Things to do nearby Key How Cottage
Key How Cottage is set in a fantastic position to make the most of everything the lovely Eskdale Valley has to offer. Visitors will find excellent food, real ales, glorious scenery and unparalleled walking opportunities right on the doorstep. Find out more in our Eskdale guide
If you've come to the Lake District armed with your walking boots then you'll find the choice of paths here superb. 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 in the woods nearby. Alternatively some smaller but no less rewarding fells are right on your doorstep here such as Muncaster Fell and Irton Pike. Visitors to Key How Cottage are close to the foot of Muncaster Fell so why not pack a picnic, walk along its ridge down to Ravenglass then catch the steam engine home? What a perfect day out.
Key How Cottage is on the edge of the secluded Miterdale Valley. Incredibly peaceful, you might not encounter a soul on a walk up through its forests. Why not take the walk up to Burnmoor Tarn or over into the Wasdale Valley from here?
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. If hills aren’t to your taste there are some lovely rides out towards the coast with rather less challenging hills, or just a gentle family potter up into the Mitredale Valley might suit.
Aside from the phenomenal natural heritage around the valley then perhaps the jewel in the crown of Eskdale is the magical Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, more popularly known as the La'al Ratty. This narrow gauge steam railway makes a leisurely seven mile journey from Ravenglass to Boot taking in some staggering scenery along the way. The railway passes the cottage so guests can wave at the train as it passes (you have to wave at the La'al Ratty, it's practically the law!). Irton Road Station is a five minute walk from the door so 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. The railway has a new improved museum where you can find out more about the line's rich history through photographs an artefacts from the valleys that it touches. Find out more in our guide to the La'al Ratty
There's plenty of history to explore in the area not least its Roman heritage. 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. Alternatively head down to Ravenglass to the remains of the Roman bath house one of the tallest roman structures surviving in northern Britain. Find out more about Cumbria's historic sites in our guide
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. Find out more in our guide to Muncaster
The next valley to Eskdale is Wasdale. Famously, with England’s highest mountain and deepest lake, smallest church and biggest liar, Wasdale still has an unspoilt tranquillity that belies its majestic grandeur. It is the most mountainous 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 guide to Wasdale.
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. Alternatively take a walk or bike along the coastline nearby and enjoy the natural surroundings of the beautiful sand dunes at Drigg and Eskmeals Dunes Nature Reserve. There's a profusion of wading birds to see as well as a fabulous array of other flora and fauna. You could take a walk along to Seascale and reward yourself with a delicious locally made ice cream or fish and chips on the seafront!
The valley plays host to many seasonal events. The Boot Beer festival takes place in early June every year while the Eskdale Art Show takes place at the school nearby on Whit weekend. As summer draws to its close 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. Find out more about agricultural shows in our guide