Things to do nearby Esp Hall
With the stunning Duddon Valley right on your doorstep, Esp Hall is perfectly placed for making the most of this beautiful corner of Lakeland. From gentle riverside footpaths to more challenging routes, there are walks nearby to suit all abilities. Avid fell walkers will surely be inspired by the breathtaking views of the Coniston Mountain range from the cottage. Why not make a day of it and head up the mighty Coniston Old Man? For those who like a more sedate pace, the charming villages of Broughton-in-Furness and Coniston are a must visit, whilst history buffs will relish a trip to the magnificent Muncaster Castle in Ravenglass. Or if peace and tranquillity is what you’re after, simply lie back in Esp Hall’s private orchard, the perfect spot for stargazing and day dreaming.
The village of Seathwaite – not to be confused with the Seathwaite in Borrowdale – is a tiny place with a good, 17th century pub, the Newfield Inn. The Inn is home to the Duddon Valley Fell Races, which take place in May, and serves local beer and food. It also sells fishing licences for Seathwaite Tarn. There are a number of excellent walks from the village including a circular river walk, which can take in an exciting stepping-stone crossing. You can also wander up Caw Fell from the pub and reward yourself with a gorgeous pub meal afterwards.
The village of Ulpha, whose Norse name means ‘Wolf’s hill’, considers itself capital of the valley. The riverside here is a popular place for picnics. It has a handy village shop and post office, which sells fishing licences for the river. The pool underneath the bridge is a popular swimming place on sunny days. Why not pack a picnic and spend a warm afternoon by the riverside?
Birker Moor sits high above the peaceful Duddon Valley. There are countless walks up here including to remote and wild Devoke Water, Harter Fell, Dunnerdale Forest and some of the lesser-known Wainwrights such as Green Cragg. The feeling of peace and seclusion here is glorious, you are surrounded by farmland, fells and the sound of crystal clear streams running past. Gentle walks can be had at the nearby Wallabarrow Woods, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which has an array of native flowers and plants. Wallabarrow Crag is also an excellent spot for rock climbing
The rich history of the area is well worth exploring. Broughton-in- Furness is a small market town just five miles away. The position of the town at its strategic point on the Duddon Estuary made it the obvious disembarkation point for successions of Celts, Romans and Vikings. The town has some older buildings, notably the 300-year-old Old King’s Head, but most are Georgian. The church of St Mary Magdalene lies a mile to the south of Broughton, and is well worth a visit. Parts of the building are Saxon, parts Norman, with a grand eighteenth century clock tower and Victorian additions.
To the west of Duddon Bridge lies the ancient Swinside stone circle, described by Aubrey Burl as ‘the loveliest of all the circles’ with an aspect to compare with Castlerigg, at Keswick, and Long Meg in the Eden Valley. Swinside is signposted from the A595, with the nearest parking spot at Crag Hall, a little more than a mile from the circle. There is a rough path from here just to the south of Swinside Farm.
Coniston lies nearby and is justifiably famous for many reasons. Set on the shores of pristine Coniston Water there are many walks to be had, from easy strolls around the lake to challenging mountain climbs, including the Old Man of Coniston, at 2600 feet.
Why not explore the beautiful Coniston Valley from the water? You could take a cruise on the elegant Victorian Steam Yacht Gondola, alternatively take one of the Coniston Launches to one of the various landing stages around the lake. Brantwood, the home of Victorian polymath John Ruskin, has its own landing stage and the launch company offer ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and ‘Campbells on Coniston’ tours too. The more energetic Swallows and Amazons among you can hire their own rowing boats, sailing dinghies, canoes or kayaks from Coniston Pier and create their own adventures on the lake where Arthur Ransome was inspired to write his stories.
Coniston Water also has a long and illustrious history of power boating and water speed records. Donald Campbell sadly lost his life here in a record attempt in 1964. Campbell’s story is told in the Ruskin Museum, which also celebrates Coniston’s heritage with exhibits on John Ruskin, slate and copper mining as well as the lace and farming industries. The Lakeland Motor Museum, at nearby Holker Hall, has the Campbell Legend Bluebird Exhibition, with replica hydroplanes and photographs.
Descending Birker Moor in the opposite direction takes you to lovely Eskdale, a very special valley with an atmosphere all of its own. It's a wonderfully unspoilt place, which offers fabulous food, real ales and a host of opportunities for walking and cycling for all abilities.
One of the most popular things to do in Eskdale is to take a trip on the famous Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, more popularly known as the La'al Ratty. This narrow gauge steam railway makes a leisurely seven-mile journey from Dalegarth at Boot to Ravenglass on the coast taking in some staggering scenery along the way. There are play parks and cafes at both ends of the line and the new museum at Ravenglass is a must for anyone keen to find out about the history of this most loved of West Cumbrian attractions.