Think of the English Lake District and two distinct images come to mind. First, the majestic high mountains reflected in the mirror-still surface of the lake, or second, the thronging and lively people-magnets of towns like Ambleside and Keswick. There is, however, an alternative, third way to experience the delights of the largest National Park in England. The Southern part of this area may not have the high mountain ranges or it’s own lakes, but what it does have in abundance is rolling, wooded hills and beautiful villages, each with it’s own quirky character. Even better is the fact that the masses tend to migrate northwards, leaving this area peaceful and tranquil for you to enjoy. Between the Edwardian resort of Grange over Sands, yet only three miles from the southern tip of Lake Windermere, sits the hamlet of Newton-in-Cartmel where you can discover the lovely bed and breakfast establishment of Ellenboro House. Privately owned by Samantha and Ian, though I suspect run by Jonah the friendly dog, this superb home from home only opened for business in January 2013 and has, for the moment, only one letting room. It follows therefore, that if you seek personal attention, then this is the place to seek out. The house, built in 1884, is set in it’s own gardens and has ample off-road parking.
You can even pick your own fruit from the orchard in season, or sit by the garden chiminea as you take in the views of the southern fells. A warm welcome is accompanied by a complimentary glass of wine or a hot drink with home made cup-cakes on arrival. The guest bedroom is impressively decorated in a contemporary style, with a cast iron radiator, oak doors and stylish furnishings. South facing, the sash window has a view of a large and ancient yew tree with sloping farmland beyond. The room also benefits from a flat screen t.v., an i-pod dock and a free wi-fi service. A decanter or port, tea and coffee making facilities, together with home made cookies and retro style sweets are all homely touches which surprise and delight. The en-suite shower room is compact and bijou with fluffy towels and toiletries. Breakfast is taken in the comfortable house lounge and is a country house joy for foodies. Home made preserves, Danish pastries and hand baked bread all feature in a mouth-watering extravaganza. Higginson’s, the Q Guild independent butchers from Grange over Sands, winners of Britain’s Best Butcher Award, are the suppliers of local rare breed pork sausages and home cured bacon, so beautifully cooked by Samantha. The free range eggs are from a farm in the next village. Grilled vine tomatoes are grown across the Bay in Lancashire. Your breakfast will have travelled fewer miles than you have to get here!
No evening meals are served, but just half a mile up the lane, the popular 17th century Crown Inn at High Newton provides high quality cuisine with a selection of real ales and the pub often has evening and special events. Whilst there are quite a number of country walks straight out of the door of Ellenboro House, serious walkers can reach Scafell or Helvelyn by car in under an hour. The house has a drying room for wet and muddy gear and secure storage for bicycles. For more sedate activities, within a few miles are the delights of Morecambe Bay, Holker Hall and Gardens, Sizergh Castle, the Lakeland to Haverthwaite Railway and Windermere Cruises. The South Lakes Wild Animal Park, where many species are free to roam the hillside location and mingle with visitors, is a few miles further up the coast at Dalton in Furness. Adjacent to the house is Yew Tree Barn, a 19th century barn, which has been converted into a large and fascinating architectural antique centre. It has workshops creating woollen crafts, new and restored furniture, jewellery, paintings and photography. There are some really different gifts to be found here, as well as a country style café. Three miles away, the picturesque village of Cartmel has narrow, cobbled streets and bridges which criss-cross the River Eea. The market square and cross marks the site where traders worked and the stone fish slabs can still be seen here.
The village is famous for its range of independent shops and in particular, The Village Shop and deli where the world famous Cartmel sticky toffee pudding may be bought. The village has a high number of excellent pubs, restaurants, cafes and artisan food producers, from cheese to bread and there is even a micro-brewery. The unspoiled and magnificent 12th century priory is also a feature whilst from Spring through to Summer, National Hunt Races are held at Cartmel racecourse. The modern course was first written about in the 1850’s, although it is believed that monks from the priory raced mules on the site from the 15th century. For food onnoisseurs, L’Enclume restaurant is also situated within this interesting village. The restaurant has recently been awarded a second Michelin star. Ellenboro House then, is in a prime location to take advantage of all these attractions, but without the high volume crowds experienced elsewhere. Samantha and Ian (and Jonah) have big plans to expand the business, creating a ground floor resident’s lounge, a larger bathroom to the existing bedroom, and a self-contained luxury apartment in the grounds. From my experience, this is a well run, homely and comfortable place to stay with an outstanding breakfast, which will give you the energy to tackle the many activities this wonderful part of the Lake District has to offer. All at extraordinary value!
Further details may be found at www.ellenborohouse.co.uk whilst sat-navvers should punch in LA11 6JP.