Things to do nearby The Old Post Office (Dacre)
The pretty village of Dacre is perfectly placed for those looking to explore the beautiful Ullswater Valley as well as the wider northern Lake District. If you want to stay close to home, Dacre has an excellent local pub and is a wonderful village for strolling around with its parish church and 14th century castle. Popular Pooley Bridge, at the northern end of Ullswater, is a short drive from Dacre and offers a couple of pubs, cafes and gift shops for those all important souvenirs. Why not catch the famous Ullswater Steamer from the pier at Pooley Bridge and experience magnificent Ullswater from a different angle? Take a scenic drive along Ullswater to Aira Force, a fantastic waterfall and a must see for anyone visiting this part of The Lakes. The popular market towns of Penrith and Keswick are both within a 20 minute drive of Dacre, perfect to enjoy the hustle-and-bustle for a few hours before returning to the peace of The Old Post Office (Dacre).
Pooley Bridge is popular village situated at the head of beautiful Ullswater where the River Eamont starts its short journey to join the River Eden. The setting of the stone-built village alongside the river is attractive and the shallow waters are ideal for paddling or messing about in boats on warm days. Pooley Bridge offers a good range of amenities; there are several cafes, gift shops and craft galleries, while the village store offers a range of groceries and fresh baked bread in the mornings. The three popular pubs all serve tasty food, with beer gardens to make the most of the long summer days and log fires to sit around on winter evenings.
Pooley Bridge is the starting point for gentle walks along the lake shore and riverside, or with slightly more effort, Dunmallard Hill, the site of an iron age hill fort, offers a short climb through woodland and lovely views down the lake. Above the village to the south is Heughscar Hill, a limestone escarpment with beautiful views across the lake and up to the High Street range of fells, of which this is the eastern end. Many paths cross this area leading over to Askham and Lowther or onto the higher fells of Arthurs Pike, Bonscale Pike and Loadpot Hill before reaching High Street itself.
Visitors have been able to catch a steamer across Ullswater since 1855, still a popular attraction today. The historic craft call at four landing stages around the lake at Glenridding, Howtown, Pooley Bridge and Aira Force. Just relax on a circular cruise or use the service one way and walk back. Popular walking routes with lovely views link to all the landing stages and can take you right around the lake on the Ullswater Way. A great option for a full day walk is to take the first boat of the morning down to Howtown and walk back to Pooley Bridge, either by the lower route traversing the side of the fell or up onto Loadpot Hill and all the way back down the ridge with glorious views throughout.
Aira Force is a must-see as you tour the area. Spend an hour or half a day exploring the woodland and waterfalls; don’t miss the short (but uphill) detour onto Gowbarrow Terrace for a beautiful view of Ullswater and its sylvan surroundings beneath the rugged fells. Walkers and non-walkers alike can enjoy the variety of paths through mixed woodland to various viewpoints of the falls which are at their most impressive after rain. You may also be lucky enough to see red squirrels in the woodland here; the National Trust are now managing the woodland specifically to encourage them. The lakeshore below the falls is said to have been the inspiration behind Wordsworth’s famous daffodil poem – go and seek them out in the spring. Further down the lake is the village of Glenridding, jumping-off point for the high fells. The autumn colours of the beech trees along the lake north of Glenridding are beautiful - photographers take note!
Serious walkers will be spoilt for choice. From Howtown you can warm up on the charming Hallin Fell, a little fell which scores 10 out of 10 for value for effort with beautiful views over Ullswater after a short climb. Also from Howtown there are walks up peaceful remote Martindale to the fells beyond or a lesser-known route to the top of Place Fell. From Glenridding the classic Helvellyn via the edges makes a challenging day’s walk; head up to St Sunday Crag via secretive Grisedale Tarn or Place Fell via Boredale Hause. Quieter routes start from Dockray up onto the Dodds or from numerous routes from Hartsop or try the lovely walk through Swinburns Park up onto rugged Gowbarrow fell. With numerous little rocky tops you can always find a quiet spot to sit and enjoy the stunning views of Ullswater.
