It is no surprise golf in Cumbria should be blessed with such beautiful backdrops, but there is great variety too with some stirring links out on the coast
Silloth on Solway
I’ve played here several times, most notably for my final round as a single man the day before my wedding.
The 1st’s sunken green will leave you a little unsure as to the success or otherwise of your opening approach until you stride over the crest to be either delighted or disappointed, with the course then playing its way through a series of fine links holes, framed by colourful heather and gorse at the right times of year, and more than a healthy smattering of pot bunkers.
The 5th and 9th stand out both in themselves and for their fine views across the Solway Firth to the Galloway Hills in Scotland.
A little way down the coast you’ll find another fine links set in the lee of the occasionally controversial Sellafield nuclear power station.
Don’t let this put you off though, for the course is as natural as the power station is unnatural – a true links that presents a thoroughly enjoyable and varied test all the way to a final elevated green that will test your powers of accuracy even though the hole is not long.
Those eager to exert themselves on the Lakeland fells are often drawn to Skiddaw in the north, just east of which lies Blencathra, an impressive mountain dominating the skyline at Keswick Golf Club.
You play directly towards this dramatic backdrop as you tackle the long par-3 2nd, but an elevated tee means it doesn’t always play its full 244 yards. Before reaching the sanctuary of the 19th you’ll have to tackle a short, sharp cardiac hill, flirt with the disused Penrith to Keswick railway line, and steer your way through dense pine forests on two fine stretches taking in the 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th holes.
This is golf in a truly spectacular setting, where the steeply rising mountains seem close enough to touch on the clearest of days.
This modest 5,000-yarder is a joyous layout of meandering becks, sweeping descents, strenuous ascents, rocky outcrops, and swathes of luxuriant heather, especially on the front nine.
You start off up and over a blind crest, which sets the Windermere tone, then duck and dive your way through a series of wondrous holes, all the while accompanied by stunning Lakeland backdrops.
Total precision is the name of the game on the 5th, 6th and 7th, while the 8th tee serves up a glorious panorama from Coniston OId Man round to Red Screes.
My in-laws lived close to Penrith, but despite many trips to the region, I’ve only played Penrith a couple of times and really love the feel of the place. The stretch across the road from the 5th to the 12th sticks in the mind for its views and its back-to-back par-3s which, though chalk and cheese in length, can prove equally tricky.
Length is the 9th hole’s key defence, while the 10th, at less than half the yardage, asks all sorts of questions should you miss its green – not that difficult if your short iron’s ball flight is at the whim of a capricious breeze.
This lovely course in the county’s northern reaches starts with a downhill par-3, before turning back via a par 4 where you really mustn’t stray above the hole, then another a strong par 4 backed by pines that give it a real Gleneagles flavour.
You cross the road after the sharp uphill dogleg 6th whereupon scores of beautiful-looking holes open up before you.
The 13th and well-bunkered par-3 14th offer lovely views out over Talkin Tarn, while the steeply uphill par-5 17th demands another long drive up to a bowl near the crest to avoid the deflating sight of your ball retracing a disheartening percentage of its yardage.