Few things are more than idyllic than a farm stay in the British countryside, and that's what is on offer at Tottergill Farm, on the edge of the Pennines. Sarah Hart paid a visit.
If it’s total relaxation, fresh air and the great outdoors you are after on holiday – enjoyed from the comfort of a cosy cottage in tranquil surroundings and with spectacular views – you won’t be disappointed by a stay at Tottergill Farm. And if, as we did, you arrive at your cottage after an early start, a long drive and a frenetic week in the run-up to the holiday – you will be instantly delighted by what you find.
Sympathetically converted from original farm buildings (barns and a mill), Tottergill’s collection of 10 holiday cottages are perched on the edge of the Pennines above the village of Castle Carrock with its reservoir and its cracking pub, the Duke of Cumberland.
We stayed at Garth Cottage (above), which had its own back garden and secluded hot tub, a brick-built BBQ and wonderful, expansive west-facing views of the Cumbrian countryside.
Just the other side of the garden fence, Tottergill’s farmland (the estate is 48 acres in total) extends down the hill and our immediate neighbours were a large herd of sheep that grazed alongside several horses.
Tottergill is owned and run by couple Stacey and Barnaby, who have recently taken over this thriving business, which has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years. The warm welcome they gave us was further extended by their entourage of rescue animals, including two pigs, Doris and Dexter, 12 chickens, two dogs and a cat.
Our cottage was dog-friendly but there’s the option to rent pet-free cottages too and there is no shortage of places to go for good, long dog walks.
All the cottages come with their own wood-burning stove, which adds to their charm and year-round attraction, and each is generously kitted out with little luxuries (such as a leather trunk filled with throws and blankets and a well-stocked DVD collection) and kitchen essentials that help make light work of the self-catering aspect of a stay.
With our unusually hot, dry 2018 summer well underway, we returned each evening after a day out exploring the countryside looking forward to a sipping sun-downers from the hot tub and enjoying the view while supper sizzled on the barbecue. It’s such (relatively) simple ingredients as these that make life blissful and Tottergill offers just the right combination. I have a feeling we will be back.
Things to do
Visit Carlisle and Brampton
It’s a 20-mile round trip to Carlisle where the cathedral is a must-see and the castle is fun to walk round. We were lucky enough to arrive on the final day of the WWI poppies display at the castle, currently on national tour.
The nearby market town of Brampton is also well worth a visit. It has many independent shops and its church, St Martin’s, was designed by pre-Raphaelite architect Philip Webb, and features a set of stained glass windows that were designed by Edward Burne-Jones and manufactured by William Morris.
Whether you’re a keen walker, or just keen to tick off this most impressive vestige of the UK’s Roman-Britain heritage, a stop at Hadrian’s Wall is not to be missed.
An absolute must – whether you are a garden enthusiast, a family with young children or someone who enjoys a trip out to an historic castle. Owned by the Lowther family who can trace their line back to 1150, the castle has been all but a ruin since 1957.
Since 1999 the Lowther estate has been steadily brought back from the brink by Jim Lowther, son of the 7th Earl, who has worked with a talented team of people to turn it into a successful visitor attraction. At one end of the grounds is ‘the lost castle’ a huge adventure playground with an endless network of wooden ramparts and spiral stairs, built by the company who also made Norfolk’s famous BeWILDerwood family attraction.
And there are gardens aplenty to explore (the iris garden, Japanese garden, yew avenue and the rock garden to name but a few), in addition to the spectacular wild garden that grows through the ruins of the old library and the parterre, designed by Dan Pearson. The exhibition charting the Lowther family’s fortunes in the castle buildings is absorbing and well put together and features art work from their collection, too.
You can bring your own picnic, but if you decide to buy your food, the food in the café/tea room is well worth its reasonable prices – the cakes and sandwiches we sampled were delicious.
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