Cumbria might not seem the obvious place for a Christmas cruise, but this is what Ullswater Steamers is offering passengers in the second week of December; for £25 they even get a festive lunch in the mediaeval hall of Dalemain House, no passports required.
The Dark Lake of Arthurian Legend, Ullswater casts a magical spell over all who travel here. Sited in an area of outstanding natural beauty and biodiversity, crowned by the statuesque peak of Helvellyn, Ullswater Steamers has been offering cruises there for over 150 years. The five historic vessels steaming daily between the piers of Glenridding, Howtown and Pooley Bridge include what is believed to be the oldest passenger boat in the world – the Lady of the Lake, which was assembled and launched in 1877 from Pooley Bridge.
Pooley is just two miles from Dalemain Historic House, a stunning mansion dating from the 12th century, with an impressive early Georgian façade. The home of the Hasell family since 1679, the antique dining chairs , open bookcases and other features of the state rooms reflect the many changes which have taken place during its history.
The public Tudor and Georgian rooms are now closed until 2013, but there’s still time for visitors from Lancashire to see the antique dining chairs and tables of the magnificent Mediaeval Hall, which is also a licensed tea-room and restaurant. From 11th to 13th December, Ullswater Steamers is offering a “Spirit of Christmas” cruise, which includes a festive meal at Dalemain.
In the Ribble Valley, Victorian dining chairs and tables in the Tudor and Gothic Revival tradition are available from good antique dealers.
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