“Hiking” does not have to mean huge backpacks, youth hostels and baked beans eaten out of a can. Personally I prefer to hike safe in the knowledge that a four-poster bed and some quality food, along with my overnight bags, await me at the other end.
So I decided to sample Macs Adventure’s boutique walking breaks. As chief adventure officer Neil Lapping says: “There was a time when hiking holidays were all about woolly socks and a basic bed for the night, but we’ve seen a growing trend for ‘hiking chic’ – beautiful walks combined with boutique hotels. People want to know they can relax at the end of the day in a super hotel, with a great meal. Bookings for these types of trips have risen dramatically over the last year.”
This sounds sensible enough: walkers indulge in the most eco-friendly mode of sightseeing, and at the end of a hard day’s hike luxuriate in a bath and refuel on gourmet food. So that’s exactly what I did, choosing Macs’ ‘Lake District in Style’ trip. Similar trips take place in the Cotswolds and, further afield, the Amalfi Coast.
Armed with a set of idiot-proof directions, a bespoke ordinance survey map and a daypack, I set off on a few days walking I’ll never forget. Beginning on the shores of Lake Windermere I headed, via exhilarating mountain passes, pristine lakes and traditional towns, through the rugged Central and Eastern Lakeland fells to the market town of Keswick.
Highlights included a sharp and unforgettable climb past the old lead mine at Greenside and across the Eastern Fells along Sticks Pass bridleway with Helvellyn peak to the South. Another memorable few hours involved an atmospheric stroll through Grasmere, taking in William Wordsworth’s old home, Dove Cottage, after which a very steep ascent landed me in the perfect picnic lunch stop by the mountain-top Grisdele Tarn. An afternoon of ‘flatter’ walking finished with the perfect overnight stop at the 4* Inn on the Lake, overlooking the glistening shores of Lake Ullswater, near the small town of Glenridding.
Boutique walking – let’s just say it’s got legs.
Macs Adventures‘ Lake District in Style trip starts from £960 per person.