Bird watcher or cyclist? History buff or rambler? These are some of the reasons why we moved to an unspoilt part of Cumbria, a peaceful and relaxed spot where, from our garden, we can see Brough Castle on the site of the Roman fort, Verterae.
If you enjoy that kind of holiday, then please consider joining us at Coach House Cottage in Church Brough, Kirkby Stephen. This one up, one down old coach house has been updated and offers comfort and privacy, whilst we live in the adjoining converted stables.
Facilities are all new. We created an open plan kitchen with a fridge/freezer, electric hob/stove, microwave, toaster, slow cooker, tv, Freeview and wi-fi. Cutlery, crockery, glass, linen, tableware and cookware is provided. There’s full double glazing throughout, internal insulation and central heating, plus a smoke alarm link to the centralised system.
Upstairs, reached by a staircase from the sitting area is the light, airy double bedroom with en suite shower room. Open beams above and a truly comfortable bed! Bed linen, bath towels, tea towels are provided. Throughout you’ll find comfortable furnishings and some period country items.
There is ample parking in the courtyard and you have private sitting space in the walled kitchen garden with views of the farmland and hills beyond.
The cottage entry door is opposite the door into our house, we share the main entry door. Your privacy is assured, however – both buildings have solid, thick stone walls!
Worried about the weather so far north? Last winter gave us very little snow, which melted within a few hours. Yes, it rains at times – this is Britain, after all! – but when the sun comes out the light is so beautiful it can have an emotional effect. In fact, we get enough sun every day to have made installing the solar panels worthwhile.
So with Coach House Cottage as your base, what can you do around here?
Church Brough village is a three minute walk away. Brough takes about 15 minutes.
The cottage is on the 100 mile Lady Anne pathway from Skipton to Penrith and close to both the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast route. An extensive footpath and bridleway network right on the doorstep means you can explore little known unspoilt countryside seldom meeting other walkers, unlike the Lake District.
For cyclists, Cycle Route 71 is about two miles away and beautiful, unspoilt countryside all around makes it a pleasure to ride.
For golfers, there’s a choice of two local courses – the Appleby (Gary Wolstenholme’s favourite) and the Ravenstonedale course, close to The Black Swan which was voted the pub of the year 2013. A bit further afield, there are top quality courses at Penrith, Alston Moor, Barnard Castle and Hexham.
For gardeners, we encourage your input into our on-going development of our kitchen garden, the big lawned rear garden, a small patio and small walled area, as well as the courtyard. We love talking about gardening especially the demands of this northern location. Throughout the summer, there are many local garden open days, both in small villages and big country house gardens.
For bird watchers, there is a good range of birds in the immediate vicinity and, in our garden alone, we’ve spotted curlew, peregrine falcons, goldcrests, oystercatchers, great spotted woodpeckers, heron, house sparrows, long tailed tits, cole tits, buzzards and possibly a golden eagle! There is an RSPB golden eagle hide at Riggindale, Haweswater, just over 20 miles away.
For nature lovers, a trip to the North Pennines, which an area of outstanding natural beauty just on our border, is a must. There is a field centre at Bowlees Visitor Centre and several nature reserves and wildflower meadows to visit in both the North Pennines and the Eden Valley.
For explorers, there’s a wonderful mix of moors, dales, scenic villages and market towns nearby without ever going near a large town.
For country lovers, we have a string of local shows and events throughout the summer, all within 20 miles, such as the Brough Hound and Terrier show, the Alston Sheepdog Trials, agricultural shows at Skelton, Penrith, Brough, Appleby, Ravenstonedale, Wensleydale, Crosby Ravensworth, Dufton, Moorcock and Alston, plus Harness Racing in Appleby and Horse Trials at Hutton in the Forest.
For train enthusiasts, the Settle to Carlisle railway is close by as are other restored stretches of defunct, railway routes such as Warcop and Alston should be of interest, as would be Kirkby Stephen’s railway museum and enthusiasts’ centre.
For antique hunters, there are regular auctions at Hawes, Penrith and Barnard Castle.
Finally, a bit about the history. The cottage formed part of what was the Church Brough Rectory estate. The rectory, servants’ hall, stables, coach house, barn and glebe land were privately acquired and converted into four separate properties. The coach house and stables are linked by a glassed entry with separate internal access to the two dwellings.
