Top wedding award for Bartle Hall

Bartle Hall Hotel Wedding Photographer Lancashire www.ashtonphotography.co.uk

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Bartle Hall Country Hotel in Preston, Lancashire has been named the top countryside wedding venue in the North West.

The hotel was named regional winner at the Wedding Industry Awards celebration event in Cheshire and will now represent the North West at the national finals in London in January.

Bartle Hall is a favourite choice for weddings, with two distinctive suites at the elegant former stately home, set in 16 acres of gardens and woodland. There is also a small summerhouse licensed for wedding ceremonies.

The awards were based on votes from couples who married at the participating venues. Nicola Haworth, who runs the hotel with her husband Andrew, said: “We are delighted that the brides and grooms who married here cast their votes for us. We have wonderful feedback from our wedding parties, and it is very pleasing to have official recognition like this.”

She added: “This is a lovely tribute to our team here: Chris Ashby, the hotel general manager; he organises the toastmasters who host the day, and Lisa Horsley, our events manager who co-ordinates the day with the wedding specialist Amy Regan.”

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The TWIA events are open to anyone in the wedding industry. Clients are asked to score venues on various aspects of their product or service. At the national finals – at the Café de Paris in London’s West End – awards will be presented in 25 categories across seven geographical regions of England. The celebrity guest for the evening will be Sky News presenter, Isabel Webster.

Bartle Hall’s wedding venues, the Windsor Suite and the Balmoral Suite, are designed to offer an ideal romantic setting for both indoor and outdoor celebrations. The gardens and pagoda provide an ideal backdrop for wedding photographs, and the hotel has won a reputation for organising bespoke and individual packages for guests who choose to marry there.

Bartle Hall, which lies off Lea Lane near the village of Woodplumpton, is on the site of premises which are known to have existed as far back as 1600. The country setting is deceptively close to transport links and the motorway network, and the hotel is open throughout the year for short breaks, country escapes, fine dining in the new Nest restaurant, and afternoon teas in the lounge, as well as business meetings and conferences.

Viking invasion for Lakes adventure race

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The Vikings are coming for a second invasion of the Lake District, this time to challenge for a triathlon title.

Danish athletes are well represented in the final tally for Windermere’s half-ironman event to be staged in the autumn next year. Entries for the race closed just two weeks after opening when the race capacity was reached.

When the event was held this year at Wasdale, Danish sportsmen including leading triathletes Kevin Mogensen , Pelle Nilsson , Jens Bonde-Poulsen and Peter Hagedorn-Rasmussen featured well in the results.

“They call themselves the Vikings,” said race director Mark Blackburn, who has moved this event and the full distance Triathlon X to Windermere. “They are tough athletes. This year, one of them finished the final 30k of the bike ride in his socks after wearing out the cleats on his cycle shoes, as he’d had to walk up the Lakeland passes.”

Mark said that he was excited by the fast uptake of entries for next year’s race: “It promises to be the most challenging event of its kind.”

Starting at Ambleside YHA at Waterhead, competitors will swim 1.9km (1.2 miles) in Windermere. The bike ride is 90km (56 miles) ascending 2,800m (9186 ft) over the big three Lakeland passes, Kirkstone via the ‘Struggle’, Wrynose and Hardnott, in both directions. “This is the steepest and most gruelling half-iron bike section anywhere in the world,” said Mark.

The final stage of the race is a 13 mile (21k) race round the Fairfield Horseshoe from Waterhead.

Meanwhile there are still places available for The X, the full distance event labelled the toughest extreme race in the world. This will also be staged at Windermere, based at the Ambleside YHA, and is offering cash prizes of £1000 to each of the male and female winners, thanks to sponsorship from kitchenware company Lakeland UK, and the region’s leading holiday cottage letting company, Heart of the Lakes.

There are also prizes from Hawkshead Relish, and Blue Seventy wetsuits. A percentage of each entry fee is going to the YHA bursary fund, Breaks for Kids, which provides disadvantaged children with adventure holidays.

The X full distance race includes a 2.4 mile swim, a bike ride over the route of the Fred Whitton challenge over all the Lakeland passes, and a marathon 26 mile run through Langdale to the top of Scafell Pike and back.

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Photos by Steve Ashworth/MovieIt

Afternoon tea will help Guide Dogs charity

Afternoon tea at Bartle Hall will do more than banish the blues this winter. It will also help the charity Guide Dogs, an organisation committed to providing independence and freedom to people with sight loss.

Every booking for the winter afternoon tea at the country house hotel near Preston will include a donation to the Guide Dogs fund.

It’s the idea of the hotel’s owners Andrew and Nicola Haworth who became involved with the charity after discussions with visitors, who are partially sighted, about the best ways to improve access and movement around older buildings such as Bartle Hall.

