliant: warm, comfortable and the food was delicious. Well done Secret Hills!"

- Kerry Steele - November 2018 Northern Lakes October 2018 

Lynne Dale - Northern Lakes Holiday October 2018

Borrowdale and the Northern Lakes, Autumn 2018- A clients view

 

I recently went on the first Secret Hills short break to Borrowdale and thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.  What a lovely setting the hotel was in, nestled away far from the crowds.  I was soon checked in and joined the group for the first meeting,   Jill the leader was welcoming and bubbling with enthusiasm, I’m sure we all felt relaxed straight away.

 

We had a good first walk from the hotel that first afternoon.  It was a cloudy & sunny afternoon and after a very short time we were all admiring the views. 

(IMG 0805).  A lot of us had been on walking holidays before but there were a couple that hadn’t.  They soon settled in however,  I have yet to experience a group that isn’t full of nice people who soon help any initial anxieties melt away.

 

The next day’s walk was a full day one.  It had obviously been carefully planned with a “Plan B” in case of bad weather.  The weather wasn’t brilliant and we weren’t able to go the higher route but with all these lovely new people to chat to it didn’t matter.  The scenery was still wonderful and varied. By the end of the day my shoulders were aching as the rain had penetrated my not totally waterproof coat but after the bus ride back I enjoyed the lovely hot shower even more. 

 

The second day’s walk I don’t think could have been any better.  With sunshine and no wind the light was amazing and we were treated to one glorious view after another, quite simply the best autumn walk I have ever had in my whole life – EVER!  I mean look at these pictures from the end of the day, and I have about 50 more!

(IMG 0845 IMG 0846).

 

Another stunning walk up to Castle Cragg on the final morning followed by lunch brought the holiday to a close.  It had been a complete tonic.

 

I could go on and on and write loads about the rooms, the evening meals, the breakfasts, the company, the organisation, but in summary - it was all fabulous.  I have no hesitation in recommending this short break.  I might well go again myself next year…..

 

 

 

The Lake District - magnificent in all seasons

The Northern region of the English Lake District National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty. With lakes, mountains, delightful small towns, villages and hamlets set among magnificent landscape this is somewhere to escape from the pressures of modern living. Visitors to this area come for many different reasons, some simply enjoy looking at the scenery, some will paint or use cameras to capture the views, while others will walk the valleys and climb the fells. Cycling as well as walking  is a popular activity here, either on the roads or "mountain biking" on lanes, bridleways and specially created tracks. Open water swimming, kayaking and sailing takes place on some of the lakes, and some of the fells provide perfect "launch platforms" for those who like to paraglide over the valleys and lower fells.

The normally accepted boundary between the North and South areas of the Lake District is a line through Dunmail Raise. This is the pass which connects the Vale of Grasmere in the South to the Thirlmere valley in the North. This is the only low level route between North and South Lakes, reaching only 238 metres above sea level, and is the route for the A591 Keswick to Kendal road. The "Raise" is a stone cairn which is at the top of the pass, now on the reservation between the dual carriageways of the A591. This is the dividing line used for the content of this website.

The region around Keswick including Borrowdale an Derwentwater is probably the most visited in the Lake District after Windermere on account of its dramatic scenery and particularly the manner n which natural attractions such as Lodore Falls, Bowder Stone were dramatized by the Lakeland literary circle of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey and so on, and the Lakeland Painters. Keswick is also a magnet for climbers  while nearby Catbells is probably the most-climbed peak in the lake District. This region also provides a huge diversity of scenery from the high peaks of Scafell and Great Gable above Borrowdale, to the ancient woodlands around Lodore, and tranquil meadows around Bassenthwaite and Wythop. There are also numerous attractions and distractions from sailing and climbing schools, to the boats on Derwentwater, the Cars of the Stars museum in Keswick, the mining museum and railway at Threlkeld, the visitors centre and osprey watch at Whinlatter, the slate mines at Honister and cultural attractions such as Castlerigg Stone Circle, Mirehouse and St Bega's church at Bassenthwaite.
Leading south from Derwent water, Borrowdale is surrounded by rugged crags, inviting fells, old mine workings and wooded valleys with clean rivers.  The fine sessile oak woodlands are of particular ecological interest, and the damp, western climate supports internationally important lichens, mosses and insects.  An alder woodland and marsh along the shores of Derwentwater

Northern Lakes and Borrowdale

 It is hard to believe that this valley, now part of the National Park, was once a hive of industrial activity with iron smelting, charcoal burning, and mining for copper and graphite.  Scattered hamlets reflect the Nordic influence in their names, while stone walls and vernacular buildings chronicle centuries of farming.  Today farming struggles to make a living and visitors play an important role in sustaining the local community

 

Here is much of historical and literary interest in the area, including the late Neolithic  Castlerigg Stone Circle just east of Keswick, and the medieval pack horse bridge at Ashness.  It has long been a favourite haunt of writers and artists.  Friars Cragg at the Keswick end of the lake and one of the most favourite view points in the Lake District, is where John Ruskin awoke to aesthetic experience as a child, and St Herbert’s Island, sanctuary of the hermit in the seventh century, was Beatrix Potter‘s ‘Owl Island’ in the Tale of Squirrel Nutkin.
 
Leading south from Derwent water, Borrowdale is surrounded by rugged crags, inviting fells, old mine workings and wooded valleys with clean rivers.  The fine sessile oak woodlands are of particular ecological interest, and the damp, western climate supports internationally important lichens, mosses and insects.  An alder woodland and marsh along the shores of Derwentwater provide an ideal nesting site for wildfowl and waders.  Brandlehow, on the west shore of Derwentwater, was the first large ‘property’ to be bought by the Trust in 1902.
 Borrowdale splits into 3 valleys, Watendlath, Stonethwaite and Seathwaite, each with it’s own distinctive character.  The National Trust’s estate also includes the Western half of Derwentwater and half the western shore with the fells behind, the eastern shore up to the watershed with Thirlmere, and the land around Seatoller up to Honister pass, with Seathwaite and Stonethwaite.  There are a number of National Trust farms within the three valleys, managed by tenant farmers.

View My Account
Our Promise To You
You matter to us & we promise to provide you with a superb walking & social holiday, tailored specifically to your needs. We provide walking holidays for walkers & as walkers ourselves, we appreciate & understand the requirements of a walking holiday.

What Others Said...

Thank you for orchestrating a lovely week, including lining up special transportation for us. What a great group we had!

Rita Williams Wye Valley

Featured...