Things to do nearby Wellhead Cottage
Plumbland is a typical local farming village originally formed by a collection of farms with land away running behind them on both sides of a long main street. Over time the gaps between the farms have been filled with housing making for a varied but attractive street scene. The building which is now Plumbland C of E school was built in 1799 as a grammar school and you can still hear the school bell ringing out to signal the milestones of the school day. A pleasant short walk from the cottage takes you down the road past the school and via a surfaced footpath to St Cuthbert’s church. The current church is Victorian but was built on the site of Norman and Saxon churches parts of which still remain within the existing building. The churchyard contains some gnarled old yew trees and two Viking hogback tombs decorated with dragons which are worth seeking out. Return home the same way or use other footpaths which go from the church across fields back to the cottage. A short stroll from the house is the local pub; The Last Man. It serves food, local real ales and holds regular events.
Aspatria is a small town on the other side of the River Ellen; here you will find a petrol station, Spar and Co-op which are open long hours seven days a week – handy for top up shops. Along the main street are also a variety of takeaways, post office, gift shop and a bakery well known locally for its pies. If you like to minimise your food miles there is also a shop at First Milk’s dairy open 3 afternoons a week where you can buy cheese produced here at very favourable prices, all the milk used is from local farms. Aspatria also has a railway station on the Cumbrian Coast line, this scenic railway runs from Carlisle to Barrow and then on to Arnside and Silverdale. It is a handy half hour into Carlisle, or head the other way to Whitehaven, from Maryport south the line hugs the coast for much of the way with beautiful views.
Local attractions within 20 minutes drive include The Gincase, a farm park with excellent café and craft shop. As well as the animals there are indoor and outdoor play areas including a barn with giant sandpit and ride on tractors, easily enough to keep youngsters busy all day. Head towards Bassenthwaite and you will find the Lake District Wildlife Park with a range of wildlife to view including meerkats, otters and red panda for the cute factor, gibbons and lemurs for entertainment and an excellent bird of prey display. Cockermouth is an attractive Georgian town at the confluence of the rivers Cocker and Derwent, the wide main street offers a range of independent shops to browse and some of the pretty back streets are also worth a look. Wordsworth House, now owned by the National Trust, was the childhood home of William Wordsworth and his family, presented as it would have been in 1770 complete with costumed guides. Also in the town is Jennings brewery offering tours and the all important tastings!
If you want to spend your days on the fells you will be spoilt for choice, be in Keswick or Loweswater in 25minutes and Buttermere or Ennerdale within 40minutes opening up the whole of the northern and north-western fells for exploration. You could be on top of little Binsey within half an hour of leaving home! Routes starting from the edges of the national park tend to be quieter and you can reach some popular summits without following the crowds. For gentler walks try Loweswater or Rannerdale in May for stunning displays of bluebells, Whinlatter is great all year round with shelter from the sun or wind and can offer an easy way to get up to the snowline in winter. For autumn colours you cannot beat the woods around Derwentwater, accessible for all. Cyclists can head to the off road tracks at ‘Back O’ Skiddaw’, the mountain bike trails at Whinlatter or for road cyclists Newlands and Whinlatter passes offer a real challenge.
Maryport can be reached in around 15minutes from the cottage, an attractive coastal town with harbour and marina it offers a number of attractions. Senhouse Roman Museum houses a large collection of Roman alters, located next to the site of a roman fort which was part of Hadrian’s Wall a viewing platform provides views of the fort as well as spectacular vistas across the Solway to Scotland. The aquarium will entertain and educate all ages with a variety of creatures found in local lakes, rivers and seas that are otherwise hard to see. Or for a more energetic indoor activity head to Clip n Climb to tackle one of the climbing walls or for the bravest try ‘the leap of faith’. On a nice day walk along the prom, rock pool on the beach or explore the cycleway running north or south along the coast.
Anyone with an interest in wildlife should head to the Osprey viewpoint at Dodd wood from May to August, volunteers are on hand to show everyone the birds through telescopes set up at the viewpoint. You may also be lucky enough to see a red squirrel on the feeders while you are there. On the other side of the road is Mirehouse, the sunny house dates from 1666 and welcomes visitors to linger and soak up the atmosphere, children are encouraged to play in the nursery. There are extensive and varied gardens, a lakeshore walk and natural play areas to wear out all ages and don’t miss the short walk to the compact pre-Norman St Bega’s church in stunning surroundings. When you are done you can enjoy a sausage sandwich of spectacular proportions in the Old Sawmill café, or just tea and cake or ice cream if this is your preference, all are delicious!
Birdwatchers and nature lovers should head to the Solway coast, well known for large winter flocks of geese, there are also 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. There are many other reserves to explore too, look for dragonflies on the raised mire at Drumburgh Moss, or rare marsh fritillary butterflies at Finglandrigg Wood, both have marked trails to follow.
Around 40 minutes drive south brings you to St Bees, from where you can walk up onto St Bees Head. This is a spectacular walk at any time of year but in spring and early summer there is the added bonus of the unforgettable sight, sound and smell of a seabird colony on the red sandstone cliffs. St Bees also boasts a lovely sandy beach host to an annual sand sculpture competition and the 12th century St Bees Priory. For keen walkers a good option for a day away from the fells is to utilise the train between St Bees and Whitehaven to do a linear walk of around 8 miles right round St Bees head. This offers the lovely beach at St Bees at one end, the lighthouse, sea bird colonies, industrial heritage of mining and quarrying in the middle, the pretty harbour of Whitehaven at the other end and spectacular views throughout.
The city of Carlisle offers a variety of options for a day out, there are plenty of shopping options but the sandstone cathedral is still the tallest building in this compact city. Visit the historic castle which was once home to Mary Queen of Scots and explore the dungeons. 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. Carlisle station is the starting point for the scenic Settle to Carlisle railway which would make a relaxing day trip letting the scenery come to you.
Keswick is the hub of the northern Lake District, beautifully located on the shores of Derwentwater and starting point for numerous walks for all ages and abilities it is well worth a visit. You can also take the launch across the lake to see Lodore Falls made famous by ‘The Cataract of Lodore’ by Robert Southey or Lingholm walled gardens which were Beatrix Potter’s inspiration for Mr McGregors garden in Peter Rabbit. Walk down to Friars Crag for a beautiful view down the lake to Borrowdale, buy something in one of numerous outdoor shops and don’t miss Old Friars sweet and chocolate shop on the Main Street to treat yourself or for gifts to take home. Play mini golf or tennis, take in a show at the Theatre by the Lake or a film at the traditional cinema, have fish and chips to take away or sit down to a Mexican, it is all here plus much more.
The location of Wellhead cottage offers all of northwest Cumbria for you to explore, its peaceful location offering you a restful base to return to. Whether you are looking to be out every day fellwalking and exploring the coast or choose to stay local and relax in beautiful and peaceful surroundings you will find it all at Wellhead Cottage.