Things to do nearby Betty's Cottage
Betty's Cottage is delightfully situated between the mighty Western Fells and the Cumbrian coastline. Take the opportunity to scale England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike, from Wasdale nearby or enjoy a romantic lakeside stroll by England's deepest lake, Wastwater. Why not head to beautiful Muncaster Castle and gardens. The castle is a historic gem while the gardens are a delight. In summertime pack a picnic and a bottle of fizz and enjoy some open air theatre or cinema in the grounds. Bring a bike and explore the challenging mountain passes in the area.
The Western Lake District is a wonderfully unspoiled area to explore. Its scenery offers a wilder and more rugged side to the Lakes, which gives way to open rolling countryside leading down to its quiet coast. Irton is wonderfully placed between the mountains and the sea to make the most of this delightful area.
Historic Irton Hall has twelve acres of beautiful grounds and a lounge bar serving food and real ales. The King’s Oak is rumoured to be where Henry VI sought shelter after being turned away by the Yorkist owner of Irton Hall. Other walks from the Irton area include lovely Irton Pike, a small fell with an incredible panorama from its summit as well as Muncaster Fell, a delightful mini fell which can be explored in a day.
Drigg beach is a wonderfully windswept place for a walk to blow away the cobwebs. The sands seem to stretch for miles in both directions and at low tide you may even be rewarded with the sight of the remains of an unknown shipwreck emerging from the sand. This area of the coast also benefits from some of the best weather in the area so even when the clouds are gathering over the fells you might find yourself in sunshine here. From Drigg you can follow the coast south to Ravenglass and the mouth of the River Esk or you could take a walk northwards along to Seascale and reward yourself with a delicious locally made ice cream or fish and chips on the seafront. As the Cumbrian Coast Railway passes through Drigg you could always embark on a longer coastal walk to St Bees or beyond and catch the train back again.
The beach forms part of the Drigg and Eskmeals Dunes Nature Reserve. This wonderful network of dunes is the largest in Cumbria and supports one of the largest seabird breeding colonies in the northwest as well as a wonderful range of flora to investigate. Of course you might just as well enjoy a paddle and a picnic!
Ravenglass, less than four miles away, is the only coastal village within the Lake District National Park. It's a much-loved place, which seems to have a special kind of light all of its own. 2,000 years ago, it was the location for an important Roman port and military fort and later became a bustling fishing town. Now Ravenglass is better known as the starting point for the Ravenglass & Eskdale steam railway (La’al Ratty). There are several eateries in the village where you can get locally sourced and home cooked food and real ales. There's also a cafe and play park at the station to while away a sunny afternoon. Why not take a bike and explore either the 11-mile Eskdale trail or follow some of the Hadrian's Cycleway along the coastline?
Taking a trip on the famous Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, more popularly known as the La'al Ratty is a must for rail enthusiasts. This magical narrow gauge steam railway makes a leisurely seven-mile journey from Ravenglass to Boot taking in some staggering scenery along the way. With prior arrangement you can put your bikes on the train at either end of the line and cycle back via the Eskdale Trail. There's even a marvellous new museum showcasing the history of the line and offering lots of interactive displays to interest all age groups. Railway enthusiasts are well catered for as Drigg and Ravenglass also have mainline stations and the line occasionally plays host to visiting large steam locomotives.
Muncaster Castle makes a great day out for all ages. The Castle sits high above the estuary where the river Esk meets the Irish Sea and has a well-deserved reputation as one of Cumbria’s most popular attractions. The Castle itself makes a great rainy day visit where you can learn more about its colourful history. The original foundations of the building itself date back as far as 79AD - construction of the castle that you see today was started in 1258. As you can imagine with a castle in such an incredible position on the very edges of the country, it is steeped in history, with tales of kings and queens, of murder and intrigue and ghostly presences everywhere! Throughout the year there are events taking place including outdoor cinema, theatre and light shows as well as the world renowned Festival of Fools. The grounds at Muncaster are just as much of a delight as you can watch stunning bird of prey displays, explore a meadow vole maze, enjoy the play park, café and shop as well as seeing the most stunning displays of bluebells, rhododendrons and azaleas when in season. There's also a beautiful small church on the castle's grounds, which is worth a visit for a moment's quiet reflection.
Famously, with England’s highest mountain and deepest lake, smallest church and the world-famous "Biggest Liar" competition. Wasdale still has an unspoilt tranquillity that belies its majestic grandeur. It is the most mountainous of the Lake District Valleys and the views here are simply spectacular. In fact the view of the valley from the bottom of the lake was recently voted Britain's Favourite! This place has hardly changed in hundreds of years, and the natural splendour of the fells and lakes has been preserved in all of its glory.
Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, is just over seven miles away. Walks do not come much more challenging than this! Scafell Pike is one of the Lake District's most iconic and legendary mountains. At 3,209 feet, it is England's highest and one of the most thrilling climbs in the Lakes. The views from the top have inspired writers such as Wainwright, Wordsworth and Coleridge and on a clear day the views stretch to Scotland, Wales, Ireland and even the Isle of Man.
Irton is at the gateway to another magical western Lake District valley; Eskdale. As with Wasdale you have access to big hikes to the highest fells as well as some lovely walks on the valley floor and along the beautiful River Esk. You could take a walk up from Eskdale Green to the wonderfully named Giggle Alley, from here you can head to the Japanese Garden, a beautifully tranquil spot. Further up the valley as you head up the steep switchback road that is Hardknott Pass (not for the faint hearted driver or passenger!) you’ll come to the staggering setting of Hardknott Roman Fort. The fort was built under Hadrian’s rule in the 2nd century. It guarded the pass on the road from Ravenglass to Ambleside and was policed by troops from the eastern Adriatic. Today visitors can explore remains including the barracks, commandant’s house, parade ground and bathhouse. Or you can sit and take in the view imagining what life was like here nearly 2000 years ago.
Golfers are well catered for with Muncaster's own 9 hole course just over two miles down the road as well as popular links courses at nearby Seascale (2.5 miles) and Silecroft (15 miles). If you would like to test your self in the great outdoors but would like your adventures taken care of by experts then Westlakes Adventure is a company based in Boot providing outdoor activities for individuals, couples, families and groups. Their activities include rock climbing, ghyll scrambling, paddle boarding and kayaking. Alternatively for something different why not head to "Horse and Husky" nearby where you could find yourself splashing along the coast on horseback or sledding behind a team of huskies!
For the foodies among you there is a fantastic choice of eateries within easy distance of Irton. Santon Bridge just nearby has an excellent pub as well as a much-loved craft shop with cafe and coffee cabin. Ideal for a post-walk afternoon tea! The Eskdale Valley has no fewer than five pubs while nearby Gosforth has several pubs and an excellent Italian restaurant called The Wild Olive with a lovely children's play area.
As well as being gateway to the staggering valleys of the Western Lakes, Irton also makes a great base for exploring the coastline. Whitehaven is a Georgian Harbour town 12 miles up the coast 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. The town is also marks the start of the 140-mile long C2C cycle route. Closer by 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. Seascale is also home to an excellent links golf course and St Bees is another seaside village further up the coast offering lovely walks along to secluded coves to the north. Perfect for a family picnic and paddle on a sunny day or just for a wild and windswept winter walk.