Things to do nearby The Retreat (Nr Cockermouth)
The Retreat is on the edge of the charming village of Sunderland, a very peaceful but well connected village near Cockermouth. Footpaths lead out into the surrounding countryside and have wonderful views across to the fells. Cockermouth is a short drive away for local facilities plus independent shops to browse, cafes and restaurants. You could take a tour of the Jennings Brewery or have a browse around the National Trust property of Wordsworth House, the childhood home of William Wordsworth. Bassenthwaite Lake with all its surrounding walking opportunities and tourist attractions is just a short drive away.
Bothel is a delightful rural agricultural village that has a fascinating history dating back to Roman times. Bothel, the original name meaning 'the dwelling', has the privilege of preserving seven listed buildings – including a Cumbrian longhouse, a coaching house, and Bothel Hall - and one monument in the village. Perfect for any history buffs! The village is also home to Woodford House, once the butchers, and the place that the world-famous Cumberland Sausage was originally made! Today, the tasty sausage is still made and sold at Skiddaw Farm. If you fancy a meal out, The Greyhound Inn is a great choice with a delicious selection of food.
The Caldbeck Rambler is a seasonal (Easter - October) circular bus route from Keswick to Caldbeck. Destinations along the route include the Lake District Wildlife Park (it has chance to meet and feed the animals, a soft-play centre, a café and bird of prey displays), Dodd Wood (a forested mountain with Osprey viewing points), Mirehouse (a historic house and gardens with wooded adventure playgrounds and lakeside walks) and Castlerigg Stone Circle (English Heritage say this “is perhaps the most atmospheric and dramatically sited of all British stone circles, with panoramic views and the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat as a backdrop”). An additional service runs at weekends and school holidays, including a bus to Carlisle.
Aspatria is a small town on the other side of the River Ellen; here you will find a petrol station and a Spar and Co-Op, both open long hours seven days a week – handy for top up shops! Along the main street are also a variety of takeaways, a post office, gift shop and a bakery well known locally for its pies. If you like to minimise your food miles there is also a shop at First Milk’s dairy open the afternoons a week where you can buy cheese produced here: all the milk used is from local farms. Aspatria also has a railway station on the Cumbrian Coast Line. It is a handy half hour into Carlisle, or head the other way along a scenic route that hugs the coast for much of the way down to Barrow.
Cumbria's great border city of Carlisle can be reached by car (in about half an hour) as well as by rail. Steeped in history, it has been the scene of many battles between the Scots and the English, many of which are detailed in the museum inside Carlisle Castle. The Castle itself is an imposing focal point of the city and once held Mary Queen of Scots as a prisoner within its walls. There is also a cathedral, Tullie House Museum, the Sands Centre with its extensive programme of comedy and drama, and shops and eateries galore. Carlisle also has a vibrant nightlife.
Maryport is an historic coastal town that hosts a hugely popular blues festival every July. There are several good rainy day activities including a fascinating aquarium, a maritime museum, indoor go-karting and the Senhouse Roman Museum. There is a lovely beach here with a coastal footpath and bike track that will bring you to the Solway Coast Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty. Don’t forget to stop off at Allonby where there is a famed ice cream parlour on the seafront!
Further up the coast is the seaside town of Silloth. With a large seafront green, cobbled streets, and a small fairground, Silloth is on the edge of a huge wetland reserve that attracts a diverse range of birds and wildlife. The sunsets across the reserve are stunning and there are plenty photo opportunities for nature lovers.
Cockermouth is an attractive Georgian town at the confluence of the rivers Cocker and Derwent. The wide main street offers a range of independent shops, antique shops, and pretty back streets for you to wander through. Wordsworth House, now owned by the National Trust and presented as it would have been in 1770, was the childhood home of William Wordsworth and his family. Also in the town is the Jennings Brewery - which offers tours and the all-important tastings - plenty of eateries to choose from.
Beyond Cockermouth are the peaceful lakes of Loweswater, Buttermere and Crummock Water where there is some stunning scenery and fantastic walks. In the spring, the Rannerdale Valley comes alive with a host of bluebells and the surrounding fells here make for a range of challenges for different abilities.
If you want to spend your days on the fells you will be spoilt for choice in this area. You could be on top of Little Binsey within half an hour of leaving the village! Routes starting from the edges of the National Park tend to be quieter and you can reach some popular summits without following the crowds. Whinlatter Mountain Forest is a great option all year round, sheltered as it is from the sun or wind. For autumn colours you cannot beat the woods around Derwentwater, which are accessible for many. Cyclists can head to the off-road tracks at ‘Back O’ Skiddaw’, the mountain bike trails at Whinlatter or challenging on-road routes up the Newlands and Whinlatter.
Keswick is the hub of the northern Lake District; beautifully located on the shores of Derwentwater and the starting point for numerous walks for all ages and abilities, it is well worth a visit. You can also take the launch across the lake to see Lodore Falls or the Lingholm Walled Gardens, which were Beatrix Potter’s inspiration for Mr McGregors garden in Peter Rabbit. Walk down to Friars Crag for a beautiful view down the lake to Borrowdale, buy something in one of numerous outdoor shops, and don’t miss Old Friars sweet and chocolate shop on the Main Street. Play mini golf or tennis, take in a show at the Theatre by the Lake (guests with Sally’s Cottage can get a discount on tickets) or a film at the traditional cinema, have fish and chips to take away or sit down to a Mexican. Keswick has it all!