Cottage Holidays in the Lake District – Watergate Farm
Loweswater is one of the quietest stretches of water in the Lake District, right in the heart of the National Trust estate. Almost on it’s shore, accessed down a long private track that follows the curve of the lake through lovely meadows, Watergate Farm is part of a tiny cluster of old farm buildings. The detached house behind the main cluster is separate (yes, we *may* have not read the instructions clearly and gone there first… *cough*), but follow the track right into the heart of a courtyard between stone barns and an L-shaped farmhouse and everything to the right of the front door is yours for your stay.
As soon as we walked in we could feel the whole cottage is finished to the quality you might expect from the National Trust, with small extras like fresh flowers, plenty of DVD’s, enough books for any reader and great big puffy sofas in the bright and comfortable sitting room (with ample seating for all six of us to relax in).
The kitchen is really well-equipped and more than big enough for typical holiday family meals that last well into the evening around the long trestle table – and naturally the odd raucous card game too!
It was a surprise to us that Watergate Farm is built into the side of the hill, so there’s no natural daylight at the back of the house at all; the windows simply create green pools of light from the overhanging shrubbery. If you’ve no escapee dog or toddlers to worry about, though, the kitchen does have a huge back door which can be opened wide and makes the kitchen a slightly brighter place on sunny mornings, opening on to the alley which runs between the hill and the back of the adjoining barn.
Upstairs there are three lovely bedrooms – the huge master overlooks the courtyard and barns below and across to Crummock Water and the hills beyond. The second twin kept the big teens happy (the cubby hole in the wall considered super-handy with the plug socket for bedside phone charging!), and the younger two shared the smaller twin at the far end of the hall past the family bathroom.
The cottage has no private outside space at all – a small gravelled area on the end of one of the work barns has furniture for eating out (don’t forget your midge repellant come the evening!), but it is open to the footpath around the lake, and to the ranger’s workbarns. Don’t misunderstand me, the cottage is literally surrounded by meadows and woodland – there’s LOADS of space to roam – just nothing fenced and secure for small children and dogs to play freely in, which is important to know in advance.
Right from the door of the cottage our favourite gentle stroll was through the magical woods at the edge of Loweswater itself – a few times we made it to the end of the lake, but mostly we got distracted by the rope swings on the beach by the Bothy!
But our favourite times were at the very end of a long day exploring the Lake District when we would meander through the meadow down to the edge of the lake (again, don’t forget the anti-midge spray first!). One truly memorable evening we strolled to the swings and watched a magical full moon rise over the peaks across the lake as we skimmed stones and swung high on the rope swings.
But mostly, just before bed we would saunter straight down through the meadow to the water and stand. And breathe. We watched the bats, listened to the owls… And relaxed. Probably my absolute highlight of every single day, standing in the warm moonlight, listening to the sounds of the land around us settling. No lights, no traffic, no human noise at all.
Being at the least-visited lake in Cumbria obviously has its merits in the height of tourist season, but do go prepared. Your nearest towns are Workington or Keswick; pretty much equidistant at around 40 minutes away, so we usually chose to go the scenic route through Whinlatter Pass to Keswick. The coast is 40 minutes in the opposite direction – it never stopped surprising us as we broached the top of the hill towards Mockerkin and suddenly the fells were behind us, and the vast flat landscape stretching to the coast was arrayed before us; inside the folded landscape of the Lakes you feel a million miles from the beaches!
Watergate Farm has no phone signal, wifi or even a landline payphone, so it’s a real break from the digital life. If you’re a BT broadband customer the NT ranger next door does have a BT hub so you can connect to that as a hotspot; it’s intermittent and patchy, but definitely a bonus if you’re like me and sadly can’t just walk away from work for two weeks!
If you’re looking for a place for your family to stay to enjoy the peace and serenity of the quietest corner of the lakes, then Watergate Farm is an excellent starting point! It has excellent walking right from the door, and getting to the amazing coast is just as straightforward. If you’re not so keen to be enveloped by the crowds in the height of the season, then it’s a great place to use as a base to explore the tourist spots – but then to retreat back to, wrapping yourself in the peace that surrounds this quietest of lakes in Cumbria.
We were thrilled to organise this trip in conjunction with The National Trust, who have a huge variety of properties available throughout the Lakes; if you’re thinking of heading to Cumbria for your next trip do be sure to take a look at their holidays site first!