THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND CROFT HOUSE
The Lake District is beautiful whatever time of year it is – whether you come for the autumn colours, winter snow (or winter bitterness), daffodils in March and April, bluebells in May or long balmy evenings over Summer you will find plenty to enjoy in and around Lamplugh.
Loweswater is your nearest lake being three miles away. There are some lovely woodland walks here and the Kirkstile Inn at the end has won several awards. At Rannerdale the bluebells in May are fantastic – it’s a beautiful walk over the fellside which is just a carpet of bluebells.
From Loweswater is Crummock Water and Buttermere, both beautiful lakes which you can walk around. There are plenty of high fells to tackle here too if you’d like to stretch your legs a bit further.
If you fancy a scenic drive to Keswick, you can go from Loweswater, Crummock Water and Buttermere over Honister Pass (take a trip to the mines there, or follow the original miners’ route to work by going over the via ferrata – this takes 2-3 hours and will test your nerves!
You can also visit Keswick via the main A66 which takes about half an hour from Croft House. Keswick is a lovely town with plenty to do and see. The Pencil Museum (better than it sounds) and Puzzling Place are both good wet weather activities. There are plenty of cafes and pubs, loads of outdoor shops and gift shops; rowing on the lake or cruise round the lake on Keswick launch; play pitch and putt in Hope Park or tennis and bowling at Fitz park (which also has a good children’s play area). Castlerigg Stone Circle is beautiful and a good place for a game of hide and seek if you have little ones. There is a cinema and theatre at Keswick too.
A scenic trip back from Keswick takes you over Whinlatter pass which houses England’s highest forest. Within the forest are miles of walks and mountain bike trails. The visitor centre has a good café and you can GoApe at the tops of the trees. There is also a very impressive children’s play area here.
For those of you with kids, a trip to Trotters World of Animals is a great day out. Located near Bassenthwaite, it takes about 25 minutes to get there from Croft House. It's a farm with exotic animals and an indoor soft play area if it rains.
If you go South from Croft House you will reach Ennerdale (four miles) – described as the Lake District’s loneliest valley. There are high mountains to climb and the lake has a good pushchair friendly path, at least part of the way round. The forest has more mountain bike trails and there are a couple of good pubs. Here there are still more sheep than people.
A good day out is a trip to Eskdale, Ravenglass and Wasdale (or perhaps three day trips out). To reach these valleys you will drive from Ennerdale over Cold Fell (home to Bradley’s pony trekking centre - call 01946 861 354).
On the coast is Ravenglass – the only village by the sea to be officially recognised as within the Lake District boundaries. It is also one end of the “la’al ratty” – a narrow gauge steam railway which takes a picturesque seven mile journey from Ravenglass to Eskdale (40 minutes). Ravenglass is also home to some remarkably complete Roman bathhouse ruins. If ruins are your thing, then checkout the Roman Fort up Hardknott Pass, the top end of Eskdale.
Muncaster Castle is a great day out for everyone. There are miles of paths through the woodland gardens, a beautiful Georgian Terrace, owl centre and daily owl display, meadow vole maze, and of course the castle itself which has been lived in by the Pennington family for over 800 years.
Eskdale is remarkably well provided for by pubs – it’s a small village but has five pubs which serve good food and fine ales. There are some great walks here – try the Japanese gardens up Giggle Alley. Or you can go swimming in the River Esk – there are some good pools at the top end of Eskdale although I always go to Forge Bridge (just by George IV pub). Back in the day I’d jump off the bridge there but I’m not sure if I’d dare to now. Another beautiful walk is up to Stanley Ghyll waterfall – park by St Catherine’s Church or just beyond the war memorial. This walk feels as though you’re in the rainforest and is one of my favourites.
The Wasdale valley (take a detour on the way back from Eskdale) was voted Britain’s Favourite View a few years back. It is a tranquil valley and a pleasant place to swim in the Lake. Wastwater is England’s deepest lake and the valley is also home to England’s highest mountain – Scafell Pike. England’s smallest church is also in Wasdale and is home to the graves of a variety of young climbers. It is a beautiful spot at night when it is pitch black apart from the bright stars.
For an evening meal, Cockermouth is your nearest town. It is also good for food shopping with a variety of independent shops and a Sainsbury’s. There are also some good antique shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. A trip round Jenning’s brewery is always a good thing to do. If you have kids, Jordon’s Jungle is a small soft play area with café attached. The Kirkgate centre houses a small cinema but if you want more choice then go to the multi-screen cinema at Dunmail Park in Workington. Workington is also home to high street shops and supermarkets. Further down the coast is Whitehaven which used to the second biggest port in Britain. The harbour area has been regenerated and the Beacon museum will tell you all you need to know about the history of this Georgian town.
If you find it is raining in the central Lakes, you may find it is brighter on the coast. Maryport has an aquarium for kids, Allonby beach is good for sandcastles and Silloth feels like you’ve stepped back in time. It is also home to the famous Silloth golf course. There are other golf courses nearby in Cockermouth, Workington, St Bees, Threlkeld and Whitehaven.
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