Located on a bridleway, immediately behind the self contained cottage is a flight of stone steps to St Michael’s, a church with Norman origins. Turning left out of the cottage you pass a well on your right. Take a right turn onto the little used lane/Roman road (see photo 5) with its metamorphic sandstone sides leading to the village green and Brough Castle from which there are fantastic views of the surrounding area. The farm beside the castle has a well-known ice cream parlour and tea room.
Brough lies at the foot of the Stainmore Pass that crosses the Pennines. The Romans built a military road from York to Carlisle and a chain of forts one of which was Verterae. A 1,000 years later the Normans built a castle on the Verterae site. Over the years the castle was destroyed, rebuilt, burned down and in the 17th century it was rebuilt by Lady Anne Clifford. A 100 mile pathway that follows the route Lady Anne Clifford took to visit her many castles from Skipton, passes through Church Brough going on to Penrith. Market Brough, the northern part of the village, was an important centre of trade from 1330 when a charter for a weekly market was granted. There are multiple sites of historical interest. Castles of note are at Carlisle, Brougham, Brough, Raby, Barnard Castle, Middleton, Shap Abbey and Pendragon Castle, plus Roman fort sites and, of course, Hadrian’s Wall.
A practical note: there are two hospitals within 35 miles away and major supermarkets within about 20 miles, although Sainsburys, Tesco and ASDA deliver on-line orders. Our local market town, Kirkby Stephen, is just three miles away and you’ll find it unspoilt and undeveloped.
Depending on time of year our rates are from £350 to £495 per week. Short breaks are available. To check availability you can either call Val Reynolds on 017683 42530 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. More images on http://coachhousecottage.bksites.net/
So sorry but we are unable to accept pets.
Val & John Reynolds
Here is some recent feedback from our guests this year:
We had a wonderful time at the cottage. First impression on walking in is that everything is clean, neat and looks new. I have not slept so well in years the bed is so incredibly comfortable and large. We found the whole place very welcoming and well appointed. We both like walking and it was so great to be able to leave the front door and walk in stunning scenery without having to use the car. The pubs we went to for lunch provided really good food, people were friendly and helpful. At the end of each meal we had out I never once thought “I could do better than that at home” as so often happens on our walks at home when we try a new place. On the days we did use the car it was so great to drive and find a parking place. I am so used to the overcrowded road conditions and parking wardens so keen to fill their quotas of greater London. So we had a great holiday. Dave, London, UK
Very comfortable retreat in the North Pennines. All mod cons and very attractive, stylish decor. Ideal location for people who love peace and quiet, within easy reach of wonderful walking areas. J & K, London, UK
A quirky, comfortable holiday retreat for two. The Coach House Cottage is very well equipped and beautifully furnished. The peaceful location in a wonderful area for walking and exploring. J&A, Brittany, France
We had a fantastic time at the Coach House Cottage. The local area has plenty of things to do, walking being our favourite. We loved the fact that the cottage was so well equipped, everything we needed was provided. M&S, Doncaster, UK
However much you think you’re ready for it, the prospect of retirement and a gradual slowing down of activity hits you hard. I’ve always been an active, busy person and I knew dozing in an armchair was not how I wanted to spend my last couple of decades.
Instead, I wanted a life full of possibilities, full of new challenges and experiences.
And, sadly, I didn’t think that was going to happen in Welwyn Garden City, much as my husband John and I had loved our time in the centre of town, with our beloved garden.
Finding our ideal spot took some time – about a year, in fact – but the search was great fun as we explored the UK from Somerset to Dumfries looking for the property that excited us and offered a new life to us both. Eventually we found it, surrounded by beautiful views and without a neighbouring house in sight. After urban living, that was perhaps the biggest change for us!
So that’s why we now live in The Coach House in Cumbria and we couldn’t be happier! Why Cumbria? Why Cumbria – John spent many holidays walking in the north in Cumbria, the Yorkshire Moors and the Lake District. We both love the countryside and, with open land all around us, it’s like living in a park with surrounding meadows and, in the distance through very old and large oak, ash and sycamore trees we can see How Gill and other distant hills. With the wonderful light the view changes, sometimes dramatically quite suddenly. We’re by sheep, cattle and horses in the various meadows and, delightfully, our position on a bridleway means there is no disruption from traffic. A Roman road passes the property, only used by local farmers.
