Things to do nearby 6 Forest Houses
Ennerdale Bridge is a lovely quiet village blessed with some great places to eat and drink. Just a stone's throw from the door is The Gather, a lovely cafe and shop selling local produce. You could also enjoy a home-cooked meal or a beer at either the Fox and Hounds or The Shepherd's Arms. Why not walk the 7 1/2 mile route around Ennerdale Water or make use of the miles of quiet forest track in the valley for a family bike ride? Just up from the village on Cold Fell is Bradley's Riding Stables, you could explore the stunning countryside on one of their lovely placid horses. Head out to the coast and explore the Georgian harbour town of Whitehaven with its interesting maritime history.
The Ennerdale Valley is one of the Lake District's wildest and most tranquil valleys. Its remote location makes it the perfect place to escape to even in high season. Here, it's every bit possible that you will encounter more sheep than people! The lake has the distinction of being the only lake in the Lake District without a tarmac road running alongside and long may that continue. Walking is the big draw here with Pillar, Steeple, High Stile, Great Borne and Red Pike offering rewarding days out on the fells.
From this glorious valley, you can take your pick from these mighty fell walks or take gentler rambles such as the Nine Becks Walk and the Smithy Beck Trail. Indeed, why not take a picnic and find a spot near one of these glistening becks or tumbling waterfalls? You can also walk right round the lake at Ennerdale which has an obvious path and is easy to follow (although narrow and involving some scrambling in places). Much of the north side of the lake is cyclable, too.
The remoteness of this valley and its lack of light pollution mean that the area at Low Gillerthwaite at the head of the lake has been designated a Dark Sky Discovery centre - perfect for the stargazers among you. Also, a new approach to conservation has been adopted in Ennerdale and several official bodies are working together to allow Ennerdale to evolve into a wild valley. Natural processes will shape the landscape and ecology; trees will be left where they fall and water allowed to form its own course.
The River Ehen, which flows from Ennerdale Water, is a site of Special Scientific Interest as it supports the largest freshwater Pearl Mussel population in England and is an important breeding ground for Atlantic Salmon. There are many great spots for family picnics and for kids to paddle and trail fishing nets. Ennerdale Bridge is a charming village with a strong community feeling. There are two good pubs (one owned and run as a community co-operative), a small play park and a lovely café called The Gather that, aside from offering delicious cakes and light meals, also acts as a village shop and visitor hub. They stock basic items as well as gifts from local craftsmen and excellent locally-sourced food such as bacon and sausages.
Beyond Ennerdale Bridge you'll find that the bleak expanse of Cold Fell is a place to really experience solitude. Try a walk to the summit of Grike, perhaps taking in the sight of the ancient stone circle along the way. There are views to the coast and you are practically guaranteed to have it to yourself, except perhaps for a few fell ponies and sheep. Bradley Farm runs pony trekking in the area: taking a gentle trek aboard one of their gentle ponies is a great way to enjoy the scenery.
If you're a bit of a speed fiend or are looking for a fun activity with the whole family, then head over to nearby Rowrah and the Cumbria Kart Racing Club. With top-quality facilities, it is one of the most technical tracks in the UK. It's still a great day for kids and adults alike, though, and the track is open to the public every Monday and Thursday from 4.30pm to 8pm until October.
St Bees is a beautiful seaside village and the starting point for the Coast to Coast Walk. It's also a great place for a family picnic and paddle on a sunny day - see if you can spot the old outdoor swimming pool cut into the rocks! It's also perfect for a wild and wind swept winter walk.
Cockermouth is a charming Georgian town. It is the birthplace of William Wordsworth and you can still visit his childhood home, now a museum owned by the National Trust. The town is blessed with a variety of independent shops, cafés and restaurants. Here you will find a Sainsbury's supermarket as well as several independent greengrocers and two excellent butchers. Alternatively why not take a tour round Jennings Brewery and sample some of its real ale offerings?
The Wasdale Valley is similarly remote and is prime walking country with the big fells of Great Gable, Scafell and Scafell Pike. The valley boasts England’s deepest lake, tallest mountain, smallest church and biggest liar. Beyond Wasdale is Eskdale, home to the Ravenglass and Eskdale miniature steam railway which takes you seven miles from Eskdale to Ravenglass, the only coastal village within the National Park. If you visit Eskdale for the day, a walk to Stanley Ghyll Waterfall from St Catherine’s Church is highly recommended, as is as an amble through the Japanese Gardens at Giggle Alley!
Less than eight miles away on the coast is Whitehaven, a Georgian Harbour town with a colourful history involving rum, sugar and piracy! The Rum Story makes a great place to start your visit and from there you can follow their ‘Quest’ around the town’s historical landmarks. It is also the start to the 140 mile long C2C cycle route which passes near to Ennerdale at Kirkland. Also nearby is Egremont where you can find the remains of a Norman Castle and just south of the town is Florence Mine, the last working iron ore mine in Europe, and part of the rich mining history of West Cumbria. At the Mine Heritage Centre you can learn about miners and how they lived and worked, and extracted the ore from the ground.