Things to do nearby Birkett House
Located in the sought after village of Troutbeck near Windermere, there are a wealth of fantastic opportunities on offer straight from the front door of Birkett House. Explore the many footpaths and bridleways that crisscross this beautiful area. Head up Wansfell Pike for stunning panoramic views of The Lakes or tackle the mighty Fairfield Horshoe for a challenging day's walking along the fell tops. Troutbeck itself has a village shop, lovely cafe and two popular pubs. For more shops, eateries and a great choice of attractions, both Windermere and Ambleside are around a 5 minute drive away.
Just ten minutes from bustling Windermere and Ambleside, Troutbeck is a jewel in itself, a valley and village set apart in time and custom. Set high up the hillside the straggling village lane is a delight to wander along just listening to the birdsong and enjoying the vistas south over the valley. It’s a mile and a half from ‘Town Head Farm’ to ‘Town End Farm’: see how many horse drinking troughs you can spot on the way, set in to the hill side of the lane. If you’re in a car, the lane carries on to the top of the famous Kirkstone Pass, with one of the highest inns in England at the summit, and so over to Ullswater Lake – see the attractions there on our area guide to Ullswater.
Troutbeck itself has several unique attractions. Most famous is Townend, a farmhouse maintained by the National Trust and kept exactly as it was left to them by the Browne family who had farmed it for centuries. Here you can get a real feel for farming life before electricity, motor cars, telephones and tourism. Clearly the best thing to do in an evening was to read, and the Browne’s library has over 1500 ancient books with fascinating titles. Children and adults alike will love the peaceful atmosphere of this gem.
Directly across the valley nestles the ten acres of Holehird Gardens, an absolute must for amateur or professional gardeners and anyone seeking peace and beauty. Run by volunteers from the Lakeland Horticultural Society it features a spectacular walled garden, a fellside garden featuring rhododendron and magnolia, a lower garden with pool and cascade, hydrangeas and a woodland walk. And of course there are extensive glasshouses for bringing on young plants. An true delight at any time of year.
Troutbeck’s two inns are welcoming and quite distinctive. The Queen’s Head , at the northern end of the village has a bar based on a four poster bed, while the Mortal Man brews its own ale, to a recipe of old Sally Birkett who was a previous landlady. Both do good value bar meals and occasionally have sing-song evenings.
There are dozens of unmade green lanes in the valley and around and one way to explore them is by 4x4 land-rovers. Local firm Kankku offers guided safari tours and you can even hire your own Land-Rover for the day and set off exploring the pack horse tracks armed only with a map and your navigational skills. (And satellite GPS and full road book direction system, all provided!)
Venture out of lovely Troutbeck to visit the delights of Lake Windermere, with its towns Bowness and Ambleside. Both offer a huge range of shops and attractions, not least boat trips on ten-mile long Windermere, on anything from a paddle-board, to a canoe, a dinghy, a rowing boat or one of the majestic launches which glide the length of the lake.
Or take the ferry across the lake from Ferry Nab in Bowness. Once across you are in a gentler world, the woods and farmland of Beatrix Potter at Near Sawrey and her Hill Top Farm, well worth a visit for another glimpse into a bygone age. Now you’re over the lake, carry on to lovely, car-free, Hawkshead where the young William Wordsworth went to school. A little further on takes you to Tarn Hows, with its delightful path through the woodland round this iconic and much photographed tarn.
Motoring on just a couple of miles will take you to Coniston – home of another great friend of Lakeland, John Ruskin. His home for the last thirty years of his life, Brantwood is open to the public and gives an insight into his legacy in Coniston where he sponsored many cottage industries and entertained many of the eminent artists of his day. A good place for an afternoon coffee or a meal.
While at Coniston don’t pass up the opportunity for a trip on the steam-powered graceful Victorian pleasure-boat, the Gondola. Quietly cruise the lake leaving only a wisp of smoke to show your passing. At the other end of the spectrum, of course, Coniston was the lake where Donald Campbell made his ill-fated attempt at the world water speed record in his jet-powered ‘Bluebird’ in 1967. He crashed and died, but Bluebird has been resurrected and there the fine Ruskin Museum tells its story along with Ruskin’s and the many other wonders of Coniston, the copper mines, the slate quarries, the lace industry and so on.
Come back through Ambleside – or better still spend a day there and at nearby Grasmere. This is the real Wordsworth area, where he, Dorothy, Mary and visitors spent so many hours walking round Rydal Water, through White Moss woods, over Loughrigg, high up on Fairfield, and even over to Ullswater to see the daffodils. Their three homes, Dove Cottage, Allen Banks and Rydal Mount are all open to the public and offer very different experiences, from the family-friendly Allen Banks, the tiny Dove Cottage, now with a major Wordsworth study area, to the final family home known to his children as ‘Idle Mount’, with Dora’s Field also open to all.