Cumbria is one of the most sparsely populated counties in the UK, with less than 75 people per square kilometer. The air is filled with the sounds of nature and we look back and wonder how we coped with the noise of Welwyn’s town centre for so many years. We both love it here and settled in very quickly, making friends with both locals and so-called outcomers – like us! Everyone we’ve met has been friendly and helpful, plus my work as a volunteer in the Visitor Centre in Kirkby Stephen brings me in touch with lots of people and helps me learn more about our new home.
So shall I tell you about The Coach House? It is, in fact, two buildings, linked by a glazed area similar to a conservatory where I keep precious indoor plants. John and I live in the old stables and the coach house is a one up, one down building that was used by the rector’s coachman and his family, coaches were stored below. The early Norman church is just behind us.
The coach house is singularly individual – stone built with a curved wall on two sides. Initially, we thought we’d use it for friends and family, then it became clear it lent itself to becoming self contained holiday accommodation. On the ground floor there was enough room for a fitted kitchen with dining and sitting space, on the first floor a double bedroom with an en suite shower room.
So we embarked on a journey of property improvement and discovery in the land of letting! If you’d like to join us for a holiday stay, we’d love to share our new home and its peaceful surroundings with you. Want to know more? It’s all here.
Help for holidaying with your dog is here, with the launch of Forestry Commission England’s Ruff Guide to the Forest.
Forestry Commission England has created a one-stop-shop for owners and their dogs looking to take a break in and around forests and woodlands.
The Ruff Guide to the Forest showcases 34 Forestry Commission locations across England, highlighting each site’s trails and facilities suitable for dogs, along with dog-friendly places to stay nearby.
Each location in the guide has been reviewed by one of its regular four-legged visitors, helping newcomers to find out useful information such as if some areas are kept dog free and where to find water and waste bins. There is also the opportunity for owners to share their thoughts and recommend places to stay nearby.
Paddy Harrop Recreation and Public Affairs Manager for Forestry Commission England commented:
“Across the country, you are never far from a Forestry Commission England location – which means you are never far from a great walk with your dog.
“We want to make it easier for people to bring their four-legged friend with them on a great day out, short break or longer holiday. By showcasing the dog-friendly facilities at our woods and forests and local dog-friendly accommodation, we hope we can provide all the essential information for a fantastic forest visit.”
The Forestry Commission’s accommodation partners, Forest Holidays and Camping in the Forest, have also seen a rise in popularity for dog-friendly holidays.
Camping in the Forest welcome dogs at almost all of their sites and they even camp for free, whilst all Forest Holidays locations have plenty of pet friendly cabins where your dog will feel right at home.
The Ruff Guide to the Forest is being launched as part of the Forestry Commission’s Paws Outdoors campaign. The campaign marks ten years of working together for the Forestry Commission, the Kennel Club and Natural Resources Wales. The organisations signed a new concordat at Crufts (7 March 2014) to promote opportunities for responsible dog-walking in UK forests.
The Forestry Commission has also announced England’s first Walk Your Dog Week, which takes place from Monday 28 April to Monday 5 May 2014. The awareness week will encourage dog owners to get into the habit of giving their pets more regular exercise, including time off the leash when appropriate, to improve their health and well-being and reduce dog obesity. Dog owners can also nominate their well-behaved pet as a contender to become the dog face of the Paws Outdoors campaign.
Links for further information:
We found MacWet Climatic sports gloves to be suitable for many activities where a good grip is essential: including gardening, cycling, golfing, Nordic walking, even walking the dog!
They are well grippy, non-slip without being sticky, in wet or dry conditions and keep the cold at bay, though perhaps not as well as a fully lined glove. Again they are breathable, wicking moisture away, so you don’t get sweaty hands. A Velcro wrist strap provides a weatherproof closure.
I used them for the first time, sawing wood, an activity when you need a good firm grip. The day was fairly cold, but I didn’t feel it at all – though the exercise probably helped. I was using both a hand saw, then a circular saw. With a circular saw, it is crucial to have a good grip on both saw and wood, slips could be disastrous. But the results were fine with no problems. The wood was not thorny, so any anti-jab protection was not tested, but they did seem jab-proof. The only downside could be that they don’t stretch, hence sizing has to be accurate, easily solved by the sizing template given on the MacWet website.
The gloves did get dirty, with the fine sawdust, but they are washable – the Velcro wrist strap provided weatherproof closure and stopped debris getting in.
