Belles on Location

Learning Vacations in England’s Lake District

Learning vacations in England mean learning everything except a foreign language for an American Travel Belle

learning vacations in England

A friend of mine is going to Chile to study Spanish… again. This must be her third or fourth time and she’s no better at speaking Spanish than when she started. She’s a very bright woman, so I can’t help but think that maybe she’s a little bit distracted during the classes.

Who can blame her? Sitting in a classroom, pen in hand, books piled on the desk, studying the subjunctive – all the while wishing she were outside? This is the last thing I would want to do when I’m in the Loire Valley, Tuscany, or heaven forbid, Barcelona (my favorite city on Earth).

For me, the language course would need to be very dynamic– we’re talking white-water rafting or maybe bungee jumping while reciting my French verbs.

A truly appealing course would have three qualities: the subject matter would have to be tied in with local knowledge; ideally, it would take place outside; and lastly, it would be a skill that I could feel measurably successful in, even though I’m learning it in a short time.

Becoming a bee-keeping, gluten-free baking, bicycle-maintaining poet/potter on learning vacations in England’s Lake District. 

Whether it’s sailing, baking, poetry, pottery, or beekeeping, the range of learning opportunities in the Lake District is astounding.

Lucy Cooks Cookery School, in Staveley Mill Yard near the town of Kendal in the Lake District, offers a wide-range of one-day courses. Ever wanted to learn how to make gluten-free bread or a traditional English pudding? This cooking school can give you the skills to make authentic English cuisine, and they also offer courses on everything from Moroccan cuisine to knife skills. (recipe for their  ‘Lake District Mature Cheddar Soufflé with a Whisky Sauce’.)

If you prefer poetry readings and workshops in the home of one of England’s greatest poets, there’s Dove Cottage, the 17th century house where William Wordsworth lived at the height of his career. The museum and gallery that operates there now hosts courses throughout the year. For listings, see the ‘What’s On’ page on their website.

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Then, with an eclectic mix of everything from bicycle maintenance to beekeeping, there’s ‘Quirky Workshop Days’ at the Greystoke Cycle Café in Penrith. On site is a 17th century Georgian house where you can expand your horizons in art, textiles, carving, and more. Their day courses come with a two-course lunch and, if you need accommodation, they can arrange that as well.

For a truly unique learning experience, why not try a day of hunting with birds of prey with English Lakes Falconry? There are short ‘displays’, week-long courses teaching you how to handle the great birds, and even owl-watching events on Winter and Spring evenings.

If we women travelers need a reason to go abroad, then a course is a great way to add a bit of PURPOSE to our trips. We may then say, ‘It’s okay that I spent two weeks loafing around the lakes, because I learned how to make gluten-free bread on the last day!’

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Best of all, the venue for all of these learning vacations is the gorgeous Lake District, which is one of the most serene areas in the world and with lots of great options for villa rentals. Although spectacular at any time of the year, there’s something about the light in the foliage in the summer… I can’t recall ever having seen so many shades of green. Just breathing in the air and letting your eyes linger on the amazing vistas, you feel energized.

I feel as though I’m already on my way to being a bee-keeping, gluten-free baking, bicycle-maintaining poet/potter.

And not having to study the subjunctive or sit with my French books?

Well, that’s just a bonus.

All photos by and property of the author.

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This article has 9 comments

  1. Annette

    Great article – there is also Higham Hall, an independent educational trust providing short courses for adults of all ages. It is near Bassenthwaite Lake.

  2. Julia

    Ooh, beekeeping — I would be all over that! Never actually have made it to the Lake District; is it still worth going out of season?

  3. Ruth

    This is fantastic, I can’t wait to explore the lake district when I get back to England. It’s my home turf but so easily overlooked when thinking about travel. I’ve missed the green of England, the one good thing about all the rain!

  4. Karen

    Last year, my hubbie and I went to look at some wedding reception venues in the Lake District. It was December, and I was simply amazed at how great the area looked, even in winter. We ended up settling on a place on Lake Ullswater.

    I would say that the Lake District is wonderful any time of year, but is at its peak in the summer months. Like Ruth said, the good thing about all the rain in England is the foliage in its beauty spots– and this one is without doubt one of the most incredible in the country.

    I’ve posted some more photos of Lake Windermere on my blog, http://www.karenregn.com so please have a look if you are interested in seeing more of England’s splendid Lake District!

  5. Krista

    I love this idea! I can’t learn a language to save my life – especially with such gorgeous surroundings to constantly distract me. 🙂 But I’d totally be up for one of these classes. 🙂

  6. Annette

    Karen, your pictures of the Lake Area were beautiful. Can’t wait to see the area when Joe & I come in June.

  7. E H Wrigley

    How refreshing to read such an interesting article, thank you!

    @Julia – the Lake District is fabulous at all times of the year – every day brings a different portrait – its even lovely in the rain – you just need different attire to enjoy it 🙂

    These ideas provide an excellent opportunity for visitors who may not want to join the activities that the rest of their party have chosen, such as high fell top walks or sailing.

    Thanks again for highlighting these interesting opportunities in England’s beautiful Lake District.

  8. Catherine

    Do you know of any Iyengar yoga venues? Sister and I are travelling this summer from Canada and I am keen to keep on top of my headstand…so to speak.

  9. Nancy

    Wonderful article! And for your next trip, perhaps you’ll consider a Learning Vacation in Italy! Il Chiostro (ilchiostro.com) has been offering arts, culture and culinary learning vacations and workshops throughout Italy since 1995.

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