Things to do nearby The Annexe
The Duddon Estuary, nestled between the Irish Sea and the Lakeland Fells was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1990 and is a dynamic and diverse environment of sand and mud flat, home to a huge variety of significant species and habitat. A ninety-minute walk from the property takes you on a tour of the Duddon Mosses National Nature Reserve from Kirkby-in Furness across to Foxfield. The gentle stroll offers you spectacular views of this incredible landscape and a chance to see some of its inhabitants. If you don't want to retrace your steps to return, hop on the local Cumbrian Coastline railway at Foxfield Station; Kirkby-in-Furness is just one stop south.
Combine a walk across the Mosses National Nature Reserve with a stop at the Prince of Wales pub in Foxfield for an enjoyable day out. Situated at the village train station, this pub is a unique place to enjoy a drink, chat with the welcoming locals or simply relax in front of one of its cosy open fires. But this isn't any ordinary village pub, the Prince of Wales is home to the Foxfield Brewery and offers an extensive range of bottled beers from around the world, as well as a good selection of its own, and there is decent cider menu on offer too. Many of their drinks come with detailed tasting notes, making a trip here more of an experience than just a pitstop.
Take the 30-minute drive through the spectacular Lakeland countryside to Coniston to discover why greats like artist John Ruskin, authors Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome and water speed record holder Donald Cambell all held the area in such high regard. The road from Torver to Coniston skirts along the shoreline of Coniston Water with stopping places to take in the stunning views and activity centres where you can book boat hire and steamer rides if you wish to get out on the water. In the village, there is a good selection of places to eat from The Black Bull, a 400 year old coaching inn, to a bakery, restaurants and plenty of tearooms.
This buzzing little market town has been delighting visitors for many years with a collection of independent shops, cafes and eateries, a regular market offering local produce and a vibrant calendar of festivals and events taking place each year. In the centre of the town, the Coronation Hall is an impressive early twentieth-century building housing a large traditional arched theatre which hosts a range of productions. Another impressive building in Ulverston is the Conishead Priory. Just a short walk from the town centre is the Laurel and Hardy Museum, home to works and memorabilia from this legendary comedic duo. An odd find at first perhaps but explained when you learn that Ulverston is the birthplace of Stan Laurel, and locals are hugely proud of their connection to this British treasure.
On the outskirts of Ravenglass, the only coastal village in the Lake District National Park is the dramatic and fascinating Muncaster Castle. Still the lived-in home of the Pennington family after what is believed to be more than eight centuries, Muncaster Castle is a fantastic place to visit whatever the weather. Strolling the grounds is a fabulous way to spend a sunny afternoon, yet the castle itself provides entertainment and intrigue even when the weather isn't so kind. The audio tour is narrated by members of the Pennington family and offers insightful commentary as you lead yourself around the castle's public rooms. The Hawk and Owl Centre is another reason to visit, with aviaries and mews housing all kinds of wonderful species, and flying displays taking place in the Old Rose Garden throughout the summer months.
Barrow in Furness
Once an influential iron and steel centre, Barrow stands proudly at the tip of the Furness Penninsula and is now more commonly respected for its ship-building industry. The second largest town in Cumbria after Carlisle, Barrow is certainly worth a visit and is an easy 12-mile drive from The Annexe. Not only will you find supermarkets, national high street stores and other conveniences, but Barrow is also home to the Barrow Dock Museum which offers fascinating exhibits about the area's history, the ancient ruins of Furness Abbey, and the 17th-century iconic red sandstone Town Hall. Venture beyond the town towards the coast, and discover two distinctly different islands worth visiting. Walney island, accessed by a bridge from the mainland, is a 10-mile long island home to two important nature reserves, and Piel island, reached by small boat, has a castle, a pub and even its own king - we kid you not.
Heading back to the M6 from Kirkby-in-Furness you pass through the small community of Newby Bridge which sits on the southerly point of Windermere. It is here that the lake drains into the River Leven before meandering towards the estuary and into Morecambe Bay. Although only a small hamlet, Newby Bridge and its immediate surroundings have plenty to offer visitors. A few miles north at Lakeside is where Windermere Lake Cruises launch their steamers for a journey up the lake to the popular Lakeland villages of Bowness-on-Windermere and Ambleside. All cruises enjoy the informative commentary, and some offer refreshments and stop-offs too. Back on dry land and you can choose from the Lakeland Aquarium, The Lakeland Motor Museum or the Haverthwaite to Lakeside Steam Railway, all of which are within a couple of miles of each other and offer immersive experiences for visitors whatever the weather.
Holker Hall and Gardens
Half an hour's drive south-east of the property takes you to Holker Hall and Gardens which is at the heart of an 18,000-acre estate in rural Cumbria. The property dates back to the sixteenth century and has been passed by inheritance through the Preston and Lowther families to the Cavendishes that own it to this day. The house, however, has changed greatly over this time, no more so than in 1871 when a horrific fire burned through much of the building, destroying the entire west wing. Today, the house and grounds are open to the public and offer a serene place to spend some time admiring the architecture and interiors and wandering the award-winning gardens. With a strong farming heritage, the Holker Estate and its resident businesses produce a wide range of fabulous quality produce which is sold in their on-site food hall and served in the courtyard cafe and brasserie.
For a relatively short walk with incredible views, Black Combe is an absolute must, but don't be deceived by the fact it is officially classed as a hill and not a mountain, it is still a good climb to the top. An obvious fellside path is visible from the start near to the church in the village of Whicham, and the grassy rise is relatively easy to follow even without a map. Make sure you plan in plenty of time for stops because Black Combe offers exceptional views in all directions. Coastal views take in Ireland, Scotland and Wales on a good day while turning your attention inland will reward you with a vista of the Lakeland Fells from a direction very rarely seen. But one of the best rewards of a walk up Black Combe is that it is still relatively unknown to even frequent Lake District visitors, so there is a good chance of having the views all to yourself for a significant proportion of your climb.
Silecroft is a small coastal village offering spectacular sunsets in the summer months and is excellent for a windswept walk on its sand and shingle beach. In low tide its vast expanse of sand becomes visible, making it a fabulous destination for kiting, horse riding and other activities. It's also a perfect place for wildlife spotting; in fact, the area alongside the beach has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and offers opportunities to spot a range of local and migrating birds. Back from the beach, Silecroft village has a small shop, pub, horse trekking centre, golf course, and a little railway station which links to other villages and towns along the coast via the Cumbrian Coast Line railway.