If you enjoy walking then The Howgills, The Eden Valley and our immediate vicinity offer something for everybody with walks ranging from easy to strenuous, or if you just want a gentle stroll there’s plenty of opportunity for that – how about a walk on Paradise? Or a walk down to the village pubs can be very enjoyable!
You’ll find maps and guides in your cottage, along with a copy of Wainwright’s Walks on the Howgill Fells, but you might like to look at a very useful website which describes a number of local walks; you can download the details of some walks for free just by registering at their website. Here’s an example of an easy walk with free details (opens in new window):
Smardale Nature Reserve at Walkingworld.com
From the doorstep of your cottage you can enjoy a more strenuous walk to the top of Green Bell, with fantastic views over the Yorkshire Dales, there’s much more only slightly further afield, and of course both The Dales and The Lakes are not far away.
Cycling and mountain biking are popular pursuits with our guests; our cottages have secure storage for bikes and each has a hose for cleaning your bike after a muddy ride (is there any other sort?) and you’ll find maps and information in your cottage.
Mountain bike hire is available nearby.
We’re in an ideal location for reaching a lot of places well worth a visit, some internationally famous, some little known. Having absorbed the view of the surrounding hills from your window, you could do worse than to start with the picturesque working village of Ravenstonedale itself.
The village church of St Oswald’s has an interesting history and is highly unusual in having the pews facing in to the aisle.
There are places within easy reach and many more a bit further afield offering a day out; you might even fancy taking a trip out on the Classic Coach that runs from the village. You probably won’t see them all in your first stay, but there are some suggestions including castles and caves, ruins and railways, museums and markets, villages, towns and cities in our Where to Go section.
Wildlife and Photography
Many of our guests have never seen a Red Squirrel, a firm contender for the title of Britain’s Favourite Mammal but near to extinction and completely absent from most parts of the country. Here we’re incredibly lucky to have them as daily visitors, or even residents in our grounds, and you’d be unfortunate not to see one during your stay. We also have an abundance of bird life, and the scenery changes constantly with the angle of the daylight to provide some great landscape photo opportunities. All without leaving our grounds!
We put nuts out in special feeders for the Red Squirrels, which keeps them attracted; they’re nothing like as bold as grey squirrels, but if you see one nearby and keep still the chances are they’ll stay. Put out some nuts or bird food and they’ll investigate; they’ll often take food from the table directly outside the patio doors of The Haystore. You won’t see them in large numbers, typically just one or two at a time; more than that and we’re very interested to know, with the most we’ve seen together is four. If you don’t have your own binoculars, you’ll find a pair in your cottage so you can get a closer look. They’re wonderfully photogenic creatures, and you’ll find a collection of our own photos in the Photo Galleries section of the website.
There’s plenty of other wildlife to see; one of the fascinating sights is a buzzard being mobbed by other birds – sometimes small birds at nesting time, often what looks like a squadron of gulls that have scrambled to see it off. Swallows and Martins nest here annually and the popular garden birds such as Blackbird, Robin, Thrush, Tits, Finches, Starling, Wren, Woodpecker are easy to attract and you might spot the occasional less common bird such as the Treecreeper; the knowledgeable Birder will spot many more species. We get lots of Bank Voles, the occasional Woodmouse, the odd Stoat, Hare and Fox, and out on the common you’ll often find the semi-wild Fell Ponies and the inevitable rabbits. In the warmer evenings you’ll often see Pipistrelle bats (Britain’s smallest bat) in flight as they perform the amazing feat of catching insects on the wing by sonar detection alone, which is a fantastic sight, and if you’re ever lucky enough to see one of these bats close up they’re wonderfully cute!
Of course, as we’re in the middle of a farming area you’ll see plenty of sheep around, with lambs arriving in March and April. We border a field where one of the local farmers grazes sheep, so you can get a close view of the lambs; while their mothers are being fed watch out for the lambs forming unruly little gangs and running around.
The local landscape doesn’t have the rugged presence of more mountainous areas, consisting as it does of more rounded limestone hills. However, each time you look at the same view you see something different; the dry stone walls that run over the fells, and limestone outcrops, are picked out against the background when the light is at the right angle, so choose your time of day for taking photos. The stone field shelters and small barns are a typical feature of the landscape, and there’s plenty of other attractions depending on your particular photographic interests.
You’ll find a few photos of wildlife, landscape and other miscellany in the Photo Galleries on the website – hopefully you could do a lot better!
There’s trout fishing on both stillwater and river, for the very experienced to the beginner, including instruction.
Bessy Beck Trout Fishery offers stillwater trout fly fishing; tackle hire and tuition from basic to advanced are available. Just 3 miles away, a number of our guests have taken their children to Bessy Beck for a first taste of fishing, and a first taste of fresh caught trout for dinner afterwards! A top class venue for the experienced angler, and a tackle shop and farm shop on site.
The River Eden offers fly fishing for trout and grayling and the Kirkby Stephen and District Angling Association (KSDAA) controls a number of beats on the river for which day tickets are available. The Association has a no stocking policy and fish are wild brown trout. Wading necessary.
A further stretch of five miles of the Eden closer to Appleby offers good fishing in beautiful surroundings with numbers restricted to just 4 rods per day. No stocking, and some good wild brown trout. Booking essential, tickets available from John Pape Angling Services. John is a first rate fly fisherman and teacher who runs regular courses for groups.
Ravenstonedale has an 18 hole 9 green small golf course which is open to visitors, who do not need to be a member of any club.
Further afield there are courses at Sedbergh, Appleby, Kendal, Penrith, Kirkby Lonsdale, Casterton and Barnard Castle. Penrith also has a Golf Centre and all-weather Driving Range.
More information on the various facilities on the Ravenstonedale website (opens in a new window).
The village has a hard tennis court available for use by visitors, fee payable in The Black Swan.
There’s a children’s outdoor playground in Ravenstonedale. There’s also a soft play centre in Kirkby Stephen at the old railway station Platform 3 Play (opens in a new window).