We've selected a few of the best Lake District houses, castles and museums which will make a great Spring or Summer day out.
Possibly the most famous house in the Lake District, although there are a few top spot contenders. Hill Top is the home of Beatrix Potter, full of her character and her belongings. Although very small in scale as a home, it allowed her imagination the space and freedom needed to produce her delightful tales that have thrilled readers for over a hundred years. The cottage garden is just how you might imagine it to be from her writings – natural, full of flowers, herbs and fruit trees, including her beloved Bramley apple tree. Hill Top is just one of the many National Trust properties in the Lake District. Here are a few more that we like.
Sizergh Castle belongs to the Strickland family whose ancestors lived in this striking house as early as 1239. Indeed, it is of the longest family-inhabited country house in the UK. The house sits in stunning surroundings with immaculate gardens, ponds, lake, woodland and pastureland. The house itself is of medieval architecture and boasts fine examples of furniture, tapestries, and ancient portraits.
Home of William Wordsworth from 1813 until his death in 1850, Rydal Mount was where the bard spent time with his family, in his garden and within his beloved Lake District. This was where he wrote The Prelude, arguably his most accomplished work. Samuel Taylor Coleridge would walk the fifteen miles from Keswick to Rydal to visit William, his friend and fellow poet. The house retains a homely lived-in feel, and the five-acre garden is kept authentic to how Wordsworth would have experienced it.
Home of William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, from 1799 to 1808, Dove Cottage reflects their humble but happy life during that time. Their poems, letters and journals are used to tell their story, from the normal everyday happenstance to the times of great creativity and genius writing. Dorothy’s journal gives a fascinating insight into the hustle and bustle of village life and her relationship with her beloved brother. The garden that they created together has also been restored to be very much as it was 200 years ago when it was described by William as ‘the loveliest spot man has ever found’.
Abbot Hall is a Grade 1 Georgian House overlooks the River Kent and Kendal Castle and boasts a plethora of local and international art through the ages, from 18th Century to modern and contemporary pieces. It features one of the best collections of George Romney’s paintings, a fitting tribute as Kendal was where he served his apprenticeship. Abbot Hall also exhibits a stunning collection of drawings and water colours by another local resident from a bygone era, John Ruskin.
A fascinating insight into the industries encapsulated within the Lakeland landscape. Farming, mining and tanning were all an integral part of life in the county. The Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry can be found in the former stable block of Abbott Hall in Kendal. This is an opportunity to explore what life was like for the people of the land, their local customs, how they lived and how the Arts and Crafts movement informed Lake District life.
Brantwood is the former home of the much discussed, debated and written about, John Ruskin. The house is in a beautiful location overlooking Coniston Water and gives a valuable insight into the man - art critic of the day, gifted painter, prominent political social thinker and philanthropist. Many of Ruskin’s personal possessions and paintings have been retained and visitors step back in time, glimpsing a little of the character and personality of the man.
There are no less than eight gardens on the 250-acre estate surrounding the property, with amazing views and eclectic plant collections. Check the website for details of guided garden walks which are included in the entry price.
A farming family’s home from way back in the 1700s. Discover how the Browne family lived, and if you choose your visit right you can even see how the family meals were made and served in the farmhouse kitchen. Towend House is an important building and home that showcases Lakeland’s social and farming history. Most afternoons the warming and welcoming fire will be lit in the kitchen. There’s an interesting collection of every day 18th century tools and implements as well as George Browne’s very own carved furniture and his library of 1,500 books. The recipe book of his wife, Elizabeth, is also on display with an interesting mix of 80 recipes of the day. Outside the traditional cottage garden will be coming to life again after the dark winter days. Here you will be a prize-winning collection of colourful shrubs and flowers, kept very much as the Brownes’ experienced it.
Designed by Baillie Scott and built in 1901 as a holiday home for a Manchester brewer, Sir Edward Holt, Blackwell has an elegant timeless quality. The impressive architecture and interior typify the arts and crafts movement within the Lake District. It has the most impressive collection of exquisite art, ceramics, stained glass, fireplaces, wooden panelling and rare wall-hangings and tapestries. It is set within magnificent gardens with sweeping views across Windermere from the terrace. The café and gift shop is also well worth a visit.
Whether you are looking for a quiet Lake District holiday for two, or an adventurous and exciting break with family, or a combination of all of the above, check out our Lake District Spring Summer Activities, Unusual Spring Summer Activities in the Lake District, Lake District Houses, Castles and Museums and Lake District Activities for Children and Families.