If this is not enough to keep you walking all week, then the remote and beautifully haunting Haweswater is only around 30 minutes’ drive away. When the water level is low you can still see the remains of the village which was drowned when the dam was completed in 1935 to supply drinking water to Manchester. From here choose a popular route up to Harter Fell, Mardale Ill Bell and High Street or lesser-trodden paths to Branstree and Selside. In the other direction Blencathra, Carrock Pike and the other northern fells are easy to reach. Head south down the M6 to the quiet Howgill Fells, a favourite of the great Alfred Wainwright, where you can walk all day on grassy slopes and hardly see a soul.
For all your gifting and souvenir needs, look no further than Chestnut House in the heart of Pooley Bridge. This wonderful little shop is stocked to the brim with alcohol (including 400 different gins!), food and clothes. Open seven days a week and stocking only local produce, it is the place to go if you're looking for a Cumbrian tipple or if you want to return home with a taste of the Lake District in your bag!
Penrith is less than 15 minutes’ drive way. This local market town has a choice of supermarkets handy for stocking up on essentials and a good range of independent shops in the town centre. The ruined castle is surrounded by a pleasant park and the churchyard of the mainly 18th century St Andrew’s church contains ancient crosses and hogsback tombs.
From Penrith station you can catch the train for a day out in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Carlisle or Lancaster. Carlisle is only 20 minutes away and the station is right in the heart of this little city. Visit the cathedral and castle both built in local red sandstone, wander by the River Eden or browse the shops before stopping for something to eat in one of the many restaurants. Just outside Penrith is Rheged with shops selling local produce, cafés, pottery painting, a 3D cinema and a spa.
Abbot Lodge, located just south of Penrith off the A6, is known locally as ‘The Ice Cream Farm’ and a wide range of flavours of Jersey ice cream are made on the farm for you to try, so one visit may not be enough! A couple of miles further down the road is Larch Cottage nursery, which is a mecca for plant lovers with a range of rare and unusual perennials, shrubs, climbers, acers and conifers set among a lovely ‘secret’ garden of Romanesque walls and water features plus an Italian inspired café overlooking the gardens for meals and snacks.
Fans of historic houses will enjoy Dalemain, just over five minutes’ drive away. This impressive family stately home contains a maze of rooms of different periods and collections of old toys, ceramics, dolls house and furniture. The sheltered garden has a variety of separate areas to discover and events are held throughout the year including the now world-famous Marmalade festival. Hutton-in-the-Forest is around 20 minutes’ drive north. The house is linked by legend to the story of Gawain and Green Knight and there are beautiful gardens to explore plus a tearoom to try. Fifteen minutes’ drive south east through pretty rural lanes will take you to Lowther Castle, once the country seat of the Lowther family. The castle itself is now roofless but no less impressive. The gardens and ruin have been taken over by a charitable trust and the remains of once elaborate formal gardens are fascinating to explore. There is also a huge adventure playground and lots of rope swings plus a birdwatching hide for children and the young at heart. Going further back in history the ruins of Brougham Castle is run by English Heritage and stands in a beautiful location beside the River Eamont.
The hub of the northern Lake District is Keswick; located on the shores of Derwentwater at the foot of a range of popular fells it is just 30 minutes away, and the views on the way make it worth doing for the drive alone. This pretty market town nestles into the valley at the foot of Derwentwater and the boat landings are just a short walk from the centre. From here you can enjoy beautiful views across the lake on a short stroll or take a launch around the lake to see Lodore Falls, Ashness Bridge and Lingholm walled gardens. Back in the town there’s a plethora of outdoor shops to browse around. For a cultural fix take in a show at the lovely Theatre by the Lake (where guests of Sally’s Cottages can benefit from discounts on tickets!) or a film at the traditional cinema.