Things to do nearby Hillcrest Cottage
Ennerdale Bridge is a lovely quiet village blessed with wonderful walking, cycling and some great places to eat and drink. Why not walk the 7 1/2 mile route around Ennerdale Water or make use of the miles of quiet forest track in the valley for a family bike ride? The C2C cycleway also passes nearby and you can follow the route to explore the Georgian harbour town of Whitehaven with its colourful maritime history. Just a stone's throw from the door is The Gather, a lovely cafe and shop selling local produce. You could also enjoy a home-cooked meal or a beer at either the Fox and Hounds or The Shepherd's Arms. Cumbria Karting Club’s Lakeland Circuit is just nearby. You could visit just to watch a race or get involved in one of their “Let’s go Karting” events.
Kirkland is a quiet hamlet situated in wonderful walking and cycling country with some of the Lake District’s most tranquil and unspoilt areas on its doorstep.
There are many lovely walks nearby including Cogra Moss and the Lamplugh Fells. The hedgerow lanes are reminiscent of years gone by, almost free from traffic and there are plenty of opportunities for cycling along these quiet lanes including the Coast to Coast route which through the village.
The Ennerdale Valley is one of the Lake District's wildest and most tranquil valleys. Its remote location makes it the perfect place to escape to even in high season. Here, it's every bit possible that you will encounter more sheep than people! The lake has the distinction of being the only lake in the Lake District without a tarmac road running alongside and long may that continue. Walking is the big draw here with Pillar, Steeple, High Stile, Great Borne and Red Pike offering rewarding days out on the fells.
From this glorious valley, you can take your pick from these mighty fell walks or take gentler rambles such as the Nine Becks Walk and the Smithy Beck Trail. Indeed, why not take a picnic and find a spot near one of these glistening becks or tumbling waterfalls? You can also walk right round the lake at Ennerdale which has an obvious path and is easy to follow (although narrow and involving some scrambling in places). Much of the north side of the lake is cyclable, too
The remoteness of this valley and its lack of light pollution mean that the area at Low Gillerthwaite at the head of the lake has been designated a Dark Sky Discovery centre - perfect for the stargazers among you. Also, a new approach to conservation has been adopted in Ennerdale and several official bodies are working together to allow Ennerdale to evolve into a wild valley. Natural processes will shape the landscape and ecology; trees will be left where they fall and water allowed to form its own course.
The River Ehen, which flows from Ennerdale Water, is a site of Special Scientific Interest as it supports the largest freshwater Pearl Mussel population in England and is an important breeding ground for Atlantic Salmon. There are many great spots for family picnics and for kids to paddle and trail fishing nets. Ennerdale Bridge is a charming village with a strong community feeling. There are two good pubs (one owned and run as a community co-operative), a small play park and a lovely café called The Gather that, aside from offering delicious cakes and light meals, also acts as a village shop and visitor hub. They stock basic items as well as gifts from local craftsmen and excellent locally-sourced food such as bacon and sausages.
Beyond Ennerdale Bridge you'll find that the bleak expanse of Cold Fell is a place to really experience solitude. Try a walk to the summit of Grike, perhaps taking in the sight of the ancient stone circle along the way. There are views to the coast and you are practically guaranteed to have it to yourself, except perhaps for a few fell ponies and sheep. Bradley Farm runs pony trekking in the area: taking a gentle trek aboard one of their gentle ponies is a great way to enjoy the scenery.
For the petrolheads among you or even just the curious the Cumbria Karting Club’s Lakeland Circuit is just outside Kirkland. It’s one of the UK’s top circuits and makes a fun visit whether it’s to watch or get involved in one of their “Let’s go Karting” events.
Nearby Loweswater is a beautiful lake, small and sweet with fantastic lakeshore paths. In fact Loweswater is an Old Norse name for ‘leafy lake’, a very apt description for the woodlands to the West of the lake which are home to red squirrels and the hidden Holme Force waterfall. Why not include a visit to the Kirkstile Inn while here? It’s one of our favourites.
Cockermouth is a charming Georgian town. It is the birthplace of William Wordsworth and you can still visit his childhood home, now a museum owned by the National Trust. The town is blessed with a variety of independent shops, cafés and restaurants. Here you will find a Sainsbury's supermarket as well as several independent greengrocers and two excellent butchers. Alternatively, why not take a tour round Jennings Brewery and sample some of its real ale offerings?
St Bees is a beautiful seaside village and the starting point for the Coast to Coast Walk. It's also a great place for a family picnic and paddle on a sunny day - see if you can spot the old outdoor swimming pool cut into the rocks! It's also perfect for a wild and wind-swept winter walk.
The Wasdale Valley is similarly remote and is prime walking country with the big fells of Great Gable, Scafell and Scafell Pike. The valley boasts England’s deepest lake, tallest mountain, smallest church and the World's Biggest Liar competition! Beyond Wasdale is Eskdale, home to the Ravenglass and Eskdale miniature steam railway which takes you seven miles from Eskdale to Ravenglass, the only coastal village within the National Park. If you visit Eskdale for the day, a walk to Stanley Ghyll Waterfall from St Catherine’s Church is highly recommended, as is as an amble through the Japanese Gardens at Giggle Alley!
Eight miles away on the coast is Whitehaven, a Georgian Harbour town with a colourful history involving rum, sugar and piracy! The Rum Story makes a great place to start your visit and from there you can follow their ‘Quest’ around the town’s historical landmarks. It is also the start to the 140 mile-long C2C cycle route which passes near to Ennerdale at Kirkland. Also nearby is Egremont where you can find the remains of a Norman Castle and just south of the town is Florence Mine, the last working iron ore mine in Europe, and part of the rich mining history of West Cumbria.