Things to do nearby Gill Beck
Caldbeck is an attractive and vibrant village on the northern edge of the Lake District National Park. It has a selection of cafés, craft shops, a pub and a well-stocked village store for the essentials. Children will love walking up to the large pond on the Village Green to feed the ducks and playing pooh sticks on the bridge behind the church is a must. A short walk will take you to The Howk, an historic former Bobbin Mill by a limestone gorge in the river, and to attractive waterfalls a little further upstream. Other footpaths meander through the fields to the south of the village, connecting to quiet lanes ideal for pleasant evening strolls. Caldbeck churchyard is worth a visit to locate the graves of ‘the Maid of Buttermere’ and ‘John Peel’ it also contains the ‘Roughton Stone’, a monument to the men who worked Roughton Mine over its 400-year history and are laid to rest here. Caldbeck also benefits climatically from being on the edge of the high fells, therefore getting less rain than elsewhere in the National Park.
A lovely walk takes you to neighbouring Hesket Newmarket, a mainly 18th century village stretched out along a central green. It has been home to Hesket Newmarket Brewery since 1988, making the village well known amongst lovers of real ales. You can arrange a tour of the brewery, which includes tastings, or just sample their wares in the Old Crown, the first pub in Britain to be owned and run by a co-operative. The route to Hesket Newmarket is almost entirely off-road. This delightful shortcut follows the beck side to a historic bridge over Cald Beck behind the church. Cross over the bridge and turn right onto the Cumbria Way, an attractive route passing through woodland and pasture with views across the valley to the fells beyond. Turn right to a further bridge at Watersmeet and through bluebell woods to Hesket or, for a longer walk, continue to Sebergham and loop back on one of the other footpaths over the hill.
If you prefer your walks to be wilder and higher, then footpaths and quiet lanes lead south from Caldbeck to the base of routes up both High Pike and Carrock Fell. The ridge route between the two fells can be used to make a great circuit with extensive views across the Solway to Scotland and over the Eden Valley to the north Pennines, as well as to better-known heights of the Lake District to the south. Geologists will find much to interest them on the slopes of these fells, which have been extensively mined for their mineral wealth in the past.
A short car journey takes you across the common to parking places at Longlands or Orthwaite, which give access to some of the other Back O’ Skiddaw Fells, including the infamous Great Cockup. These green, rounded fells invite you to explore at your own pace and take time to enjoy the peace and quiet. For a bigger challenge, go up the back of Skiddaw itself via Whitewater Dash Waterfall and Bakestall, a quiet route up a popular fell. Many walks and local attractions can also be accessed via the Caldbeck Rambler bus service. In the summer this makes it possible to do linear walks or to visit attraction such as Mirehouse stately home, Keswick or the Lake District Wildlife Park.
Cyclists of all ages and abilities can also find plenty of options either on the network of quiet lanes around Caldbeck or on the off road tracks to Skiddaw House. Mountain bikers will want to try Whinlatter, around a 40-minute drive away, which has purpose built trails varying in difficulty. The Rivers Route and the Coast to Coast long-distance cycle trails provide for those with more distant horizons in mind.
Fans of historic houses are well catered for in this area, with Hutton-in-the-Forest, wits its beautiful gardens, just a 20-minute drive away. Mirehouse, dating from 1666 is half an hour away and enjoys extensive and varied gardens, lakeshore walks and adventure play areas. Don’t miss the short walk to the compact pre-Norman St Bega’s church in its stunning surroundings. Lowther Castle is a 40-minute drive away in the opposite direction. Now roofless, it is no less impressive. The estate has been taken over by a charitable trust and the remains of once elaborate gardens are fascinating to explore. There is also a huge adventure playground and lots of rope swings plus a birdwatching hide for children. Also worth a visit is Dalemain; children will love exploring the gardens and adults can be transported back to their childhood by the house’s toy collection.
Once birdwatchers have exhausted the possibilities in the local woods and along the beck they should head to the Solway Coast. For the large flocks of geese, winter is a particularly interesting time to visit, but there are waders, seabirds and a good variety of small birds to spot all year round. Try the SSSI at Grune Point/Skinburness or the RSPB reserve at Campfield Marsh. Anyone interested in wildlife can go to the Osprey viewpoint at Dodd Wood from May to August; volunteers are on hand to show everyone the birds through telescopes and binoculars set up at the viewpoint. You may also be lucky enough to see a red squirrel on the feeders while you are there!
The Border City of Carlisle offers an interesting day out: the sandstone cathedral is still the tallest building in this compact city. Visit the historic castle, once briefly home to Mary Queen of Scots, and explore the dungeons and battlements. After a walk by the River Eden you could head to the large play area with a music trail and gardens between the castle and the river. Tullie House Museum has interactive exhibits on local history, geography and wildlife as well as a very good café. Penrith and Cockermouth are both smaller market towns with attractive architecture and a range of shops and cafés, perfect for spending some time in and both within easy reach.
Keswick is the hub of the northern Lake District: take a boat across the lake to see Lodore Falls or Lingholm with its walled gardens that were Beatrix Potter’s inspiration for Mr McGregor's garden in Peter Rabbit. Walk down to Friars Crag for a beautiful view down the lake to Borrowdale. Buy something in one of the numerous outdoor shops and don’t miss Old Friars Sweet and Chocolate Shop on the Main Street. Play mini golf or tennis, take in a show at the Theatre by the Lake (guests with Sally’s Cottages can buy discounted tickets) or a film at the traditional cinema, have fish and chips to take away or sit down to a pub meal.