Things to do nearby Hardingill Cottage
The village of Gosforth is a bustling little place which is not only a treasure trove of footpaths and bridleways but it is also incredibly well served for the foodies among you. There are two pubs on the village square just down the hill from the cottage and two more within half a miles' potter. Just down the hill from Hardingill Cottage is 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.
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, 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.
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 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. It's a worthwhile jaunt for the fit and well prepared among you. 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. Take the River Bleng walk straight out of the village for example which is a tranquil stroll with plenty of great spots to have a picnic or a paddle.
Gosforth is also a gateway to Eskdale; another magical western Lake District valley. The walking in Eskdale is second-to-none. You will find a variety of routes to the top of Scafell and Scafell Pike to suit all abilities. Great Moss is one of the Lake District’s best kept secrets. This stunning open valley is surrounded by some of the highest ground in England, Scafell Pike, Esk Hause and Bowfell but hidden from view from the Eskdale valley floor. 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 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. 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. There is a newly refurbished Railway Museum at the Ravenglass end of the line giving clues to the area's rich history through artefacts and photographs. Well worth a rainy day visit.
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 is a fantastic place to visit, 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. Click here for our Ennerdale Area Guide.
Rather than heading inland to the fells why not consider exploring the coast? 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 industrial heritage of West Cumbria.
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?