A hub for outdoor adventurers looking to explore the Lake District, there’s a whole host of things to do...
Fell Foot was once home to a glorious Georgian villa on the southern shore of Lake Windermere. Today, the house has gone but 45 acres of spring gardens, and wild flower meadows makes this a real all-season gem. Free for National Trust members and a great place to park up and explore on foot or by paddle. Fell Foot is unique in the Lake District, with a complex of historic gothic boathouses, modern Active Base and a wonderful 18th-century pleasure ground. Here you’ll find a Pinetum, garden and native flower meadows. There is an easy 1.6 mile heritage circular walk, enjoy a picnic on the lawns or a dip in the lake.
This 18th century house and garden occupies a wonderful location overlooking Coniston Water. Today it still houses the quirky character of its most famous occupant, Victorian art critic, John Ruskin. It’s truly brimming with fascinating treasures from this avid collector’s 28 years living in the Lake District. The estate ranges from lakeshore meadows to high, open fell with a stunning diversity of flora and fauna. A range of trails thread the estate and a trail guide is available in the shop.
At the Estate’s heart are eight unique and beautiful gardens which continue the many radical experiments in land management and horticulture which Ruskin began. They cover three areas – the northern and southern gardens, which involve some walking uphill, and the lower gardens which are suitable for all. Dogs on a lead are allowed in the gardens.
This beautiful 8-acre natural woodland garden is ablaze with azaleas, rhododendrons, camelias and a lovely mix of spring flowers, with a babbling beck running through it. Created by Cubby Acland for the National Trust, it’s a delightful haven from the hustle and bustle of Ambleside. You’ll peek at Lake Windermere through the trees and find benches and bridges to delight you. Further on is Skelghyll Woods and the Champion Tree trail, with Cumbria’s tallest tree the Grand Fir.
Sizergh’s beautiful gardens, estate walks, adventure trails, woodland discoveries and birdwatching mean you could spend all your time here outdoors. With acres of wetland and woodland to explore, along with the formal gardens, and one of the best fern and acer collections in the UK. You’ll also discover informal wild flower meadows, down to the bird hides Moss at Low Park, where you’ll see migrating birds coming and going. After all that you’ll need some refreshment so Ashbank Cafe beckons.
The 25 acres of formal and informal gardens at Holker Hall are stunning all year round, and if you go in spring you’ll enjoy the enormous rhododendrons in full flower, along with the iconic Neptune Cascade at its best, and the gorgeous tulips in the formal garden. Spring bulbs sprout in the vast grass amphitheatre. Bluebells and wild garlic will follow in the lush, green woodland and the ultimate sign of spring – all types of blossom – cherry blossom, apple blossom, hawthorn. The house itself dates back to the 1600s, and is still the home of the Cavendish family -and the whole place is surrounded by 200 acres of parkland – where you’ll see the estate’s fallow deer roaming in the trees.
Wherever you choose to go, they all have cafe’s or tearooms, and many have shops to browse, selling fabulous local produce.
Beetham Nurseries & Garden Centre: Beetham, near Milnthorpe. Lovely garden centre, with excellent café and shop.
Larch Cottage Nurseries, Melkinthorpe – nursery and daytime restaurant near Penrith.
Hayes Garden World, Ambleside – large gift shop, garden centre, café and Christmas central!