Things to do nearby Shundraw Cottage
With unparalleled views and a feeling of remoteness, St John’s in the Vale is an excellent valley to base yourself. Strolls along the valley floor or hike over the imposing fell tops, you will find plenty of exploring to be done. This valley is centrally located so is an excellent choice for exploring the wild terrain surrounding Thirlmere Reservoir or the picturesque shoreline of Bassenthwaite; it's also only a short drive to Ullswater, an incredible valley offering plenty of sightseeing.
St. John’s in the Vale is a peaceful valley surrounded by some of the most spectacular fells in the Lake District including Clough Head and High and Low Rigg. A small church sits high in the valley dating from at least 1554. It’s unusual position seems almost inaccessible, but sits on what was once an important road through the valley.
Nearby Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum lies on the original site of Threlkeld Quarry and boasts a unique collection of historic mining machinery. Here you can pan for gold, tour the mine, or even take a steam train along a mile of mining tracks!
The area has a fabulous choice of walks, from gentle riverside strolls to hikes up Helvellyn. High Rigg is a beautiful little fell; not very high, it nonetheless occupies quite a footprint in the valley. There is a pleasant circular walk alongside the base of the fell, returning through the fields. To climb to the top of High Rigg requires such little effort, it would be criminal not to! The wide grassy ridge is simply glorious on a summer’s evening and perfect for an exploratory ramble of all the craggy outcrops.
Nearby Castle Rock dominates the view, rising up from the flanks of Watson’s Dodd. It is a mecca for climbers, offering a wide range of routes, though the north face is currently closed due to an ever-expanding crack in the rock. The crag was the subject of Sir Walter Scott’s romantic poem, published in 1813, The Bridal of Triermain.
Keswick is just a few miles west of St John’s in the Vale. This North Lakes town offers a vast choice of outdoor activities on two feet, two wheels or out on the water. There are numerous instructors and guides, should you need them, who are eager to show you the ropes and perhaps help you try out a completely new activity.
The town has a growing number of stylish bars as well as the traditional pubs, lovely tearooms and cafés, and restaurants. Outdoor shops abound alongside small independent shops and quirky galleries. On Thursdays and Saturdays the market takes over the pedestrianised town centre and attractions like The Puzzling Place, The Pencil Museum, the Art Deco Cinema and a lakeside theatre are open throughout the year.
Derwentwater is a lovely lake and you can take the Launch right round the water, hopping off and hopping back on to explore various lakeside and fell walks. You can also ‘do it yourself’ and hire a rowing boat at Keswick or select from a choice of other boats at Nichol End Marina at the other side of the lake. The marina also offers tuition for things such as sailing.
Castlerigg Stone Circle is a great place to visit to contemplate life and the mysteries of the ancients, as long as you’re able to take your eyes and thoughts away from the spectacular panoramic fell views!
The Borrowdale Valley at the far end of Derwentwater Lake is well worth exploring. There are hundreds of routes through woods and on the high fells. Seathwaite Farm is a good starting point for climbing Scafell Pike – England’s highest mountain and a popular choice amongst walkers.
In the opposite direction is Thirlmere, a peaceful, tree-lined reservoir to the west of the Helvellyn Ridge. The dam was constructed in the 19th century, raising the water level and flooding the valley bottom – the only building now remaining is a church at Wythburn. A small road winds its way along the western edge, and this is the best place from which to appreciate the surroundings. Park your car at one of the numerous lay-bys or car parks and take a walk along the peaceful lakeshore paths and forest trails.
In the opposite direction is the village of Grasmere, known for its gingerbread, bluebells and connections with William Wordsworth. It is also a great place to visit for an evening meal with a good choice of restaurants and café. Rowing boats can be hired from Faeryland on the lake of the same name.
Just beyond Grasmere is the bustling town of Ambleside, with Lake Windermere at the far end. Here you will find more shops, restaurants, a cinema and little nooks and crannies of interest. There is pitch and putt, a climbing wall and the quaint, 17th century Bridge House, one of the most photographed houses in the Lake District!