Nook End Farm
Nook End Farm is a comfortable traditional 17th century farmhouse, with all the atmosphere and quirky bits of a grade two listed building. From the village of Ambleside, at the northern reach of lake Windermere, you take the narrow Nook Lane and climb gently for half a mile up the fell towards Sweden Bridge and the Fairfield Horseshoe fells. At the end of the lane lies Nook End Farm along with the adjoining Annex and Studio.
Surrounded by fell and mountain, waterfall and river along with views from the meadow back down to the village and lake, Nook End Farm must be set in one of the finest locations in the Lake District. The old farm yard is a walkers right of way and is flanked by the house, the annex, studio and the garden room. The house faces away from the yard, where to its front is a walled, private garden.
From the hall, part paneled with low ceilings, the first door leads into the little parlour. A snug room with open fire and period decor. The dining room, with the original range, gives an atmosphere conducive to relaxed meals and conversation long into the night.
The main drawing room is large and light, with oak beams and timbered floor, the focus on a fine open fire place. The kitchen is well equipped with polished slate surfaces and slate floor. Lastly, on the ground floor is a small, simple, single bedroom.
The oak stairway leads to a large landing and the three double bedrooms, each comfortably furnished with many period pieces. The first has a half tester bed, and next door a bathroom with pitched ceiling and furnished with a roll top bath, basin and WC. The second bedroom has a fine double brass bed and offers an en-suite shower. The third bedroom has a four poster bed, with adjacent bathroom, with separate shower cubicle.
I have known and visited this house for many years where the owner, Barbara Lord is a good friend. For me the house is not about mod cons and designer kitchens and bathrooms, but a sense of the past, where in summer the light streams in the house, warms the little garden and, come winter, a roaring fire sets the perfect mood for company and conversation. It also a place to enjoy a perfect peace surrounded by a perfect example of Lake District landscape, which in itself is relaxing, refreshing and thought provoking.
Ambleside is one of our most popular towns, set right at the heart of central Lake District. There are plenty of shops for day to day needs, along with a few galleries and plenty of pubs, restaurants and cafes. Sheila's Cottage on The Slack is very good for the evening as is either Lucy's Wine Bar or restaurant. A must is the Apple Pie Eating House for either lunch or tea, where you can munch your way through a host of delightful sweet confections.
For entertainment and recreation you have the boats at Waterhead, where you can board a steamer for a trip on the lake, or hire rowing, sailing and low-powered motorboats and, at risk of knotting me metaphors, set sail under your own steam. Last, but not least, you can take in a movie at Zefferelli's cinema followed by great pizza at their own restaurant.
There are many nearby walks around Ambleside. The Fairfield Horseshoe is a much-loved and classic walk across stunning fells and begins on your doorstep, taking in the high-level circuit around the tops of the Fairfield group, the height granting wonderful views of the other mountains and lake.
Loughrigg fell is the beginning of a great day’s walk that takes in Rydal Water and Grasmere. This is one of my favourite days out, easy for all and where along the way you will find perfect photo opportunities.
A twenty minute drive west takes you to Coniston Water and the village sheltered in the lea of the Coniston mountain range. Radiating from the stone bridge, spanning Church Beck, the four main streets are a bustling community with a fine church, shops, a post office, cafes, a local brewery and four good pubs, and there much to do, the location perfect for outdoor pursuits; climbing, walking, cycling and water sport holidays. On all points of the compass there are trails, leafy forest paths, tracks and lake shores to explore, and you need travel very little to find a new and exciting landscape.
Coniston Water is one the most people friendly lakes, with much of the shore and the whole lake open to the public. Famous as the backdrop and inspiration for Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons and Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell’s world speed attempts, its wooded and grassy banks, along with the craggy coves and the deep clear water offer a habitat to a rich variety of flora and fauna. At the boating center you can hire rowing boats, sailing dinghies, kayaks and canoes or my favorite, the small motorboats, perfect for a day out exploring the hidden bays and wooded coves. The Center also hires mountain bikes and electric bikes to help get you around the lanes and up onto the fells.
Still at the Boating Center, you can hop aboard one of the Coniston Launches with regular trips down the lake, stopping at various landing points including Brantwood, home of John Ruskin where, along with the Jumping Jenny restaurant, it makes for a good day out discovering the culture and work of the Pre Raphaelites and the Art Crafts Movement.
For romantic trip on the water you can board the famous Steam yacht ‘Gondola’. A beautiful rebuilt steam powered craft that will transport you back to an era of greater peace and tranquility. Finally, the lake offers more simple pursuits: fishing, swimming or simply finding a nice spot for a picnic and enjoying a magnificent view.
For walking, climbing and mountain biking the choice is huge, with the whole of the mountain range to explore. The Old Man of Coniston stands at 2635 feet and is very popular, offering various well-marked paths to the summit. If you only go part way the view will be spectacular, the pint in the pub on your return all the more delicious.
South of Hawkshead, on the east side of Coniston water lies the Gizedale Forest. A massive working woodland, it is crisscrossed with paths and tracks for walking and mountain biking. The Forest is big into arts, commissioning fabulous statues and installations throughout. It is well worth driving, via Hawkshead, around to the visitor center for a forest map and information to get the best from your day out.
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