The Guide Dogs organisation is the world’s largest breeder and trainer of working dogs and they have helped more than 29,000 people to achieve life-changing independence. Every hour, another person in the UK goes blind. When someone loses their sight, the charity Guide Dogs is here to make sure they don’t lose their freedom as well.

“Their vision is for a society in which people who are blind and partially sighted enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else,” said Nicola. “We want to help play a small part in working towards that.”

So they invited local guide dog owner and Preston group organiser, Cheryl Johnson, to explain what they could do to help.

“Guide Dogs will not rest until people who are blind or partially sighted can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else,” said Cheryl. “The lifetime cost of a guide dog is around £50,000 and the charity relies on public donations, so we are really grateful for this initiative at Bartle Hall. It will help change lives.”

The country-estate setting and elegant interior at Bartle give visitors a sense of “getting away from it all”  and the winter afternoon teas are designed to lift the spirits, whether as an escape from the frenzy of Christmas shopping – or an antidote to the after-Christmas blues.

It’s a grand former stately home, set in 16 acres of gardens and woodland, and yet only a few minutes from the motorway and an easy drive out of the Lancashire towns and cities.

The teas also offer a chance to linger and soak up the atmosphere of the historic country mansion which has been owned by the Haworths for 25 years. They have transformed it into a luxurious and welcome hotel which is loved by wedding couples celebrating their marriages here, but also a choice for midweek business lunches, meetings, networking events and family gatherings.

There’s a newly redesigned restaurant, Nest, under the guidance of a new executive chef, Craig Brown, although the afternoon teas can be taken in the lounge.

The afternoon teas are offered at a special price of £28 for two, with a glass of “winter Pimms”, a warming blend of  blackberry, apple and cinnamon .

To book an afternoon tea call 01772 690506.

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Pictured with Nicola and Andrew Haworth are Carole Bond and Cheryl Johnson with guide dog Thelma .

Wordsworth takes Rydal Mount to culture award finals

Celebrations to mark 200 years of Wordsworth’s Daffodils reached the finals of a new landmark award in Cumbria.

A new portrait of William Wordsworth by Hideyuki Sobue, and related events, won runner-up position for Rydal Mount in the exhibition of the year awards, finishing behind two internationally renowned artists.

Hideyuki’s portrait and other work was exhibited at Rydal Mount, the poet’s home near Ambleside,  earlier this year as part of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of the final version of the world’s most famous poem.

Curators Peter and Marian Elkington also organised a celebrity literary lunch, and a poetry competition for Cumbrian schoolchildren which was judged by Christopher Wordsworth, the poet’s great great great great grandson.

Together the celebrations reached the finals of the Cumbria Life Culture Awards, where the exhibition of the year title was awarded jointly to two giants of the art world, German artist Anselm Kiefer’s “Artists’ Rooms” at Carlisle’s Tullie House, and a retrospective of the legendary sculptor Barbara Hepworth at Kendal’s Abbot  Hall Gallery.

The awards were announced at a celebration night at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake, hosted by Cumbria’s cultural icon Melvyn Bragg. Lord Bragg presented prizes across 17 categories in an evening which highlighted the wealth and diversity of the county’s cultural talent and attractions.

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In a guest speech, the eminent Cumbrian artist Conrad Atkinson declared that the contest represented the strength of the “Northern Cultural Powerhouse”.

Rydal Mount curator Peter Elkington said that he and the Wordsworth family – who still own Rydal Mount – were thrilled to be shortlisted “in such distinguished artistic company”.

“Ours is a small, if highly significant, Cumbrian attraction, and we are especially pleased for the artist, Hideyuki Sobue, that he was mentioned alongside colossal figures such as Kiefer and Hepworth.”

Japanese-born Sobue now lives in Grange over Sands, and has been a Wordsworth devotee for many years. The portrait of Wordsworth was one of a series of works on the theme of “I wandered”, the opening words of Daffodils, which were exhibited throughout the spring and summer at Rydal Mount.

A book of the same title in collaboration with Lakes-based poet Gary Boswell was published at the same time.

Sobue based the new portrait on the life mask of Wordsworth, created coincidentally in 1815, the year that Daffodils was published. It forms a diptych – two separate paintings – with a stark picture of a sea of daffodils stretching back to infinity.

He used the mask in the archives of the National Portrait Gallery in London as the basis for the new painting, which shows the poet as he would have looked 200 years ago, at the age of 45.

 

Lake District hotels dominate Trivago’s top 20 in North West

The world’s largest online hotel search site, Trivago, has revealed the results of its inaugural Top Hotel Awards, with Lake District hotels sweeping the board.  No fewer than eight Lake District venues were named in the top 20 North West Hotels, with Trivago using aggregated online user ratings in order to recognise the best-rated hotels, both regionally and nationally.

