Venturing out west of Dufton to Penrith and the surrounding area there are a remarkable number of visitor attractions well worth the trip. The Eden Valley has some lovely stately homes and gardens and many of these can be found in this area, and are also host to some popular annual events.
English Heritage operate Brougham Castle, which is just off the A66 prior to reaching the Kemplay Island at Penrith. The castle was founded in the early 13th century and enjoys a picturesque setting beside the River Eamont. A short drive from here is the small village of Brougham and at its centre is Brougham Hall, which is a large complex of fortified buildings that now houses a number of craft workshops, and an interesting place to visit. It is free to enter and wander around and boasts an excellent coffee shop, Café 4 Eden.
In its pomp Lowther Castle originally boasted a room for every day of the year and its gardens were the envy of the north. However, after the 60 year tenure of the Yellow Earl, who squandered a vast family fortune, the castle was abandoned in 1936, and then part demolished in 1957 and left to ruin. Since 2008 the 20 year landscape masterplan of restoring the gardens has begun and there are now plenty of reasons to visit across the gardens’ 130 acres. Not only can you enjoy exploring the gardens along formal and informal walks, but you can also hire bicycles (including electric) to enjoy a number of Estate cycle trails. When you have finished there is also a café to visit, either at the main building or alternatively the intimate Walled Garden Coffee Shop at the bird of prey centre.
Probably one of the most beautiful and impressive stately homes in the North West with a superb Georgian facade, and also home to the world famous Marmalade awards. The house is well worth exploring, as are the gardens which are home to the famous Himalyan Blue Poppy, which is particular to Dalemain. You can also take tea in the Mediaeval Hall Tearoom, and enjoy scones made to a secret recipe.
Not to be missed – May to July for the Blue Poppies, Cumbria Classic Car show in August, and not forgetting the Marmalade awards during National Marmalade Week in March.
Hutton in the Forest
Dating back to 1350 Hutton-in-the-Forest boasts a house, gardens and woodland that can be explored. It is one of many such defensive structures built in Cumberland by wealthy families aware of the threat from the North. The original Pele Tower was added onto by successive generations and today the house boasts six distinct architectural periods spanning 600 years. It is a superb illustration of how country houses developed in the North of England. The house and tearooms are open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with the gardens every day except Saturday. Hutton hosts many events during the year including a Plant & Food fair and a Classic Car show (check the web-site for details) but the most established is Potfest in the Park, which is a 3 day festival of all things ceramic.
Not to be missed – end of July for Postfest, May to July for the gardens.