Things to do nearby Herdwick Croft
Positioned at the head of Bassenthwaite, Herdwick Croft is an excellent base for exploring the North Lakes. With attractions like Lakes Distillery, Lake District Wildlife Park and Mirehouse on your doorstep, you don’t need to travel far. If you fancy a treat, Armathwaite Hall, a magnificent hotel set in lakeshore gardens, offers scrumptious afternoon teas and fine dining, in addition to its luxurious spa complete with outdoor hot tub for the ultimate relaxation.
Bassenthwaite Lake is one of the largest lakes in the Lake District and forms part of a wetland nature reserve. It is a particularly tranquil part of north Lakeland with Skiddaw towering above it. Members of the Bassenthwaite Sailing Club are the only ones allowed to sail on the lake and on a warm sunny day there is nothing quite as peaceful as watching white sails float across the water.
The lake contains salmon, trout, pike, perch, minnow, dace, ruffe and eel, though the predominant species is roach. Cormorants have been known to fish the lake and herons can also be seen. Fishing is permitted by license, obtained from the Tourist Information and Post Office in nearby Keswick.
Dodd Wood offers a viewpoint for one of Bassenthwaite Lake’s most popular draws: a pair of rare Ospreys, which have been returning to the area to breed for the last few years. Patient birdwatchers can watch these majestic birds nesting, feeding their young, and fishing.
With waymarked forest walks, spectacular panoramic views, and wildlife including red squirrels, Dodd Wood makes for a perfect day out. The pleasant walking trails begin at a cosy little tearoom called The Old Sawmill, which is warmed by a roaring log burner in the colder months. The food is top-notch, tasty and all homemade.
If you’re keen to try out some more challenging fell walking, Skiddaw, England's fourth highest mountain has a well-defined path from nearby Keswick to the summit. However, Bassenthwaite boasts probably the best route of ascent via Ullock Pike. On a clear day Skiddaw presents epic views to the coast, Scotland and southwards towards the central Lake District.
Whinlatter, England’s only true mountain forest, has a visitor centre and tearoom perched high in the forest with a delightful veranda that is frequented by birds such as siskins, waxwings, goldfinches and chaffinches. It has a Go Ape! high ropes course (discounts available to guests with Sally's Cottages), play areas, trails suitable for all abilities and ages, and Segway tours.
Whinlatter also has fantastic purpose-built mountain biking trails that run on a graded scale from green to black. Bikes can be hired in the forest or in Keswick where there are two bike shops. Across the water, Skiddaw presents a big challenge to bikers with several rideable routes from the summit, though you may have to shoulder your bike to get up some of the steep sections on your way up!
Mirehouse, with its lovely garden, is situated by the shores of Bassenthwaite. This family-run historic house has a particular connection with Tennyson, who wrote his famous poem Morte d’Arthur whilst staying there. It is open to the public and holds portraits and manuscripts of three poet laureates. As well as that, it boasts four adventure playgrounds, a wild flower meadow, a heather maze, and woodland walks.
St Bega’s church is in an idyllic location on the shores of the lake. St Bega was the daughter of a seventh century Irish Chieftain. She fled Ireland to avoid marriage to a Norse Prince and landed at St Bees on the Cumbrian coast. It is though that this quaint little church is located on the site where she resided and was eventually buried. Melvyn Bragg retells her story in dramatic fashion in his book "Credo".
Bassenthwaite Village has a lovely pub, The Sun Inn. This charming 17th century farmhouse is a dog-friendly eatery, popular with both locals and visitors alike, that serves a good selection of tasty food for both lunch and dinner.
If you’re an animal-lover, don’t miss a trip to the Lake District Wildlife Park where you can see monkeys, zebra, otters, snakes and many other interesting creatures. You can even spend the day as a zookeeper! The Park also includes bird displays, a good café serving tasty food, and a gift shop! Alternatively, head over to the Lakes Distillery next door. As well as distillery tours, tastings, a bistro and a shop, you can meet with the resident Alpacas! Guests with Sally's Cottages can also receive discounts at the distillery.
Keswick is a short drive or bus journey away. This thriving market town has shops, cafés, restaurants, pubs and a thriving Theatre (guests with Sally’s Cottages can get discounts on tickets!), as well as the lovely Derwentwater. There are also several galleries and museums, including the Pencil Museum. In Hope Park there is a pitch and putt golf course, crazy golf, and remote controlled boats that you can sail on a mini replica of Derwentwater!
Cockermouth is another short journey away in the opposite direction. A Georgian gem town, Cockermouth is on the River Derwent and dates from Norman times. Much of its medieval street plans remain, coupled with beautiful Georgian architecture. Cockermouth has plenty of independent shops and eateries and is a pleasant place to stroll about. It also has a museum in William Wordsworth’s childhood home, a theatre, cinema, the Jennings Brewery (offering tours and tastings) and the occasional jazz evening!
The coast is easily reached from here. With the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, quaint seaside villages like Silloth and Allonby, and long, sandy beaches, you’ll be in a true haven between the mountains and the sea!
Further into the Lake District are more lovely lakes including Loweswater with its ancient woodlands, Crummock Water and the Rannerdale Bluebells, and Buttermere, repeatedly voted as having one of the best views in Britain!