Hutton John Estate is the perfect place to start your Lake District adventure, ideally situated to be both accessible to the wider transport network and yet give the feeling of being nestled in a remote hideaway. Hutton John is a small hamlet close to Watermillock and the popular village of Pooley Bridge at the northernmost tip of Ullswater.
With Penrith just a few miles away and the fabulous market town of Keswick also just a short drive, you are never too far from shops, restaurants and some fabulous local attractions, such as Rheged, The Ullswater Steamers and The Puzzle Place at Keswick.
Closer to home, there are walks and cycle routes available straight from the doorstep; you could try a walk to Dacre and a drink or maybe something to eat at the Horse and Farrier pub. The views along the footpath are breathtaking, it is one of my favourite walks and I never tire of it.
Once on the peaceful Estate, you would never realise how close we are to major transport links. We are not far from the A66 for ease of travel across the country from Yorkshire in the East, stretching through the Lake District and on to the West coast. Penrith, close by, boasts a mainline train station in the heart of town, and major cities like Glasgow, Carlisle, Newcastle, Leeds, Preston, Manchester and Liverpool and beyond are all within easy reach. The town also sits near the M6 corridor through the north west of England to Scotland, creating a natural meeting point that acts as a brilliant base for exploring the Lake District
The Lake District has something for anyone who loves to be active in the great outdoors – sailing, fell running, mountaineering or kayaking on one of the many waterways. Yet equally if you want to escape the treadmill of daily life and just take a breath, where better to do it, no matter what the time of year? Just bring the right kit with you, get in to the countryside and go for a walk to take in the views and then return home and light the fire.
Rheged has something for everyone, and particularly if the weather is inclement it is worth a visit, with restaurants, shops and a big screen cinema that shows live screenings as well as blockbuster movies. The Ullswater steamers are also definitely worth the effort. You get a different view of the fells when you travel across the water. You can disembark at Aira Fore now so you could walk to that very beautiful waterfall and maybe buy an ice cream-always a useful bribe for children who aren’t so enthusiastic about the walk.
Alternatively, if you feel like being very energetic walk a Wainwright or two during your holiday. Helvellyn and Blencathra are right on your doorstep and so long as you have the right equipment you will be set whatever the Lake District weather might throw at you.
If you fancy something a bit further afield, try Larch Cottage Nurseries. Based at Melkinthorpe there is something to see at this nursery even in Winter. There is an art gallery and gift shop filled with interesting and unique gifts. La Casa Verde serves Italian influenced food so you can spend an afternoon or morning at the nursery, and then enjoy something to eat. This might lead you to explore a little of the Eden Valley which although not part of the Lake District National Park has lots to offer the curious visitor. At Little Salked, for example, you will find a working Watermill where you can buy flour and oats. Just a short distance away is the Long Meg Stone Circle where you could walk off the cake from the Watermill’s tea shop, or perhaps you would prefer a walk by the River Eden.
When people think of Cumbria it is always the lakes and fells that spring to mind, but the coastline is very much worth a visit. St Bee’s is just over an hour away and if you get there when the tide is out, you can walk along the beach and get a breath of sea air. On the way home you could stop off at Cockermouth, another place that is often overlooked, but has some lovely shops and places to eat.
I have deliberately not mentioned Windermere, Ambleside or Grasmere, not because I don’t like them, but because you have probably visited them before. If not, they are no doubt already on your list of places to visit. One word of advice, they can get very busy even in winter, so get there early if you want to find a parking space. I quite like to go a bit off the beaten track so some of the places I have suggested I hope give you food for thought, somewhere to start, which will lead you to other less visited destinations Enjoy your trip wherever you go.
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