The Rum Doodle – a vintage lesson in English culture

How could you not wish to spend a night, or more, at a Bed & Breakfast quaintly named the Rum Doodle? Especially if you’re traveling in the country where the modern B&B craze had its roots.

Want an Introduction 101 to the culture and people of England? Try a meet and mingle with the owner-operators of this B&B, then enjoy a bountiful, belt-stretching British breakfast before heading out to meander through the magnificent countryside – or to your next destination.

There’s no secret about the atmosphere that Emma Hawley & Gregor Stewart have succeeded in creating. Their website promises “A little bit of luxury, a little bit of whimsy & a whole lot of fun!” And they deliver in spades.

Their quintessentially English, vintage-style home-away-from-home is tucked along a quiet residential street in Windermere, a small town perched above the largest lake in the country’s fabled and fabulous Lake District. Hiking along the inviting trails that criss-cross the region, and clambering up mountains (or “fells, as many are called), including the highest peak in the country, are among the reasons why many Brits in the know head for this B&B.

The first hint that your hosts are avid hikers and climbers is the mini-collection of walking sticks in the front hall. Also, Emma explains that many serious hikers like to stoke up on a traditional English breakfast before they venture out on their excursion, and hers have won plaudits with a Visit England “Best Breakfast Award.”

Then there’s the establishment’s charming if curious name. Long story short: William E. Bowman, an English writer who loved to walk in the Lake District, penned a book titled The Ascent of Rum Doodle (1956), a hilarious spoof of the somewhat pompous tomes about British explorations and expeditions that were fashionable during the first half of the 1900s. Although he never visited the Himalayas, he relates the comic adventures of several bumbling Brits who set out to ascend Mount Rum Doodle, an obviously fictitious 40,000-1/2 foot peak that represents Mt. Everest.

Their adventurers or, rather, misadventures are as charming as the climbers are incompetent. Jungle, the route finder, is frequently lost. Constant, the interpreter, continuously provokes the fury of the 30,000 local guides and porters hired by the climbers through his misuse of their language. Wish, the scientist, tests his altitude-finding equipment during the ocean voyage to their destination and reports that the ship appears to be 153 feet above sea level.

The Rum Doodle B&B celebrates this book throughout. In addition to its name, the nine bedrooms are identified with characters in the book, walls are adorned by drawings and quotes from the volume, and the usual information provided to guests is augmented with less-than-usual descriptions of hikes in the area along with a checklist of suggested equipment to take on outings.

Together, these and other amenities combine with the Rum Doodle’s delightfully quirky attributes to offer guests an introduction to some of the best that Britain has to offer.

[poll id=”60″]