Gate House is a handsome Georgian property with meticulously furnished interiors. Namrata Bhawnani discovers it's ideal for a family stay and as a base for the Old Man of Coniston climb
After a long drive from London, my husband and I arrived in picturesque Coniston village to find a handsome Georgian property just a two-minute walk from the nearest pub. This delightful bonus aside, entering the Gate House was like stepping inside the Tardis – three gorgeously furnished living areas revealed themselves before we entered a large, well equipped kitchen.
The back garden of the property held a truly special surprise, for we discovered that we had our very own babbling brook in the backyard. There were sheep grazing out front, a pretty stream out back and we were officially in Jane Austen-land!
It was clear that the owners, Simon and Jane, had taken meticulous care in restoring and furnishing the self-catering property. With exquisite attention to detail, they had found the elusive balance between modern and homely, elegant and playful. The more my husband and I travel, the more we look for places with character, rather than an impersonal, eminently forgettable hotel room. And the Gate House's warm and lovingly refurbished interiors made us feel right at home.
Historically, Gate House had early associations with the family who developed the 19th century Coppermines. It was the home to the famous lakes artist Alfred Heaton Cooper in the early 20th century who decided to call it 'Sondheim'. Many works of the artist adorn the cottage walls in keeping with the history of Gate House.
We collapsed in the living room with a happy sigh. The husband said something absurd about climbing a mountain the next morning. The idea was met with muted enthusiasm – which may have had something to do with the bottle of Prosecco the owners had thoughtfully left for us. I've never nurtured any ambitions to get into a fight with gravity.
One of the joys of a self-catering cottage is the freedom to eat breakfast in your PJs and the back garden offered plenty of privacy for that. Fortified with strong coffee and the promise of sunshine, I felt much more inclined to meet the Old Man of Coniston, a 2,634 foot high fell. The visitor centre was an easy amble through the pretty village and we settled on the walk that starts from the car park next to St Andrews Church.
We climbed the steep Walna Scar Road, passed through fields to Fellgate where the path leads to the summit via Low Water. We were fortunate enough to have wall-to-wall sunshine and the view of Dow Crags at every turn was sublime. The good fortune of a beautiful day made the climbers chatty and friendly, and the energy was infectious.
We had lunch with the best view in the world, making all the huffing and puffing up the incline totally worth it. The panoramic view from Old Man of Coniston inspires a euphoric high combined with a giddy sense of achievement.
The descent was steep – by then our legs were creaking in protest with every step, while kids and dogs bounded by with mountain goat-type ease. When we finally got back to the welcoming Gate House, we collapsed with happiness. After an exhausting day, it was good to be back in cozy surroundings, jump into the shower and eat a meal in peace.
There are four bedrooms to choose from with pretty views - perfect for a family to stay comfortably. I've never slept better!
We spent two nights at Gate House and left rather reluctantly – with idyllic surroundings, amenities within walking distance, the luxurious sense of privacy and its beautifully kitted out interiors, it turned out to be the perfect long weekend.
Whether you choose to curl up with a book, sit dreamily by the Church Beck brook or have an active holiday, Gate House is perfect for a family stay or even for romantic getaways when grandma is an obliging mood to babysit!
Photos courtesy The Coppermines Lake Cottages