Things to do nearby Hinning House
Hinning House is perfectly situated just three miles from the Eskdale Valley, but surrounded by twelve acres of pasture and woodland, which are rich in wildlife with red squirrels, deer and many varieties of birds including barn owls. If you’re looking for a base from which to cycle, walk, climb or simply enjoy painting and photography, then this could be your ideal destination. You could easily spend a few days exploring the local vicinity without any need to get in your car. But within a ten-minute drive is the nearest village, Eskdale Green, where you can find pubs and a village shop, which stocks a comprehensive range of produce.
Four miles away is Ravenglass, the only seaside village in the National Park and exuding a feeling of a gentle old-fashioned way of life. Dating back to at least the 2nd century Ravenglass was an important naval base for the Romans - Glannoventa is how it is often referred to. It was the most southerly point of the Cumbrian coastal defence system, which is an extension of Hadrian’s Wall. As the village has a natural harbour it became the regional supply point for much of north-western Roman Britain, hence the road from Ravenglass over the Hardknott Pass to the Roman forts at Hardknott and Ambleside.
The village is home to the famous Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway, ‘La’al Ratty’ as it is affectionately known, and you can pay to travel with your bike from Boot and then cycle back on the Eskdale Trail, 11 miles or so to your start point, passing through quaint hamlets, mills and quiet woodlands on your way. Families will particularly appreciate the new playground and activity area at Dalegarth Station at Boot. The cafe serves delicious snacks and light meals and you can watch the steam train come into the station from your table. As a special Christmas treat you and your family can board the Santa Express and watch out for Santa and his sleigh in the magic wood before meeting him as he passes through every carriage.
For those wishing to be introduced by experts to more adventurous walks or activities, it is worth contacting Westlakes Adventure, a company based in Boot providing outdoor activities for individuals, couples, families and groups, including rock climbing, ghyll scrambling, paddle boarding and kayaking. Read more in our Eskdale area guide.
If you’re up for an independent challenge then within under half an hour of Hinning House you can be parked up, lacing boots, checking maps and ready to embrace England’s finest mountain walking and climbing - not only Scafell Pike, but Kirkfell, Great Gable, Pillar, Lingmell and others. Read more in our Wasdale area guide. But before you go charging off up into the mountains, spend a few moments down in the relative calm of the valley, in St Olaf’s, England’s smallest church thought to date from the Vikings, set among a small oasis of yew trees. A stained glass window is in memory of members of the Fell & Rock Climbing club who died in the First World War and the inscription reads ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my strength’ and the graveyard has graves of climbers killed in climbing accidents.
On a wet day or just a day when you are seeking something less strenuous, why not take a drive to Muncaster Castle, a few miles up the road, sitting high above the estuary where the river Esk meets the Irish Sea. Here there is something for everyone and every age. From the beautiful gardens and grounds, to the fascinating Hawk & Owl Centre with daily flying displays and birds of prey experiences. Inevitably, Muncaster Castle is rich in history. The original foundations date back to 79AD, although construction of the current castle 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 tales of kings and queens, of murder and intrigue, with ghostly presences everywhere! Throughout the year there are events taking place including outdoor cinema and theatre as well as the world renowned Festival of Fools.
If you fancy a day that starts with buying fresh pastries and coffee, then head towards Gosforth, the gateway to both Wasdale and Eskdale. Here the village bakery is the perfect place to fill your rucksack with goodies for the day, plus an extra croissant to munch as you make the final adjustments to your plans. You could head off on a lovely valley floor stroll along the beautiful river Bleng into the Blengdale Forest for example. Or walk up to the wonderfully named Giggle Alley, from here you can head to the Japanese Garden, which is one of the most tranquil spots around.
Having explored the immediate vicinity you might be tempted to head north or south: to the south on the coast lies Silecroft, with great beach walks to blow the cobwebs away, or further inland, take the steep winding Corney Fell road, which then drops down into the Duddon Valley and beyond. A wild and desolate expanse of moorland and fells, this is the place to truly experience unspoilt Lakeland, but take care, in winter, this is one of the first roads to become impassable in ice or snow.
To the north, beyond Muncaster, lies Seascale, a Victorian seaside village with an excellent ice cream shop and a links golf course. If you walk south along the beach for a mile you will find the sand dunes at Drigg; a great place for a wild and windswept winter walk. St Bees is another seaside village further up the coast, with an enormous sandy beach at low tide and fascinating cliff top walks to places like Fleswick Cove. If you carry on driving you will reach Whitehaven (a Georgian harbour town, with some excellent restaurants such as The Waterfront and of course, large supermarkets, such as Tescos and Morrisons), Workington and the West Cumbrian Coast.
Along the way, it is worth planning a day in Ennerdale and one of the best ways to explore this remote valley is by bike. These can be hired from the Shepherd’s Arms pub in Ennerdale. It is a long, fairly strenuous cycle ride up the valley and when you reach the end of the lake the trail continues for several miles, with only dark forests for company, and the occasional glimpse of the famous Pillar Rock to your right. But the relatively tough going is worth it when you reach the head of the valley, for here lies England’s remotest hostel, Black Sail - a tiny, but beautifully maintained building, where you can stay with prior booking, or just sit and eat your butties on one of the wooden benches outside and look up to the mountain peaks towering over this surprisingly open and fertile little corner of the remote Western Lakes. If your party includes younger children the local National Trust and Wild Ennerdale organise seasonal treasure hunts, nature walks and events, specially designed to appeal to families.
Finally, and without a doubt a very special small town, is Cockermouth - home to one of the prettiest main streets in Cumbria: tree lined, with street cafes, brightly painted shop fronts, quirky side passages and courtyards. You can easily spend a few hours wandering around this friendly Georgian town, which boasts a fine array of independent small shops including: a cycle shop, fishmongers, two butchers, its very own bakery, which offers a cafe and breadmaking courses (The Coffee Kitchen), a handful of excellent clothes shops, shoe shop, hardware store...
Cockermouth is also the childhood home of Wordsworth and the National Trust runs a shop and cafe next door to Wordsworth House and Gardens, which back onto the river Derwent. And just beyond, the whole of the North West Lakes beckons you, with Whinlatter Mountain Forest for mountain biking and GoApe enthusiasts, the Lorton Valley leading down to Crummock Water and Buttermere. This unspoilt and stunning corner of the Lake District is certainly worth setting aside a whole day to explore, although in our opinion it needs a lot longer than that to fully appreciate every corner, see our guide to the North West Lakes.