5 minutes with Zoë Dawes

Zoë Dawes aka The Quirky Traveller! Blackwell The Arts and Craft House, photo by Lakeland Arts Blackwell The Arts and Craft House, photo by Lakeland Arts Stormy Friar's Crag, Derwentwater John Ruskin Memorial on Friar's Crag, photo by Joe Cornish Zoe Dawes looking out over Rydal Water

Introducing 5 minutes with… Zoë Dawes..

Who is… a travel writer and the creative force behind The Quirky Traveller – a blog that combines a passion for adventure and discovery, with an interest in sharing unusual stories about global travel and culture.

Tell us more… I have always been interested in history and culture and The Quirky Traveller has enabled me to combine my love for these interests and travel with my love for writing. It’s also provided a platform for my additional social media training and coaching services. I try to inspire others working in the cultural tourism sector, promoting both world travel and local adventures here in the Lake District.

Why is this special to you… I have lived in this area for 18 years, but have been visiting since I was a teen. My Grandmother lived here, along with other family members and I’ve always loved the feel of the Lake District, not just the mountains or the landscape but the wider cultural virtues. The Lakes has so many points of interest along with lots of lovely pubs and places to eat and stay.. it’s got a really good vibe. I have travelled a lot over the years and seen many marvellous places, but it is the Lake District that I hanker for!

What can audiences expect… If you are an adventurous spirit interested in travel or are simply curious about new places, The Quirky Traveller explores the world from new, unexpected angles, revealing the unusual in the usual. The blog shares new and different experiences of places, and transports the reader to a world of adventure through the power of the written word.

If you could name only 3 unmissable cultural hot spots or events in the Lakes – what would they be… Firstly, I would choose Blackwell the Arts & Crafts House, as it is one of the most outstanding places to visit in the Lake District. Overlooking Windermere it is simply unique, a work of art itself and an important part of Lake District history. Built as a holiday retreat for Manchester brewery owner, Sir Edward Holt, Blackwell is the remarkable result of Mackay Hugh Ballie Scott’s inspired architectural vision. It also has a great café!

Abbot Hall needs to be on my list as it is somewhere I enjoy visiting; a world-class art gallery in a beautiful location. Levens Hall is also a stunning place to explore, with its amazing 16th century topiary gardens and if you, like me, love old historic houses then Sizergh Castle is definitely worth a visit.

If I could pick a fourth (or I think this is now my fifth!), it would be Rydal Mount. Everyone knows Dove Cottage as the home of William Wordsworth, but this is where Wordsworth moved to when he had made his name as a poet and he in fact lived here for 37 years. It has many artworks, and delightful gardens that have been restored to how they were in Wordsworth’s day.

In a nutshell how would you describe the cultural offer in the Lakes… Far more interesting and varied than you’d ever imagine, it’s a very vibrant and dynamic cultural offering – not all Peter Rabbit and daffodils! And it is continuing to evolve culturally. The Lake District is a spiritually uplifting and artistically inspiring place and this creative and scenic landscape can’t help but stimulate further creativity, generating a cultural scene as important and vital as the physical landscape of the Lakes.

And after a cultural adventure in the Lakes, where would be your ideal place to eat or stay… There are lots of hidden gems in the Lake District and also many gorgeous boutique hotels. There is a great B&B called Rum Doodle where the furnishings are themed – it’s a top quality, quirky retreat!

For fab foody places – one of my faves is Wilf’s café in Staveley..  great place and great food! For quality dining with a perfect pub atmosphere, the Strickland Arms just a few miles from Sizergh Castle is ideal. I can also recommend the Yanwath Gate Inn, past Pooley Bridge before Penrith – it has a seafood risotto to die for!

And we just have to ask.. if you could choose one view in the Lakes where would that be… I have been asked this many times and I always give the same answer! It is a little bench overlooking Rydal Water. Located an easy stroll from the car park, this spot provides a quintessential Lake District view. It is easily accessible yet you feel miles away, free to contemplate the scenery and how Wordsworth would have perceived this view in his day.

Another favourite view with a literary connection is Friar’s Crag overlooking Derwentwater. It’s a popular spot but has a supreme vista that captures the unique Lakes’ landscape with the fells and the water.. simply beautiful.

You can follow Zoë Dawes, the UK’s Best History and Culture blogger, on The Quirky Traveller

To enjoy these cultural events and much more, book your break in the Lake District here