Between the coast and the mountains
The small west Cumbrian village of Haile, characterised by traditional sandstone buildings, is just outside the Lake District National Park but consequently has the advantage of being quieter and traffic free. Holidaymakers staying in Haile have the benefit of both the Lake District mountains and the beaches of the West Coast within a short drive away.
Haile Great Wood
In the immediate surrounding area is Haile Great Wood, an ancient woodland with flora and fauna and designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). There are designated footpaths through the woods and onto the adjoining fields.
The little church of Haile has Georgian arched windows, medieval walls and Saxon quoins. A stained glass window is dedicated to John Ponsenby. The Ponsenbys have occupied nearby Haile Hall for over six hundred years; the existing hall dates from 1591. (Psvener states there was a hall on the site from the late 10th century). Lady Mollie Ponsenby died in 2003 at the ripe age of 102. A testimony to the pure air and relaxed living at Haile perhaps!
Florence Mine, Egremont
Haile Moor Iron Ore mine can be found half a mile from the church. The history of mines that were active from 1905 to 1972 can be found at The Florence Heritage Centre, 2 miles south of the nearby town of Egremont.
The small market town of Egremont is only 2 miles from Haile. It has held a market charter since 1267 and has a wide main street, overlooked by the remains of a Norman Castle. All the facilities of a working town are to be found in and on the outskirts of the town.
Egremont Castle was built about 1130 and stands on a mound above the River Ehen. The ditches are well preserved. Part of the wall and the gatehouse are in a reasonable state of repair. The massive wall at the end of the outer bailey was part of the Great Hall.
Lowes Court Gallery shows a wide range of paintings, prints and craftwork. There are monthly exhibitions of new and established artists. The Gallery is also the Tourist Information Centre providing local information and an accommodation booking service. The Lowes Court Gallery in Egremont was a derelict coal merchant's house that was restored in 1968 to form an exhibition centre for Cumbrian Artists and Craftsmen
St Michael & St Mary's Church, a minor gem of Victorian gothic architecture, was built in the Early English style in 1881 to a design by T.L Banks of Whitehaven, replacing an earlier church on the same site.
The Egremont Crab Fair and Sports was established in 1267. The Fair was first held when Henry III gave Egremont its Market Charter - in that charter an annual fair is mentioned and is now held on the 3rd Saturday in September each year. The Crab Fair and Sports has many traditional events, including the World Gurning Championships in which the competitors pull an ugly face through a Baffin (horse's collar) with the most grotesque face winning.
The Crab Fair World Gurning Championships have categories for Male, Female and Junior Gurners. Many competitors travel from all over the country and indeed come from all over the world. There are many sporting events including fell races, street races and children’s races as well as rare breeds, dog shows and a gymkhana.
Over the years, more modern events such as classic vehicle and motorcycle rallies have been added to the spectacle of the day. Many other events take place during the year and especially the week leading up to Crab Fair Day.
Only 15 minutes drive away is the lovely Ennerdale Valley. It is a place of seclusion and tranquillity at the very west of the Lake District, with the only lake to have no road running alongside it. It also has one of the largest forests in Cumbria and very few people.
There are walks to suit all tastes in Ennerdale, from gentle strolls along the lake to mountain hikes giving you wonderful views of Ennerdale Water and Buttermere. Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast Walk goes through the village.
There are a number of climbs in Ennerdale, most of them on Pillar Rock, on the rugged north face of Pillar Mountain. This crag offers superb rock climbs at all levels and was one of the first venues for pioneering rock climbers in the Lakes.
A thirty-minute drive away is Muncaster Castle, Gardens and Owl Centre, home to the Pennington family for over 800 years and with lots going on all year round, especially for children. The gardens are renowned for their stunning rhododendrons in the summer. There is a plant centre at the castle with many specimens for sale.
Muncaster Castle is also close to the starting point for the Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway (or 'La'al Ratty'), which is a brilliant day out for all the family.