Unsurprisingly, Cedar Manor, the Cranleigh Boutique, and Nanny Brow are named in the region’s top 20, with Cedar Manor scoring an impressive rating of 94.98, the Cranleigh Boutique an equally impressive rating of 94.82 and Nanny Brow, 93.66, being placed 10th, 11th and 20th respectively.

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Cedar Manor is a luxury boutique hotel at Windermere.  The 2014 winner of Cumbria Tourism’s “best small hotel” title, the Cedar Manor went on to be runner-up in this year’s Visit England awards.  They were recently named “top small hotel, national and international” by the sustainability campaigners, Considerate Hoteliers. With a fine dining restaurant open to non-residents, Cedar Manor also annually hosts the Lake District backgammon championships.  Owner Jonathan Kaye said: “We are very pleased to be recognised as one of the top hotels in the North West by Trivago.  It demonstrates that our commitment to excellence in all areas has been recognised by our guests, which has helped us earn this award.”

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The Cranleigh Boutique is one of the Lake District’s most renowned brands.  Launched in 2007, founder, Stephen Hargreaves, has won numerous national and international accolades for his accommodation offerings, interior design and social media skills and now offers bespoke advice to other hoteliers wishing to emulate his successes.  His newest venture, the Boutique Church Suites, was named the ‘best hotel suites in the UK and second in the worldby ‘design-et-al’, at the International Hotel & Property Awards 2015 in July.  “It’s been another tremendous year for us and this acknowledgement from Trivago demonstrates that the hard work and commitment we put into our brand is working for our customers,” said Stephen Hargreaves.

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Nanny Brow is one of the county’s finest Arts & Crafts properties, with 14 bespoke suites available in this five star establishment.  Acquired in 2009 by current custodian, Susan Robinson, a complete refurbishment was undertaken, involving the sympathetic restoration of the original features, prior to opening to the public in 2011.  Nanny Brow was awarded a Cumbria Business Environment Network GOLD Award in November 2014 and has retained its 5 gold star AA award for the 2nd year running.   “We’re delighted to have been recognised in Trivago’s top 20 hotels in the North West.” said Susan Robinson.  “Excellence is at the heart of everything we do at Nanny Brow and clearly that has come across to those who have stayed with us.”

“The North West has an unusually high number of hotels in the UK top 50, setting the benchmark high in this region,” said Trivago spokeswoman, Denise Bartlett.  “The trivago Top Hotel Awards aims to judge all accommodation fairly, whether they are a B&B in Blackpool or a hotel in the Lake District.  It is really encouraging to see a range of accommodation, both in terms of price and geographical location, in our top 20.”

For further information on the top 20 hotels in the North West, as rated by Trivago, see: http://imgec.trivago.com/contentimages/press/texts/TopHotelsNorthWestv2.pdf

Caroline’s next marathon challenge

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Windermere hotelier Caroline Kaye is taking to the streets of London again in a good cause.

Co-owner of the award-winning Cedar Manor Hotel, Caroline will run the London Marathon next April, being sponsored for the Calvert Trust. It will be her second marathon, after she set herself the target of running her first before she reached 50.

This spring she was one of the race’s top charity fundraisers when she pulled in a total of more than £8000 for Lupus UK.

This time she wants to raise money for a local charity, and both Caroline and her husband Jonathan have long been supporters of the Calvert Trust, which provides challenging outdoor adventure holidays for people with disabilities. The Trust has a centre on the shore of Bassenthwaite Lake which runs breaks for schools, groups, families and individuals with their friends and carers.

They are accessible to people of all ages with sensory, learning or physical disabilities, including those with the most complex needs for which most outdoor centres cannot cater.

Caroline said: “We have been moved to tears by the wonderful work which the Calvert Trust does. I carried on training after this year’s marathon, and I’m really looking forward to having another run at London.”

Sarah Batty of the Lake District Calvert Trust said: “We are delighted to have Caroline join team Calvert for the 2016 London Marathon. We help over 4000 people with disabilities each year to take up challenges and achieve their potential through the provision of adventurous outdoor activities. We are a charity that enhances the lives of people with even the most profound physical, sensory and learning disabilities along with their friends and families.

“We need to raise over £500,000 this financial year to continue providing this service and rely heavily on donations and people raising money through our range of sponsored events. Caroline’s efforts really will make a significant and lasting difference to our visitors and their families, and we are incredibly grateful to her for choosing to support us.

“The London Marathon is an epic challenge, and we would like to wish Caroline the very best of luck with both her gruelling training regime, as well as her fundraising in the lead up to April’s event. Go for it Caroline – and remember, it’s what you can do that counts.”

If you want to sponsor Caroline, call 015394 43192

For more information about the Calvert Trust: http://www.calvert-trust.org.uk/lake-district/introduction