Boot has a fantastic setting in the valley of Eskdale eloquently described by the famous Lakeland author Alfred Wainwright:
"Eskdale, one of the loveliest of Lakeland's valleys, descends from the highest and wildest mountains in the district to the sands of Ravenglass in a swift transition from grandeur to beauty... It is a place of many delights, the finest of all valleys for those whose special joy is to travel on foot and a paradise for artists."
This is the heart of the Lake District National Park with the highest, deepest, steepest, and oldest! Within walking distance are: Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain, dramatic Wastwater, its deepest lake, Hardknott Pass, its steepest road, and Boot Mill, its oldest working water mill. It is a very special area for walkers with many of the finest walks in England on the doorstep - see section below on Walking.
Bridge End Farm Cottages are in the village of Boot. It is one of the Lake District's "scenic hamlets", nestling beneath mighty Scafell, and despite having only some 20 to 30 residents boasts a church, post office, craft shop, corn mill museum and two traditional Inns. The village is secluded but not isolated.
Our 2 village pubs, The Boot Inn (formerly The Burnmoor) and Brook House Inn are only 50 and 150 yards away, and there are a further 3 pubs in the valley - The Woolpack, King George IV and Bower House. They are all within a pleasant walk or 5 minutes' drive of Boot and serve good food and Cumberland Ales. Imagine returning from a long day on the fells to a well-earned pint of real ale and hearty meal in front of a roaring log fire on a crisp winter evening or in the beer garden on a warm summer evening!
Eskdale Mill just over the packhorse bridge from Bridge End Farm is England's oldest working twin-wheel corn mill on the site of a Roman mill. Take a trip back in time to a museum like no other. It is on our doorstep and we thoroughly recommend a visit.
Boot Post Office & Village Shop is just a few yards away; they do great bacon butties in the morning or sandwiches to take away. For a more complete grocery service, the Eskdale Stores 5 minutes away in Eskdale Green provide an excellent selection of organic food and local produce including the famous Woodall's Cumberland sausages.
St Catherine's Church is just a few minutes' stroll away, beside the River Esk and Stepping Stones. It has a beautiful position and some fascinating old grave stones.
Hardknott Pass is England's steepest road and a great drive in good weather conditions. Less than halfway up on the Eskdale side is the well-preserved Hardknott Roman Fort. This is an absolute "must" visit and the views are breathtaking whatever the weather, especially from just beyond the northwest gate.
The Ravenglass and Eskdale narrow gauge steam railway is one of England's most beautiful train journeys and it has its terminus just ¼ mile from our Cottages. This is a very popular attraction and a great day out for all the family.
Within a short walk, on the moor above Boot are the 5,000 year old Neolithic and 3,000 year old Bronze Age stone circles. These are an archaeological gem and it is amazing that they were built so long ago.
Muncaster Castle was voted best tourist attraction in England in 2004. It lies at the gateway to Eskdale, easily accessed by car or the steam railway and a short walk. It is 800 years old, full of interesting features, is supposedly haunted, has spectacular and colourful gardens, and is the major rescue centre for the World Owl Trust with many rare and beautiful owls.
Rivers, Waterfalls, Lakes and Tarns
You are never far from water in the Eskdale valley. The tumbling Whillan Beck runs through our garden. The majestic River Esk dominates the valley - cascades, rock pools, ancient packhorse bridges and many footpaths are found along its route.
Stanley Ghyll waterfall has often been described as "Lakeland's loveliest" and is only a short walk from Boot. Birker Force and Cam Spout are two other notable waterfalls in the valley.
There are many enjoyable walks from Boot which pass by beautiful lakes and tarns such as, Blea Tarn, Eel Tarn, Stoney Tarn, Burnmoor Tarn, Devoke Water and of course, the Lake District's most dramatic of all, Wastwater, where imposing mountains descend steeply into England's deepest lake.
Wild swimming in Eskdale
Eskdale is also fantastic for wild swimming, with many waterfalls, rivers, tarns and lakes - nearby Wastwater Lake is Britain's deepest lake!
Eskdale is home to many native birds and animals rarely seen in other parts of England. It is one of the last bastions of the red squirrel. Deer, barn owls, buzzards, yellow hammers and many other delightful animals can be spotted with a keen eye.
Get "far from the madding crowd" in this tranquil corner of the Lakes. For the more active, you can go straight from the cottage door, hike up England's highest mountains and enjoy not using the car all week. Away from Scafell Pike, you will virtually have the fells, moors, rivers and waterfalls to yourself for most of the year.
For those looking for something a little more relaxing, there are countless gentle walks beside rivers, through woods and meadows, often passing one of the Valley's five cosy Inns for "refreshments" along the way.
In addition to Scafell and Scafell Pike, England's two highest mountains, we are close to Great Gable, Bowfell, the Langdales, all popular lakeland hikes. As well as climbing mountains, the lakes themselves have beautiful walks on their shores and we are conveniently located only 17 miles from Lake Windermere, 16 miles from Coniston and only 7 miles from Wastwater.
If you are new to the fells, we can put you in touch with an experienced mountain guide. Or if you simply want a gentle after dinner stroll with a local history slant we can put you in touch with the right person or guide book. We highly recommend these guides as a way of getting to know this fantastic corner of England. Click here for more information about Lake District walks.
The newly opened Eskdale Cycle Trail is a wonderful way to explore the valley - entirely off road and closely following the beautiful River Esk it does not have any big hills or steep inclines.
There are many picnic spots along the way as you meander with the river along the Eskdale Valley. Bring your bikes or hire them locally.
You will also find other bridleways and routes to cycle for the enthusiastic beginner or serious mountain biker within the Eskdale valley.
There are many scenic drives from the cottages, taking in all the most celebrated lakes and mountains. There is a stunning circular drive from Boot taking in Loweswater, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Derwent Water, Thirlmere, Grasmere, Rydal Water and Windermere. You can also add on Wastwater, Ennerdale Water and Coniston Water if you want to with a bit more driving. So you can visit between 7 and 10 Lake District Lakes in the space of a single day! Not to mention the lovely market towns, including Keswick, Grasmere, Ambleside and Coniston that you will pass on your way.
Other Activities Close By
There is climbing, abseiling, canoeing, pony trekking, fishing and swimming in hot weather in the numerous rock pools of the River Esk and Whillan Beck. Or simply sit in the garden with your sketch pad - there is beautiful scenery all around waiting to be painted. If you enjoy playing golf why not have a game in the stunning surroundings of the Eskdale Valley at Eskdale Golf Course.
Traditional Lakeland Shows
Both Eskdale and neighbouring Wasdale, like many other Lakeland valleys, have their traditional Lakeland shows in the Autumn and are a major feature on the farming calendar.
Eskdale is beautiful all year round whether it be the prancing new born lambs and bluebell woods in Spring, luscious green scenery in Summer, beautiful Autumn colours or snow-capped mountains in Winter.