Things to do nearby Hillcrest House
Hillcrest is very well placed for exploring all that the northern Lake District has to offer. It is equidistant between the towns of Penrith and Keswick and is only five miles from the shores of Ullswater. Overlooking Great Mell Fell and sitting close to mighty Blencathra the walking opportunities are wonderful.
The area around Troutbeck is a paradise for fell walkers and cyclists alike with the Ullswater Valley virtually on the doorstep. This stunning valley offers a wealth of walking for all abilities from charming lowland rambles to more challenging hikes. Nearby Glenridding is the gateway to the mighty Helvellyn, England's third highest mountain. Or why not escape the 21st century and take a walk or a cycle ride on the eastern side of the lake to Martindale, a secluded valley which feels a million miles from any kind of hustle and bustle but is deceptively easy to get to.
Another way of exploring the valley is aboard the wonderful Ullswater Steamers. You can admire the stunning scenery from the deck of one of their elegant heritage vessels as is winds its way around the four landing stages, you can even indulge in a drink from the on-board bar while you do! The steamers also open up a wide range of linear walks along the valley as you can easily catch one back to your starting point. Alternatively why not hire a rowing boat or Kayak and explore some of the secluded beaches and bays along the lake. Pack a picnic and find your favourite spot.
The mighty Aira Force is one of the most breathtaking attractions in the whole of Cumbria. You can park at Aira Force car park or get the steamer to the new jetty at Aira Point and take a short walk to the waterfalls. The tumbling waterfall drops an impressive 65ft and the sound of the water crashing into the pool below is immense. There is even an ancient leaf canopy to keep you dry on rainy days as you marvel the tumbling falls. Indeed the falls make a fantastic rainy day spectacle. You can now walk along a new path between Glencoyne Bay and Aira Force and you can explore historic footpaths which have been renovated. Glencoyne Bay is where the poet William Wordsworth first saw his daffodils. His sister Dorothy spotted the long line of yellow flowers that became the inspiration for his most famous poem Daffodils.
The two nearest towns to explore are Penrith and Keswick. Penrith is eight miles away from the cottage and is an attractive town with a good mixture of independent and high street shops as well as many places to eat.
Also just eight miles away is Keswick, the adventure capital of the Lake District. Aside from its outdoor credentials it is a vibrant market town with a fantastic choice of outdoor shops, restaurants and cafes. It even boasts its own art deco cinema and one of the most beautifully positioned theatres showing a varied programme of plays and music throughout the year.
Why not take a different view of the Lakes by winding your way down the Ullswater valley then taking Kirkstone Pass over to Ambleside? Kirkstone Pass is the Lake District’s highest pass that is open to motor traffic. You'll find Cumbria's highest pub and some wonderful views along the way. Ambleside is a very popular Victorian Lakeland town set at the head of Lake Windermere.
Troutbeck is also very well placed to explore some of the rich history of the area. Lowther Castle was the home of the Earls of Lonsdale since medieval times, now you'll find the dramatic ruins of the Gothic castle set in 130 acres of historic gardens with a cafe and shop. Just over eight miles away from Hillcrest is Dalemain, a beautiful mansion with a Georgian facade hiding elements of the building that date much further back. It is also set in extensive historic gardens which are delightful to visit all through the year. If you're lucky your visit might coincide with the Marmalade festival! Also just eight miles away is Hutton in the Forest the historic home of Lord and Lady Ingelwood, set in magificent ancient woodland and boasting legendary links to the arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight this makes a magical day out.
Among railway enthusiasts the Carlisle to Settle line is often referred to as one of the most scenic lines in the country and indeed who could argue? The countryside is simply stunning. Take in the awe inspiring Cross Fell, the Three Peaks of Yorkshire – Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whenside, then Wild Boar Fell and the beautiful Eden Sandstone landscape. In the distance are the Lake District fells of Haweswater and Ullswater. The line covers 72 miles and passes through 12 tunnels and across 20 viaducts. The railway and its stations are part of a huge regeneration to ensure the continued use of the line, and are a designated conservation area. Visitors to Hillcrest can catch a train on the iconic just 13 miles away at Langwathby.
Whether you choose to go by car or via one of the railway lines Carlisle makes an interesting day out. Known as the ‘Border City’ it's a lovely small city with shopping, a great choice of eateries, cinemas and museums. Tullie House has a number of exhibitions showcasing Cumbria’s history, nature and art. The Castle at Carlisle, has stood guard over the city for over 900 years and has medieval dungeons, passageways and chambers to explore. The city has a rich history of border skirmishes and rogueish Reivers and it was once home to Mary Queen of Scots.
There is a high concentration of stone circles in the Lake District and Cumbria; dating back as far as the Bronze Age and to Neolithic times. Castlerigg Stone Circle must rate as one of the most striking prehistoric monuments in Britain. It is easily accessible from Hillcrest with just a seven mile drive a visit can form part of a pleasant ramble. The stones sit on a low hill with a 360 degree view of the surrounding fells - Skiddaw, Blencathra and the Helvellyn range.
Another example of these ancient monuments you'll find at Little Salkeld in the Eden Valley. Local legend claims that Long Meg was a witch and, along with her daughters, was turned to stone for dancing wildly on the Sabbath. This is the largest stone circle in Cumbria made up on 69 stones. Long Meg is made from local sandstone and marked with mysterious symbols. Her daughters are made of granite and the four cornerstones outside the circle face the points of a compass. Very mysterious indeed!
There are plenty of fantastic places to eat in the area. Just over the road from Hillcrest is the restaurant at the Troutbeck Inn serving excellent locally sourced food while the Sportsmans’ Inn is just three miles away along quiet lanes. As well as these many of the local villages and towns boast fantastic eateries. There's something for all tastes from quirky cafes to fine dining.