Things to do nearby The Old Joiner's Shop
Eskdale is a wonderfully unspoilt valley which offers fabulous food, real ales and a host of opportunities for walking and cycling for all abilities. Visitors will find that The Old Joiner’s Shop is perfectly placed to make use of them all.
You have a wealth of woodland walks at your fingertips as you can access the Eskdale trail about 200m from the door. One such walk leads to the majestic sight and sound of Stanley Ghyll Force, a beautiful waterfall with a 60ft cascade of water which you approach through what feels like a tropical rainforest. Heading across the valley you can take a rather steeper path to the tranquil surroundings of Blea Tarn, a wonderful spot for a summertime wild swim.
Further up the valley as you head up the steep switchback road that is Hardknott Pass (not for the faint hearted driver or passenger!) you’ll come to the staggering setting of Hardknott Roman Fort. The fort was built under Hadrian’s rule in the 2nd century. It guarded the pass on the road from Ravenglass to Ambleside and was policed by troops from the eastern Adriatic. Today visitors can explore remains including the barracks, commandant’s house, parade ground and bath house. Or you can sit and take in the view imagining what life was like here nearly 2000 years ago.
For the well prepared and more adventurous walker the upper Eskdale valley is towered over by Scafell and Scafell Pike. Scafell Pike is one of the Lake District's most iconic and legendary mountains. At 3,209 feet, it is England's highest mountain and one of the most thrilling climbs in the Lakes. The views from the top have inspired writers such as Wainwright, Wordsworth and Coleridge and on a clear day the views stretch to Scotland, Wales, Ireland and even the Isle of Man. If you’d like your adventures taken care of by experts then Westlakes Adventure is a company based just 3 miles away providing outdoor activities for individuals, couples, families and groups. Their activities include rock climbing, ghyll scrambling, paddle boarding and kayaking.
As for the Cycling opportunities in Eskdale, well where to begin? For mountain biking the valley offers trails to suit all abilities with low level forest trails and more technical bridleways leading over to the Wasdale and Duddon Valleys and back again. For roadies you have one of England’s steepest roads at the head of the valley to challenge you. Indeed many of the Lake Districts most challenging cycling sportives (including the Fred Whitton, the Lakeland Loop and the Tour of the High Passes) go right past the house. If hills aren’t to your taste there are some lovely rides out towards the coast with rather less challenging hills.
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 L’aal Ratty. This narrow gauge steam railway makes a leisurely seven mile journey from Ravenglass to Boot taking in some staggering scenery along the way. From The Old Joiner’s Shop you can hail the train from Fisherground Halt just 200m away. Whether you make the journey down to the coast to the delightful village of Ravenglass or further up the valley to Dalegarth at Boot you can enjoy great walks and indeed a play park and café at either end. With prior arrangement you can put your bikes on the train at either end of the line and cycle back via the Eskdale Trail.
Muncaster Castle makes a great day out, it sits high above the estuary where the river Esk meets the Irish Sea at Ravenglass and has a well-deserved reputation as one of Cumbria’s most popular attractions. The Castle makes a great rainy day visit where you can learn more about its colourful history. The original foundations of the building itself date back as far as 79AD - construction of the castle that you see today was started in 1258. As you can imagine with a castle in such an incredible position on the very edges of the country, it is steeped in history, with tales of kings and queens of murder and intrigue and ghostly presences everywhere! The grounds at Muncaster are just as much of a delight as you can watch stunning bird of prey displays, explore a meadow vole maze, enjoy the playpark, café and shop as well as seeing the most stunning displays of bluebells and rhododendrons when in season.
If you’d like to head out of the valley you have many great options. Whitehaven is a Georgian Harbour town 20 miles up the coast 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. Closer by 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. At the Mine Heritage Centre you can learn about miners and how they lived and worked, and extracted the ore from the ground.
If you’d rather head further inland you can take the road over Hardknott and Wrynose passes to Ambleside, a largely Victorian town at the head of Lake Windermere. The town is now a bustling Lake District tourist hub where you can take one of the Lake Steamers from Waterhead or find out more about the many well-known characters that have been connected with the town, including William Wordsworth, Hardwicke Rawnsley, John Ruskin and Beatrix Potter.
Back to the Eskdale Valley which is blessed with five excellent pubs (the nearest is just 500m away) offering fabulous home cooked food and real ales. Several of them hold pub quizzes and host live music evenings throughout the year. The valley is also home to the Boot Beer Festival. Held every June this hugely popular gathering offers around 150 real ales and ciders along with live music and a bus service between the pubs.
As summer draws to its close The Eskdale Show takes place on the last weekend of September less than 500m away from the house. This is a famous Lakeland agricultural show of Herdwick Sheep which are bred and reared on the surrounding fells by local farmers. You’ll see fantastic examples of this friendly looking breed of local sheep in the fields surrounding The Old Joiner’s Shop for most of the year. The show also has competition classes for hound dogs, terriers, sheep dogs, poultry and shepherds crooks. There are also stalls full of Cumbrian goods, sporting events for children, fell racing, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling events and hound trailing. It’s an excellent window into local farming life and a great day out.