Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Irton House Farm: Accessible Staycation

Back in June I was chatting to the lovely Lindsay from Irton House Farm, Cumbria. After confirming their listing on the OpenBritain website, and chatting about the benefits that they can access as a Partner of Tourism for All, Lindsay very kindly invited me to spend a weekend in one of their cottages.

Irton House Farm is a working sheep farm of 246 acres in the Lake District National Park, commanding superb views from the farmstead over Bassenthwaite Lake and Skiddaw.  Immaculately kept self-catered apartments offering spacious and comfortable self-catering holiday homes, for 2, 4 and 6 people. All include wet rooms and ground floor accommodation making them fully accessible for disabled visitors.  They’re also dog friendly (by arrangement) for pets and assistance dogs, so Poppy came along with Darren and I.
The cottages were converted from farm buildings by Lindsay's parents Reg and Joan 27 years ago. Considering how long ago that was they had such vision; the accommodation is very spacious, with wet room showers, accessible kitchens, helpful aids and equipment, amazing views and such a homely, non-medical feel. There are plans to modernise the interiors but keep the farmhouse, country cottage look and feel.  In the long term, the plan is to convert one of the farm buildings into a central place where guests can meet, chat and enjoy a drink by an open fire, and events can be hosted.
Lindsay, Nick and their children are a welcoming, kind family who are passionate about promoting accessibility to the countryside. They have many guests who they count as personal friends returning year after year.
After a peaceful first night, we were woken by the noise of sheep at the window.  Our plan for the day was to visit the nearby Lakes Distillery, and the market town of Keswick.
The Distillery is a renovated 1850s Victorian model farm, located next to Bassenthwaite Lake. Here
they produce The ONE Whisky, The Lakes Gin and The Lakes Vodka.  The shop, bistro, bar and tour are fully accessible, and the tour is billed as one of the best distillery tours in the world.  As we’d brought our dog along with us, we opted for lunch on the terrace.  The food was delicious, generous and locally sourced.  We couldn’t leave without visiting the shop, and came away with a bottle or two!  We found the staff friendly and engaging, and knowledgeable about their products.
Next stop was Keswick, around 20 minutes drive from Irton House Farm.  Situated between Derwentwater and Skiddaw, Keswick has become the major centre for tourism in the north lakes.  After parking up at the local Booths supermarket (2 hours free for Blue Badge holders) we came across Podgy Paws pet shop, such a lovely place!  Poppy was happy to be treated to a new harness and a bone.  Next we came to the market, which was lively and bustling with over 70 stalls, selling everything from local produce to clothing and footwear.   We finished off with smoothies and cake at St Mungo's deli.

Back at Irton House Farm, after a tour of the vacant cottages and a stroke of the newest additions to the farm – two ponies – we settled in for our last night, and happily headed home the next morning with a leg of their award winning lamb to roast!
We had a thoroughly enjoyable time exploring part of the Lake District that’s reasonably local to us, but not somewhere we’ve spent much time before.  I think we can all benefit from a Staycation, as we have such wonderful places on our door steps.

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