Things to do nearby Dower House Cottage
As the cottage resides in the grounds of Wray Castle, it would be a sin not to visit. Children will love the woodland adventure playground and various rooms dedicated to family fun. Follow the lakeshore footpath and you’ll enjoy a lovely stroll down to Claife Heights and along to the National Trust’s new viewing platform. Visit the quaint, car-free village of Hawkshead where kids will love the Cocoa Bean chocolate experience, and everyone will enjoy the many lovely tearooms.
Low Wray is in a stunning and tranquil location right on the shores of Windermere, England’s longest and most famous lake. This is a very pretty part of the Lake District with shaded country lanes, small, secluded tarns, and woodlands. Big mountains are only a short drive away and you are spoilt for choice with little fell walks in the direct vicinity.
Wray Castle is a Mock-Gothic castle that was build by a Victorian surgeon. The owners never actually lived in it; the story goes that the surgeon’s wife took one look at the finished castle and refused to move there! Beatrix Potter’s family weren’t quite so adverse to it, and they holidayed there in 1882 when the author-to-be was just 16. It is at Wray Castle that she met Hardwicke Rawnsley, who was to inspire to become the conservationist she later was.
As well as the impressive building itself, there are extensive gardens with interesting fauna to explore. Leading right down to the lakeshore, the views around the castle are fabulous. Wray Castle can be reached by foot, car, bike, or boat. A jetty on the property itself can be reached from Ambleside or any other jetty on Lake Windermere.
Hawkshead is just a short drive away, or else you can walk there in a little under an hour. The centre of the village is closed to traffic, making it a delight to explore. Wander through the cobbled squares and alleys lined with pretty whitewashed houses. The lack of traffic lends it self to a wonderful atmosphere as people browse the shops and quaint tea rooms.
The village hides beautiful historic properties and churches with strong links to William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. The school building still hosts a desk that is carved with the young Wordsworth’s signature. A charming 17th century house that was once the office of William Heelis, Beatrix Potter’s husband, is now the Beatrix Potter Gallery. You can enjoy an exhibition of her original drawings and watercolours here - a must for any fans!
The literary links continue a nearby Hill Top in Near Sawrey. This lovely house was the home of Beatrix Potter for many years and is now open to the public, who can explore the property as she left it. With her personal possessions scattered about and a fire roaring, you almost feel like you’ll bump into her in the next room!
Grizedale Forest covers a vast area between Windermere and Coniston and is easily accessed from Low Wary. The forest has various waymarked trails of varying difficulties and lengths. They weave their way through the forest into valleys, past hidden tarns and above the tree line. There is a fantastic Go-Ape! course, too, and the forest is famous for its sculptures: see how many you can find hidden amongst the trees!
Esthwaite Water is a well-stocked lake offering great fishing in stunning scenery. There is an onsite tackle shop where you can hire or buy pretty much anything you need for a day on the lake including motor and row boats. During the summer months expect competition from the visiting Ospreys and a whole host of other wild birds!
Ambleside is the nearest large town with a small Spar convenience store, Boots Chemist and various other essentials such as newsagents and Greengrocers. It is also home to the famous Bridge House, a quirky little building that is possibly the most photographed in the Lake District! There are also shops galore, eateries ranging from pub food to fine dining, and fabulous walks. The Fairfield Horseshoe takes in eight Wainwright fells on a stunning horseshoe route. The highest point of the walk offers superlative views and the summit is dotted with stone shelters for a lunch stop, enjoying views to the craggy eastern faces of the Helvellyn range, Windermere and the far eastern High Street Fells.
The best way to explore Lake Windermere is on the water itself via a cruiser. Hop on at the Wray Castle jetty and take one of several cruises around the lake. The Freedom of the Lake ticket allows you to hop and off wherever you like over a 24 hour period, or why not enjoy a meal with their Buffet Cruise? There is also a Walkers Ticket to help you take in one of the many wonderful linear walks, or why not watch the sun set over the water on the Evening Cruise?
There are also plenty of things to see at the various jetties. At Lakeside you will find a wonderful steam railway that pootles along the side of the lake, as well as an interesting aquarium that has, along with the fascinating water-dwelling creatures, marmosets, otters, and tortoises! Alternatively, take a short journey on a shuttle to the Lakeland Motor Museum, which has a fantastic array of motors from vintage motorbikes, classic caravans, pedal cars, and a replica of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird. You can also hop over to popular Bowness-on-Windermere with its shop, eateries, and entertainment.
Brockhole is billed as the Lake District Visitor Centre and it is certainly a great way to start any trip to the South Lakes. Set right on the like, you can choose from the indoor play area, interactive displays and the predator park packed full of birds of prey, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. There are also lots of events going on throughout the year.
Blackwell Arts & Crafts House was built as a holiday home for a wealthy Manchester brewer and has lovely views towards Coniston and Windermere. The property was built around 1900 and still has nearly all its original features intact, as well as much of the original furniture. The suntrap gardens and terraces are a delight to wander round and Blackwell is well worth a visit for anyone wishing to see a different aspect of attractions in the Lake District.
Orrest Head is where Alfred Wainwright first fell in love with Lakeland. From this modest summit you are rewarded with a beautiful vista including the Coniston fells, Langdale, the Fairfield range and Kirkstone to name but a few.
Kentmere is a hidden jewel in South Lakeland’s crown. This valley is accessed from Staveley and is a prime spot for walking. The horseshoe of fells make up a high level route of over 12 miles, which are amongst the quietest miles in the region. The quiet lanes down in the valley are pleasant for cycling and a walk up to the reservoir is ideal for those seeking a more leisurely ramble. Kentmere is a lovely little valley and very easy to explore. There are some good boulders for a spot of bouldering in a quiet spot.