There are few places in Britain that can match the majestic, spectacular landscape of the Lake District.
This stunning setting is hardly a well kept secret and not surprisingly is one of the most visited places in the UK.
Last year more than 18 million people flocked to this beautiful national park.
So how can you go about enjoying this awesome landscape away from the hubbub of the main tourist centres of Windermere, Ambleside and Keswick?
The answer could well lie in the quaint and charming market town of Cockermouth on the very edge of the Lake District.
During our weekend escape to the Lakes we enjoyed a two night stay at the Trout Hotel right in the heart of Cockermouth and on the banks of the River Derwent.
The independent four star hotel has a contemporary style and definitely has a luxury feel to it.
The place underwent a full refurb only last year and you can certainly tell - plush carpets and ‘new’ feel to the decor.
Our ground floor room was spacious and had all the amenities you would require.
Not only that but the room also overlooked the adjacent fast-flowing river.
After a couple of hours pottering around Cockermouth - which has many pretty buildings and a plethora of pubs and restaurants - we returned to the hotel to freshen up ahead of dinner.
We had a reservation in the hotel’s main restaurant - the AA Rosette winning Derwent Restaurant.
We chose from the A’la carte menu and enjoyed a sumptuous three course meal washed down with a lovely bottle of red.
I have no hesitation in saying my main course - pot roast pheasant with grapes, bacon and cabbage - was one of the best restaurant plates of food I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
After dinner we retired to the hotel’s modern and stylish terrace bar for a couple more drinks before bed.
On the Saturday morning - after an excellent cooked to order hotel breakfast - we headed out for a day away from Cockermouth to indulge in some family history delving elsewhere in Cumbria.
Later in the afternoon we had an amble along the edge of the impressive Bassenthwaite Lake, just a 10 minute drive from cockermouth.
For our second and final night in Cumbria we elected to once again eat at the hotel, this time in the bistro.
Once again we both thoroughly enjoyed the food which was of a very high standard.
We checked out of the hotel on Sunday morning ahead of some more exploring of this wonderful part of the world.
Our scenic half an hour or so drive took us past the stunning and moody Crummock Water before we parked up and enjoyed a bracing two hour hike in the wind and rain along the edge of the beautiful Buttermere.
This was the first time I have visited either of these two lakes but it is fair to say I was utterly enchanted by them both. Easily my two favourite bodies of water in the Lake District.
After a cosy pub lunch we then headed home to Sheffield and our fantastic weekend break was over.
A weekend is not long enough to take in the full splendour of the Lake District but it is enough to give you a decent taster of this part of the world.
And it’s fair to say the Trout Hotel in Cockermouth provides an excellent base from which to see the lakes.
The hotel both luxury and affordability as well as being in a very convenient location.
For more information about the hotel visit trouthotel.co.uk