Things to do nearby Potters Barn
Acting as a gateway to two of the most unspoiled and beautiful valleys in the Lake District and very handy for some wonderfully unspoiled coastline Gosforth truly is a wonderful find. The village and its surrounding area is a treasure trove of footpaths and bridleways that visitors to Potters Barn can make the most of.
The village is a bustling little place which is incredibly well served for the foodies among you. There are no less than four pubs in the village offering good home cooked food and a great selection of real ales. A short stroll from Potters Barn will find you at The Wild Olive, an excellent Italian restaurant with a wood fired pizza oven and a lovely little play room for children as well as access out to the village's play park. Don't forget some baked treats at the bakery!
Gosforth is Viking country. Or at least it used to be. The bronze age farmers that were in the valley since time immemorial were over-run and scattered by the marauding Vikings who, unlike the Romans had to come from the south, dropped in from the north and claimed the area for themselves. The Viking was a generic term for the peoples of Denmark, Sweden and Norway and contrary to popular belief they did give a lot to Britain, remnants of which can still be seen in Gosforth today. Towards the end of the 8th century, Britain and the Vikings collided and for the best part of 300 years, continued to do so. In periods of peace, the Vikings farmed the land, tamed the marauding forests and carved monuments in honour of their gods and homelands, some of which still stand. Gosforth Cross, at the church, or the Wheel head cross, is the tallest Viking cross in England; it has stood since the year 940. For over 1000 years then, this cross has faced down the elements, marauding armies, mourners, fires and over keen and eager sundial makers who used the last 3 as bases for clocks.
While famous for having England’s highest mountain, deepest lake, smallest church and biggest liar, Wasdale still has an unspoilt tranquillity that belies its majestic grandeur. It is easily the most dramatic of the Lake District Valleys. From Wastwater in the valley bottom, the Screes climb, seemingly vertically, out of the lake. The valley has hardly changed in hundreds of years, and the natural splendour of the fells and lakes has been preserved in all of its glory. Read more in our Wasdale area guide
Within half an hour of Gosforth you can be geared up and at the foot of Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. Walks do not come much more challenging than this! Obviously not everybody is so hardy, and closer to Gosforth there are family walks and gentler strolls that take a few hours yet will lead you to secluded spots all of your own. Why not take the River Bleng walk straight out of the village for example? The walk is 4 miles over easy terrain. It can take as little as 1 to 2 hours but you can just as easily make a day of it with a picnic and a paddle!
Gosforth is also a gateway to Eskdale; another magical western Lake District valley. Here you will find a variety of routes to the top of Scafell and Scafell Pike to suit all abilities. As well as big hikes to the highest fells, there are some lovely walks on the valley floor and along the beautiful river Esk. Why not take a walk up from the village to the wonderfully named Giggle Alley, from here you can head to the Japanese Garden a beautifully tranquil spot. If you’d like your adventures taken care of by experts then Westlakes Adventure is a company based in Boot providing outdoor activities for individuals, couples, families and groups. Their activities include rock climbing, ghyll scrambling, paddle boarding and kayaking. Read more in our Eskdale area guide
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. Whether you choose to make the journey from the charming coastal village of Ravenglass or from further up the valley at Dalegarth station in Boot you can enjoy great walks and indeed a play park and café at either end. Why not visit the newly refurbished railway museum at Ravenglass where you can find out more about the valleys that the railway touches? There is a wealth of interest to be found in the photography and artefacts there.
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.
In August Gosforth has a large agricultural show which makes a great day out, there's something for all the family to enjoy from the children's races to the big attractions in the main show ring. As summer draws to its close Wasdale and Eskdale both play host to agricultural shows. The Eskdale Show takes place on the last weekend of September. This is a famous Lakeland agricultural show of Herdwick Sheep which are bred and reared on the surrounding fells by local farmers. 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. The Wasdale Head Show and Shepherds Meet takes place in early October is a great opportunity to mingle with the locals in stunning surroundings. Watch the fell runners making light work of Lingmell, sample the local ale and food stalls and browse the crafts. You can also see vintage machinery, watch the serious business of livestock judging and shows.
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 play-park, café and shop as well as seeing the most stunning displays of bluebells and rhododendrons when in season.
Venturing out towards Ennerdale, the bleak expanse of Cold Fell is a place to really experience solitude. There are views to the coast and you are practically guaranteed to have it to yourself, except perhaps a few fell ponies and sheep. Bradley Farm runs pony trekking in the area, a great way to enjoy the scenery. 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 being rewarding days out in the fells. Read more in our Ennerdale Guide
Rather than heading inland to the fells why not consider exploring the coast? Just three miles away on the coast is Seascale, a victorian seaside village with an excellent local ice cream shop. Seascale is also home to an excellent links golf course. Walking south along the beach for a mile will take you to the sand dunes at Drigg. A great place for a family picnic and paddle on a sunny day or just for a wild and windswept winter walk. St Bees is another seaside village further up the coast offering lovely walks along to secluded coves to the north.
Ravenglass is the only coastal village within the Lake District National Park. It makes a delightful place for a visit with its feeling of a gentle old fashioned way of life. Ravenglass is where three rivers meet (Esk, Irt, and Mite) to form an estuary and natural harbour. 2000 years ago, it was the location for an important Roman port and military fort and later became a bustling fishing town. Today, Ravenglass is better known as the starting point for the Ravenglass & Eskdale steam railway (La’al Ratty). This is the land of Bronze Age settlements, Roman forts, ancient churches, medieval castles and many other hidden delights. Why not take a bike and explore either the 11 mile Eskdale trail or follow some of the Hadrian's Cycleway?
Whitehaven is a Georgian Harbour town 12 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.