Several hours and a few too many fast food stops later we arrived in the little town of Ambleside in the Lake District. I won’t lie, the weather was bleak. Our 6.5 hour drive north of the country meant we had left London’s summer sun, what was left of it, behind. But we were filled with adventure and excited to explore a part of the country undiscovered to us.
What made it all the better was that we were discovering it in comfort and style by means of the new MINI Countryman. It was the perfect car for us. The new model has some pretty impressive features that made driving around an absolute pleasure. We even fought over who was going to take the drivers seat, which is especially rare in our case, we normally bicker over who would rather enjoy a glass of wine, and rarely volunteer to be the nominated driver!
The new model features the MINI Connected app, which acts like a personal assistant and makes planning your journey so easy. It has a route planner, travel guide and calendar rolled into one, and is surprisingly easy to use, take it from me, I am utterly useless with technology. Once you’re on the road you can check for traffic updates, weather, parking, petrol – it’s pretty much your ideal passenger neatly packed into a computer, it spared us many a google map reading argument I’m sure.
All this functionality and it’s still stylish, everything from the dashboard which is kitted out like a high spec cockpit, with LED ambient lighting to a projection of the MINI logo from the exterior mirror when opening and closing the car. This is probably why MINI remains my favourite car brand, even year’s after selling my first – a racing green MINI Cooper. I find the brand so synonymous with all things quintessentially British.
After a couple of days on Lake Windermere, the largest of the Lakes in the district, we made our way to Grasmere for a luxurious stay at The Fire Side hotel which you can read all about here. We packed up the car again, (as much as I try to pack light, it never seems possible) and travelled another hour north up the lakes. We spent the rest of the day walking round the beautiful grounds of the hotel and trying to build up an appetite for the evenings 10 course tasting menu before retiring with full bellies for a relatively early night.
The next day we were itching to get back in the car again and after a really relaxing night at the hotel we decided to do an epic off road cross mountain drive. After a morning soak in the gorgeous tub in our room we fuelled up with a hearty breakfast, threw our luggage in the boot and got back on the road. One feature worth highlighting is the powered boot, one click of the button on the keys and the hydraulic boot opens, making life ten times easier when it comes to packing and unpacking the car.
We came across plenty of ramblers on our off road adventure and whilst I’m sure hiking is a great way to explore the area, I much preferred doing it from the comfort of the MINI, with a brilliant playlist and regular pit stops. We drove around on the hunt for pretty picnic spots, utilising the fold out picnic bench whilst we had the opportunity.