On a country walk on a very cold day they were ideal. Light, warm and comfortable when used with Nordic walking sticks. They are very popular with the shooting fraternity and golfers* too.
Prices vary from £24.99 to £29.99 (Amazon) Note the Amazon comments were generally supportive, but you do get the picky ones occasionally.
Christopher Johns, occasional contributor on topics related to sports activities
* If you are keen on practising your game while on holiday do have a look at Coet Per in Brittany. This 5 bedroom holiday chateau/country house, hidden away in beautiful countryside has its own four hole golf course.
So, you work in London, you are used to the crowds, the crush in the Underground, the waiting for buses, you’re quite happy. But from time to time do you yearn to go to the country, to feel the wind on your face, take in the fresh, clean invigorating air, taste some good beer, good food, roaring fires, the smell of wood smoke, a deep sleep in a most relaxing bed, and comfortable welcoming surroundings. And it mustn’t be much trouble to reach.
Well, we found just the place. We spent a couple of nights enjoying the quiet countryside, the stunning sunsets, the green green panorama, the rushing rivers and streams, the waterfalls, and came back home restored, refreshed and relaxed. Ready to face the demands of living and working in a city.
So where did we go? Cheskin House, Newbiggin on Lune, a jewel of a find in the Cumbrian countryside.
And how did we get there? Well on this occasion we drove up the M6 as we had other places to visit. But we could have gone by train from Euston to Oxenholme – a journey of about four hours – and Edwina, the owner of Cheskin House would have picked us up and whisked us back to her place.
Cheskin House, a 270 year old farmhouse, has been restored to its former glory, with white painted windows and internal shutters, airy rooms, antique artefacts to admire, furnishings to die for and much more besides. Our bedroom was warm, luxurious and utterly inviting. The bed, its linen, the carpet all carefully chosen and coordinated. We loved the hanging cupboard with drawers.
And the bathroom, warm, white, candles, a shower, dimmable lighting, and a raised bath in which we threw some complimentary bath salts – they had a wonderful aroma. I forgot to ask Edwina where I could purchase some, they were that good!
And what was on the menu? Our breakfast was outstanding for its deliciousness and choice. Served in the conservatory with its stephanotis plant growing all over one wall, we really enjoyed a very satisfying start to the day.
Evening meals can be served in the dining room or conservatory. Both rooms are beautiful and very relaxing. Beautiful cutlery, glass and lighting made both memorable.
And the food? Edwina is a consummate cook. Her choice of preprandial delicious freshly made cheese sables, with nuts and olives accompanied an excellent dry sherry was admirable
Our meal started with cauliflower soup with truffle oil, she told us the secret of the soup is to create an intense stock.
Our main course was pheasant in a delicious wine sauce, red cabbage and locally grown boiled potatoes.
A beautifully flavoursome and light lemon with almond cake was offered, or plum and blackcurrant fruit compote – we were greedy and had a little of each I’m afraid!
All this followed by Appleby organic brie with local artisan bread – Edwina supports local growers especially.
And the wine to go with such a feast? Well Edwina has a wine studio containing wine from all over the world. I felt dizzy just scanning the labels.
A wine connoisseur, Edwina will match the meal with a suitable wine to get the most pleasure out of her meals. And she hit the nail on the head with her choices, for instance a 1999 Pinot Noir from Barratt, Adelaide (she had bought 150 cases at some time in the recent past) accompanied the soup, delicious with a satisfying aroma and even more pleasing piquancy.
Other delicious delights accompanied the rest of the meal and that of our evening repast the following evening which included a lamb chump chop on a bed of potato, peppery jus, black and green beans. Followed by poached pears in red wine with home made vanilla ice cream, we just couldn’t fit in another mouthful and the wonderful cheeseboard had to be admired but declined, we were so full.
Such attention to details – the decor, food, wine selection and the warm welcome – nothing was too much trouble – were the outstanding elements of our all too short stay at Cheskin House.
Next time for a weekend break we’ll take the train, using Trainline – if you book ahead, there are some good deals.
We’ll take our walking boots, warm hats, gloves and weather jackets and explore the myriad footpath network. A walking stick or two would be a wise item to take, but then Edwina will lend you one if you forget yours!
Can’t wait to visit again whether it’s this winter or the spring, even summer time, anything to be restored and refreshed in a weekend! Aaaah!
Cheskin House : www.cheskinhouse.com or email email@example.com
Val Reynolds, Editor