Cumbria and the Lake District have a wealth of great days out, not least those associated with our rich culture and history, linked to our World Heritage status. Here are five great National Trust attractions within easy reach of English Lakes Hotels, Resorts & Venues.
Wray Castle sits majestically on the western shore of the Lake Windermere and is great for family exploring, especially if you combine it by travelling to the attraction by bike, boat or on foot. This is a gothic looking castle complete with towers and turrets. Unlike many other National Trust properties, Wray Castle is not crammed with period furniture or paintings. Quite the contrary, it is relatively empty, which makes it great for inspiring children’s imaginations. They will love the castle-inspired activities like dressing up from the box of clothes provided, building their own castle, or crown making.
Check the website for the regular talks and walks, like Birds of Wray exploring the life of the resident birds, or Landmark in the Landscape, a 45 minute guided walk around the castle and grounds. Upping sticks at Sixty is another regular ten minute talk that explains how a couple from Liverpool built Wray Castle and chose life in the Lake District.
Adults £10, Child £5, Family £25
Parking £5 for 2 hours (free for N.T. members)
This is a very important piece of social and farming history. Townend House was owned by the Brownes – an ordinary farming family living and working in the spectacular Troutbeck Valley from the 1700s. Their home welcomes you with a real fire that burns (most afternoons) in a cosy farmhouse kitchen, typical of the time, complete with an interesting collection of domestic tools and implements.
George Browne spent much of his time carving furniture, and you get a real glimpse of his character and personality through these pieces of well-loved wood. There’s a library with 1,500 books, all with evidence of use by the family, quite a number being the only remaining copies in the world. Elizabeth Browne’s cookery book is on display, containing 80 cookery recipes, such as bean cakes and Apricot paste, medicinal recipes, and 25 household instructions. On Thursday afternoons you can watch the dishes being re-created by staff in the farmhouse kitchen.
The cottage garden contains some beautiful prize-winning colourful flowers, and has been kept very much as the Brownes’ had it. There is also a trail from the garden to beautiful views of Windermere.
11am – 1pm Entry by guided tour only at 11 am and 12 noon on a first-come, first-served basis.
1 pm – 4.30 pm free flow visits (may close early due to poor light)
Adult £8, Child £4, Family £20 (Cash only)
The tales written by Beatrix Potter really come alive by visiting her home, packed full of her belongings and her character. This is a small house, and a very popular attraction, so you may need to wait to enter the house. Beatrix bought Hill Top, her much loved home in 1905 with the proceeds from the Tale of Peter Rabbit. It was from here that she was inspired to write many of her subsequent tales.
The cottage garden is a probably just as you have imagined it from her writings – a natural flurry of flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs.
10 am – 4.30 pm daily (last entry to house 4 pm)
Adult £11.80, Child £5.90, Family £29.50
Sizergh Castle is very much an important contribution to Cumbria’s history and heritage. Since the Battle of Agincourt, the Strickland family’s ancestors have played their part in defending the land. This 700 year history can be traced first-hand during a visit to Sizergh. Not only is there stunning medieval architecture, ancient crafted furniture and fine portrait paintings on show, but the castle sits in a beautiful, well-tended garden with surprises at every turn – woodland, meadow, lake, ponds, topiary and walled gardens
New for 2019, and seen for the first time in recent history, King James II’s silk Goan bedspread will be on display. This was a gift to the Strickland family in the 17th Century for their loyalty to the King.
House: Monday – Thursday & Sunday, 12 pm – 4 pm
Garden, Café & Shop: Daily, 10 am – 5 pm
Adult £12, Child £6, Family £30
With a fascinating history going back to the thirteenth century, Acorn Bank was first owned by the Knights Templar, who gave their name too the local town of Temple Sowerby. From 1543 to the 1930s Acorn Bank was occupied by Thomas Dalston, a gentleman landowner, and his descendants.
Famous for the gardens, and its huge herb collection – over 250 varieties – traditional fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. The produce is used to great effect in the Acorn Bank tea room, in soups, salads and sweet treats. In the house there is limited access as it is a work in progress, but you can visit the drawing room, entrance hall and the ascending stone cantilever staircase. There’s also a second-hand bookshop and gift shop. Daily guided tours are free, and are probably the best way to understand and experience the rich history of the house and gardens.
A short stroll from the house, alongside the stream, you will find a working watermill. Although it fell into disrepair in the 1940s, a dedicated team of volunteers have worked with a passion to bring this back to life. The mill wheel is in operation most weekends, and the flour produced can be purchased in the shop on site.
There are also a series of beautiful woodland walks to enjoy with views across the Eden Valley to the Lake District.
Check the website for details of Orchard Drop-in Days, Plant Dye workshops, Blossom Surveys and Herb Garden Tours
10 am – 5 pm daily
Adult £8.80, Child £4.40, Family £22
We can think of no better way to end your history and heritage day out than with an Afternoon Tea from Low Wood Bay, Waterhead, or The Wild Boar Inn. Follow the links for more information, and to book a table.