Things to do nearby Cockley Moor Cottage
Get out onto the water with boats galore, catch the splash of tumbling waterfalls, or head onto some of the best-loved mountains of the Lake District. The area around Dockray and Ullswater is a fabulous place for outdoor adventures whilst being close to town life at Penrith.
Dockray is a tiny settlement in the wider area of Matterdale and close to the beautiful lake of Ullswater. Nestled in fantastic scenery, the area is stunning and quiet, yet has easy access to the northern and central Lake District. From skiing to hiking and horse riding to paragliding, the whole region is an outdoor-enthusiast's dream! There's also a good local pub, The Royal, with a popular restaurant serving Cumbrian food - don't forget to book ahead!
The whole area around Dockray is a delight for walking, and there are options for all abilities and tastes. For a fairly gentle route, head to Aira Beck, which has a series of lovely waterfalls including the famous Aira Force. This is a must-see for anyone visiting and a variety of paths alongside the water and through the woods offer plenty to explore. You might even be lucky enough to spot a red squirrel or two! To extend your walk, continue on past the National Trust teashop and along a gentle uphill route to Gowbarrow, which boasts wonderful views of the lake.
If you prefer to get up higher onto the fells, you can hardly be better placed for spending a day on the Helvellyn Range. There are various routes up, the most popular starting at Glenridding and heading to the summit via Striding Edge, Swirral Edge and Catsye Cam. It's a challenging walk that will leave you invigorated! Alternatively, explore some of the surrounding mountains: St Sunday Crag, the Fairfield Horseshoe, Hallin Fell... the list of options is endless!The Ullswater Way is a 20-mile route that encircles the lake and can be done in part if you don't fancy the entire hike. It's easy to get started, too: you can begin at any point and walk in either direction, and the lake Steamers and open top busses make it easy for you to get back to your starting point. Why not try one of the circular sections that explore the grounds of spectacular Lowther Castle, or walk to the beautiful stately home of Dalemain?
If you prefer to move faster, then this is prime fell running country. There are loads of routes to choose from, from the relatively flat to the almost vertical! Mountain Run in Glenridding offers guided running experiences as well as bespoke courses for trail, sky, fell and ultra running. The famous Bob Graham Round also passes nearby, over the imposing Helvellyn Range. If you want to test your best against other runners, there are many local fell and trail races taking place throughout the year.
There are plenty of on- and off-road cycling routes in the area around Dockray. Bridleways abound and there are options for both mountain bikers and road bikers, family groups and serious riders. The old coach road from Dockray leads to the head of St Johns in the Vale and climbs to reveal impressive views of Blencathra and the vale of Keswick. You can even head all the way to Keswick via the old railway. Alternatively, quiet roads around Matterdale and Mungrisedale towards Caldbeck offer lots of options for road cycling, while those after a real challenge may want to take on steep Kirkstone Pass - this combines with several other high passes in the Lake District to make up the 112-mile-long Fred Whitton Round!
If you like thrills and adventure, take a trip to Rookin House Farm where you can try your hand at all sorts of wonderful activities such as JCB operating, archery, pony trekking, fishing, quad biking, rifle shooting, tree climbing, or even driving around in a small tank! It's an ideal place for both kids and adults to have a tonne of fun!
Wild swimming gets more popular every year and Ullswater offers up some fabulous spots for a dip. Glencoyne Bay on Ullswater and Bowscale Tarn are local favourites. If you don't fancy fully submerging yourself, why not pack a picnic, find a peaceful area of shore on a sunny day, and enjoy a little paddle instead!
The Matterdale valley is a beautiful, peaceful retreat and is becoming known for a community centred approach to conservation. Traditional farming has shaped the valley, and lots of the land is still farmed in ways that benefit nature. There are amazing species of rich wildflower meadows, lots of boggy places for wading birds, and plenty of species-rich grazed grassland. As a result there are a wide range of flora and fauna that thrive here but are struggling elsewhere, like red squirrels, curlews and cuckoos. Led by local advocates James Rebanks, Amy Bray and Danny Teasdale, there are initiatives to plant more trees, create more woodland pasture, improve traditional nature-rich farmland habitats, and naturalise rivers, streams and wetlands.
The Ullswater Steamers started running on the lake in 1855 and remain a popular attraction to this day. The historic crafts call at four landing stages around the lake: Glenridding, Pooley Bridge, Aira Force and Howtown. You can relax on a circular cruise or use the service to transport yourself to and from any number of linear walks and bike rides. The villages of Glenridding and Pooley Bridge offer picturesque hubs with a range of pubs, cafes and gift shops for all your refreshments and souvenirs!
The local market town of Penrith is just a short drive away and offers a choice of supermarkets - handy for stocking up on essentials! There is also a good range of independent shops in the pretty town centre, as well as castle ruins surrounded by a pleasant park and the 18th century St Andrew’s Church. The train station at Penrith offers an option for day trips to place such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Carlisle and Lancaster.
Just south of Penrith towards Shap you'll be in for a treat at Abbot Lodge, which makes and sells delicious Jersey ice cream. One visit may not be enough! A couple of miles further down the road is Larch Cottage Nursery, an absolute must-see for plant lovers with its range of rare and unusual perennials, shrubs, climbers, acers and conifers set amongst a lovely ‘secret’ garden of Romanesque walls and water.
Just over Kirkstone Pass is Ambleside, a pretty market town on the northern tip of Lake Windermere. The drive to get there is steep but beautiful and you can even stop for refreshments at the top of the pass at the Kirkstone Pass Inn. In Ambleside, wander around the shops or continue on to the villages of Bowness-on-Windermere or Grasmere. The landscape here is generally less rugged than around Ullswater, but no less beautiful.
The remote and atmospheric Haweswater is close by. When the water level of this reservoir is low, you can still see the remains of the village that was flooded by the rising waters when a dam was completed in 1935 to supply drinking water to Manchester. There's more walking to be had here, with a popular route up to Harter Fell, Mardale Ill Bell and High Street, or lesser trodden paths to Branstree and Selside. In the other direction, Blencathra and Carrock Pike are easy to reach.
If you're a bit of a history buff, then you're in luck! The area surrounding Ullswater is jam-packed with interesting sights and legends. Dalemain is an impressive stately home with a maze of rooms hosting collections of toys, ceramics, doll houses and furniture. Outside, the sheltered garden has many areas to explore. Hutton-in-the-Forest is linked to the legend of Gawain and the Green Knight and also has beautiful gardens. Or why not discover the impressive ruins and grounds of Lowther Castle. Abandoned in the 30s, the building is now roofless but no less impressive for that. It also has fascinating gardens that include summer houses, a fabulous adventure playground, rope swings, panoramas, and more!
The historic delights continue. Going further back in time, the ruins of Brougham Castle sit beside the River Eamont and are surrounded by beautiful rolling scenery. Long Meg and her Daughters is a mysterious stone circle that is supposedly the petrified remains of women who were cursed for dancing on the Sabbath. Just down the hill from that is the quirky Lacy's Caves, carved into the sandstone cliffs of the river by a Victorian eccentric. No one's entirely sure what for, but they make for a fascinating trip!
The Lake District has become a foodie heaven over recent years, with Michelin starred restaurants galore. But even without this prestigious award, the eateries around Dockray are simply fabulous. The Dog and Gun at Skelton has been named Cumbria Dining Pub of the Year and a Michelin Gourmand. Other locally acclaimed restaurants include The Brantwood Hotel at Stainton, 1863 in Pooley Bridge, 4 & 20 in Penrith, Askham Hall, and the George & Dragon at Clifton.